GPS: God Positioning System

Wednesday, October 22

10-22By Joann Condit of Phoenix Arizona, USA

Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I. …Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion.

—Isaiah 52:6, 8 NRSV

It was a matted and scruffy-looking toy fox, the beloved and constant companion of our 5-year-old grandson. The fox went with Tyler; his brother, Stephen; his parents; and Pa; and me to California to visit relatives. The house was full of family, and all the beds spoken for. Our grandsons slept in our sleeping bags.

Tyler and 8-year-old Stephen played hard all that day. By bedtime Tyler was tired and cranky. He needed to cuddle his fox and go to sleep. Alas, the fox was nowhere to be found, and Tyler was inconsolable. First Pa and I looked, then brother, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins joined the foxhunt. We thoroughly searched the house and the big backyard—even the tree house.

Outside lights shone brightly, and flashlights probed the corners. No fox. Tyler cried himself to sleep. His beloved fox had vanished from sight but not from his heart. He mourned.

Some 10 months later, I went to a women’s retreat and unrolled my sleeping bag onto a top bunk. When I climbed up, I found a large lump in the bottom of the bag. I hoped no one had put some unlovely object in there! Cautiously, I unzipped and folded back the bag to reveal…yes, the fox! The lost was found and gratefully and lovingly received home by Tyler.

We humans don’t resemble lost toys, but we do lose sight of God and become inconsolable. We are assured that God continues to love us, to search for us when we are lost, to make the divine voice known to us. Listen, for it is God who speaks. We reunite in love.

Prayer for Peace We are listening, God. Speak so we may find our way back to you.

Spiritual Practice: Voices of God What is the voice of God saying to us? Do we hear the whispers of God’s longing for shalom, God’s dream of beauty and wholeness for all creation? Do we hear the voice of God calling to us in faces and eyes, in the sounds of suffering and joy, in scripture and sacred word, in tears and laughter, in silence and noise?

Spend a few moments reflecting on when and how God’s voice speaks to you. When did you first feel called to join God in the pursuit of peace and justice? How does that call to shalom continue to come to you through the many “voices” of God?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will be guided by your voice and consoled by your Spirit.

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Lost and Found

Friday, September 12

9-12By Sara Parkin of Midland, Michigan, USA

…If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

—Matthew 18:12–13 NRSV

I lost my wallet. My money, credit cards, driver’s license, insurance cards, all lost in my missing wallet. Butch and I looked everywhere we had passed. We went to the security office, and they asked many questions, but I could not remember because of my Alzheimer’s.

Butch and I tried to retrace our steps. The memory loss scared me. And then, I went to my Higher Power. I calmed down. Butch said we should look one more place. OK.

Looking again, we saw nothing. The carpet was dark,, and so was the wallet. So I went to my knees. I used my fingers, I felt something, and I picked up my wallet. Thank you, God.

It was just a wallet, and yet, I cried. Not for the wallet, but for my memory loss. And when I found it I was so happy, and it felt like a blessing. I thought of the lost sheep and how the shepherd went back, he went out of his way, off the known path to find the sheep. It was lost and then found by love.

Get Lost, Be Found
Travel the known path if you must.
However, if you do, you will see nothing new.
In fact, you will see nothing at all—except your small
destination. Journey the mysterious,
the unknown, the curious,
and you will be led to pause
by the journey itself as it draws
you in. There you will know,
not where you go, but how you flow
from one moment to another—
and this, I vow, will allow
you the time to ponder the pond, spy the sparrow,
heed the road—so wide, so narrow.
In the here and the now, in the near and the far
Get lost, then be found where you are.

                                                                                                 —Lu Mountenay

Prayer for Peace Gentle Shepherd, we thank you for finding us, day after day.

Spiritual Practice: Joy of Gratitude With arms outstretched, imagine God filling them with all that you have: family, friends, and possessions. Sit for a time aware of your abundance. Ask God to help you share.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will not feel lost, being aware that you know where I am.

Reorienting to the Kingdom

Friday, May 16

5-16By E.J. Chappelle of Rosharon, Texas, USA

But strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

—Matthew 6:33, adapted NRSV

My goal was to save the sawdust silo squad some work. I climbed down into the filled hoppers of the dust collector to inspect the filters from below. Any leaky filter would have sawdust inside. But once I stepped on the surface of the soft sawdust, I became disoriented in the dense cloud of falling dust and uneven surfaces.

I fell into the dust and found I couldn’t stand back up, or even see past the end of my arm. My respirator was clogging up, and I lost my flashlight. I couldn’t tell which way was up.

I have experienced disorientation at different times, and in different ways. Most times the disorientation was less worrisome than that dust-collector experience.

Jesus encourages us to seek God’s kingdom first. The assurance is that all else will take care of itself. I like to think of a heavenly paradise in the sky, though I know that is way too simple a vision. When moral dilemmas, confusions, or difficult choices confront me, I try to remember to think in a different way—to look for God’s kingdom and discover what the Creator wants for me. It may not always seem what I want at first.

In the dust collector I wanted out as I thrashed about. I needed to know which way was up. Calm came when I realized the filters had to be above me. I found my flashlight and soon saw the filter bottoms. The panic instantly vanished. All I had to do was reach up, grasp a filter, and pull myself onto my feet above the sawdust. Once reoriented in the up direction, I shook the sawdust off me and the respirator. I then finished the inspections. If only it was as easy in finding the right way when seeking God’s kingdom.

Prayer for Peace
Direct us, God, as we form into disciples for Christ. Help us seek your kingdom by sharing Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Making Responsible Choices
Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. The practice of 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 using 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, the first step I will take is to open myself to your direction in my life.

God’s Business

Tuesday, March 18

3-18By Beryl Swain of Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases…many words…For your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

—Matthew 6:7–8

Her husband left her for another woman. Her children were adults, away from home. This left Mavis feeling depressed, lost, and unwanted. Hoping to cheer her up, we invited her to spend a week with us at the farm. We prayed God would minister to her and meet her needs during this time. I made many plans for her entertainment.

On the morning Mavis was to arrive, I awoke feeling seriously ill. “Quickly, ring before she leaves home and tell her I’m too sick to be a good host,” I said to my husband. But the call was too late. Mavis was already on her way. I didn’t understand how something like this could happen when we were only trying to help.

When Mavis arrived, I had a high fever and was incapable of doing anything to make her welcome. “Some holiday!” I thought. Mavis spent her entire vacation cooking meals for herself and my husband and preparing tasty “sick bed” cookery for me. She even taught my husband to use the sewing machine I had not yet mastered. When I finally was well, it was time for her to leave.

“Thank you so much for asking me to come. It’s the best week I’ve had in ages,” she said. I had to ask forgiveness of God. I had to let go of being in control. God blessed me but not in the way I expected. God knew her needs far better than I did. Our loving God knew she didn’t need me to entertain her; her real need was to feel useful, needed, and wanted. And she certainly was.

Prayer for Peace
Sometimes, God, we try to tell you your business. Help us trust you to know our needs and the needs of others. Help us trust you to teach us ways to share Christ’s peace.

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, it’s hard to do, but I will pray to you without my own agenda.

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.

Smile…God Is with Us

Thursday, February 27

2-27By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

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

—Romans 14:19

We often enjoyed fishing in a small stream near our family home. One summer day, we gathered there and dropped our hooks in the water. As the morning wore on, young Kim lost interest. Her parents asked me if I would take her home. So I lifted her onto my shoulders and chose the shortcut through the light woods.

Our family home was visible in the distance. At first, I easily threaded my way among the trees and vines. Then the going became more difficult. I told Kim to keep her face close to me and hold on tight. I assured her she would be safe, and soon we would break into open space where we could see.

Kim doubted it and questioned me, “Where are Mama and Daddy?” I told her they were still fishing where we had left them.

A few steps later she pleaded, “Where is Granny B’s house?” I pointed the way, but at that time she still could not see it. She felt we were lost and insisted, “Where is God?” I tried to put her mind at peace and assured her God was with us. Then I smiled as we returned to the open road with home in sight.

As I walked the familiar road, it reminded me of a conversation between a grandfather and his young grandson. At each opportunity the older man pointed out the wonder of God’s creation. Finally, the boy responded, “Grandpa, you think about God a lot, don’t you?” He replied, “Son, I hardly think about anything else.”

I find that when I view the world through the eyes of a child, I see God more clearly. At these times, I am compelled to worship the Creator of all—the one who walks beside us in the dark forests of our lives, and on the open roads—the one who brings us peace.

Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, help us assure one another of your presence. Give us faith to know that when we lose our way, you are with us.

Spiritual Practice: Listening to Children
Sit in your quiet place and center your heart and mind on God’s presence. Spend several minutes asking God to bring into your awareness the names and images of children in your life. You may see their faces or hear their voices as you receive these impressions. Listen deeply to the unique gifts and needs of the children who come to mind. Offer a prayer of blessing for each child and the needs you perceive. If you feel led, you may want to write a note or card and give a message of affirmation and love to each child.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will step out in faith, knowing you will be with me on my journey.

Lost Words

Friday, September 27

9-27By Sara Parkin of Midlands, Michigan, USA

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

—Psalm 85:8

(Part 7 of My Journey with Alzheimer’s Disease)

Doctors told me earlier that I had dementia with memory loss. Words were what I lost. It is hard to talk with words when you can’t speak the words that won’t come from your mouth.

I told my pastor a year and a half ago that I would not stand up in a service to speak. I was leading the Lord’s Prayer, and in the middle of the prayer, I lost my words. Thankfully, someone in the first row saw what was happening, picked it up, and kept it going.

When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, God put me to work remembering that I am alive, and God is with me. It is not just the words now as I learn there is help. I realized my pride was in the way. I did not want people to know what was going on in my life. I cannot do it alone, not any more. Now I ask for help.

Many words mean a lot to me. I am sure we all have words that have meaning in our lives. I have made a list of more than 30 words that mean a lot to me: God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, surrender, will, love, peace, joy, hope, prayers, family, friends, laughter, care, free, accept, change, courage, new, alive, share, kind, today, now, feel, Alzheimer’s, help, focus, smile.

In the next journal entry, I will share what these words mean to me as a person with Alzheimer’s disease. I will start the list with God.

Prayer for Peace
We turn to you in our hearts, God. We listen for your words. We try to find the words to Invite People to Christ, to share his peace.

Spiritual Practice: Tears of Compassion
Offer a silent prayer for the gift of God’s compassion. Cup your hands and ask God to make you aware of the suffering that causes the Earth and its inhabitants to groan and weep. Be open to faces or places, sounds or voices; feelings of connection with those who suffer. Imagine catching the tears of those you see and holding them in your hands. Listen for prayer images or words God may give you. Discern any active responses of ministry or healing you are invited to complete for those who weep.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I may lose the right words, but I will not lose my faith in you.

Lost in Omaha

Monday, September 16

9-16By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

…If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

—Matthew 18:12–14

I was in Omaha, Nebraska, and though I was unfamiliar with the city, I thought I knew where I was going. I was confident I could drive to a store and back to the hotel by myself. I did not need a map or guidance. But after an hour on roads that led to I don’t know where, I knew I had lost my way.

As I waited at a red light, surrounded by cars and traffic moving quickly in the opposite direction, the realization that I was lost engulfed me and drained the life from me. I thought, “I’m only lost in a large city. How does one cope with losing their way in life? How does one travel the perilous roads of life without God?”

We might fool ourselves into thinking we know the way, but without God, we really are lost. Thankfully, we have God. We have the scriptures, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to direct, guide, and escort us on our journey of life. We need never be alone.

Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, we thank you for searching for us when we lose our way. Thank you for your comfort and guidance on our journey. Help us never to lose sight of Christ’s mission. May we faithfully share Christ’s peace with those who lose their way.

Spiritual Practice: Praying with a Partner
Pray with a partner if possible, or imagine Christ sitting with you. The heart is a center of compassion and spiritual connection. Stand or sit across from your partner with hands open and palms up. Invite your partner to place hands, palms down, on your hands. Close your eyes and be aware of the connection between your heart and your partner’s heart. What needs, feelings, or longings do you sense? Invite God’s presence to flow into you and move from your heart to the heart of your partner. Feel or see God’s healing light and love flowing between your hearts. After a period of silent prayer, thank God and your partner. Say amen. (You also may pray this prayer by envisioning a particular person across from you.)

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will open myself to your Spirit and focus on what matters most.

Rejoice! The Lost Is Found!

Sunday, September 15

9-15By Jane Gardner, High Priest Quorum president

“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? …And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

—Luke 15:4–7

One morning before sunrise I arrived at the Temple in a hurry to prepare for an early worship gathering. As I reached the front doors of Temple, I heard a voice call out, “Hey Lady!” I was alone and debated whether I should just go ahead and enter the building and be safe, but decided to turn and engage the person calling to me.

He ran down the hill and asked if he could go into the Temple and use the phone. I told him the building wasn’t open yet, but if he would give me the number he could use my cell phone. He said he needed to call his boss to tell her that he would be late because the busses were running late. He proudly showed me his work shirt and said he was just starting a new job.

He had a short phone conversation with his new boss, asking that she be patient—he really was trying to get there. She must have encouraged him, and he hung up. Then he said, “Could I make one more call?” Again, I dialed the number and handed him the phone.

He began, “Mom, I have a new job and a new shirt and I want to stop by and show it to you.” His next statement broke my heart, “Please, Mom, can I just stop by? I won’t stay long, I promise. I just want to show you my shirt.” She must have relented. He said, “Lady, I don’t know who you are or anything about this place, but today you have been my angel.”

There are times in our lives and in our congregations when human boundaries get in the way of ministry. There are times when we too feel like the least, the last or the lost. The good news of today’s scripture is that when we feel unworthy or when others label us as unredeemable, God’s grace still pursues us, like the shepherd searching for the lost sheep. As disciples of Jesus, we are called into mission outside the boundaries, sometimes needing to make choices that, in the end, are a cause for celebration. Who knows? You may be somebody’s angel.

Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, we praise you for never taking your eyes off us when we wander. We rejoice when your sheep are found. We go to find your sheep and share Christ’s peace with them.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Sense the intimate knowledge 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 join in the search for your lost sheep and rejoice when they are found.

Seek First Christ’s Mission

Monday, September 2

9-2By Donna Boyd of Independence, Missouri, USA

…and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well…. “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

—Matthew 6:32–33, 7:7–8

We were seeking the home of friends. They gave us directions, and we started out confidently. We looked for landmarks along the way to assure us that we had taken the right road. As we looked for the signs they told us to expect, we knew we were on the right road to the home of our friends.

When we choose baptism, we enter the mission of Christ. The Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives reassures us that we are on the path of discipleship. We continue in faith as we develop in relationship with God.

Sometimes we become confused as the way seems long. We may seek direction from those who do not understand Christ’s mission and get conflicting advice. We may fail to ask for God’s guidance and become discouraged, ready to turn back. We may meet someone who tries to persuade us to change our course, to seek fame or pleasure instead of seeking Christ.

Through all the trials of the journey, we can remember to seek divine guidance. God has given us the Holy Spirit so we need not wander in darkness or confusion. We remember that we ought to seek first the kingdom of God. When faith wavers, we need to open ourselves to the reassuring presence of God’s Spirit.

Prayer for Peace
We are searching, God. We are knocking and asking. We have faith the doors will open. We have faith that you will guide us in the ways to share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Praying for Leadership of the Church
An important spiritual practice for disciples is praying for members of the body of Christ, particularly those who carry leadership responsibilities. Ask God to guide your awareness of people who lead the community of faith in congregations, mission centers, and the World Church. Pray for God’s outpouring of grace on each servant leader who comes to mind.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will not hesitate to call on you for direction in Christ’s mission.