Return to Me

29 07 2014

By Vera Entwistle, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Following my father’s suicide, I was bereft. I was angry with God, and I felt unable to pray. I was alone, drifting in my grief—afraid of running aground. One day my counselor asked me to sit facing an empty chair. “Imagine your dad sitting there. What do you think he would say to you?”

My dad’s image came to me so powerfully that I wept. I saw myself as a young child, distressed over some perceived hurt. My dad picked me up and comforted me. For the first time I could sense the distress my dad may feel, watching me wallowing in my grief, and I knew that for his sake I needed to pick up the pieces of my life and go on. But how?

After my counselor left, I again sat facing the empty chair. This time I visualized God sitting there. I demanded that God show me how I possibly could go on.

I felt prompted to turn to the scriptures, and I began to search for comfort. As I turned page after page, one sentence stood out: “God yearns to draw you close so that wounds may be healed, emptiness filled, and hope strengthened” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:10a).

In that moment, I began to heal.

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A Dude and a Donkey

27 06 2014

By Zac Harmon–McLaughlin, Wickliffe, Ohio, USA

mclaughlin-donkeyI had an hour of spiritual-practice time dedicated to reflection and connection with the Divine. I was in the Rocky Mountains. A racing creek was right outside, snow-capped mountains waited for my eyes, and birds flew back and forth. Other blessings were waiting to reveal themselves.

I walked to a bridge over a raging creek and sat down. I communed with God. I reflected on what had been a terrific weekend—a retreat experience at Peaceful Valley Dude Ranch.

As I was letting my heart dwell in God, flowing with the breeze and the water, I felt prompted to cross the bridge. In a small pasture I found a donkey gently grazing, having some dinner. As soon as the donkey heard me, we made eye contact.

Now, I am a city boy. I don’t know how donkeys behave, what they like, or how to touch them. But I thought I would give it a go. I was in the middle of connecting with the Divine. I thought, “What a wonderful opportunity to experience God through this creature!” So I made my way closer, and he made his way closer to me.

We met, and I stuck out my hand in the same way you do when you meet a dog.

The donkey rubbed against my hand as if to tell me to start rubbing his nose and head. I began to pet him, and I swear he smiled at me. He opened his big, old mouth and bared his teeth in a grin. I felt a connection to this creature.

His coat was coarse and dirty. As I patted his neck and back, dust flew into the air. His owner had mowed his meadow clean. I picked from the plentiful grass outside the fence. As soon as I leaned forward with a handful of greens and dandelions he smiled again.

The donkey is the lowliest of creatures in the equestrian world. It is not a beautiful stallion or a giant Clydesdale. It isn’t exotic or fast. Yet, the donkey is what Jesus rode into Jerusalem—what Jesus used to flip this world’s understanding of power and status into love and peace.

The donkey for Jesus is an ambassador for peace. I was at peace with an animal that doesn’t hold honor and glory or even the tourism appeal of a zebra. I was with God, having a peaceful agape meal.

This is an excerpt from one of the entries appearing each day in the Daily Bread blog. Visit http://CofChristDailyBread.wordpress.com to subscribe for free.





Sign of Humility, Symbol of Service

28 04 2014

By Lu Mountenay, Independence, Missouri, USA

This is an excerpt from one of the entries appearing each day in the Daily Bread blog. Visit http://CofChristDailyBread.wordpress.com to subscribe for free.

Community of Christ publishes a wonderful series of bulletin covers for Sunday services. Each cover has a picture and a scripture reflection that follows the Revised Common Lectionary. However, for Maundy Thursday, worship planners need to create their own bulletin or go to a Christian bookstore, which is what I did one year.

I met the clerk’s blank stare when I asked for Maundy Thursday bulletin covers. “We have only Sunday bulletins.” I tried to explain, but again, “We don’t have Monday or Thursday bulletins, only Sundays!”
I thought I was in the twilight zone. Thinking the clerk must be new, I looked around on my own, in vain, while the clerk watched with unmasked amusement and pity. So I thanked her and left.

What is Maundy Thursday? The Thursday part is easy, but Maundy? It comes from the Latin “mandatum” or mandate. A mandate is something we must do, a commandment.

The observance and symbolic reenactment of washing feet at the Lord’s Supper helps us remember Christ’s “new commandment.” We do as he has done. He took on the role of servant to his disciples and washed their feet. He showed them a sign of humility and a symbol of his message of service—a way to show “love for one another.”

Good hosts in the Jewish world provide guests the opportunity to wash before a meal. After traveling dusty roads to celebrate the Passover meal, this was a welcome respite. Jesus went one step further and did the washing himself. Jesus, Lord and Teacher of this gathering, did the opposite of what we might expect from hosts in high positions. We would not expect a president, prime minister, or head of state to attend to the personal needs of guests at a formal dinner. However, that is exactly what Christ did.

He gave us an example of how to express love. He gave us a mandate, a new commandment to love one another as he loves us.