Living Water

Wednesday, November 5

11-5By Val Walker of Plainfield, Indiana, USA

Therefore, continue to be strong in faith. To you who hear my voice and know my promises I will reveal myself and give my peace, even in the midst of your uncertainties.

—Doctrine and Covenants 158:11a

I planned a worship service to celebrate Communion, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, using the story of the woman at the well (John 4). Our worship center included a small fountain with water bubbling over rocks, creating a pleasant, falling-water sound as we shared in worship.

As part of my message, I wanted each one in the congregation to share in a symbol of the living water experience. I used a small medicine dropper to draw water from the fountain and offer a drop to each person. I practiced at home and found the capacity of the dropper was 24 drops. Normal attendance for us was about 40 people, so I planned to stop halfway and refill the dropper.

That morning I counted 38 people at church. As I talked about Jesus offering himself as living water, I walked through the congregation placing a drop of water from the fountain in the palm of each outstretched hand. I decided to go as far as I could with one dropper before refilling. I counted silently as I went. When I finished, I placed the last drop back in the fountain. There was enough and to spare—from one dropper of water.

I could not believe it, did not trust myself, and no one knew why I finished the message with tears in my eyes.

I went home to prove the “miracle” to my uncertain self, before I could share the testimony. Again I filled the dropper and counted—only 24 drops. I had not trusted God, had not trusted my math, and had not trusted my congregation to understand the experience. If I had not prepared and practiced before the service, I wouldn’t have realized the powerful message God had for us and especially me!

The following Sunday, I testified of the experience with the congregation, telling how God brought alive the living water offered by Christ. Be strong in faith, “even in the midst of your uncertainties.”

Prayer for Peace Faithful God, living among us, help us be aware of your presence. Help us drink in the experiences we might otherwise brush off. Help us immerse ourselves in sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Vessel for Living Water Visualize or feel a vessel at the center of your being. Imagine drawing something from the vessel to share with someone, but as you reach inside you find only a tiny pool of stagnant liquid. You are thirsty, dry, empty. Then something clear and cool begins to pour over you. It splashes and tumbles into the vessel, filling it to the brim. The living water of Christ pours on and in you. Your vessel fills and runs over, blessing you with enough and to spare.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will place my faith in the results without the test.

 

Hear Us, Lord

Sunday, August 17

8-17By Steve Jones, presiding bishop

Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” …Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

—Matthew 15:22, 28 NRSV

As I write this testimony, the Presiding Bishopric has just finished its fourth spiritual-formation retreat.

Each year for the last four years the Bishopric, under the leadership of a spiritual director, has gone on retreat. We go to deepen our connection to God, one another, and to our calling as servants of Jesus Christ. On these retreats we have moments of deep reflection and community that reenergize us.

We engage in personal reflection, prayer, silence, and shared worship. We seek to know God hears us as we call from the deepest places of our souls. We seek God just as the woman called to Jesus to heal her daughter. When the retreat is over, I remember why we do this each year—we feel God has heard us.

May the Lord continue to hear each of us as we call in faith.

Prayer for Peace Listening God, hear our longing to serve you well. Hear our heart’s longing to be the hands of Jesus, serving in his stead; to be the peace of Jesus in a noisy, violent world.

Spiritual Practice: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All Reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt God’s love in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will patiently, quietly listen to understand your will for me.

Bring forth the Kingdom of God

Sunday, July 27

7-27By Steve Hatch of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

—Matthew 13:31–32 NRSV

In the mid-1980s, my faith was in crisis. I experienced what many theologians call the “dark night of the soul.” The crisis offered no resolution, and it felt like God had abandoned me. I was alone to deal with my darkness, and I felt all my pleading was fruitless. I kept asking God why this was happening, and why God wasn’t helping. The more I prayed, the more distant from God I felt.

One week amid my darkness, I went to Sunday school, where we were studying the parables. We explored the parable of the mustard seed. The author suggested one important lesson from this parable is the need to plant our seed in faith, leave it alone, and allow God to provide the germination. We must leave the seed alone and let it “die” as a seed so it can become the tree that God intended.

Instead, we sometimes dig up the seed to make sure it’s viable and still growing. That, of course, keeps it from doing exactly that…growing as God created it to do. As I heard these words I realized I never had left my issue with God. I hadn’t planted my seed with faith that God would provide the germination. That day I committed to leave my seed planted in God’s fertile soil, which would allow my faith to grow to maturity.

Prayer for Peace Master Gardener, help us cultivate rich soil where we can plant seeds of faith. With your rain and sunlight and our tools and labor, may we be co-creators with you for a healthy spirituality. Help us sow seeds of peace.

Spiritual Practice: Trees Watch the trees outside your window for a few moments. Close your eyes and meditate on Alma’s words about seeds and trees (Alma 16:152–173). If you were to plant and grow the Word of God in your heart, what tree might symbolically represent this process? Imagine a seed as it grows into a tree of life and blessing. Ask God to show you how to begin.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will pull weeds from my life, and bring them to you as a repentant bouquet. Then I will accept your grace as flowers of forgiveness.

Just a Coincidence?

Thursday, July 24

By Jimmie Kurtz of Fulton, Mississippi, USA

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

—Romans 15:13 NRSV

After graduating from Western Illinois University in 1971, I took a position with the state. My wife, our toddler son, and I moved to another city. Our apartment had an outside entrance but was up a flight of steep stairs. It was a holiday weekend, and no one was available to help us unload the rental truck.

We arrived on Friday evening and took only the essentials up to the apartment. We offered our nightly prayers, which included our concern about getting our furniture moved in the next day. Early the next morning I went down to the truck to survey the problem, still not knowing how we were going to get everything up those steep stairs. I could carry some furniture, but not larger items like the refrigerator and sofa.

Just as I arrived to unlock the truck, a couple of teenage boys walked by. Immediately I asked, “Hey, fellas, how would you like to make a few bucks this morning? I have a truck to unload, and I don’t have any help.” Their response was a quick “Sure!”

Within a short time, what had looked to be an impossible task was complete. I handed the boys $10 each, and they cheerfully went on their way. Some would call it a coincidence that the boys walked by at just the right time. I believe it was one way God answered my prayers. I am thankful for the help of the boys and for the hope I find in Christ.

Prayer for Peace God of hope, you capture our attention, sometimes, in unexpected ways. Coincidence or blessing, we are aware of your Spirit in our lives. We find joy and peace in believing.

Spiritual Practice: Joy of Gratitude Stand, if possible, with arms outstretched. Imagine God filling your arms with all that you have: family, friends, and possessions. Hold out your arms until they feel tired. Now, bring your arms across your body. Place your hand over your heart and thank God for the abundance that fills your life. Sit for a time, aware of that abundance. Then ask God to help you open your heart in gratitude and share freely with others.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will join someone and make a difficult task, easier.

Fault Line

Monday, May 12

 

Danny Belrose

Danny Belrose

By Danny A. Belrose of Independence, Missouri, USA

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

—Isaiah 11:6 NRSV

(Editor’s note: One Sunday, Danny led a discussion on the difference between beliefs and faith. He shared his poem titled “Fault Line.”)

Beneath my iffy beliefs and fleeting hopes faith’s fault line never sleeps.

Rumbling here then there its troubled dance divides my head and heart—hiding, shifting, shaking, awakening questions posed and answers sought.

While dreams of feathered angels’ wings soar far beyond veracity in search of simple certitude stamped sure by childlike psalms and prayers that push the dark away.

Astride this deep divide, each foot a world apart, I fix my gaze on treasured times when wonder ruled my heart.

Sweet memories of mysteries of miracles and fantasies, of words and deeds and prophesies—where crumbs of bread and drops of wine cupped within Love’s healing hands spun promises of pearly gates, a never-land of joy and peace for lion, lamb, and child.

But comfort’s kiss of yesterday is fleeting and benign and sacredness cannot be bound by magic’s sleight of hand.

Foundations deeply shaken by probing of the mind have silenced songs of make-believe and stirred within my revelry the witness of eternity:

The Spirit breathes beyond our creeds, and Love is not a dream.

Stripped clean of measured litanies, of strained beliefs and fantasies, the mystic will not die.

Faith’s whispered invocation forever calls my name.

© Danny A. Belrose, 2011, used by permission

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, we study your word and build our beliefs. We breathe your Spirit and build our faith. Thank you for revealing Christ’s mission to us that we might respond.

Spiritual Practice: Breathing God’s Compassion
Light a candle and sit quietly, reflecting on the fire and light of God. Pay attention to your breathing and let it become calmer and deeper as you focus on God’s presence. Ask God to breathe in you. Imagine each breath carrying the light of God into your lungs, bloodstream, and every cell in your body until God’s Spirit fills you. Now imagine breathing out God’s compassion and grace each time you breathe out. Pray to have the Spirit of Christ radiate from your life like the gentle flame of a candle.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will discover where my faith leads me.

We Plant in Faith

Tuesday, April 29

4-29By John Bonney of Springfield, Oregon, USA

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

—Matthew 17:20 NRSV

In the spring, on any given day, we go into our yard to plant. We soak vegetable seeds for several hours to improve germination and give them a head start. We plant in raised beds and ground-level beds. We trim, weed, water, and fertilize. We do this several times over two or three months. And of course, we practice faith, because that’s part of planting.

Even those who find the term “faith” has too much religious baggage, even they plant in faith. They expect the plant to respond and grow, even when it is yet unseen. Planting of anything, not just seeds and bulbs, is a matter of faith. Planting is a vision, an anticipation of the inner eye of the imagination.

There probably are as many definitions of faith as there are people to offer them. One definition that has worked well for me, and that I often refer to is, faith is acting as if… as if what? As if what I imagine, what I see in my mind’s eye, what I believe to be true, is reality, and I live as if it were so.

For me, faith is not a single act or even a group of acts. It is a lifestyle, a way of living. Faith is responding to the unseen Spirit. It is an attitude that says even though I can’t prove this, even though I can’t see it, hear it, or touch it, I believe it. Therefore I’ll live my life as if it were. Faith is living belief.

So we plant our seeds and bulbs, believing that what we imagine will be. Is my life what God envisions it? I pray I am faithful to the divine image within me.

Prayer for Peace
Divine Planter, nourish us with your living water, Jesus Christ. May our faith grow in response to his love. May his peace grow as we share it.

Spiritual Practice: Trees
Watch the trees outside your window for a few moments. Close your eyes and meditate on Alma’s words about seeds and trees. If you were to plant and grow the Word of God in your heart, what tree might symbolically represent this process? Imagine a seed as it grows into a tree of life and blessing. Ask God to show you how to begin (see Alma 16:152–173).

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will live as if…

Seeing with New Eyes

Wednesday, April 16

4-16By Nancy Hylton of Seattle, Washington, USA

You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! …he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.

—Psalm 22:23–24

While flying 40,000 feet over the North Atlantic Ocean, I cannot help staring at the sea of clouds below and watching the sun come up along the horizon. It layers the sky in shades from orange to yellow and then blue. I have made the flight many times, but this perspective always startles me. The perspective brought to life by being so high sheds a new and different light.

I once watched a lightning storm from up here. It was the middle of the night over west Texas. I could not take my eyes off the sight for a long time. It was God’s laser light show magnified a thousand times! The clouds lit up in ever-changing patterns and colors, and everything was black between flashes.

It reminds me of our limited view of creation. We find our energy sapped by that perspective, which darkens with the clutter of the mundane. We fail to recognize the bigger picture—what matters most. Often in Seattle, the sun hides behind the clouds. We know the sun is still there, and we expectantly wait for it to rise each morning.

The week is here when we remember that Christ faced a darkness of his own. However, he had faith in the new life of the rising sun.

We cannot always see with a perspective from 40,000 feet, a space station, or even the moon when looking at this fragile home we inhabit. As we focus our mission on God’s peaceable kingdom, we seek to see with new eyes. In times of light and during our dark days, we have the light to know God does not hide God’s face from us.

Prayer for Peace
God who rises with healing wings, grant our souls a season of clear shining after rain. The theme of your salvation, may we find ever new. While in you we confide, we cannot but rejoice.

—adapted from Sometimes a Light Surprises, text by William Cowper

Spiritual Practice: God’s Healing Light
Today’s intercessory prayer comes from the Quaker tradition. Become still, and turn your attention to God. Prayerfully identify a person who is in need of healing, blessing, or guidance. Close your eyes and imagine God’s presence surrounding the person. See or sense the person held in God’s light. Continue holding the person in the light and release the person into whatever blessing is needed from God. Words are not necessary. Trust the Spirit to see and penetrate more deeply than human awareness. Thank God and close with “amen.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will stretch myself for a new perspective.

A Comforting Sign

Thursday, March 20

3-20By E.J. Chappelle of Rosharon, Texas, USA

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for God will speak peace to the people, to the faithful, to those who turn to God in their hearts. …*Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.

—Psalm 85:8, 11 adapted

I smelled smoke—a bad smell in a wood-working factory. Several of us sniffed around until we found the source. Outside a dense cloud of smoke was blowing from the north—a disturbing sight. I had thought the miles of plowed fields surrounding us would protect us from the recent wildfires. Not necessarily. The fires were closing in. I felt fear.

I had to do something, so I pulled a cart of fire hoses to the hydrant, just in case. I went back inside to get away from the choking smoke. The factory’s foam cannon would be useful for any fire within the building. But it lay on the floor, half-disassembled, awaiting new parts. Anxious, I felt compelled to put the instrument back together—fast—bad parts and all!

Only a miracle would make the motor work again, but I couldn’t just wait and do nothing. Reassembled, with only guessed-at settings, the motor started on the first pull of the cord. I had turned to God in my heart and had received the miracle I had prayed for. All my anxiety, fear and panic vanished with the noise of the rusty engine. I could relax, knowing we had foam ready to fight the fire. Another miracle—the fire never came too close.

Jesus warned his followers of his coming departure, but they didn’t understand. Still, Jesus continued teaching them and promised to comfort them in their coming times of need. As promised, on that confusing day of smoke, the Lord sent me a comforting sign so I could endure events I did not understand.

Prayer for Peace
God, we turn our hearts to you. We have faith that you will guide us in our mission. Help us to share in Christ’s mission of peace.

Spiritual Practice: Making Responsible Choices
Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God, 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 will exercise my faith when I don’t understand.

Renewing Faith for a New Year

Thursday, January 23

1-23By Darrell Belrose of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

…for God will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to God in their hearts. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet…Faithfulness will spring up from the ground….

—Psalm 85:8, 10–11, adapted

Internet, cyberspace, computers fixing computers, hubs, what exactly are they—how do they work? I’m not sure about all this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Electricity, solar power, wind energy, sound waves, energy fields—how do they work? I don’t understand all this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Reiki, therapeutic touch, mindfulness, prayer, reflexology—how does it work? I can’t explain all this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Microscopic life, macroscopic universe, God beyond, God within—how is this possible? I can’t see all this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Inspired scriptures, discernment, Enduring Principles, Mission Initiatives—how does all this lead to being co-creators with God? I can’t answer this, but…

I HAVE FAITH!

Resolutions for a new year—what is the purpose? I don’t understand all this…but I believe. I believe that which I have experienced, and these ideas have shaped and transformed my life over the years.

I HAVE FAITH!

What an exciting time to be alive, to have opportunities to listen to God, who cares about us, trusts us, loves and encourages us to be Christ’s ambassadors in yet another new year. What a privilege—what a gift. I don’t understand how it works, but I choose to step out in…

FAITH. I choose to embrace FAITH. I choose to trust in a FAITH that will carry us forward with Christ’s mission!

Prayer for Peace
God who speaks to us, may we be faithful in hearing your word. May we be faithful in sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Ongoing Revelation
One Enduring Principle of Community of Christ is Continuing Revelation. We are a people always in process, becoming shaped by God’s interaction with us. In prayer, listen deeply to the name, “Community of Christ.” Write or say a prayer, asking God to continue to form us through our name. Listen deeply to what it would mean to live in community, following and sharing the way of Christ.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will listen prayerfully and with faith.

Rest Assured

Wednesday, November 13

11-13By Dorene Kilburn of Stratford, Ontario, Canada

For mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.

—3 Nephi 10:18

A very special servant of the Lord passed on recently, a sad loss for those of us who knew him well. We sang Leighton’s favourite hymns at his memorial service. They brought back many memories. You see, no one sang hymns like Leighton. With his strong voice, he sang every word with gusto. Every word held deep meaning for him. Every word was a prayer of thanksgiving to the God who carried him. His whole body showed his enthusiasm.

A few days after attending Leighton’s memorial service, on a day that wasn’t going well for me, suddenly I “heard” Leighton singing, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” In my mind’s eye, I could see the joy he radiated. He exuded God’s assurance and grace. Before I realized it, I was smiling spontaneously!

God reminded me of the continual presence of the Divine, even when the road gets bumpy. This wasn’t an isolated incident. When I need encouragement, Leighton’s singing of that hymn comes to me, assuring me of God’s covenant of peace with us. The journey ahead, with my husband’s seriously declining health, will not be easy, but I know there is no need to fear because God is with us. That is an assurance we can all count on!

Prayer for Peace
God of music and harmony, God of words of deep meaning, you bring us peace. May we radiate your assurance of love as we share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Praying with the Doctrine and Covenants
For this body prayer, we will use simple postures with phrases from Doctrine and Covenants Section 163. Create a bowl with your hands, close your eyes, and meditate with the phrase, “God the Eternal Creator weeps.” Imagine your bowl catching God’s tears. End this posture by emptying the container over your head and being anointed by God’s tears. Create a large circle with your arms as if hugging someone and meditate with the phrase: “God yearns to draw you close so that wounds may be healed.” End by placing your hands over your heart. Now create your own body posture of openness to God and meditate on the phrase: “Be vulnerable to Divine Grace.” Say amen by bowing to God with palms together.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will express faith in your covenant of peace.