Priceless Legacy

Tuesday, September 23

9-23By Vivian Betts of Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

—Jeremiah 31:33 NRSV

My grandma was an amazing woman. She was never happier than when sharing what she had. During the war she took people into her home, and her spare bedroom was constantly in use. She would help anyone in financial need.

When I was young we did not own a car, and church was half an hour’s walk away. As we had four services to attend on Sunday, I would spend lunch and dinner with my grandparents. She let me help with the cooking, and she talked constantly about the church she had found as a young woman and the difference it made in her life.

She relied a lot on Granddad, but when he was 68 he was killed in a car accident. She went on to live until she was 97, spending her last years in Peace Haven, Britain’s Community of Christ residential home. When she died she had no financial assets. She had spent her years giving it away. Yet what she left for me were special memories of a woman who lived her life as a vivid example of Jesus Christ, and I thank God for her.

Prayer for Peace God of all generations, keep our covenants fresh in our hearts. We would respect the memories of our ancestors and carry forward traditions of generosity and peace.

Spiritual Practice: Connecting with God as Center Connect with God through journal writing or contemplation. Open yourself to God’s presence and share what flows from your heart and mind. Your “communication with God” might include thoughts, questions, feelings, needs, artwork, quotes, or scriptures. Or it might take the form of a prayer, psalm, or poem. Try to write or meditate at least five minutes each day.

What do you experience? Is this an effective way to connect with God? What surprises you? How do you feel God’s love? What deepens or changes in your relationship with God, Christ, Spirit?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will remember whose I am.

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Honoring Our Ashes

Wednesday, March 5 (Ash Wednesday)

3-5By Carolyn Brock of Redmond, Oregon, USA

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house…?

—Isaiah 58:6–7, adapted

When I was 5 years old our house burned to the ground. We arrived home from church and found it engulfed in a fireball. I can still remember the heat on my face, the orange flames shooting high, the look on my mother’s face, the grief in my heart. We had been told to take our new Christmas dolls out of the car, back into the house, before leaving for church earlier that day.

For a while it felt like we were homeless refugees who had lost everything and didn’t know where we were going. But family, church friends, and the community took us in and began to provide supplies to rebuild our life. I had loved living in that place on the edge of a pine forest in southern Oregon. But I found that I could live in a new place, create new memories, explore new landscapes, and keep growing.

The memory of all that happened is still clear and precious. I am who I am, in part, because of having lived in that place. Every place where I have lived, put down roots, loved the land, and connected with people is the stuff that continues to form me. Though they become “ashes” to me in a physical sense, they are the substance of my deep bone marrow, my story.

As a church, we are who we are because of all the places we have “lived” physically, theologically, and spiritually. We may think the old places were abandoned as ashes, but they are still within us, bound in our memories, woven into our stories. They continue to tell us who we are and where we are going. Let us remember and revere the ashes of past “places,” and carry them with us into the new.

Prayer for Peace
Past, present, and future God, we remember our loving communities and how they blessed us. Help us gather strength from this as we are called to be a blessing to others.

Spiritual Practice: The Ashes of God’s World
Hold an imaginary or real bowl of ashes in your hands. Let it represent the losses, sufferings, and injustices in the global community. Name things in the bowl that particularly grieve you. Pray a blessing on the Community of Christ as it responds to the ashes of God’s world with healing words and reconciling actions.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will weave peace into the story I share.

At the Table

Thursday, August 22

8-22By Janné Grover of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

The mission of Jesus Christ is what matters most for the journey ahead.

—Doctrine and Covenants 164:9f

The table in our kitchen is about 100 years old. It originally belonged to my great-grandma. I have fond memories of gathering around that table when it was in my grandma’s kitchen, then my parents’, and now mine.

The table never received a formal blessing. It is plain, not ornate. It is not a holy relic. It is special to me because of the sentiment it holds and the rich family story it tells. What makes the plain, old table sacred, however, is the life and love lived and shared around it.

When we experience God through ordinary family meals, they become times of worship and ministry. Mealtime is more than just eating. It is the time when our family lifts joys and concerns. We connect with one another and in so doing connect even more closely to the Divine.

I will not try to portray our family meals as perfect, reverent, or even always peaceful. But I have learned to appreciate stressful times as opportunities to extend and receive grace, learn from one another, and grow together in faith.

In the congregational evangelist blessing my home congregation received, we were counseled to “…throw the door wide and invite all to come inside.” We can apply this in our homes. Hospitality has a wonderful way of bringing us in touch with the Divine through acts of serving and sharing, breaking bread, and being present in the lives of others. Time shared with others and with God is so important.

Prayer for Peace
Welcoming God, may we “throw the door wide and invite all to come inside.” May we make room at the table for the unseen guest. May we share our time and the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community
Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the relationships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, and people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings flow to you from these circles?

Reflect, pray, or write in your journal about the call to be “Community of Christ.” Go deeper each day as you discern what act of blessing you are invited to complete.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will invite a lonely person to the table.

Reflections from the Refrigerator

By Deb Crowley of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, USA

Listen to the teachings (of your sacred journey) and discover anew its principles. Do not yearn for times that are past, but recognize that you have been given a foundation of faithful service, even as you build a foundation for what is yet to be.  Doctrine and Covenants 162:2b, adapted

At first glance, one would judge my refrigerator door as unappealing, messy, or filled with junk.

As I stare at it, I ponder what I should take down. The picture of grandkids sledding in the snow, framed with jewels by a special kindergartener? The first handwritten, decorated letter with phonetically spelled words by the same child? Perhaps the photo of the Crowley clan and my niece’s engagement photo should find their way into an album. Maybe Dustin’s framed first-grade photo, which had been a gift to my mom and returned to me when she passed. A double memory.

If not the photos, then surely some magnets could go. But the teapot reminds me of the women I grew close to at a women’s retreat. The Temple represents peace and the purpose for so much of my life efforts. The Haiti magnet from Outreach International speaks of human need and urges me to give generously.

So many memories clutter that door! Maybe a few nondescript magnets will disappear, but the majority of memories are staying for now.

Life gets cluttered and chaotic sometimes. Junk skews our vision. It interferes with our relationship with one another and God. It’s time to step back, examine the pieces and parts of our life that are worth hanging on to and remembering why they are important.

Then, discard, change, or banish the rest! Once set in order, there will be room for experiences yet to be. A refreshed heart…it doesn’t get any better than that!

Prayer for Peace:

Companion on our journey, we cherish and honor our memories. Help us find what matters most and let go of the rest. We look ahead to sharing peace yet to be.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Embodying God’s Shalom

Each day this week find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of the Earth’s peoples, nations, and creatures. Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom.

What images, feelings, and words come to you? What prayer for peace comes to you from your time of listening? Speak or write this prayer. What small act of justice, kindness, healing, or peacemaking is God inviting you to consider this day, this week?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will set my life in order and make room for peace.

The Presence of the Community

By Betty Snapp of Independence, Missouri, USA

When your willingness to live in sacred community as Christ’s new creation exceeds your natural fear of spiritual and relational transformation, you will become who you are called to be. The rise of Zion the beautiful, the peaceful reign of Christ, awaits your wholehearted response to the call to make and steadfastly hold to God’s covenant of peace in Jesus Christ.  Doctrine and Covenants 164:9b

Not long ago I realized we are all connected. This occurred to me when memories flooded my mind of friends and community companions who have accompanied me on my faith journey.

Reflections of my Community of Christ congregation flashed through my mind, like a movie playing before my eyes. It slowly rolled back and revealed the faces and personalities of so many who played key roles in my journey.

Those faces, many of whom have passed away but are not forgotten, strengthened and supported my faith over the years. They are bits of memories that will last a lifetime—a woven tapestry, a strong rope that keeps me securely, faithfully, and spiritually connected.

I see the beautiful smiles and love of the nursery and children’s Sunday school classes (including hugs). I hear kind words of enthusiasm offered to everyone. I feel acceptance given that gets us through another difficult week. I hear inspirational sounds offered by those who are gifted with music.

I am changed by the spoken word. I am filled with God’s presence joining the presence of the community.

My faith journey thrives on these powerful connections from the past and the present. Because of the blessings of community in my congregation, I can keep my connection with God and do my part to share the peace of Jesus Christ.

Prayer for Peace:

God of connections, we thank you for all who have gone before us and helped shape our journey. We thank you for your presence, which graces us with companionship. We thank you for the future filled with hope and faith to follow your path to peace.

Spiritual Practice:

Sit quietly as you enter intercessory reflection and prayer. Ask God to bring people to your heart who need prayer. Be open to images of the people or spiritual insight into their needs. Listen for signals from their lives and let the depth of God’s love become powerful and real to you. Ask a prayer of blessing and healing for them.

Peace Covenant:

Mystery God, as it is made known to me, I will be ready to do what I am called to do.