Be of One Mind and Heart

Sunday, September 28

Ron Harmon

Ron Harmon

By Ron Harmon, Council of Twelve Apostles

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

—Philippians 2:1–5 NRSV

Recently, during leaders meetings in Independence, Missouri, a woman approached me after a question-and-answer session. She was concerned that she had not made herself understood as she shared her comments with a large group of leaders from the USA. I could sense her frustration, so I asked her to elaborate.

She shared about some challenges in her mission center and then shared her specific concern. As I listened carefully, I not only heard, but felt, the depth of her concerns. As I responded, her eyes began to well up. She nodded and affirmed that I understood her concern. I assured her I would share this with my colleagues.

Something powerful happens when we create the time and internal space to listen intently to one another. We find ourselves in the sacred space of another’s deepest concerns, hopes, and ideals. The space that separates us fades in significance as we connect at a level beneath intellect and abstract ideas. We connect as human beings. And, although we may not agree, we sense the great importance of our bond as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Perhaps this is what the author of Philippians meant when he wrote, “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

Prayer for Peace Listening God, we have faith that you hear and feel our deepest concerns. Weep with us, God, so we may have joy in the morning light. Help us know this joy comes from you.

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 in need of healing, blessing, or guidance. Close your eyes and imagine God’s presence surrounding the person. See or sense the person being held in God’s light. Continue holding the person in the light and release the person into whatever blessing God knows is needed. 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 listen deeply and with compassion to another’s need.

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My Lawn…or an Ancient Seabed?

Monday, September 15

9-15By Don H. Compier of Independence, Missouri, USA

Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

—Psalm 117 NRSV

Last summer I determined to take care of my lawn by myself. I relished the joy of tending my part of God’s earthly garden. I carefully learned the rules of good lawn maintenance and followed them to the letter. I applied fertilizer and weed control. I set my sprinklers on timers and in strategic locations to keep the grass well-watered.

But nature had the final say. Day after day it did not rain, and we suffered with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. My best efforts suffered dishonorable defeat. One night after frantic mowing around the many bald spots, hacking mostly weeds, I had to admit the cause was lost. I turned off the faucets and stored my fancy timers, sprinklers, and hoses, leaving my lawn to forces well beyond my control.

The searing heat and drought had turned the ancient seabed just under my sod into a stone oven. No recently arrived interloper could survive, while species here long before any human settlers thrived. The ancient order of the universe reestablished itself. The continuity of tens if not hundreds of thousands of years marched on, oblivious to humans and our illusions of mastery.

This fall I applied plenty of fertilizer, and next spring and summer I will apply new seed, insect control, and all the usual statements of hope, knowing assuredly that success or failure will not be up to me. Strangely, I find this comforting. Scripture describes God as the Ancient of Days. We worship a cosmic Deity. God’s concern and care extends to all creatures, living or not, throughout a vast universe and across untold millennia. It isn’t all about us! We came into the story rather late.

This realization evokes proper humility and respect for an interconnected world. And yet our infinite, eternal Creator, in steadfast love, cares for you and for me! Results rarely turn out just as we want. Yet, as one year passes into the next, we experience the faithfulness of God, which endures forever!

Prayer for Peace Eternal Creator, your seasons come and go, but your love is steadfast. Praise the Lord!

Spiritual Practice: Psalm Writing The psalms are prayers of honesty and trust. The psalmist trusts God’s presence in times of fear and failure, joy and plenty, growth and change. Write a short psalm-prayer expressing to God the truth about your physical, emotional, and spiritual state. What are your deepest feelings, longings, and needs? What prayer of praise, intercession, or petition flows from you as you consider your life and the life of God’s world?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be aware of our interconnected world and the effects of my actions on all creation.

Where’s Your Money?

Thursday, September 4

Jar of MoneyBy Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

—Matthew 11:29–30 NRSV

When I was 17, I had a good friend named Linda. We lived near each other, went to school together, and even worked at the same place. I was saving for college, and Linda was saving for a car. We both kept a little money aside for fun, which we usually spent together.

When Linda’s brother came home from military duty in Vietnam, it seemed she no longer had any money. Whenever we went anywhere—movie, school game, or restaurant, she needed to borrow from me. One day when we were walking on the beach, our favorite pastime, I finally asked her where all her money was.

She told me she had lent it to her brother. Because I knew he still received payment from the military, I asked when she thought he might pay it back so she could get her car. She sheepishly told me she didn’t lend it to him; she gave it to him. I expressed concern because I knew he spent a lot on cigarettes and beer. I went so far as to tell her she had better not dip into her savings.

She said, tearfully, “I already gave him all of it. I couldn’t say ‘no’ to him.”

This concerned me even more. I don’t remember what I said next, but it must have been hurtful. I will never forget what she said, “He’s alive! That’s all I care about. He came back to me. I’ve worried and feared for his life for two years. I’m just so thankful he’s alive.”

You can imagine how I felt—petty and small. Looking back as a slightly more objective adult, at one time I framed some ideas about Linda enabling her brother’s poor choices. I decided I was just trying to excuse my judgmental self. Linda was the one who had her priorities straight. She loved her brother unconditionally. She sacrificed for him. She forgave him for wasting her money. She forgave me for not understanding her motives and for judging her brother. I learned a good lesson in humility.

Prayer for Peace God of wisdom, when we think highly of ourselves, help us bend low and reach for the hem of Christ’s robe, where we will find the humble heart of Jesus. Accept the love of our poor hearts. Forgive us when we impose our values on another. Help us humbly share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: The Jesus Prayer of Mercy The Jesus Prayer is an ancient spiritual practice from Orthodox Christianity. It is a way of connecting with the gracious spirit of Christ as we ask to receive his mercy. The prayer comes from the scripture of the blind man calling Jesus to heal him. Silently enter prayer and let your breath become slow and even. Greet God and then take up the prayer phrase: Lord, Jesus Christ (as you breathe in)…Have mercy on me (as you breathe out). Prayerfully repeat these words for several minutes (or 40 times). Breathe the presence of Christ into your mind, heart, and body. Be transformed as you receive the compassionate, peaceful heart of Jesus.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will not presume to know your will for another person.

Grace and Generosity, Part 2

Photo: Miriam Pepper,  KC Star Cell where peace activists held

Photo: Miriam Pepper,
KC Star
Cell where peace activists held

Tuesday, March 11

By Lu Mountenay of Independence, Missouri, USA

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

—1 Corinthians 12:26–27

The city charged us with criminal trespass for protesting at the nuclear weapons plant. My home for the next few hours was a concrete-and-steel jail cell in downtown Kansas City. I sat on a graffiti-covered metal bench to gather my thoughts. I noticed someone had scratched “MAMA” in the blue paint. I saw it as a lonely, regretful cry for help.

“How much is your bail?” an inmate asked. “One hundred dollars,” I answered. “That’s nothing! Do you have someone to pay it?” I had faith in my family support and companion protesters from PeaceWorks—KC. However, I felt the other women in the cell might be alone in their troubles. As I got to know them, it was worse than I had imagined.

When “Stacey” learned I was a minister, she immediately asked, “Will you pray for me?” We prayed together as she cried. I found that poverty was at the root of her crime. She had broken her probation because she couldn’t pay the fine for bad checks she had written for groceries. “I was in hiding. My boyfriend found me and beat me up. The police arrested me—not my boyfriend—because of the warrant on me…I miss my kids.”

“Flo” was homeless and had been drinking. As I started to walk around the cell to stretch my legs, she followed me. I did a few arm-swinging exercises. She did the same. Soon, everyone joined in, and we had an aerobics class going on. They simply longed for a little direction, a break from boredom and hopelessness, if only for a few hours.

One woman, locked in a separate cell, moaned and yelled continually. “She’s violent,” Stephanie said. I started to sing, and the woman became quiet. Then Stacey, Stephanie, Flo, and Mary started singing, too. Flo asked, “Do you know Swing Low, Sweet Chariot?”

“Sure do.” And so all of us sang. The atmosphere started to get a little sad, so to cheer them up, I started to sing alternate words: “Swing low, sweet Cadillac…a brand new El Dorado comin’ after me…” Everyone laughed. The officers had not responded to the cries of the woman and her calls for help, but one did come when he heard us laughing. Interesting!

When they came to release me, everyone started crying again, so we had another prayer. They had surely blessed me with their sincerity and genuine emotions. They taught me about gratitude and humility. I think of my cell mates often and pray they open themselves to receive comfort from the Holy Spirit. I pray they have someone to lead them in dance, song, and prayer; someone to call friend; and yes…someone to pay their bail.

Prayer for Peace
Open our hearts, God, that we may include the lost and lonely in our prayers for peace.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Let your mind be drawn to places where people have no homes. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Offer a prayer for those who suffer.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will help a lost soul find the way to Christ’s peace.

Freely Give

Saturday, February 22

2-22By E.J. Chappelle of Rosharon, Texas, USA

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…

—Ephesians 2:8

I felt able to be a little more generous than usual one day, so I bought some ice-cream cones to share with a few friends. It felt good to bring unexpected gifts to others. Later one of these friends went to the store after receiving a little extra money. It disappointed me when he returned without any treats to share.

Even as a child I knew that a gift is just that, a gift freely given without expectation of receiving something in return. But I’ve still got a self-serving mind that my wiser heart is often slow to rebuke. Of course, I quickly got over that minor disappointment.

When I think of the far greater gifts of God to us, I am humbled. You can’t earn it, and no one deserves God’s grace. Our Creator doesn’t need someone to save his soul in return. We need only accept the divine gift of forgiveness and salvation and live life as disciples on Christ’s mission. Freely, we have received…freely give.

Prayer for Peace
Freely giving God, help us adopt your way of giving. Help us grow a generous heart. May we share what we can, especially the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Growing a Gracious, Generous Heart
Open your heart to God’s grace and generosity with a “breath prayer.” Let your breathing slow and deepen. Be aware of God’s breath moving in and out of your heart. Spend several minutes focusing on breathing in God’s generosity. With each breath, silently name one gift for which you are thankful. Let your heart expand to contain God’s gracious outpouring of love. With each breath out, name one gift you want to share from the overflow of your heart.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be vulnerable to your grace with humble gratitude.

A Lesson in Humility

1-30By Greg Clark of Independence, Missouri, USA

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you…

—Colossians 3:12–13

I sat in the hospital waiting room, focusing on my wife and her medical problems. Soon, a family of four entered, all middle-aged and older.

A glance determined their socio-economic status. Their dress was slovenly. Their straggly hair was dirty, and so was their skin. One was missing several teeth.

They seemed oblivious and insensitive to others. They loudly and unabashedly discussed personal topics that were none of anybody else’s business.

They were beyond annoying. And the longer they stayed, the more they annoyed.

Then one of them, a woman in her late 60s or early 70s, jolted me with a simple statement to a nearby pastor: “I want to become a minister someday.”

My initial impression: “No how, no way.”

Almost immediately, a wave of shame slammed into me. Who was I to judge her? Who was I, based on a few minutes of observation, to decide whether somebody was fit for ministry? Who was I to know what call she might have from God?

It struck me that she might be better qualified than I. After all, I knew about Colossians 3:12–13, which calls me to clothe myself “with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” and to “bear with one another.” Yet, here I was, a modern Pharisee, passing judgment—something I should never do.

God, I thank you for this humbling lesson. I pray you will forgive me and help me remember the Worth of All Persons. Help me to engage in compassionate ministries. And I pray you will bless the woman’s need for a deeper relationship with you.

Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, thank you for the lessons we learn from one another. Forgive us when we judge. Turn our hearts to sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. Create a circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle.

Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep you and others from being one in Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant
I will remember, God, that when I accept others in their diversity, I strengthen my unity with them and you.

Serve in Community

By John Wight, senior president of seventy

…whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.  Mark 10:43–45

As a child, I regarded the people who served as apostles with awe. I saw them as super-humans who somehow were better than everyone else and above doing menial tasks.

This view was shattered one summer when I was attending a family camp as a 15-year-old. I enjoyed working in the kitchen and was happy to help with KP duties. As I stood at a sink washing pots and pans one day, a gentleman walked up and asked, with a plain air of humble servanthood, if I needed help.

I was rather shocked when I looked up and found it was a guest minister—a man who had served as an apostle until the previous year. I was nearly speechless as I tried to answer his question, but I finally blurted out, “Sure, that would be great.”

For the next hour, this boy and a former apostle stood side by side, scrubbing nasty, greasy pots and pans, and chatting. That was a pivotal moment in my life—a moment for which I am very grateful and one which I never shall forget.

It taught me in real and personal ways the lesson Jesus was trying to communicate in the story recorded in the 10th chapter of Mark. This man, who had served in the highest levels of church leadership, taught me the value of humility and how important it is “not to be served, but to serve.”

Prayer for Peace:

Ground of our being, as humble servants we ask that our calling be made known to us. How can we serve you and our companions? How can we serve strangers? How can we share the peace of Christ?

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation

Each day this week choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following suggested practices or create your own.

Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude and “holy attention.” Write a psalm of praise for the beauty of the Earth, or a prayer of healing and blessing for the wounds of the Earth. Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping, such as recycling, simple living, fasting from over-consumption of resources. Notice the unique 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 not be above any task that I am asked to do for the cause of peace.

Trust and Obey

By Mnqobi Ngwenya, of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

…pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  2 Timothy 2:22

A few weeks ago, early in the morning, a man cycled to town and went to the marketplace before it opened. A blind man sat by a fire with friends. The stranger came directly to the blind man and asked if he could pray for him. The blind man quickly agreed and prepared to receive his blessing.

The stranger prayed, and instantly the blind man’s eyesight was restored. As the blind man and his friends were rejoicing, the stranger quickly got on his bike and cycled off without the crowd’s notice.

I was humbled, not so much by the miracle that happened to the blind man, but by the humility and obedience of the man who performed the miracle.

Unlike Jonah’s first response, he trusted the Lord and acted on what he was told to do. I imagined how far the man had cycled and what was going through his mind while on his way to the market.

I asked myself many questions and was convinced that if you trust the Lord and obey, God will be with you in fulfilling Christ’s mission.

Prayer for Peace:

God, give us a receiving spirit and listening ears so we can quickly hear and obey your leadings. We would pursue righteousness and pure hearts. We would pursue peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Each day this week meditate on unity in diversity. Prayerfully read Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c, which calls “the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls.”

Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle. Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “dangerous” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep you and others from being one in Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will listen closely for your direction in my life.