A Memory

Tuesday, November 11

11-11By John Bonney of Springfield, Oregon, USA

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.

—Ecclesiastes 3:1–2, 4

Eventually, each of us will leave this Earth and the familiar form we know. Our link to the living will dissolve—at least for a time, as far as we know. My relationship with my mother was uniquely close. Or, as Margaret Meade famously said, “You are unique, just like everyone else.” I loved Mom dearly and she loved me unconditionally.

Every time my wife and I went to see Mom at the senior home, we walked down a long, dull hallway. Each time we left we walked the same path. As I said good-bye and I hugged my mother to me, I would always wonder if this were the last time I would hold her—“Will I see her alive again, or is this the final good-bye?”

After she died, we carried some of her belongings down that long hallway. With each trip, we took away some small part of my mother’s life. And, sometime before that experience, I had indeed hugged her for the last time. I did not know it at the time.

So between her six children, we divided her possessions. Each took a token of her life. No one felt short-changed; we felt only that our time with her was too short. One day you are here, and all the trappings of life that you hold are here with you. Then the sun goes down, leaving tokens and memories as testimony. They perhaps say, “There was a person here for a season—a child of God, loving and loved, now with God, at peace.”

Prayer for Peace Compassionate God, we thank you for the people in our lives. May we cherish them each day of their lives. May we share their stories and the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons Read Psalm 139:13–18. After each reading sit quietly and let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)?

Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has of you and every child. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How are you invited to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will hug a loved one, not knowing what tomorrow brings.

Times Change

Friday, August 1

8-1By Cindy Thomas of Independence, Missouri, USA

…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

—Isaiah 2:4 NRSV

Responsible Choices is one of Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles. In the past, my husband and I never would have imagined choosing to let our teenage son hang out with a former prison inmate. But times change, and we learn.

A man in our congregation was mentoring and helping a man following his parole from prison. One night our son joined in helping this man set up a television, DVD player, and other electronic equipment not even available when he entered prison.

Did we make a responsible choice by allowing him to do this? Yes! We are part of a congregation of accepting and outreaching disciples who choose to engage in prison ministry with men and women society have locked away. We teach our son not to judge others but to be of service when someone needs us. We were affirming the worth of this man by helping him adjust to his new life.

Times change. This new life led to this man’s ordination and ministry to many others.

Prayer for Peace Forgiving God, help us to see past the prison bars to the faces of the people behind them—the face of Christ. Help us let them know you love them. Help us encourage them to make peace and seek you, their Creator.

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. Ask for a blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the Spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenant Today God, as I think of turning swords into plowshares, I will turn silence into words of encouragement, despair into dignity, isolation into community, for a person left on the margins.

Love beyond Boundaries

Sunday, February 23

Wim vanKlinken

Wim van Klinken

By Wim van Klinken, director of International Headquarters

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”

—Matthew 5:38–41

Unfortunately, over the centuries, many have misinterpreted and even misused these words in Matthew because of a lack of knowledge of the background in which Jesus spoke them. Many have interpreted and used Jesus’ sayings to submissively endure oppression and abuse. Some have even used them to justify submission. Others, finding such an interpretation unacceptable, have answered evil with evil, murder with murder, violence with violence, cheating with cheating.

In Jesus’ times, Roman military code stated soldiers could ask servants to carry for a mile their luggage. However, if a soldier would use them any longer, the soldier would face retribution from his superior. Going another mile was an act of civil disobedience that would bring the oppressor trouble. Similarly, by offering the other cheek and outer coat, Jesus calls for nonviolent resistance.

Knowing the cultural setting, these servants would likely refuse and would put the oppressor in an impossible position. Jesus calls us to go beyond the boundaries of our normal responses and oppose marginalization and oppression in a manner that keeps love and the Worth of All Persons, even our enemies.

Prayer for Peace
God of justice, may we love our “enemies” bravely enough to require of them respect and honor for the worth of all creation. May we not demand from them that which we would not demand of ourselves. May we not stop at minimal acts of love, but go beyond conventional boundaries to love as Christ loved.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Read Psalm 139:13–18. Let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)?

Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How are you invited to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion and justice.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will peacefully resist injustice.

Yearning for Justice

Thursday, September 5

9-5By Barbara Howard of Independence, Missouri, USA

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom…But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

—James 3:13, 17–18

An old rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and the day had begun. “Could it be,” asked one, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it’s a sheep or a dog?” “No,” answered the rabbi. “It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that it is your sister or brother. Because if you cannot see this, it is still night.”

—A rabbinic story.

In the 1960s, society in the USA made efforts to bring about greater justice for minorities and women. I was a substitute junior-high teacher. A girl in one class was the object of ridicule and prejudice. She was overweight and often came to school unkempt and dirty. I wanted to help her but didn’t know where to begin. Because I did not see the class regularly, dealing with the problem seemed impossible.

One day, however, I had a conversation with one of the most popular boys in the school. He brought up the girl’s situation. “I wish I knew how to keep the kids from making fun of her,” he said. “It’s so unfair.”

His yearning for justice touched me. He said, “If I got a bunch of the students to make friends with her, maybe that would make a difference.” Several weeks passed before I was back at the school. The students astonished me. Our once-unhappy girl came into the classroom with her hair clean and shiny, neatly dressed, and smiling. She had a circle of friends who refused to bow to their peers. In befriending her, they benefited, as did the young woman.

The young man who began the transformation took the initiative to pursue peace.

Prayer for Peace
God of wisdom, as we learn from our young, may we carry forward our pursuit of Christ’s peace and share it with the world.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)?

Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. Pray for compassion.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be aware of someone who needs Christ’s transforming peace, and take the initiative to make it happen.