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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Kindred Spirit of Christmas

To All Within Our Kindred Community.......Let the World In.......Open Your Arms in Peace

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know or perceive a sense of their own worth until it has been reflected back to them in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
― John Joseph Powell

“You have to appreciate where you have come from to know who you are in the present and who you would like to be in the future.”
― Truth Devour

“There's magic in recognizing a kindred spirit, and an even greater power in letting yourself love and be loved by them.”
― Jacqueline Koyanagi,

These 4 quotes to me reflect our intersecting journey amongst others in our mutual pursuits of peace. Christmas is a season of remembrance and celebration, for truly “God is with us”. It is within the personal nature of the Christ journey in our midst that we are blessed with the experience of Divine encounter. Through the grace of the incarnate life lived in Jesus our inestimable worth is reflected back to us. This knowledge of who we are and whose we are enables us to envision and become living participants in the fulfillment of that grand vision of "peace on earth, goodwill towards all". Our capacity to create with God is magically empowered in sacred community, in sacred partnership with others of kindred spirit to love even as God first loved us. The journeys continues……  

Together, we comprise a community of kindred spirits that live within the Christmas story and other sacred stories. Our heritage and our legacy intertwine in the shared meaning of “Immanuel”, God with us, a rich global legacy. Within our Christian experience surrounding Christmas, our one underlying essence is that our God, a loving, endearing Creator lived as we in the circumstances of our struggles and journeys to experience and understand our reality of life. The vulnerabilities and suffering, the temptations of power, ego and exclusivity, all were faced. Even as a child forgives and loves unconditionally, so God in Christ offered such grace to bless our lives.

We, amongst many faiths, are kindred spirits made such in our mutual journeys to be one with the Divine and one another. The Christmas blessing is recognition of our oneness beyond nationalities, denominations and faiths. Peace on earth is our vision. Our hope envisions unity in diversity. Joy to the world is our expression of community reverberating through the ages. As we daily take time to gaze upon the mirror of Christ, may we see our emerging selves breaking forth, reflecting our love to others, inviting all to become kindred spirits on our mutual journeys of peace. “God is with us, who can prevail against us” Go forth in Christmas love, joy, hope and peace. 

With Meaning,
Kerry Richards
Director of Mission in Canada
“A Catalyst for Meaningful Expressions of Sacred Community”

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Risk to Become

Slowly, dwell upon each word, independent of the whole to experience a personal moment of journey from uttered prayer to spiritual practice, to being led to risk in your discipleship.

Gracious God, Creator and Abiding Presence;
Hallowed, humble and holy is your peaceful countenance. To encounter you is to abandon self, the ego of my humanness, the pride of what has transpired before, the sorrow of what has happened knowingly and unknowingly to cause separation, despair and woundedness. My encounter now is being in the present moment of vulnerable release, my offering of the entirety of self, even the very breath I breathe to “be” one with you. Receive my essence, my “me” as I enter a peace so pure,…. time is paused. Within this depth of knowing, ripples of grace enfold and flow, with unconditional lifeability, blessing each indrawn breathe with a smile connecting the inner and the outward of my soul and being. Quietness, awareness, peace, shalom abide. Breathe shallow not to disturb this gift. God is near, oneness is wholeness, time is eternal and no more…….Brrrrrreathe.

Choose to remain, or to pray, to discern, to become mindful of images, of emerging names, of ideas and feelings. Journal these leadings to prayerfully ponder and dwell upon, for each is a guided blessing of ministry in answer to the “Mission Payer”. “God, where will your spirit lead me today?” With courage follow the spirit into life lived. In faith borne out of your discernment, test the reality of guided empowerment. Risk to become a disciple and your belief will be transformed to knowing and pervasive joy .

May grace abide in your journey. Shalom for all.

submitted by Kerry Richards

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Peace amidst the Unknown

As I and all of us ponder the events of yesterday and Monday that touch each of us in Canada, new awareness strikes home. We have watched the unfolding media of of the fateful events that have taken lives. The young reservist soldier is from Hamilton where I live. The images on the news networks are of places we recognize. Canada has been bruised and changed. Fearful vulnerabilities emerge within our hearts and minds. "Not in Canada" we think. This is so unexpected in our land which is an anomaly in history where our country was not borne out of a war of independence but through nation building negotiations. We do experience civil crime, but introduction of planned and fatal aggression against our nation and innocent people are acts beyond our experience that we have empathetically watched from afar in other nations. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those whose lives were taken in these tragic moments. Words cannot express the sincere sympathy of a person, much less a nation. 

Our church vision of the peaceable kingdom as set forth in our church seal envisions a hope for peace, an assured peace in Christ, independent of our outer surroundings, the senselessness around us, beyond all that may bruise and endanger and even end our lives; this is the peace of Christ that passeth all understanding. This image is truly a test of faith to ponder. In the moments of stillness with God today may we invite the peace of Christ to enter our lives so we may become ourselves beings of peace.

May we with this sense of calm, of resiliency, in the face of tragic circumstances, bring peace to our families and our communities that penetrates the anxiety, the tension, the blaming that could so easily emerge and erupt in group dynamics about us. It is in times such as these that faith becomes real, that sacred communities of loving expressions of hope may envelope those about us with peace rather than despair, hate and retribution.

Peace can only be expressed and enacted through people who are peaceful. May we be such people, mindful in our actions of the unconditional loving, forgiving, empathetic, perfect peace of our humble and holy Creator.

submitted by Kerry Richards

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Courage Workshop

I encourage you with all my heart to attend this workshop. I believe it will change your life!

As a spiritual practice, pause, close your eyes and visualize intently those people who are most important to you; your children, siblings and friends. Many of these valued people perhaps also have rich spirituality within their own lives. Imagine you opening the door that allows you to share together with one another in deeper ways, to experience faith together in making a difference in the lives of others. For many, the hurdle has been our “in the box” thinking that what we are doing as church is the only way it can be done. This workshop will be an adventure in creating, discovering, inventing new ways of being the church in the common everyday activities you and those close to you are familiar and comfortable with locally and in the time and place that fits the availability of your lives. So envision you and these friends at Tim Horton’s or the Good Life gym or hiking or playing euchre and within that fun and comfortable setting you share “moments of meaning” together that opens a whole new "you and them experience" of being together. OK, now you can open your eyes.

This can happen, it does happen. The Courage workshop has a leadership team that will guide us through changing our paradigm of church to connect comfortably with those on the outside looking in with pre-conceptions, suspicion, distrust, hurt, busy lives…. And now we have a way and means, learned tools and resources to blend our lives together in new ways. Sure there is still an element of courage needed for 10 seconds to open the door, but the view through the open door is so natural and familiar that the words you will learn to introduce friends will be comfortable.

D&C 163:3 urges us to be “culturally incarnate”. Jesus was the incarnation of God which means “God being with us” where we are in our lives. We are replicating that same notion in the places and life of people. Following the model of Jesus who did not invite folks to the synagogue but to a hillside or lakeside or home or anywhere at all, we need to be “with people” offering today’s parable like stories, videos, questions that relate to the heart of life. These relationships must be mutually authentic but the beauty of a new creation is we, “you and them” creating the model together. You choose the way you make a difference in the lives of others together, you are the church in a new way. You are not alone. There will be many other groups, like yours, that cluster together in the places of your choosing, perhaps even within C of C churches, as often as works, to share ideas, successes, needs and celebrate through music and other expressions of your own creation. We will experience God in us and in each other. These will become expressions of Community of Christ in a new look, feel and richness.

The Courage Workshop brings you and each participant into focus to touch specifically the people in your circle of life. Your life will be blessed as never envisioned before. Your confidence and competence to be a living culturally incarnate disciple will become a comfortable and life changing expression of what you always wanted it to be. You will become surrounded with those who matter most to you in the life adventure that matters most to you. Through engaging in Mission to pursue peace, abolish poverty and end suffering with those who mean the most to you; joy, hope, love and peace will fill your soul and sacred communities of Spirit empowered friends of faith will celebrate one with another.

Come to the Courage Workshop. Decide right now to set Jan 23-25th aside as the wknd that will change your life. Bring those who with you will be your fellow disciples to affirm, encourage and create together. Orangeville is 20 min north of Brampton. The Retreat Centre is where we held the New Hymnal Retreat last March. It is a wonderful facility with classrooms, fireside lounge, chapel, recreation area, shared rooms, dorms, clean washrooms and a dining hall all contained in one building in a beautiful retreat setting. The max numbers are about 80, so get your name reserved now. Cost is $140 + HST = $158 for the wknd.

Contact me with questions, or ideas of music, resources etc you can think of.  

This is a time of creativity, incarnation and joyful celebration ! Be Courageous !  

submitted by Kerry Richards  416-917-9377

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Yearning to Be

Longing, yearning, searching, hungering, craving, thirsting, wanting, seeking, desiring, needing, wishing, dreaming for, hoping for, praying for…..

There is a deep unsatisfied heart and soul reaching out that in the quiet moments of stillness, fills our beings with emptiness, despair and lack of identity…..or if one has alignment with the source of creation, our God…. We experience joy, hope, love and peace in that moment. I know from being there, that many fear the stillness, avoid the quiet, need the mind to be occupied with continuous busyness, for to allow the silence to penetrate their self-imposed barriers guarding the essence of life, it is a traumatic encounter.

The psalmist captures so well the searching, the journeying, the finding of oneself in the essence of creation, in the enveloping grace of finding and being me. To sense, I am OK, for eternity unconditionally blesses my life in spite of….who I have been. In that pause of ultimacy, there is peace that nourishes my soul not as the world giveth but as a forgiving healing balm. There is hope that illuminates my mind and dashes away the clouds of despair. There is joy that finally I have purpose, freedom and a knowing that fills each breath I breathe. There is love that bursts from my being as I recognize the gift of others in my life to share the reality of life lived beyond me, to collectively fulfill our Mission of the envisioned peaceable kingdom.

I am found! My thirsting is quenched, my yearning is fulfilled, my searching has found a path, my hunger is met, my prayers are answered, my emptiness is filled. I proclaim Jesus Christ! My God has renewed me, opened my soul and given me fresh vision of that which clarifies what matters most. 

How blessed to be, how blessed to be a blessing, how blessed to be in sacred community with Community of Christ.

submitted By Kerry Richards

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blessed to be the Means of Grace

Spiritual Practice: Healing for Broken Spirits “Begin with quiet prayer. Ask God to help you discern some “sore places” in the body of Christ and in God’s creation. Become aware of people who feel separated, wounded, or left out. Reflect on or write a short journal entry of healing words to at least one person who comes to mind. Ask God for words that will touch this person’s broken spirit like healing ointment. Keep this person in your heart and prayers today and act on any ideas that come to bring blessing and wholeness.”

This is one of the many Daily Bread “moments of presence” with God that has touched me with a depth of feeling for so many people that are hurting in so many ways.  I keep a copy of this specific practice on my wall before me as it captures the reality of so many lives that to pray this just once is so inadequate. This exercise has become deeply personal in a heartfelt way when I pray and centre my projected outpouring of care, hope and love upon another. The compassion of Christ is to all, for all and with all. Through empathetic grace of knowing our hearts God implores us to love even our enemies, an expression of love that knows no boundaries; where one of our new hymns envisions both the abused and the abuser encompassed by love.

Broken spirits can be missed by us in the rush of life. I believe through such "moments of presence" and reflection we come to discern through eyes beyond our humanity, the loneliness, the woundedness and the despair that haunts another. This is the beginning place of healing, reconciliation and peace not as the world giveth. There is a realm of living that is illusive; that awaits us to open our hearts to participate in. It is as subtle as a breeze or the fragrance of a flower, but invites us to enter into relationship with our creator who works through us to bring healing and meaning where life’s agonies are suffocating. I pray both for pause in our lives to “come to ourselves” as the prodigal and “become” blessed and a blessing and for those to whom our words and our care might soothe. Ask God and your eyes will be opened to new world.

Submitted by Kerry Richards

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Healing - God grant me the Courage to risk.....

Community of Christ has deeply emphasized spiritual practices as foundational formation disciplines that nurture discernment and mindfulness with a relational God we encounter in real time, not as a fictional feel good imagining. We experience a caring, compassionate and unconditional loving God who “Is.” 

Over the past 3 months I have taken an interest in the nature and reality of the ministry of healing, yes, through the Spirit of God. I have read numerous books. I have read about and attended a healing retreat and spoken with practitioners of alternative energy healing. I have also read of the contradictory scientific neurological descriptions of near death and religious experiences. Further I have discussed the pantheistic oneness of the interconnected spirit which permeates all creation and how this relates to healing. I have read about and had conversations about the possibility of Divine intervention and of the diverse perspectives within Community of Christ and elsewhere. I have reviewed the dozens of healings that comprise Jesus’ ministry and in every single case the compassionate Jesus heals the person before him who approaches him in faith or …..  uncertainty.  This is a subject of great complexity at the discussion level. What happens if we take it beyond conversation?

Healing in all its forms is prevalent throughout the ministry of the “human” Jesus (Phil 2:7 ) with the promise that is extended to his Disciples of the same ministry. The modernistic worldview is that God does not intervene, that the "rain falls on all alike” nature of God’s unconditional, pervasive love leaves healing in the realm of human intellect and skill. There is no subjective miracle for one person over another. Is this what we believe despite our proclamation of Christ? I pose this question to each one. Are scriptures a faith story, parable type representation of good living human expressions of “best practices”? Or…. is there an endowing, empowering, healing spirit of God that intervenes in the circumstances of human life? Is this merely a topic for conversation or a moment for truth learned and evidenced through personal experimentation? Is there a difference between the revealed insights of discernment through dwelling in the word or centering….. and the spiritual practice of healing? Is our encounter with our relational God only internal inspirational mindfulness limited to rational human experience? 

My ministry includes the laying on of hands. I pray petitionary prayers to our loving relational Creator whose compassion is boundless and dwarfs my inadequate words on behalf of another. Is my ministry to bring sympathetic comfort and peace….. or granted power to enable the compassion of God to bring wholeness of body, mind and spirit to the person in need? Are interpretations of what wholeness means necessary if a tumour is not made benign or hearing is not restored or pain does not stop? Are we expecting to provide crutches instead of healing? Are we reticent to actually say the words, “be healed by the power of God” Are we offering petitionary prayers when prayers of expectant power to heal are God’s intention? I don’t think healing can be a detached conversation apart from vulnerability to be and know. I believe to understand healing I must experience it through personal trials where I put my life and ministry on the line and risk with compassion on behalf of those in need of God’s blessing. These are my questions and my personal journey going forward? Expect this of me and ask me how my ministry is unfolding as I open myself to new expressions of what Christ's mission means. Do you have the courage to join me? 

Submitted by Kerry Richards

Monday, August 25, 2014

Spirituality Needs Mission

In my new role of Director of Mission for Canada my focus is upon 2 primary areas of activity. The first is creating New Invitational Expressions of Community of Christ and the second is Congregational Revitalization. Following 2 reunions, a meditation retreat and reading numerous books and online sites about Millennials, church growth, spirituality and religion; here are some thoughts I would like to bring forward.

The disillusionment of church is the platitudes that seem hypocritical when not lived out, the promises that are not realized, the vision that ever so slowly inches forth in the outside view of the church.

I have had many, many meaningful conversations of late with good people peripheral to the church, several who were quite active at one point in their lives. I have personally been there. A common description of their new spirituality is the freedom they feel in their spirituality that is not confined by institutionalism. We can all understand institutional disenchantment. We encounter institutions every day. They can be slow, plodding, policy based. They frustrate our freedoms by asking us to work within frameworks and to abide by the will of others.

Media reports and stats reveal that the dropout rate from traditional church has accelerated by more than 15% per yr in the last 5 years. Overall, people state they are spiritual but not religious. It seems to be an emerging identity trend that many actually aspire to and proudly declare their individualism and departure from tradition. Religion and churches within the Christian realm have become part of a….. us/them culture, with churches becoming rarely revered institutions regardless of denominational differentiation or their attempts to change.

Some say Spirituality is only an emotion; abstract intuitions of something greater. I would say Spirituality is a relationship. Some say that Religion is an obligation; that Spirituality has no ties; that Religion has baggage from earlier eras to contend with, even if the church is re-forming its identity today, Spirituality has few apologetics to explain. For some the experience of Spirituality is satisfied with itself; Religion expresses dissatisfaction with the world which would seem to be a commonality with spirituality yet the corporate dimension is a barrier as well as the perceived lack of action. Spirituality as an end in itself is allergic to institutionalism. Institutions typically are perhaps the only mechanism human beings have to perpetuate ideologies and actions. If say, books were enough, why would we have universities? If a hermitage was sufficient, why have communities? If a single voice were enough why have unions? I suggest if you want to do something lasting in this world, encompassing all humanity, including your children’s children, then look again at church. You can be a catalyst of change. It has the vision and potential to tie a community together and lead meaningful change in concert with the Divine.….it can mobilize. There are positive characteristics and qualities within the framework of a church; our church...... if you look and engage.

To be spiritual but not religious suggests freedom but confines your devotional life to feeling good and looking in a mirror. If we have learned one thing about human nature however, it is that people’s internal sense of goodness does not always match their behavior, whichever mindset they are. The two dimensions are not mutually exclusive. To know whether your actions are good, a window is a more effective tool than a mirror. Be part of a community. There is something profoundly, well, spiritual about group dynamics, about dialogical interaction coupled with spiritual mindfulness. It involves individuals trying together to sort out priorities, to listen and learn from one another, to make a difference.

Often when people say, “I stay away from the church — too much politics,” what they mean is that they did not get their way. Institutions enable but they also frustrate, as do families and every other organized sector of human life. If you want frictionless, one would have to do that alone. Participating in church does not mean you have to agree with all the positions of your own group, but, engagement in Mission together is the glue that enables unity within that community.

No one expects those without faith to obligate themselves to a religious community. But for one who has an intuition of something greater than themselves, to hold that this spiritual sense is purely personal truth, that it demands no communal searching and struggle, no organization to realize its potential in this world, I hope Community of Christ can change that perspective and offer a Mission of Meaning. Join in; together is harder, but together is better.

submitted by Kerry Richards

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Butterfly (reprise)

The following post first appeared in What's the Good Word in April of 2011.  Much has changed for our lovely butterfly over the intervening three years, and change will continue to occur.  What has not changed is our delight in this little congregation's colourful contribution to our collective life.  We continue to smile on days when the butterfly soars in the warmth of holy sunshine and watch carefully on days when it needs to seek shelter from the rain. As a way to look back and remember the delightful flight of this little entity, I offer the following reprint of that early post.


Consider the caterpillar; how he crawls along quietly going from leaf to leaf, staying mostly hidden, trying to blend in with his surroundings.  He wouldn’t dare stand out.  After all, he might get stepped on or eaten for some bird’s lunch!  So he quietly crawls along until it is time, then spins a cocoon with himself inside.  To all appearances, that is the end.  The caterpillar is no more.  The blend-in caterpillar, that perhaps no one knew even existed, has ceased to be.

But then something remarkable happens.  Transformation occurs!  The cocoon splits and a new creature emerges.  This new being does not immediately take to the air, but spends some time to get oriented and dry its wings in the sun.  Only then does it begin to float on the breeze and fly where it wills.  Gone are the drab, blend-in colours, replaced by bright and wondrous hues.  The urge to hide is replaced by a willingness to see and be seen as it visits the flowers and makes the world a better, more beautiful place.

In the Barrie congregation, we are beginning to see signs of a butterfly.  Our former presence there had reached the stage of its life when it needed its rest.  To outside appearances, the caterpillar was dead, but this was not the case.  From the cocoon has emerged a new creature and a fresh expression of Christian life is beginning to test its wings in that fair city. 

This past weekend, for instance, there was a gathering of youth and others on Thursday evening for fun and fellowship.  Friday saw our leaders out on the streets, visiting the unique flowers that are God’s people.  Saturday evening was their first worship event held in a downtown café, and the little coffee shop was packed with 31 people!  Then Sunday afternoon, despite some rain, a group gathered for a service project which consisted of picking up trash at a local park.  I have seen pictures of that event, and they were clearly having a wonderful time.  They didn’t even look like caterpillars!  Then they all went back to the pastor’s home for more conversation and play.

I think this butterfly is going to be absolutely beautiful!

Posted by Carman

Friday, June 6, 2014


Seventy years ago today my father was camped in a forest in England with his army outfit trying to put their gear back together.  A few days before they had been ordered to the docks for the D-Day invasion.  Their trucks had been waterproofed (I’m not sure how they did that) and everything was ready when a buzz-bomb hit them and “blew everything to smithereens!” (A direct quote from my dad I have never forgotten.)  The irony is not lost on me that that bomb may, in fact, have saved his life.

There are a few old soldiers, sailors and flyers left who were there; all old now but probably little more than teenage boys at the time.  There are still more who remember reading or listening to the news, wondering, worrying, praying for brothers, friends, sweethearts.  I am none of those.  I was not yet born, and had it not been for that buzz bomb, perhaps might never have been.  Yet, despite the fact that I was not there, it seems to me something should be said today, something reported or recorded in What’s the Good Word.  Some recognition should be given to those who fought and those who died so we and others might live.

When I was a child visiting my grandparents in Wiarton, my grandmother would often stop at a little house down the street and visit with Mrs. Meredith.  Mrs. Meredith lived alone in a tiny house on the edge of a hill on Gould Street.  There are only two things more I remember about Mrs. Meredith: she was not very tall, and her only son, her only child, went off to fight in the war and was killed.  Its not much for me to remember, but the memory must have been almost more than she could carry.

I was born a mere three years after WWII ended.  I remember people talking about things “during the war”, and to a child it seemed like it must have been something that happened a long time ago.  It wasn’t.  It isn’t.  And what is worse, for many people today war still rages.  While I sit in relative peace and try to coax these few inelegant words out through my fingertips, in many places fighting continues.  Will it ever end?  Will it never end?

So today, lets think about those teenagers who might have been our uncles, friends and neighbours.  Lets think too about those for whom war still rages…and let us pray for peace and justice for all.

Posted by Carman
In memory of 6-6-44.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't Be Offended

I am discovering how many ways one can be offended. Every day that passes there is someone from folks I know who are offended. Its real life, it hurts, it lasts with you, it causes you to react, it interrupts your peace, it impacts your relationship with God and with others. The offending word, phrase, action can come from those who you would least expect to those you might expect. It can happen unknowingly from some and knowingly from others. The result is always the same. Inner pain, a lessening of trust, a re-examination of your own relationship with that individual, emotions emerge and considerations of reaction fill your mind and being. It is not a state you want to be in. Its effects are a barrier, blockage, and burden in your life. It causes your life to detour from those things you could be doing that matter, keeping you from being your true self and a blessing to others.

Not long ago I read an article, “The Fine Art of Not Being Offended”. In order to truly be a master of this art, one must be able to see that every statement, action and reaction of another human being is the sum result of their total life experience to date. In other words, the majority of people in our world say and do what they do from their own set of fears, conclusions, defenses and attempts to survive. Most of it, even when aimed directly at us, has nothing to do with us. This type of behaviour is often referred to as psychodynamics. In essence, the offender acts out towards others inappropriately due to the dynamics of conflicts, stresses and tensions that are manifesting within them as a symptom or challenge in their lives. We can have compassion, empathy and also take constructive steps to address the offenses that range from unawareness to outright bullying. These are not easy solutions and we all struggle with how to lovingly work through these challenges in our lives.  

But let’s face it, we live in a world where psychodynamics are commonplace. If we want to live in relationship within our communities of family, friends and associates we really needs to understand that due to the nature and culture of everyone’s psychology we have not yet been offended for the last time. It will happen again and again in our lives and to those we love. God forbid, we at times will be the perpetrator.

“All of that said, almost nothing is personal. Even with our closest loved ones, our beloved partners, our children and our friends. We are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other’s life experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions. This is not to dehumanize life or take away the intimacy from our relationships, but mainly for us to know that almost every time we get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding. A true embodiment of this idea actually allows for more intimacy and less suffering throughout all of our relationships. When we know that we are just the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the right psychodynamic time for someone to say or do what they are doing—we don’t have to take life personally. If it weren’t us, it would likely be someone else. This frees us to be a little more detached from the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a statement of another by being offended rather than seeing that the other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended, it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering—even if they themselves do not appear that way on the surface. All anger, all acting out, all harshness, all criticism, is in truth a form of suffering. When we provide no Velcro for it to stick, something changes in the world.

This is also not to be confused with allowing ourselves to be hurt, neglected or taken advantage of. True compassion does not allow harm to ourselves either. But when we know that nothing is personal, a magical thing happens. When we know that our inherent worth is not determined by what another says, does or believes, we can live with the offensive action and an continue to be me. We can walk away without creating more misery for ourselves or having to convince the other person that we are good and worthy people. We can be me.

The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment, regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. The fine art of not being offended is one of the many skills. Though it may take a lifetime of practice, it is truly one of the best kept secrets for living a happy life.” 
Dr. Shemsi Prinzivalli

Submitted by Kerry Richards

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Unwanted Catalyst

We have all been there. We have been the recipients of unwanted advice and also been the ignored in sharing good intentions, which is the preferred word on the giving end. Unearned, unwanted advice usually only strengthens our resolve to continue along our current path of thinking. We have already made up our minds. Hearing opposing ideas will not change our course. Here is some advice. LOL Being gracious and hearing this unsolicited advice, is not only a good idea, but a prudent one. A poll of over 1300 respondents, shows that 62% do not appreciate unsolicited advice, though 33% concede that they may listen if given by the right person. Except for a little time, listening does not cost us anything and may result in looking at the situation from a fresh viewpoint.

As a transformational people and as a church we respond to a call to be catalysts of change in people’s lives and society. We risk rejection if we do not nurture trust to earn the right to enter into the lives of people.  Unwanted advice is definitely in the eyes of the beholder. We live in a dialogue culture but again there still needs to be a willingness to engage. Being a catalyst had meant interjecting ideas, thoughts and hopefully vision into both the hearts and minds of people and our relationships, but the definition is evolving to alter “interjecting” as if one has the answer, to entering into dialogue with the other, in essence, accepting that I myself will also be informed by the other in our discussion. This is where our acceptance and appreciation of diversity is leading us. Catalysts need to listen, to recognize the worth of individual perspectives and live with others in their worldview and hopefully they in ours but nevertheless we both encounter our diversity in a respectful experience.

About us is a sea of apathy and indifference in everyone. It‘s not that we are rejecting actions that “matter most,” it is that life and its routines take over and fill our days. The remaining time beyond the necessities of work and household is our personal downtime occupied by multi-episode TV shows, lose myself in Facebook hours & entire televised sports seasons that steal hours each day of our lives. How does “transformational” fit into our daily agenda? Do we even see ourselves as we are within our protected patterns of living? Right now the “me” choices are endless, Hockey and basketball playoffs, the final episodes of most reality TV series, our ever-expanding linkages on Facebook, the limitless Netflix options, the forever video gaming, the consumer shopping habits. The distractions which we consider normality manage our lives and we say we are busy. This common lifestyle is the definition of apathy and indifference. We are it!

Does it really matter to us even when we bluntly face its reality? Probably not for most. You see busyness of doing life allows me to ignore the moment of “what matters most” reflection and continue with what is the pleasure of the moment where I live within the lives of others in sports, reality shows, novels, movies and Facebook surfing. The bluntness passes around me because I am not really living my life. This occupation of my life is virtual and can be all consuming. It amounts to daytime comas. It is an anesthetic that separates us from self, God, family, neighbours and the world about us.

How does “Abolish Poverty and End Needless Suffering or Pursuing Peace” cross our minds with enough impact to get us off the couch or computer or out of the Home Sense store? What is the catalyst that is powerful enough to alter our routines? What brings us daily to our knees for moments of “what matters most” reflection/spiritual practices that increases our capacity of time to engage in real reality, our reality and be part of the solution, not a bystander allowing atrocities, suffering and injustice to happen on our doorsteps in our communities. In law there is a precedent called “willful blindness” which essentially says if you had the opportunity to be aware of something like abuse or something faulty and chose not to act, you are implicated in the injury to others. Are we susceptible to this reality because we choose apathetic “me” time? I know this is coming across harsh. It is a wake-up call for me as well. I turned off the Raptors playoff last night to prepare for a funeral.

So, we can only be catalysts when we are awake and not in virtual comas. Transformation of our own lives comes from within. If I can give some advice let it be…..Daily, kneel in prayer and listen to the real things you can do in place of interruptions not worthy of those who suffer. I am listening. Let’s talk about change. Let’s work together.

Submitted by Kerry Richards 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Proclaim & Promote....

I have attended like many of you numerous corporate strategic planning events, marketing rollouts, sales meetings, training and product knowledge workshops. We hear of a phrase that often the "sizzle is what is promoted and not the steak", which is the actual product. This is to say that where the sizzle is promoted then often the product is mostly fluff and the marketing creatively makes more of the product than it actually is. There is some deception.

In Community of Christ, we know the reality of the Living Christ in our lives. If there is fluff, we have failed our customer and the intent of the product designer. In reality there is a real danger of our product being called fluff if we individually do not believe in and apply the product we are marketing. In fact, if I do not believe in it, I become a source of doubt to the customer that contrasts with the product's credibility and reduces its saleability. My lack of belief impacts the perception of validity of our whole community and its acceptance, value and trustworthiness to the customer. 

To live what we say, to be believable to our customer, we need to demonstrate what our product is with "knowing confidence." Only then will customers be prepared to invest their lives in the product we offer. Only then will our customers discover fulfillment in the product they acquire from us. Only then will these words be made flesh in us and them.....

       “We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love and peace!”

That short, easily memorized statement summarizes our Identity, our Mission, our Message and our Belief. The "we" as the first word, depicts what the user of the product receives! In looking at us, the customer knows if the product is worthwhile acquiring. The statement says exactly who we are! We, are the embodiment of this proclamation. When people encounter you, that's you.... the joy you exude expresses the eternal. A vision of contagious Hope resides within you. Love for others shows in your caring, compassionate, sensitive listening and giving of self.  Peace that surpasses logical understanding, enables you to be present, mindful, setting others at ease and providing confident leadership in difficult situations. Then, sacred community extends, blesses and enfolds others in a fuller reality of our proclamation. We are the sizzle of the product we promote! But there is no fluff! We together are Community of Christ and we express through our lives the validity of these words.

     “We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love and peace!"

The source of such inner joy, hope, love and peace is not from knowledge about our faith or our product, but from the moments of eternity experienced and made real within us. Time with Divine impels us to be the essence of our proclamation which is our identity as Community of Christ Christians.

Then, beyond this sacred statement, enduring principles, beliefs and mission speak to the substance, character, virtues and actions of our evident life expressions of grace and generosity with and towards others. We are believable because we intentionally care, because we discerningly search out and respond, because we empathetically are compassionate to and with the hurting and dismissed of society about us.

Communities that create joy out of ashes, hope out of despair, love out of rejection, and peace out of blind reaction, are only possible through the indwelling presence of Christ who we proclaim as “Lord and God”. We know the product; we know the envisioned outcome is made real in the life of sacred community. Our role, our calling is to embody joy, hope, love and peace within and without our person. Discover and continue to embrace Christ in your life and those expressions will live abundantly in you and the product will be credible, believable and saleable!

Submitted by Kerry Richards

Monday, April 21, 2014

Faithful Diversity

I have been sharing my thoughts about diversity. We need diversity to become exposed to the latent richness of new ideas and creativity within people who have experienced life differently from ourselves. Innovation emerges through the interaction of people in dialogue one with another. Innovation is about change, not for the sake of change but for relevance within the context of cultures, multi-generations and yet unknown factors. Did you know there are 4 stages to change we pass through called “The Change Cycle”?  This is how we each relate to change.

The Change Cycle
1.    Objection, denial, rejection…..”This change can’t be a good thing”
2.    Indifference, resistance, delay tactics ….. “I really don’t want to deal with this”
3.    Exploration, openness, vulnerability…… “How can I make this change work for me”
4.    Commitment, buy-in, catalyst …… “I understand the emergent transformation and will personally work to make it a reality

Let’s take an example of change such as our recent introduction of the “new” hymnal we use for worship…..

In Stage 1, some individuals who may be established in their theology may not be accepting of the inclusiveness of language, the notions of the hard living of society being loved unconditionally, of ourselves being called to forgive the “abusers”, of words and tunes in familiar hymns being changed, of multi-languages being used or repetitive chanting considered a hymn. I want what I had, not this heavier book with all new numbers for even the hymns I knew. I will vote to keep the original hymnal.

In Stage 2, some people will just sing the hymns they know. They will no longer sing in the choir. They might not play the piano using the new hymnal. They might even stop attending or decrease their financial giving due to this change.

In Stage 3, many who listen to those knowledgeable about the new hymnal and how and why it came into being, receive a new perspective not just about the new tunes, some of which are really likeable, but why the words are more inclusive, why our enduring principles of belief need to be sung to instill an enduring identity within us as a people. The hymnal helps us become comfortable with, to be blessed by and open to inspiring diversity.

In Stage 4, our thinking, our dialogue, our actions are changed in accordance with the newness we have experienced in singing the new hymns. We recognize their relevancy to life as we know it. We are challenged by the call to Mission. Our new spiritual centering compels us to exercise greater capacity in our lives to respond to needs about us that have been opened to our eyes through the words we sing. We understand anew our identity in Community of Christ, we participate in the spiritual formation resident within the pages of the hymnal that resonate with our search for meaning. We become sacred community with those we sing with and together understand what is ingrained in our hearts. Yes, “We proclaim Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love and peace” in song, in spirit, side by side in “knowing” community. 

Diversity fosters change. This beauty of change is as exhilarating as a newborn child, as a rainbow after a thunderstorm, a newly emerged butterfly, as spring’s welcome following a harsh winter. Let us be mindful that that which we know now is life only partially revealed. May we be open to the blessings of change through the diversity of those we daily encounter in openness and faith. 

Submitted by Kerry Richards    

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Prep Work for Passion

I am thinking about my new Church role engaging me in full-time Mission. There are some corporate dimensions to the role I plan to explore; however, the prime area of my role will be working with congregations and yourselves. So what can you expect when I approach your congregation and you individually?

As Steve Veazey has emphasized, the foundation of our motivation to participate in Mission instead of the normal life activities we typically do, is spiritual formation. How can this alter your day from what it is now, to caring more, affirming others more, being more compassionate, more sensitive, changing your focus from me to “be”? “Being” is not about me or you………. it is about our eternal soul surfacing from the background in the living of our lives. It is listening, centering, discerning the Divine and being mindful of that described in the Words of Counsel, “opportunities abound if we are willing to see them”. For that type of daily sensitivity we need mindful discernment.

I personally know it is hard to discipline oneself to a daily routine of “spiritual practices” like we would go for a run or walk the dog. But that is what it takes. The best way to complete a goal, like anything in life, is to partner up with someone that you naturally can share hopes and plans with and they with you. Then by voicing with each other your goals……… you affirm, encourage and daily talk, text or? one another,  to fulfill your plan every day. You are jointly accountable to one another and along with the deepening of your mutual friendship will emerge an impelling spiritual sensitivity and passion in your lives that will bless you and others in ways that will amaze you as you fulfill your ministry plan and respond to the abounding opportunities unseen to you today.

Each of us has this capacity within us to “know God” After all, one of the best known scriptures is precisely that. “Be still and know that I am God” I want to be a catalyst to make this real in your life and everyone willing in your congregation and beyond. That is what you can expect. I want to be upfront and personal on this one daily baseline act in your life. Nothing else counts if you do not enter into God’s space in your life. Please expect this conversation from me and even now begin thinking who that compatible partner will be in your life. That will be the person who when you ask them will say to you, “Hey, I was going to ask you too!”  

Then with the emerging passion in your life, we are ready for congregational mission.
Submitted by Kerry Richards

Friday, April 11, 2014

Come Home with your Diversity

We are all familiar with the phrase, “I am a spiritual person, not a religious person. There are mega adherents to this philosophy in society. Many of these good folks are our children, siblings, friends and people who we interact with every day. From their perspective, organized religion is church and it is hard to break free of that label for indeed that is who we are in Community of Christ. There are systemic attitudes held towards the institution of church. There is politics, $$, perceived restrictions, exclusivity, time and place schedules that oblige one to attendance, boring rituals within spectator like settings. Church competes with alluring life activities that families greatly value. Even though major transitions have already been actively implemented within leadership and programming offerings of our church the communication channels to the grass roots have many hurdles in connecting with people. To begin with, there are time constraints and unwillingness of peripheral members to read, listen, attend and involve themselves due to perceptions of having been there, done that, so why bother even looking into or investing time and energy into something which is trying to displace what my life is fully enjoying now. Further most of those I knew are no longer there as well so the social dynamics are weak too......... The above applies to those who are both spiritually inclined and those who are just busy with life.

How do we as a church break free of these perceptions and reconnect with those who mean so much to us?   

I attended an extra-curricular expression of our church the other night that has appeal to those primarily on the periphery of the more liberal spiritual persuasion. I invited my son who has a growing spirituality, yet is not a religious person. On our ride home, my son posed a question to me following a spirited discussion about the changing nature of Community of Christ. He was intrigued by the new directions of the church, but, “why after one has explored other spiritual avenues which are found to be meaningful, would one go back to the church which they had found to be irrelevant with their life and interests?

We discussed diversity specifically within Community of Christ, as I wanted the conversation to be personal as this was the church of our own heritage. I expressed I hoped that to begin with, there might be a sense of loyalty to heritage and family. Then, to see oneself as a valued “family” contributor of worthful diversity to enhance the church beyond where it is in creating relevancy. I expressed that all authors and leaders with followings and organizations, even the ones he reads about and likes, go through transitions as do the people within them. Change is imminent. They just happen to appeal to him at this point in his life in their point on their journey. Why not invest in our family journey together and explore the diverse in our community and introduce newness to the expressions of our “heritage” church. We are a church that has even taken the radical step to change its name to create a new identity, signifying a willingness to embark upon a new journey of discovery that involves us all together.

Of course a church needs to be spiritually attuning itself, accepting, hospitable, progressive, open, inclusive and dialogical for this institutional “conversion” and open conversation to take place. This phrase does describe the "journeying" Community of Christ. We also need new inviting settings of intersection with the larger community of ideas and spiritual awareness beyond our doors or we continue to be homogeneous. As the coming together of diverse people, ideas and innovations create tension; we need multiple gathering expressions of our community to nurture safe places of dialogue. These unique models would enable diversity under the umbrella of a unified and accepting Body of Christ, exemplifying blessing and order in our distinctiveness. Small group ministry is a perfect vehicle for enabling diversity. Cluster gatherings of our numerous expressions of the church where all equally participate together, allow the church to be more completely relevant. In these gatherings, in the presence of the Divine, our social interaction creates meaningful sacred community. I believe Community of Christ has entered this pathway of transition to become more relevant and is open to and exploring ways to offer more innovative and diverse expressions of the church.

In our Mission area, one expression that brings together many spiritual folks who may not find the traditional format of the church meaningful in their lives, is our “Freeing and Healing of the Spirit” reunion. For those who attend, this is a genuine sacred expression of Community of Christ. May we embrace its intersection with those who bring diversity to enrich the whole. The church is trying to birth new expressions of being relevant. Diversity is a blessing we need.

May we invite those of our heritage who have journeyed beyond the familiar to re-engage with us in new expressions of our family and “Come Home” to bless us and be blessed. What joy could exceed this experience of finding one another in the embracing of our souls.

Submitted by Kerry

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Innovative Mission

 In the book Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, the term “connector” is used to describe individuals who have many ties to different stratas of social interaction in their lives that broadens their horizons for idea generation. Leading thinkers in progressive companies today recognize that diversity is a source of the “new” that already exists latently in people and can be “mined” so to speak as “connector” leaders proactively search out the “diverse” primarily external to their own industries, knowledge base, cultures and generation. Connectors become curators of diversity and have the ability to link people, ideas, and resources that wouldn’t ordinarily bump into one another. Connecting the “outside” to people inside companies is critical to new idea generation. Diversity in a workforce is seen to be one of its competitive advantages. These are the firms that are destined for growth through this creative enterprise.

This concept shines a light on our scriptural principle in the church of affirming diversity and enabling unity amongst the whole. Our primary focus is really on the value and blessing of diversity in our midst and beyond. “Unity” is more about the integration of our differences in peaceful harmony.

As I pondered the Words of Counsel, the following phrase connected with me.

“Additional innovative approaches to coordinating congregational life and supporting groups of disciples and seekers are needed to address mission opportunities in a changing world.”

The likelihood for new idea generation is much greater when we connect with people of diverse experience and backgrounds. The norm in industry and congregations is for leaders and people to choose to collaborate with others they know well or who have similar backgrounds or ways of thinking. This homogenization of thinking and operations is deadly for innovation and relevance in a dynamic and changing society.

Collaborative leadership is key to managing the diversity in our midst as conflict can be inherent in new ways of thinking. “Unity in diversity” is one of our enduring principles. Embracing diversity has become front and centre within Community of Christ on my levels of interaction from inclusivity to theology to formation to hymnody to mission to congregational styles of worship. A pastoral blending of spiritual sensitivity and collaborative leadership is required to guide diverse thought groups into a unified body. Dialogue and teamwork are the hallmarks of cooperative innovation in our missional pursuits.

Although we accept, promote and struggle with diversity in the broader sense of societal issues, the reality is that most of our congregations are very homogeneous. We need the invitation for diversity to be heralded beyond the doors of our churches. Even within our own membership, the invitation for diversity to our missing generations and those on the periphery seeking spiritual relevance in their lives but not finding it in our current congregational cultures, need to be found for our own sakes. We desperately need diversity in our midst to answer the call to innovative mission. Our journey now takes us from accepting diversity to embracing it, welcoming it, searching for it and recognizing the blessing it can be in our midst. As progressive companies are pursuing the latency of newness in the broad spectrum of society’s people offerings, so the church is called to recognize, affirm, invite and engage “the worth of persons.” The tendency over the years since this scriptural counsel to value all persons was received, has been to think of the church as bringing wholeness to the less accepted in society. Today the call is to see them as blessing us and that we find our welfare in their equal assimilation into our community, bringing their diverse gifts to enhance the whole church. I can’t help but be awed by the relevance of scripture from age to age as we dwell with the Spirit in its meaning for today. May God bless us on our journey into his envisioned Mission.

Submitted by Kerry

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

President Veazey and Spiritual Practice

With so many of you I have listened and then read and re-read President Veazey’s address from Sunday evening. This morning my personal time of spiritual reflection was upon these words.

I recalled my scripture for a sermon on Sunday using Mark 8 where Jesus was striving with challenging questions, with the healing of a blind man; first partially healing him so his vision was still blurry and then fully restoring his vision in a 2 part healing; and then openly sharing a direct description of his path to the cross and resurrection with his Disciples. In this dialogue exchange Jesus said to his disciples, “Do you not understand, do you have eyes but fail to see, do you have ears and fail to hear?"

In discussion with some folks it seemed like the address was somewhat that which we have heard before. I am sure Jesus’ disciples heard the repetition of his message often to the multitudes, yet he took the time to reinforce their understanding of his own life’s eternal purpose. They weren’t getting it. Their perceptions were a human take from the immediate context of their lives, the Roman occupation and preconceived notions. They were not listening.

May I ask of you to re-listen to the broadcast and to spiritually dwell upon the text of the address, both found here….   and really listen to the theme that threads its way through the entire message.

Steve emphasizes the centering theme of one of our new hymns.....May we be blessed by putting into  practice the words of hymn 151….

“Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead, find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed; clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes that we can see all the things that really matter, be at peace and simply be.”

Steve shares, “Through spiritual practices of quietness, prayerful attention, and listening, we experience divine-human encounters that transform our lives. We cannot effectively participate in Christ’s mission without regular spiritual-formation activities that open our lives to the Spirit’s ministry and guidance. Whenever we talk about a “divine vision” set before us, it is important to emphasize that we are not talking about a human creation. The vision for mission is God’s! Jesus’ inner spiritual life with God was the source of his evident capacity to discern and demonstrate God’s nature and purposes in the world. Only through continuous spiritual awakening, discernment, and transformation can we effectively engage in Christ’s mission. That is why the words of counsel say, As a spiritual venture, boldly follow the [mission] initiatives into the heart of God’s vision for the church and for creation.”

The heart of the message Steve has re-emphasized, is that we as a prophetic people cannot see, hear and understand without engaging in spiritual practices that attune us to the movement of the spirit in our lives, to one another and Christ’s divine mission. As Jesus’ expressed to Peter in Mark 8, “You are setting your mind not on Divine things but on human things.” Let us use both the Words of Counsel and this present address by Steve in personal spiritual practice. May we prayerfully and deeply ponder these words with open eyes and ears to hear and understand the eternal and not our human preconceptions. Community of Christ exists to serve Christ’s mission, not a human creation, but a “divine vision” set before us. This vision for mission is God’s!

Submitted by Kerry

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Community Needs Humility

The virtue of humility is a complex notion. As we engage our lives in community, interacting with one another, diversity becomes apparent in a magnitude of ways. Each of us is unique and therefore there is a natural tendency to think independently. We see each other through the lens of our context in our own life experiences. Often this is reinforced by others of like mind who harbour similar attitudes and perspectives as ourselves in some common areas of our association. In a community setting when we all come together, our differences emerge. It is within community where humility must grace our lives and thrive in our interactions one with another. Humility is a heart attitude, a choice on our part as a disciple, whereby we intentionally choose to set aside our choices and seek God’s demeanor of love, grace and peace. It is a posture of emptying ourselves and opening ourselves to the other. In this frame of mind our aggressive defensiveness is replaced by a spirit nurtured willingness for harmony. 

Society’s “me” culture fosters a defensive mechanism for creating barriers, protecting my interests and forming alliances to safeguard our norms. These notions result in separation, detachment and opinion camps in our midst. Each person, group, entity has good intentions, valuable ideas and are honourable people. But each thinks in terms of exclusivity, ownership and with fear of the unknown in the other. The easiest course of action is to be critical of each other without engaging in conversation about the differences that exist. What we might think of as “faithful criticism” from a defensive standpoint of perceived rightness creates inner turmoil within ourselves and denies the emergence of the “sacred” in community.

In the context of a congregational setting where change, power, inadequate communication and lack of dialogue exists, unity dissolves into factional disarray. In these times of divisiveness whether it be personal or collective in nature, we need to step back and practice what we know as enduring principles and promote as communities of joy, hope, love and peace. To have unity in our diversity we need to draw upon the grace we have received in Christ and humbly offer it to the other. Mindfully praying the Lord ’s Prayer lifts up forgiveness for self and others and places us in a position to “be with” others; accepting their inestimable worth in personhood and inviting their voiced viewpoints in discussion. Let us dialogue together. Let us explore new ways of seeing, of questioning, of formulating solutions. Dialogue is not easy. The heart of its working structure is an attitude of humility, of emptying oneself, of knowing the spirit leads us beyond what we think we know to a blending of our diversity into a unified whole.

Mission does not happen in a vacuum. It erupts from within when we encounter the sacred in our lives. When divisiveness exists we become indifferent and detached. Our sense of mission disappears. Let us journey upon a pilgrimage of the heart to rediscover the source of life and grace that makes us whole. May the sacred in community be experienced in love for one another. May this impel us to live in Mission as Christ alongside our diverse brothers and sisters in a common cause, united in one body. This is my prayer.   

submitted by Kerry

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is This Your Time?

I have heard many of you say over the last several years that you would really like to attend Encounter World Religions’ summer program…sometime.  Normally by April the July week-long experience is already fully booked, however, perhaps fortunately for you, this year that is not the case.  Maybe this year is your opportunity.

To find a link to Encounter’s website click here.   You will also find a short radio interview featuring Brian Carwana from last summer.   At the bottom you will also find this year’s flyer, schedule and registration form.

Joan and I have taken this amazing journey and we highly recommend it.  In a sense, it is like a one week trip around the world without leaving the safety and security of your home country. Without a doubt, it will be the most enjoyable and memorable thing you do all summer, guaranteed!

Is this your year?  I hope so.  Whether you go or not, why not pass this information along to friends or others you know who could benefit from this incredible experience?  They will be so glad you did.

Posted by Carman

If You Give a Church a Mission

The following post is from Tami Perriman from the Vista/Carlsbad, California congregation of Community of Christ.  I came across her article and liked it so requested her permission to re-post it here.  Her story mirrors the experience of her congregation in following Christ into mission.


Carman Thompson

I must be inspired by an impending visit from my 18 month old granddaughter. One of our favorite books is If You Give s Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff.  I was thinking about the domino effect of mission in Community of Christ and feeling amazed, overwhelmed and blessed all at the same time.

If you give a church a mission, then the church might sell everything it possesses so that it can follow Jesus Christ. And if it sells everything, then it will need to find a new place to worship. If it finds a new place to worship, then the church is going to encounter new friends. If the church finds new friends, some of those new friends are going to be hungry and the church will want to feed them. If the church provides food, more friends will come. With more friends, come more needs, so the church will start giving away clothing, blankets, sleeping bags and personal hygiene supplies. If the church starts giving away stuff, they will need more stuff to give away. If they need more stuff, God will provide by calling on the community and other churches to help. If the community and other churches help, more people can be served!

This may seem a little simplified, but the truth is, the first step in mission is always divine encounter, and the willingness to allow yourself to be used by God. Leading Congregations in Mission encourages us to pray these words everyday, “God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.”

It sounds similar to another prayer doesn’t it? "Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!" We are told that God blessed Jabez after he prayed this simple prayer. The Vista Community of Christ has seen God’s response to our prayer as well. In the children’s story, the author cautions against giving a mouse a cookie because of the never-ending cycle of events that happen. If you give a church a mission, prepare yourself for the same blossoming effects, and a never-ending cycle of blessings, for the church, the community, and for you personally as you respond to the call to be God’s hands, feet and heart in this kingdom.

Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a. There are many lives waiting to hear the redeeming words of the gospel, or to be lifted from hopelessness by the hands of loving servants. But they will be lost to you without the generous response of disciples who share from their own bounty that others may know the joys of the kingdom. 

Give a church a mission, share from your bounty.

Tami Perriman
Vista/Carlsbad Community of Christ

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Never Ending Story

Judging a book by its cover…..Few books have impacted my life as greatly as “Community of Christ Sings”, and I have literally read thousands. When my kids were young, a movie, The Never ending Story, captured them with the idea that opening the pages of a book launched them into a storyland where they lived a character within its pages and determined the path and plot of the epic story. Such has been my experience with the songs we lived within the pages of our new hymnal this weekend. Words such as sacred, sacramental, consecrated, sanctified, naturally depict our mutual walk together in the rapture of whole person communion with God as we collectively sang together. Song after song opened our lives to a journey of new realities of human need, new awareness of our inclusive global identity, of Christ’s mission calling us in personal heart lifting visions that empowered our gathering.  What soaring joy captured so intimately our emotions, which lived on the edge, erupting, as the intersection of profound words, exhilarating melodies, blending harmonies, gifted musicians, endowed understandings and Spirit pronouncements merged. We were truly filled with the essence of sacred.

We looked in each others eyes with knowing. We had worshiped. With one another we were sacred community. We sensed the opening words of D&C 163 proclaiming that “Community of Christ, your name given as a divine blessing, is your identity and calling.” The songs we lived imprinted this theme upon our hearts. We know whose we are and who we are.

Those who live in the marginalized shadows of invisibility in our world became ever so real as we envisioned and personalized their reality in our communities and our part to play. "Here we are Lord, use us". We dramatized the insightful words of truth contained within these pages so expressively that they reverberated throughout the chapel causing the surface of the African drum to vibrate. We walked the Worshiper’s path as singing, reflecting, discerning disciples in musical video. The cost of grace became a reality as we sang and lived the Easter story. We learned of the writers and creators of the songs, words and developers of this book; a living expression of revelation. Blessed are we for being part of each others lives through this rich experience of retreat.

As one quoted during our benedictory worship, “our worship has ended and now the service begins”; we covenant to be a blessing in the congregations and communities to where we each live. May we be open and vulnerable to the Spirit that accompanies us. May we journey within the pages of this living songbook and become contributing authors of the never-ending story of Christ risen. Join us in song, in life!

Submitted by Kerry