Welcome Home

Friday, November 7

11-7By Flo McDonald of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus. …Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

—Romans 15:5, 7 NRSV

Opportunities to live in different areas of the USA blessed our family. I attended classes for young mothers on ways to respond to the needs of growing children when it is necessary to relocate. I am grateful for the instructions received. In addition, I learned it was possible to make the transitions without too much trauma.

One idea was to make the move an adventure and have fun. We learned about the environment and visited places of interest in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Missouri. My husband liked to travel back roads instead of staying on main highways. One day the family made a shopping trip to Phoenix, Arizona. On the way home, the road on which we traveled ran out—it was unfinished!

We had prepared for the trip, or so I thought. The day was hot, and our car did not have air-conditioning. Concern for my family caused me to forget about myself. I assured them I was fine. The time came when I was not fine.

A service station was ahead. We stopped, and I did what experts told us not do in one of our classes. I rapidly drank liquids. Despite my stupidity, the Lord blessed me. I survived. But to this day I cannot stand the heat as well as I once did.

Another lesson learned was to make the new home a familiar place. Familiar objects and pictures helped, as did continuing familiar daily routines. The most help of all came in finding and attending the nearest Community of Christ congregation.

I remember those days, the friendships we made, and experiences of community. I realized that God had heard our prayers and had given our family strength and protection. I never would have known that we could handle so many moves so smoothly. Our faith families welcomed us. I trusted God to remain steadfast no matter where we lived.

Prayer for Peace Welcoming God, it is good to know when we must leave a home, that you will be there waiting for us in our new home. Thank you for our international community with whom we can live in any new place.

Spiritual Practice: Experience Congregations in Mission Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 164:9a–d. Reread the sentence, “If you truly would be Community of Christ, then embody and live the concerns and passion of Christ.” Make a list of the issues you feel mattered most to Christ. Make another list of issues that matter to the people in your congregation. Reflect on the similarities and differences. How can you help align the lists? Throughout the day, as issues arise, ask yourself, “Would this matter to Christ?”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will welcome the newcomers and help them know they are “home.”

Look Back—Remember…Look Forward—Envision

Tuesday, December 31

12-31By John Bonney of Springfield, Oregon, USA

Lift up your eyes and fix them on the place beyond the horizon to which you are sent. Journey in trust, assured that the great and marvelous work is for this time and for all time.

—Doctrine and Covenants161:1a

I just won a game of solitaire and I’m happy. Oh, you think I should get a life? Now don’t feel sorry for me just because I like to sit alone in front of my computer and play solitaire. Winning only happens 11% of the time, according to the program’s records. Yes, my solitaire game is leading up to my message.

Do you know the feeling “I’ve been here and done this before?” I don’t mean déjà vu. I mean “I’ve gone this way so often I can almost see myself returning.” I’d be on the road, heading somewhere. I’d have an agenda, see the same highway, meet the same people, drive thousands of miles, and I imagined I could see myself returning! I would leave in the morning for my destination and I would think, “There I am coming back later today or tomorrow.” I don’t know if others feel this way.

I am not comfortable in the present. I don’t do now. I spend much time in the past because I thrive on nostalgia. I like to look back and remember. But I also look forward and envision. Entering the new year is a good time for this.

I live in a world of creativity and imagination. I like people, but prefer to be alone. I enjoy music, poetry, and the visual arts. These venues may be common ground for you and me, but in other ways I feel I have a different personality than most. Unity in Diversity—one of the Community of Christ Enduring Principles, allows me to fit into my community. I am happier than winning a game of solitaire knowing I am accepted and loved the way I am—by God and you.

Prayer for Peace
We thank you, God, for the familiarity of the past and the mystery of the future. Walk with us into the new year.

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
I commit myself anew to sharing Christ’s peace in the fresh, new year.

Jesus Is Born

Sunday, December 22

12-22By Kris Judd of Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly… 20 an angel of the Lord appeared to him… “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

—Matthew 1:18–21

I have many children, all of whom belong to other mothers. I never had the privilege of giving birth, but have been blessed to love and care for children from my family, friends, and church. A few years ago I had the opportunity to witness the birth of a special baby, Jasmine, the daughter of two good friends.

Jasmine was not an expected pregnancy. Mother nor father were ready to welcome her into the world. Her father was not sure she was even his, but vowed to raise her and treat her as his own regardless. I was in the hospital room with Jasmine’s mother, father and grandmother the morning she arrived. It had been a long night, filled with discomfort, anxiety and fear.

On her arrival the world seemed different, more alive, more real. God opened my eyes with a sense of wonder and possibility that I had not experienced in the same way before. I fell in love with the world and with a baby whose life changed forever the lives of two unprepared but willing parents.

Perhaps that is how Joseph and Mary were feeling when their son arrived. They did not plan, nor were they ready for this baby. But the baby that arrived changed not only their lives but millions of lives around the world. His birth continues to change lives every moment. Two thousand years ago, the birth of Jesus Christ ushered in a new possibility of a kingdom for which the faithful had been waiting for way too long. The world is still waiting to see it in its fullness. It is here and it is coming. Hallelujah! Jesus is born!

Prayer for Peace
Generous God, let us be the ones who bring good news to the poor, joy to the broken hearted, hope to those who wait. Let us share the news of the Christ child and his peace.

Spiritual Practice: Joy
Prepare room in your heart for the Christ child. Prepare room in your heart for joy. Think of the many ways you experience joy in the Advent season: bells, candles, lights, carols, special food, gift giving, time with family and friends, celebrations of the birth of Christ. Reflect on the many ways you can share joy in the Advent season: giving to those in need, making a place for everyone at the table, greeting strangers, helping others, being a presence. Continue your own list. Thank God for the joy you experience and the opportunities to share it.

Peace Covenant
On this joyous day, God, I will share the joy of the coming of the Christ Child.

Follow the Star

1-6By Barbara Carter, Council of Twelve Apostles

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men…“Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage…And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

—Matthew 2:7–8, 10–12

The wise men who followed the star were seekers. A new star had appeared, and they believed its appearance was the sign of a spectacular event. Their seeking eventually led them to Jesus.

The story in Matthew tells us that after finding Jesus, they returned home a different way.This passage describes the original plan to go tell King Herod where the child was. But I like to think of it this way. After the wise men encountered Jesus, could they go home untouched? They traveled for many years, and once they found Jesus, they would never be the same. That meeting changed their lives and had an impact on them in untold ways.

Isn’t this the same for us? After meeting and learning of Jesus, his teachings, his compassion, his love for all people, his message of justice and peace for the world today, can we go back to who we were? In this meeting, our lives have experienced a touch of grace that allows us to see the world through different eyes. Even if we traveled the same road that brought us to thisplace, we would never see or experience it as before.

It is that way with Christ. Once you have had an encounter, you cannot return home the same.

Prayer for Peace
Creator God, as we search for your star anew, may we encounter your life-changing Spirit. May we pay attention to our journey on the outward path. As the love of Christ touches us, may we return as new and vibrant disciples of peace.

Spiritual Practice: Encountering Scripture as Continuing Revelation
Read and pray with Doctrine and Covenants as Continuing Revelation of God’s vision for the church and creation. Choose a favorite section or focus on counsel in Sections 156–164. Read a few selected paragraphs slowly three or four times. Pause to pray for deep understanding after each reading.

Pray for the opening of your heart and emotions. Prayerfully ask to hear the phrase or word that speaks to you or touches your life. Stay with this word or phrase. Listen as fully and openly as you can. What sense of divine presence or invitation comes? What is revealed?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will awaken to Christ’s mission and discern a new path.