The Fish Could Not Speak

Tuesday, September 16

Dee River during an acid flow from Mt Morgan historic mine Photo by Corinne Unger

Dee River during an acid flow from Mt Morgan historic mine
Photo by Corinne Unger

By Corinne Unger of Chapel Hill, Queensland, Australia

The earth, lovingly created as an environment for life to flourish, shudders in distress because creation’s natural and living systems are becoming exhausted from carrying the burden of human greed and conflict. Humankind must awaken from its illusion of independence and unrestrained consumption without lasting consequences.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:4b

Nearly 40 kilometers of the Dee River was dead. Heavy rain caused acid runoff from the weathered waste rock at the old gold and copper mines. Fish floated slowly downstream like fallen leaves. Their lifeless white underbellies glistened in the sun.

I met with Jack, a Queensland fruit farmer, at the riverbank. He explained the frequency of these flows. There was a sense of acceptance about this fate. After all, it had happened many times over the preceding century.

I recently had taken over managing this abandoned mine for the government. I wondered why the media were silent, why the local government representatives remained aloof. The fish could not speak; the vegetation could not protest. While this small community was doing its best to raise awareness, few others cared.

I knew it was up to me to give voice to this issue. It needed my knowledge and expertise. I would need to develop a team and a plan to support these people in their efforts to bring life back to this river. I needed hope and courage, for without them I could not complete the task.

Sometimes in life, we need to steel ourselves with faith if we are to fulfill our goals. In Christ we find a strong example—someone prepared to take on a challenge to win hearts and minds and bring about change.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, help us protect your delicate web of life. Help us relieve the Earth of human greed and conflict. Help us share peace in place of power.

Spiritual Practice: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation Choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following practices or create your own. Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude. Look and listen for God in all creation. Write or pray a psalm of praise for the Earth’s beauty or offer a prayer of healing and blessing for its wounds.

Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping such as recycling, simple living, or fasting from over-consumption of resources. Notice the diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant Today, God, besides reducing my own harmful footprints on your creation, I will take action to reveal industrial and commercial contamination.

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Who Grew?

Tuesday, September 9

Gary McDonald

Gary McDonald

By Gary McDonald of Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

—Romans 14:19 NRSV

Whenever A.C. took to the podium to preach, I groaned. He was boring to this 10-year-old. I tried to get something from his sermons, but, as a youngster, I never could. Instead, I would count the minutes until they were over. His sermons were consistently tedious.

I didn’t know that A.C. was a convert to the community and was slowly growing in his discipleship. Years later, I recall him saying his few experiences with church had been during childhood, when an aunt took him on special occasions. This meant he had no mentors or teachers to emulate or question. He was learning on the job.

I grew up and matured while A.C. continued improving on his sermons. I remember a Sunday when I was listening to him. How intelligent and interesting he was!

I wondered when the change took place. Later I realized it had happened only after years of practice. I soon realized I had changed only after years of listening.

In remembrance of his valuable friendship and service, I can say only that I am glad God gives us room to grow.

Prayer for Peace God of wisdom, forgive us when we expect perfection from one another. We are all flawed. Thank you for loving us as we are and as we may become. Help us support and encourage one another.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring God’s Call to Others Reflect on God’s call in your life. Quietly reflect on the moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation to expand your gifts. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come. When have you experienced God through the calling and gifts of others? How do your gifts connect with the call of God you notice in your family, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will remember of me and my friends that we’re not perfect, and that’s OK. That’s perfect!

I Close My Eyes…

Tuesday, July 29

7-29By 14-year-old Rachel Huerkamp of Delta, Colorado

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you…to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

—Romans 12:1–5 NRSV

I close my eyes and lock my hands. I pray away my sorry day and end it with the hope of tomorrow. With the dreams that follow me to sleep, I see my life of faith carved by mistakes, wisdom, and my surroundings. With these, the Divine helps me learn and choose the person I will be.

I will be a person who makes a change. I will not fear change, but absorb and embrace it. I will be the person who not only seeks change, but is part of creating change. I will choose change. I will be a person who makes a difference in the world God has created for us.

I will trust God’s call and praise God for lessons learned. The result of my response will reflect what I put into it.

With my eyes shut and my hands together, I lift everything that I am to you, O God. Know my faith is genuine—so you may cleanse my heart, soul, and mind. Help me on the path of life to finish the race at home with you.

Prayer for Peace Creator, God, shape us with the breath of your Spirit. Help us respond to our experiences with faith and generosity, willing to change what needs changing; willing to accept the shape that is good and acceptable to you.

Spiritual Practice: Making Responsible Choices Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for a blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the Spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I choose to be a person who will share Christ’s peace.

Garden of People

Thursday, May 29

5-29By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

Understand that the road to transformation travels both inward and outward. The road to transformation is the path of the disciple.

—Doctrine and Covenants 161:3d

A potted plant’s roots follow the perimeter of its pot. When plants start to lose vigor, a quick investigation reveals the problem. If you lift the plant to expose the roots and you see circles of roots going round and round, it doesn’t take much guesswork. The plant is root-bound.

The roots have turned in on themselves and are choked by the confines of the pot. They’ve absorbed all the energy and nutrition the spent soil has to offer. Their inward journey is complete in this space, and it’s time to guide the roots in a new direction. So we provide a larger pot or even let the plant go free into the great outdoors of our garden.

To repot the plant, we put fresh soil in the new, larger pot. We manipulate the roots to change their direction to an outward path toward the fresh, expanded soil. If the root ball is dense enough, we may even cut off the bottom inch of rooted soil for a healthy “letting go” of offending roots. If you practice “talking” to your plants, you might say, “It’s for your own good, dear,” or “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”

We water the plant and say a prayer to make it (and us) feel better. We might change its location to a sunnier window. We stand back and watch it thrive, spreading joy and foliage, and being happy to live in the home of a good gardener. You also might put a doily under the plant—that helps a lot!

Seriously…we, like plants, sometimes get too comfortable on our paths. We become root bound on our inward journey. Once we get to a still and centered place, we can gather strength and do some letting go, starting an outward journey on Christ’s mission. A new direction opens, and we create room to grow. We stimulate our roots with learning and spiritual practices and then find a new place at the expanding table of grace.

Rerooted in our foundation, soaking up the light of the Holy Spirit, and refreshed with Christ’s living water, we flourish and develop into disciples to serve the community, God’s garden of people.

Prayer for Peace Master Gardener, help us open to change and growth. Give us discomfort when the status quo satisfies us, and we begin to lose vigor. We would make Christ’s mission our mission. We would share his peace with the gardens of the world.

Spiritual Practice: Develop Disciples to Serve As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to respond to people and their needs. Pray about using your skills to help another person. As you feel affirmed, thank God for the opportunity to be a responding, serving disciple while you move into the outward journey.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will grow in a new direction.

And the Best Season Is…

Monday, April 14

4-14By Louita Clothier of Lamoni, Iowa, USA

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep.… How precious is your steadfast love, O God! …For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

—Psalm 36:5–7, 9

The change of seasons blesses me. As I write, summer strides out with fullness. This year’s extra rain produced a lusher and greener spring than I can remember. As I walk on our area recreational trail, the foliage embraces me. It surrounds me like a tunnel of love—nature’s love.

I love summer in the Midwestern USA! In addition, I love spring, autumn, and, yes, even winter! Each season performs its own magic, gives its own unique gifts.

I have seen more springs emerge from winter’s ice than I want to admit, but buds on the trees thrill me every year. The autumn countryside offers a visual feast for me, with the golden maples and scarlet sumac accompanying football games and bonfires. The wind sculpts glistening, pristine snowfalls into wave-like peaks and valleys.

As the seasons of nature come and go, so in life do we have times of joy and times of sadness. We know that though life’s episodes change, the Lord loves us with a steadfast and constant love. God’s promises endure, even when we struggle with the changing seasons of life.

Prayer for Peace
As the plow breaks clods of earth so dormant seeds may spring up, Lord, soften the hardness in me, so tender shoots may grow and bear fruit in their season.

—Peggy Michael

Spiritual Practice: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation
Choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following practices or create your own. Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude. Look and listen for God in all creation. Write or pray a psalm of praise for the Earth’s beauty or a prayer of healing and blessing for its wounds.

Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping such as recycling, simple living, or fasting from over-consumption of resources. Notice the diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will take in the beauty of creation and put it back unharmed.

Finding Nemo (in Murky Waters)

Wednesday, March 19

3-19By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

—2 Corinthians 5:17

Our fish sat listlessly on the bottom of its filthy fishbowl. The water was low, dark green, and murky. It was past time to clean the fishbowl. When I tried to get the fish out of the bowl, it swam away. It did not want to leave! It was happy in its familiar environment.

After several tries I finally caught it and put it into a holding dish while I cleaned the bowl and filled it with clean water.

Once back in the bowl of fresh water, the fish came to life! It swam happily up and down and around the entire bowl. No longer was it listless at the bottom of the bowl, content with the status quo. It was a new fish!

Like the fish, we easily can become content with the life we’re living, not realizing or willing to leave behind what is comfortable (and perhaps stagnant)—not open to letting go of the old life.

How blessed we are that through Christ we can change and leave behind our old life to swim in fresh clean water—to dwell in Christ, the Living Water.

Prayer for Peace
Understanding God, help us struggle from the confines of contentment. Help us move beyond apathy and indecision in our lives. Help us freshen our environment with change and new action. Help us risk the redundant for openness to a spirit of adventure for Christ’s mission—for Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Open Hands
Stand or sit with your hands extended in front of you. Prayerfully ponder all that you hold in your hands that makes you feel too full, busy, drained, or closed. Spread your hands up and apart to release these burdens, and then hold them open and empty them again. Thank God for relationships that fill and feed your spirit. Pray for a generous heart and open hands that reach out to make room for all in the circle of Christ’s community.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will take inventory of my life, and see if it’s time for a change.

Blessings of Community

Sunday February 2, 2014

By Andrew Bolton, Council of Twelve Apostles

2-2Blessed are the poor in spirit…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Blessed are the meek…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
Blessed are the merciful…
Blessed are the pure in heart…
Blessed are the peacemakers…
Blessed are those who are persecuted
for righteousness sake…

—Matthew 5:3–10

This month’s lectionary scriptures study the Sermon on the Mount. These passages inspire and scare me, for they call me to change. Today we look at the prelude to the Sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes. I find it helpful to look at the beatitudes as steps on a ladder, steps of discipleship. Start at the bottom: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

We can divide the beatitudes into two groups: The first four are about inner change. The last four are about changing the world. We begin with poverty of spirit, of feeling separate and distant from God. We mourn our sins. We end pride. We hunger to live a right life. We go on to being mature Christians, disciples who have the strength to be merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers. We stand up for righteousness, and for the Worth of All Persons.

The beatitudes show me a path to be salt, light to the world, a city on a hill, Zion.

I am inspired; but can I do it? I ask God for the Spirit’s help to make the journey with others.

Prayer for Peace
Ever-present God, be with us on our inner journey. Help us take comfort in your grace. Help us extend your grace as we journey outward. As we join with your community, help us gather strength to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Peace Action
Community of Christ is called to ministries of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit. PeacePathways is a church-sponsored website sharing peace and justice ministries, resources, and opportunities. Visit www.kidpeace.org and prayerfully discern one ministry that speaks to you or captures your attention. Offer a prayer of blessing on the peace ministry you have selected. Listen quietly to see if God is calling you to added responses to this ministry or another ministry of peace, reconciliation, or healing. If you cannot visit the website, offer a prayer of blessing on all peace ministries.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will take steps and act for peace.

 

Jesus Is Born

Sunday, December 22

12-22By Kris Judd of Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly… 20 an angel of the Lord appeared to him… “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

—Matthew 1:18–21

I have many children, all of whom belong to other mothers. I never had the privilege of giving birth, but have been blessed to love and care for children from my family, friends, and church. A few years ago I had the opportunity to witness the birth of a special baby, Jasmine, the daughter of two good friends.

Jasmine was not an expected pregnancy. Mother nor father were ready to welcome her into the world. Her father was not sure she was even his, but vowed to raise her and treat her as his own regardless. I was in the hospital room with Jasmine’s mother, father and grandmother the morning she arrived. It had been a long night, filled with discomfort, anxiety and fear.

On her arrival the world seemed different, more alive, more real. God opened my eyes with a sense of wonder and possibility that I had not experienced in the same way before. I fell in love with the world and with a baby whose life changed forever the lives of two unprepared but willing parents.

Perhaps that is how Joseph and Mary were feeling when their son arrived. They did not plan, nor were they ready for this baby. But the baby that arrived changed not only their lives but millions of lives around the world. His birth continues to change lives every moment. Two thousand years ago, the birth of Jesus Christ ushered in a new possibility of a kingdom for which the faithful had been waiting for way too long. The world is still waiting to see it in its fullness. It is here and it is coming. Hallelujah! Jesus is born!

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, let us be the ones who bring good news to the poor, joy to the broken hearted, hope to those who wait. Let us share the news of the Christ child and his peace.

Spiritual Practice: Joy
Prepare room in your heart for the Christ child. Prepare room in your heart for joy. Think of the many ways you experience joy in the Advent season: bells, candles, lights, carols, special food, gift giving, time with family and friends, celebrations of the birth of Christ. Reflect on the many ways you can share joy in the Advent season: giving to those in need, making a place for everyone at the table, greeting strangers, helping others, being a presence. Continue your own list. Thank God for the joy you experience and the opportunities to share it.

Peace Covenant
On this joyous day, God, I will share the joy of the coming of the Christ Child.

God Is the Potter, We Are the Clay

Saturday, December 7

12-7By Laurel Eisler of Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

—Isaiah 64:8

I can sum up my World Service Corps experience in Peru in a six-word sentence: “Yes, I would go back again!” My time filled with events, making me think about how God is the potter and we are the clay. On Tuesdays and Fridays we led Bible study for the adults in the Monte Sión Congregation. Saturdays included teaching classes for children and young adults, followed by a short worship service. We traveled to the Filadelfhia Congregation for services on Sundays. Our last day in Monte Sión included a clothing donation project for the community.  It was a significant and joyous day.

Adjusting to life after World Service Corps has been a challenge. I live my life differently now. The people, places, and new experiences I encountered in Peru have had a deep impact on me. I feel I have discovered traits that I would never have known were it not for the amazing opportunity World Service Corps offers. Your contributions to the mission initiative Develop Disciples to Serve enable volunteers in World Service Corps to share the gospel throughout the worldwide community. Thank you for responding to this mission initiative so generously.

Prayer for Peace
God who shapes us, form us into disciples who serve. Mold us into faithful servants who share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice for Advent: Peace Pause amid this busy season and open yourself to be mindful of the source of your life-giving breath. Reflect on where that breath blows you. Pray it leads you in pursuit of peace on Earth. In this short time of reflection, close your eyes, close out the din of the Christmas crowds, and prepare yourself for the coming of the Messiah. If your mind wanders to the commercial clamor, allow God to pull you back to focus on Christ, the center of Christmas. Expose your soul to God’s signature and the writing of the covenant of Christ’s peace on your heart.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will support developing of young disciples working in the world community.

Reinventing Advent

Friday, December 6

12-6By Carol Norris Vincent of Independence, Missouri

Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore on that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I.

—Isaiah 52:6

My husband died a week before Christmas. This changed forever the way I observe the holy day. As we approached that Advent season in 2004, we knew my husband’s death would come soon. His acceptance of his illness and eventual death witnessed deeply to many as he waited expectantly for his new life in God’s presence. The Advent season celebrates the joy of Christ’s birth. In that one season, I was anticipating both birth and re-birth— of my Lord and of my husband. I now look at Christmas differently.

The days following my husband’s death were surprisingly peaceful, yet the traditional celebration activities of Christmas changed. I felt a different kind of joy. Because I was not yet ready to mingle with friends at my large Methodist church—and receive all the hugs and murmurs of sympathy—I went to a service at another church. The quiet, peace, and reflection I found there calmed my soul. I limited Christmas decorations at home to a small crèche. We omitted gift-giving. Everyone respected this change in my life.

I have celebrated it in this quiet, reflective way since. My family and friends know that I was changed in that Advent season, and I feel I am a better person for it. My joy in the gift of God’s son to us is more complete, more focused, more serene. I know that God speaks—here am I!

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, may we feel your presence as we prepare the way. May we share the peace, hope, love and joy of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice for Advent: Peace
Pause amid this busy season and open yourself to be mindful of the source of your life-giving breath. Reflect on where that breath blows you. Pray it leads you in pursuit of peace on Earth. In this short time of reflection, close your eyes, close out the din of the Christmas crowds, and prepare yourself for the coming of the Messiah. If your mind wanders to the commercial clamor, allow God to pull you back to focus on Christ, the center of Christmas. Expose your soul to God’s signature and the writing of the covenant of Christ’s peace on your heart.

Peace Covenant
This year, God, I will change the way I celebrate Advent to ensure Christ is at the center.