By Dan Nowiski, Michigan USA/Canada Mission Center
Re-blogged from: Connect-Engage-Inspire
The cross calls me to live Christ’s mission. It serves as a reminder that Jesus’ ministry to the marginalized involved challenging structures that devalue human beings and separate people from living in community.
Crucifixion by the Roman government was reserved for those who threatened the stability and control of the empire. Jesus’ death on the cross teaches me that his ministry with the poor, the sick, and the captive disrupted the normal flow of life for those who exercised power and dominance in first-century Palestine.
To be a disciple of Christ in ministries of evangelism, compassion, justice, and peacemaking requires one to encounter and challenge the forces of empire.
Above all else, strive to be faithful to Christ’s vision of the peaceable Kingdom of God on earth. Courageously challenge cultural, political, and religious trends that are contrary to the reconciling and restoring purposes of God. Pursue peace. —Doctrine and Covenants 163:3b
Unrestrained consumption destroys creation, families, and communities in places around the world. It is my responsibility as a disciple to challenge those structures by making Responsible Choices in my own life, advocating for legal reforms, and engaging with neighbors in my community to withdraw from mindless consumerism in the material economy.
Ignoring those who toil in sweatshops or seeing their land destroyed so I can benefit from lower prices and disposable products designed only for convenience is no longer an option when I look at the cross.
Jesus’ bold action to live with and speak for the excluded and forgotten set him apart as a troublemaker. I expect the path of discipleship likewise will bring me into conflict with many who choose to pursue comfort and convenience at the expense of impoverished persons around the world.
I was born into a position of privilege. I could use my standing as a means for selfish advancement, or I could choose to follow the model of Christ and give voice to the abused and neglected.
Many days I fall short and take in more than my fair share of energy and resources from our environment. The symbol of the cross pushes me to continual repentance for my role in the abuse of my brothers and sisters around the world.
Christ transformed the Roman crucifix from a symbol of dominance and oppression to one of humility and freedom. The image of the cross drives me to personal transformation and sends me into the world as a witness of the coming reign of God.
If you truly would be Community of Christ, then embody and live the concerns and passion of Christ.
—Doctrine and Covenants 164:9d
Article by: Hannah Heinzekehr, The Femonite blog
Do you ever have those moments where you really start to question … everything? Your faith. Your purpose. Your reasoning for the things you do? What am I even doing here? Why do I even associate with a religion that sometimes doesn’t seem to align with what I believe or how I think we should act (or how I want us to anyways)? I question my faith from time to time. I think most of us (I hope) do. I get frustrated with fundamentalism, old rules and processes. Sometimes when I face resistance to my beliefs or people who don’t see my vision as clearly, I feel irritated and impatient. I wonder: why do I even bother? I could just as easily… move on. Walk away.
A mentor of mine identified a cynic as being “a broken-hearted idealist”. That hit home for me in that moment.
I think many of my cynical thoughts come from hurt feelings or disappointments. There are times I question. I re-consider. I get upset. My heart breaks. My vision crushed. But, still, I am here. Sometimes I wonder what it is that keeps me here.
For me, Hannah puts it quite well.
Basically, it’s hope.
It’s the opportunity to be a part of changing the story. When I’m able to put my sometimes cynical, pessimistic attitudes aside; I believe in our potential to be what we dream of.
“What if, instead of giving up on church and writing posts about how we’re disillusioned or done, we instead worked from the inside out, giving encouragement where we saw progress, naming injustice and corruption when we see it, and helping to transform congregations into the real, messy communities we long for them to be?“
- Hannah Heinzekehr, The Femonite, “Why I’m Not Quite Done With Church Yet“
Check out what our World Service Corps volunteers have been doing at their host sites. They’ve been making some great blog posts to share their experiences! Just click on their names to access their blogs:
Abi Fangboner (British Isles)
Melissa Shephard (Peru)
Katrina Petz (Peru)
Follow Laura Phillips’ Tahitian Adventures on Facebook (Tahiti)
Re-posted from: Community of Christ – Lenten Practices
Practicing silence reminds us that relationship with God is a mutual, reciprocal act. In silence, we take the time to really listen and be present with God without words. Often, our most profound spiritual experiences cannot be fully described. Likewise, we know that in times of distress (Romans 8) the spirit prays for us hearing the groans of our hearts that are too deep for words. Intentional time in silence allows us be fully present with God without the confines of language. As we enter Holy Week, the full implication of discipleship brings with it a weighted hush. There are moments when words are inadequate and our most faithful response is to stand humbly before the mystery.
Hymn for Reflection“Come, Let Us Dwell” CCS 173
Find a place free from noise or distractions.
- Practicing silence may be difficult at first. The mind may run wild, and centering in God’s presence could take some spiritual exertion! Allow yourself grace in this practice and the ability to slowly ease into longer periods of silent reflection. Perhaps you begin in silence for 5–10 minutes, and then write in a journal or pray about your experience.
- Breathe deeply. Focusing on each breath in and out can help quiet the mind and center you in God’s Spirit.
- Become aware of your surroundings, notice how the air feels on your skin, trust that you are in the presence of the holy—completely surrounding and embracing you.
- Don’t expect that God will speak to you in a certain way. Just open yourself to what is. Allow your inner dialogue to cease for a while, being fully present with the one who is fully present with you.
- After a period of silence, offer a prayer of gratitude for God’s constant presence whether fully aware of it or not. Pray that you may continue to draw closer to God and discover what God is saying and doing within you.
Questions for Reflection
- How does it feel to be present with God in silence? Was this natural or difficult at first?
- In the silence, did you discover something new about yourself? Your relationship with God?
- Preparing to experience new life in Christ, what are some things that leave you speechless?
If you are (or have) a college-bound high-schooler in, you know it’s winding down to decision time. How will the choice of college or university impact the budget – yours and/or theirs? Of course, this decision comes down to more than money.
Check out CommunityAmerica Savin’ Maven Kat Hnatyshyn’s most recent post on The Kansas City Star’s Dollars & Sense blog where she shares some ways to minimize the dent to your savings or the debt you or your child takes on. The price of a college degree continues to rise, but so does the number of ways you can make it affordable.
He will then answer your e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook questions about those first six paragraphs in a real-time session. #AskSteveVeazey
Please read and prayerfully reflect on those first six paragraphs. You can find the words of counsel at www.CofChrist.org/presidency/041413wordsofcounsel.
You can send your questions about the first six paragraphs early or during the live event.
Social Media: #AskSteveVeazey
Video will be posted online at www.CofChrist.org after the event for those who are unable to join us live.