In the gift of his son, God has prepared a more excellent way

When in your life did you choose a more excellent way?

This week’s text is taken from Ether 5:10-13 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.

“Wherefore you may also have hope and be partakers of the gift, if you will but have faith. Behold, it was by faith that they of old were called after the holy order of God; wherefore, by faith was the law of Moses given. But in the gift of his Son has God prepared a more excellent way, and it is by faith that it has been fulfilled. For if there be no faith among the children of men, God can do no miracle among them;…”

Neither does he want that we should shed blood

How can we be less complicit to violences occurring in the world?

Are there ways to divest?

This week’s text is taken from Ether 3:92-94 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon

“And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God. For the Lord works not in secret combinations, neither does he will that man should shed blood, but in all things has forbidden it from the beginning of man. Now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it has been made known to me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites, and they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.”

 

All were created after my own image

How does seeing “that of God” in yourself and others shape your behaviour?

How can you, like Jesus, bring more life to all?

This week’s text is taken from Ether 1:77-78, 80 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.

“Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. … In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters. Seest thou that ye are created after my own image? Even all men were created in the beginning after my own image.”

Know that you must lay down your weapons of war

What weapons of war do you need to let go of?

How does believing in the Prince of Peace create room for alternatives to emerge to your instinctual “fight” or “flight” responses to conflicts?

This week’s text is taken from Mormon 3:26-28 in CofC version of the Book of Mormon

Know you that you must lay down your weapons of war and delight no more in the shedding of blood, and take them not again save it be that God shall command you. Know you that you must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews and by the power of the Father he has risen again, whereby he has gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up. And he brings to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment seat.”

Their sorrowing was not unto repentance

Is there still time to turn collective sadness into joy and for us to learn from our mistakes?

Would your idea of God allow for that kind of change to take place?

This week’s text is taken from Mormon 1:36-39 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon

And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people. But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin. And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.

they had all things common among them

Within your sphere of influence, what can you do to invite others to a greater sense of freedom?  

When did you last deal justly with another? 

This week’s text is taken from 4 Nephi 1:3-4 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon

The people were all converted to the Lord upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man dealt justly one with another. And they had all things common among them, therefore they were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free and partakers of the heavenly gift.

What is the heavenly gift to you?

that you may be counted among my people

Which movements do you know of that are challenging the logic of war and the rule of might?

How are you part of God’s movement in the world today?

This week’s text is taken from 3 Nephi 9:93-95 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.

…That they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel; And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel. And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.

You are the children of the prophets

How has your encounter with the Holy One turned you away from what was unholy in your life?

Who are the prophets in your life that have given you new purpose and new vision?

This week’s text comes from 3 Nephi 9:63-64 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.

“And, behold, ye are the children of the prophets, and ye are of the house of Israel, and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed,’ the Father having raised me up to you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities, and this because ye are the children of the covenant.”

Bring them here and I will heal them

When was your faith sufficient that you allowed the Divine to touch you?

Have you ever been filled with compassion towards another? What did you do?

This week’s text is taken from 3 Nephi 8:6-8 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.

And he said to them, “Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion toward you. Have ye any that are sick among you, bring them here. “Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner, bring them here and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you. “My bowels are filled with mercy; for I perceive that ye desire that I should show you what I have done to your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.”

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to those that hate you

When did God invite you to go beyond what is expected or required?

How did that act transform you and those who might have been touched by your ministry, including people who you might have considered to be your enemies?

This week’s text is taken from 3 Nephi 5:90-92 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.

I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good; therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled. “Old things are done away, and all things have become new; therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I and your Father who is in heaven are perfect.

Being distinguished by ranks, according to riches and their chances for learning

How can your riches and your chances for learning make you look differently at/disregard another person?

What can we do to stay humble and promote oneness and equality in Christ, also in the face of economic and educational differences?

This week’s text is taken from 3 Nephi 3:12-15 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.

And the people began to be distinguished by ranks according to their riches and their chances for learning; some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others received great learning because of their riches. Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some returned railing for railing, while others would receive railing, and persecution, and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God. Thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up; insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land, save among a few of the Lamanites who were converted to the true faith.

In the context of this scripture, what is your idea of true faith?

And the sword of destruction did hang over them

Do you ever feel anxious about the state of the world?
Where do you turn for peace in those moments?
This week’s text is taken from 3 Nephi 1:54, 57 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.
“In the commencement of the fourteenth year, the war between the robbers and the people of Nephi continued and became exceedingly sore… And thus were the people in a state of many afflictions; and the sword of destruction hung over them, insomuch that they were about to be smitten down by it, and this because of their iniquity.”

What alternative visions of peace for the future can you provide and promote as a follower of Christ?

They will suffer themselves that they will be trodden down and slain

What role does faith play in the practice of nonviolence?

How can we further the rights of minorities in the world today?

This week’s reflection text is taken from Helaman 5:98-99 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon.

“And you know also that they have buried their weapons of war, and they fear to take them up lest by any means they should sin. You can see that they fear to sin; for, behold, they will suffer themselves that they be trodden down and slain by their enemies and will not lift their swords against them, and this because of their faith in Christ.”

How is freedom gained, if it has to happen nonviolently?

When you cast out the righteous from among you

What can we do to soften the hearts of people around us in response to the negativity that makes up a huge part of the political discourse in our countries?

What can we do to protect families that may be forcibly removed or separated by the walls we erect between us or by the laws we pass that divide us?

This week’s reflection text comes from Helaman 5:14-18 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon. In this narrative, the Prophet Samuel (a Lamanite) is standing on the city walls of Zarahemla and warning the Nephites of the dangers of “casting out the righteous from among you”. The narrative helps me reflect on the situation of families that are being separated at borders across the world – and to reflect on the state of our politics in response to migration.

“ ‘But if ye will repent and return to the Lord your God, I will turn away mine anger,’ saith the Lord; thus saith the Lord, ‘Blessed are they who will repent and turn to me, but woe to him that repenteth not. “ ‘Woe to this great city of Zarahemla; for, behold, it is because of those who are righteous that it is saved. “ ‘Woe to this great city, for I perceive,’ saith the Lord, ‘that there are many, even the larger part of this great city that will harden their hearts against me,’ saith the Lord. ‘But blessed are they who will repent, for them will I spare. “ ‘But, behold, if it were not for the righteous who are in this great city, behold, I would cause that fire should come down out of heaven and destroy it. But, behold, it is for the righteous’ sake that it is spared. “ ‘But, behold, the time cometh,’ saith the Lord, ‘that when ye shall cast out the righteous from among you, then shall ye be ripe for destruction.’ ”

What walls do you need to stand on to resist and decry the politics of separation raging today and share your witness of invitation?

But behold you would not receive me

When you hear warnings of destruction coming upon humanity, do you also hear the good news of invitation to turn around? That there is time left to change? Where is your focus?

Migration and climate change result out of a moral crisis where humanity is on a path of separation from each other and from the needs of the Earth. What would be a moral course of action: a response of joining in, of coming together, of ushering in a new age of global Reunion?

The world’s leading climate scientists have warned this week that there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. “It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now. This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”

This week’s reflection text comes from Helaman 5:7-9 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon. These are words both of warning and of invitation to change from the course that the Nephites were on. In the scriptures, God sends angels and prophets to help us change. In society today, we have scientists and different scenarios of the future. We know it is not too late. Which scenario do you want to live under: destruction due to complacency or the good news of radical change?

“Heavy destruction awaits this people, and it surely will come to this people, and nothing can save this people save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things, and shall be slain for his people. Behold, an angel of the Lord has declared it to me, and he brought glad tidings to my soul. And, behold, I was sent to you to declare it to you also, that you might have glad tidings; but, behold, you would not receive me.”

 

 

It shall have no power over you to drag you down

Have you ever felt that unjust laws cannot be overturned, that there is too much injustice in the world?

Where do you get your energy and motivation from for your work for peace and justice? What gives you a new drive to turn the world around into a state of wholeness?


This week’s reflection text comes from Helaman 2:74-75 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon. These are the words Nephi and Lehi, two preachers in the narrative of the Book of Mormon, remembered being spoken by their father Helaman. The words gave them new impetus to carry out their mission among the Lamanites. Like the Freedom Riders of the 60s who were challenging segragation laws, these two preachers were reaching across divides between peoples. This led to their imprisonment.

“Now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that you must build your foundation, that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds and his shafts in the whirlwind, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless woe, because of the rock upon which you are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build, they cannot fall.”

Jesus reached across boundaries and borders and found allies in his work to challenge misconceptions of the other. What strategies would you use to resist and confront injustice? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Riders

I seek not for power, but to pull it down

The last two weeks, I have struggled with the stories in the Book of Mormon, especially those found in the Book of Alma. Those stories are full of violence, deceit, cunning plans, political infightings, murders, intrigues for power’s sake, and hatred on the one side, and justifications of violence and war often mixed with affirmations that people of faith, followers of Christ, must also be able to exercise their freedom of worship, religion and wield their swords in protection of their families, country, and lands, even unto bloodshed, on the other side. God would justify this – because it is done with good intent.

I remember then that we often ascribe the worst of intentions to our enemies, and often portray ourselves in the best of light, be it in war or in petty conflicts we have between ourselves and others. Captain Moroni is here portrayed in the best of light, in the context of difficult wars and traitorous violence. He represents in these chapters the heroic figure of someone who, in spite of the difficult conditions he might have lived under, sought to do the right thing.

Trying to understand the message of peace and nonviolence in these chapters of wars and killings is difficult, because when it comes to scripture, as in real life, we often seek absolute certainty and the moral high ground in our positioning against the Other. We pass judgement on what seems out of place, different, or just not up to standard. When do we take the time to truly listen to what the other side has to say? When are we willing to struggle with questions that might cause unease in our own positioning, as much as we enjoy asking questions that might find faults with the other’s position?

So this week’s reflection text comes from Alma chapters 27-29 in Community of Christ’s version of the Book of Mormon. It’s an exchange of letters between Captain Moroni and Governor Pahoran. Captain Moroni ends his letter to Pahoran in the following way: “I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God and the freedom and welfare of my country.”

I might disagree with Captain Moroni’s use of violence and also with the claim made in the Alma chapters that this violence is justified by God. And this in what has become a book of holy scripture for many. On the other hand, it helps me appreciate the struggle people of faith go through when attempting to heed the words of Christ and justify their actions in the midst of war, violence and fear. What position should I take, always leaning towards an absolute or are there nuances that I find difficult to accept that I ought to consider?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bree_Newsome

 

Show forth good examples for them in me

And the Lord said to them also, “Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word. “Be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples to them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands to the salvation of many souls.”

 

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