Words of Support

Monday, October 20

10-20By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

—Romans 12:1–2 NRSV

Our congregation is the spiritual home of several generations. We carefully nurture all children who come to us and teach them the ways of Christ. Young Jared was one of these children. He asked for baptism, so we planned a service to celebrate his commitment to Christ.

A couple of days before the sacramental service, I felt compelled to write a letter of support to Jared. As I finished it, the phone rang. It was his mother. She said in an anxious voice, “I need to talk to you, and it is important.” She told me the person who was to bring the message for the service of baptism had laryngitis and could not speak. She pleaded, “Can you do the charge on such a short notice?”

I must have hesitated as I looked at the letter I had just written. I asked if I might read something to her as an answer to her request. She agreed, though she did not understand why I was hesitant. I shared the letter that I had written to her young son, and she understood my answer. It was the message that I was to give at his baptism. We rejoiced together that I had responded to the Holy Spirit on behalf of young Jared.

Prayer for Peace Prepare us, Lord—make us ready. Gently nudge us to be open to your Spirit. Help us remember that you have a purpose and a call for each one. Help us respond to that call.

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 deeper understanding after each reading.

Pray to open 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 rejoice in the times that, together, we got it right.

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A Hug for the Road

Saturday, August 9

8-9By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

Generously share the invitation, ministries, and sacraments through which people can encounter the Living Christ who heals and reconciles through redemptive relationships in sacred community. The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith.

—Doctrine and Covenants 163:2b

Just how does mission begin? For me, it recently began at the dinner table. After church we gathered in the friendship hall for lunch and visiting. I greeted a woman sitting alone, and I set my plate next to hers. Her eyes were red from crying, and she looked sad. I asked, “May I give you a hug?” I asked her if she wanted to talk after lunch. She nodded yes.

Another elder and I took Julie to a quiet room where we could talk. Her first words were “Your hug is the best feeling I’ve had all day.” I quickly gave her another. Julie sobbed out her story to us. She felt helpless as she suffered through life on a meager income.

Her body was thin, and she was still losing weight. She needed medical help but could not afford it. Besides that, she was caring for her grandchildren. When her emotions subsided, the other elder and I promised our support. We told her of our congregation’s well-stocked pantry and a network of agencies that also could help. We assured her our congregation offered community and worship, including the sacraments.

We explained the sacrament of laying on of hands for the sick. Julie asked that we present her to the Lord for a blessing of wholeness. The calmness of her spirit and hope in her face testified that she felt God’s healing touch.

At the end of our visit, we promised Julie we would journey with her as long as she wanted us to. We parted with another hug. This opportunity to serve reminds me that even if our deeds seem small, they may be the best ministry that happens all day to a hurting soul. Small deeds can start us on a mission to end suffering.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, help us reach out to people who need the touch of community. Make us watchful and aware of loneliness and need. May we respond to the need for peace.

Spiritual Practice: Invite People to Christ Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 162:3b and 163:2b. Pray to be aware of people who might be receptive, and therefore blessed, by your sharing of the message of the Living Christ. Imagine being in relationship with them and inviting them to Christ. In preparation, discover your personal testimony of Christ. “Be persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.” Repeat this mantra throughout the day: “Christ’s mission, our mission, my mission.”

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will look into the eyes of your people, and respond to their tears.

Just a Coincidence?

Thursday, July 24

By Jimmie Kurtz of Fulton, Mississippi, USA

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

—Romans 15:13 NRSV

After graduating from Western Illinois University in 1971, I took a position with the state. My wife, our toddler son, and I moved to another city. Our apartment had an outside entrance but was up a flight of steep stairs. It was a holiday weekend, and no one was available to help us unload the rental truck.

We arrived on Friday evening and took only the essentials up to the apartment. We offered our nightly prayers, which included our concern about getting our furniture moved in the next day. Early the next morning I went down to the truck to survey the problem, still not knowing how we were going to get everything up those steep stairs. I could carry some furniture, but not larger items like the refrigerator and sofa.

Just as I arrived to unlock the truck, a couple of teenage boys walked by. Immediately I asked, “Hey, fellas, how would you like to make a few bucks this morning? I have a truck to unload, and I don’t have any help.” Their response was a quick “Sure!”

Within a short time, what had looked to be an impossible task was complete. I handed the boys $10 each, and they cheerfully went on their way. Some would call it a coincidence that the boys walked by at just the right time. I believe it was one way God answered my prayers. I am thankful for the help of the boys and for the hope I find in Christ.

Prayer for Peace God of hope, you capture our attention, sometimes, in unexpected ways. Coincidence or blessing, we are aware of your Spirit in our lives. We find joy and peace in believing.

Spiritual Practice: Joy of Gratitude Stand, if possible, with arms outstretched. Imagine God filling your arms with all that you have: family, friends, and possessions. Hold out your arms until they feel tired. Now, bring your arms across your body. Place your hand over your heart and thank God for the abundance that fills your life. Sit for a time, aware of that abundance. Then ask God to help you open your heart in gratitude and share freely with others.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will join someone and make a difficult task, easier.

All Are Called…Right Now!

Monday, July 7

7-7By Cindy L. Korf of North Platte, Nebraska, USA

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

—Romans 8:28 NRSV

The week had been hectic with a full-time job, graduate classes, yard work, and preparation for our son’s graduation. On Sunday, my husband and I had spent time doing marital counseling. On Monday, as I walked in the door from work with thoughts about preparing a quick supper so we could attend our son’s band concert, the phone rang.

The man from Sunday’s counseling session asked if I had a second. I hesitantly said, “I have a second,” and that was close to what I meant.

He exclaimed, “My wife is having a breakdown, and we need you to come now!”

I am not perfect. My first thought was, “Why now? Why me?” I had more than I could handle in my own life, and I didn’t have a clue about what to do with “breakdowns.” But, I told him I would come.

I called a few priesthood members to see if they could go with me. No one was available. I prayed as I drove to the home. I prayed as I sat listening to them. Then we prayed together. We found common ground, comfort, and peace.

God provides for us more than we can imagine. I made it to my son’s concert on time that evening. The next day at work we were let out two hours early—double the time I had given for God’s work the night before. God provides for us when we respond to the call for ministry.

Prayer for Peace Ever-present God, give us the faith to minister when out of our comfort zone. We know you are with us when we respond to your call.

Spiritual Practice: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All Reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt God’s love in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will not hesitate to respond to a need.

When the Spirit Says, “Go”…GO!

Tuesday, June 3

6-3By Dennis Aldridge of Eardisley, Hereford, England

If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

—Isaiah 58:10–11 NRSV

When I was a young man, recently married, I lived in Bradford in Yorkshire, England. My wife worked in town at Central Library. She used to work some Saturday mornings and then have the afternoon off. One Saturday, I decided to meet her at the library so we could have the rest of the day together in town.

Bradford is in a basin—you walk downhill into it. We did not have a car, and rather than taking the bus into town, I walked. For a reason I don’t remember, I walked an unusual route. I was a young man, dressed in his finery, walking toward town through one of Bradford’s poorer areas.

As I walked down the hill, I saw an elderly woman coming up toward me, pushing a disabled man in a wheelchair. She struggled on the hill. They were dressed poorly, their clothes dirty and tattered. As I passed them, the Spirit said to me, “You could help!”

I did not want to. In my smart clothes, I felt I stood out from those around me, and I was painfully shy. However, the Spirit said, “Help them!”

“May I help you?” I said, and took over pushing the wheelchair. To my dismay the couple made much of what I was doing as I pushed the chair up the hill. They called to all who could hear, “Look at us!” It was clear they were well-known in the neighborhood. People came to their doorways to see about the hullabaloo. I nearly died of embarrassment. I got them safely to their home and then fled to meet my wife.

I have remembered that encounter for more than 50 years. When the Spirit tells you what to do, it’s a good idea to do it.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, help us see all people as worthy and lovable. Help us look past what may be unpleasant, to souls that long to know you. May we be instruments of Christ’s mission.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and for 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.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will see others as you see them. I will not feel uneasy to serve.

Tornado Site

Saturday, May 24

5-24By Kendra Friend of Independence, Missouri, USA

He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth; he makes lightnings for the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses…and gave their land as a heritage, a heritage to his people Israel. Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages. For the Lord will vindicate his people, and have compassion on his servants.

—Psalm 135:7, 12–14 NRSV

On May 22, 2011, a devastating tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. The death toll was 160, with 1,000 injured. We prayed for the affected families. Members of the Joplin Congregation in Missouri were accounted for after the tornado. Some suffered minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises, but no serious injuries.

Several families lost homes and businesses. The World Church provided funds for meals, bottled water, and shelter. Opportunities for worship were available to help in the healing.

South Central States USA Mission Center President Karen Tillery said, “Thank you for the ministry you shared with those affected by the disaster. I feel such peace, knowing our church family around the world is praying for everyone concerned.”

Because of your continuing contributions to the Abolish Poverty, End Suffering Mission Initiative, Community of Christ has the ability to respond as an international church in times of crisis to provide support and relief in difficult situations. Thank you for responding compassionately and generously.

Prayer for Peace Compassionate God, we thank you for disciples who respond to those in crisis. Thank you for the comfort of their prayers. When we hear of urgent need, may we add tangible aid to our prayers and share from our abundance.

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 not wait for disaster to occur before sharing tangible love.

Spirit Huddle

Friday, May 9

Evangelist John Berger

Evangelist John Berger

John Berger, Vancouver, Washington, USA

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

—Luke 4:18–19 NRSV

The morning was overcast, dreary, cold, and rainy as we huddled against the dockside of the information shack. We were thankful for its meager protection as gusts of wind and rain swept against us.

Busy trying to make a call with my cell phone, I at first didn’t notice our two sons huddled near a family and their son, who sat at an odd angle in his wheelchair. Watching intently, I saw the caregiver struggling to put on the raincoat of this young man, who could move only his eyes.

I turned to see the father and mother and their other son discussing what they should do with the limited time the cruise ship would be docked in Juneau, Alaska. The family was cheerful. You could see and feel their love. It deeply touched me that they included their son in their vacation.

It was also joyful to see our two sons paying attention to their son in the wheelchair. Shane later told me he made eye contact with the young man who intently returned and held his gaze. In turn, Shane reached out and grasped his hand and arm and talked to him. David also touched his arm and spoke to him. Following their gestures, I, too, spoke to the young man, warmly held his hand, touched his arm, and held his gaze.

A good spirit was so evident in that small gathering. We huddled together, rain pelting us and the wind sweeping across our bodies as the caregiver finished zipping up the raincoat. The family bid us good-bye and guided the wheelchair to the gangway to board the ship.

I stood there, enveloped with the Spirit, tears streaming down my face. A question repeated like a carousel going around and around in my mind: “Why wasn’t my faith strong enough to ask God to heal that young lad?”

Have you ever been there?

Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, you know the desires of our hearts, our longing to heal and make people whole. Help us understand wholeness exists in many dimensions, and that Spirit and love can overcome physical challenges. Helps us see that sharing Christ’s peace is a blessing in itself.

Spiritual Practice: Hand Ministry
Place your hand on a piece of paper and trace around it to create an outline. Look at your hand and meditate on what you do with your hands each day. Ask God to direct your thoughts to a person in need of blessing, kindness, or healing touch. Pray for wisdom about the specific act needed for this person. Decide how you will use your hands to complete this ministry.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will look into the eyes of another with love.

See, Believe, and Share

Sunday, April 20

4-20By Linda Booth, Council of Twelve Apostles

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

—John 20:17–18

It takes faith to listen for and hear Christ’s voice calling your name, inviting you to join him in mission to a broken world—to declare to the suffering, “I have seen the Lord.”

My husband, Doug, and I were driving to Memphis, Tennessee, to share with a congregation. I received a text message on my cell phone. “Good news…8 new small groups with 51 different participants—total number from Monday through Wednesday—237. This is Tay from Chattanooga, and I am hoping these reports are blessing you.”

I smiled. For years I didn’t know Tay’s name. He and his two brothers, commonly referred to as “the nephews,” lived with their grandmother. The Chattanooga Community of Christ has helped raise the three boys.

“Thanks for the good news,” I texted back.

“I am starting high school now and been a co-pastor of three small groups…”

“How are you feeling about starting high school?”

“High school will be good. Jared coached me in basketball. Basketball keeps me focused and away from gangs. Our pastors keep us out of trouble. So many kids have nobody helping them, and we have a whole church helping us stay safe and have a future. Kyree, Petey, and me would be dead and in gangs if we didn’t have you and the church. I wonder how it feels to know you are saving kids’ lives.”

I replied, “It feels good! Good because I know that is what Jesus is all about—saving lives.” When you hear the voice of the Living Christ call your name, you respond, joining him in a mission to save lives.

Prayer for Peace
Loving God, thank you for the Living Christ who shows us what matters most—saving lives. Bless us that we may be a blessing to others in this way. Help us be aware who is vulnerable and needs us to share Christ’s love and peace.

Spiritual Practice: Invite People to Christ
Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 162:3b and 163:2b. Pray to be aware of people who might be receptive, and therefore blessed, by your sharing of the message of the Living Christ. Imagine being in relationship with them and inviting them to Christ. In preparation, discover your personal testimony of Christ. “Be persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.” Repeat this mantra throughout the day: “Christ’s mission, our mission, my mission.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will share how Christ lives in my life.

You Want Me to Do What?

Wednesday, February 12

2-12By Norma J. Cross of Independence, Missouri, USA

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

—Romans 12:1–2

I have learned through the years that listening to God isn’t always easy. When God needs to get through to me, God finds a way.

For many years, I served my congregation as a youth leader, coordinating activities and engaging young people in programs. I never thought I could lead another group. I didn’t take part in any other groups.

One morning as I knelt and prayed in my personal space, God gave me a thought that I was to be asked to lead a different congregational group. I faintly cried out, “No.” Later in the day, my pastor called and asked me to be that leader. I realized that without God’s nudge to let me know ahead of time, I would have refused.

The pastor had asked other people, too, and they had refused. I was not his first choice; but obviously, God knew I could do it. What is most important to me is I believe God not only needed a leader, I needed to grow in new directions. Like the nautilus, I turned from my old chamber of limitations and moved on to new possibilities.

God may not ask us to walk on water, but we may hear an invitation to get out of the boat and try swimming in new waters.

Prayer for Peace
Challenge us, God. Help us try new ways of serving. Help us find new ways to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Develop Disciples to Serve
Read and reflect on Psalm 42:1–2. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to respond to people and their needs. The call to journey inward can restore us in times of physical or spiritual depletion.

Imagine you can feel a vessel at the center of your being (a clay jar, a crystal vase, a metal bucket, or other container). Imagine drawing something from the vessel to share with another person, but as you reach inside you find only a tiny pool of stagnant liquid. You are thirsty, dry, empty.

Listen prayerfully again to the psalm, “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” As you feel restored, thank God for the opportunity to be a responding, serving disciple while you move into the outward journey. Remember this exercise as you drink water throughout the day.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will pray and discern your will for my life.

I’ll Not Refuse Again

Saturday, January 25

1-25By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, 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

God called to me so often in a whisper, soft and clear.
But my proud and stubborn heart still refused to hear.
God spoke the voice of thunder, in the loud and howling wind.
I heeded not the call before—I’ll not refuse again.

Oh, the generous hands of God that nurture and provide
season after season,  coaxing seeds from where they hide.
What can I offer God who supplies my daily bread,
offers grace, peace, and love, and a place to lay my head?

I offer gratitude and an answer to the call
to end the suffering on Earth for each one and for all.

Prayer for Peace
Eternal God, please never give up on us. When we turn away, call louder. Penetrate our hearts with your love until we respond. Coax us from where we hide in fear, so we may become whom you would have us be.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Let your mind be drawn to places where people have no homes. Think of refugees whose homes were destroyed by war or natural disaster. Be aware of the hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind. Offer a prayer for those who suffer. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, my response will be at your first call.