Sunday, August 26, 2012

Prayer for DR and Haiti

Prayers for those dealing with the aftermath of Isaac, especially in Haiti, where they're talking about the danger of cholera.

Hear those who cry to you
in their time of distress.
Do not let the floods reach them!

Be their shelter.
Preserve them from harm.
May the only sound to be heard around them
be joyous cries of relief.

(Psalm 32:6-7)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Give Us Clean Hearts

Some worship resource ideas appropriate for September 2. Scroll down to find the following:
  1. A Repentance Reading
  2. Disciples' Generous Response -- World Hunger Emphasis
  3. Disciples' Generous Response -- Shorter reading options

[This is something I would pray. (Obviously--I prayed it when I wrote it.) Does it work for a congregation? You tell me.] 


Inspired by Isaiah 29:13-14 / 2 Nephi 11:146-147

Reader 1:
Holy God—
I am a hypocrite.
I honor you with my lips,
but my heart is far from you.
I do not live up to the values I say I believe in.
I do not keep the promises I have made to you.
I know this about myself,
but I find ways to avoid facing the ugliness of it.
Even now, as I am confessing my hypocrisy,
I am not as sincerely remorseful about it as I should be.

Holy God—
give me a clean heart.

Reader 2:
I am self-deceived.
I do not know your will as well as I believe I do.
I confuse my will for yours.
I mistake my own convictions or cultural values for revealed truth.
I teach human precepts as if they were your doctrines.
I do this without even knowing when I am doing it.
I know enough to know that I ought to know better
than to trust my puny mortal understanding.
But I am proud.
I like to believe that I’m right.

Holy God—
give me a clean heart.

Reader 3:
God of wondrous power,
you have told us—
or rather, I believe you have told us—
that you have begun a marvelous work among us.
You have said that this work
will cause the understanding of the wise and the learned to perish
to die.

That’s a frightening way for you to put it, 
when I stop to think about it.

Even so,
I am willing to let you perform this work on me.
I say that, even though I expect it will mean
having to face ugly and humiliating truths about myself.
I expect it will mean having to admit that I am wrong
about things I very much do not want to be wrong about.
It means that I will have to truly be changed.

Still, I am willing, 
because I trust that what you cause to die,
you will also raise to new life.
And I am more or less sincere when I say that.

Holy God—
give me a clean heart.



Adapted from D&C 42:8a-b, 58:3b-d; Isaiah 25:6, 29:19

Reader 1:
The Lord says:
If you love me, you will serve me
and keep all my commandments.

All:   Lord, we want to serve you.

Reader 1:
You will remember the poor
and consecrate, for their support,
what you have to impart to them.

All:   Lord, we bring you our offerings.

Reader 2:
For this cause I have sent you:
that you might lay the foundation
on which the Zion of God will stand . . .

All:   Lord, we want to build Zion.

Reader 2:
That a feast might be prepared for the poor—
a feast of fat things,
of wine well refined.

            All:   Lord, we accept the task.
                     We will prepare the feast.
Reader 2:
Thus the earth may know
that the mouths of the prophets will not fail:

Reader 1:
“The Lord will make for all people a feast of fat things.”
“The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”

            All:   Lord, we want to bring it to pass.
The Leader then offers a prayer for the Blessing and Receiving of “Abolish Poverty, End Suffering” Contributions (includes World Hunger) and Mission Tithes.



Option A.  Adapted from Mosiah 2:42-43

In order that you may walk guiltless before God,
impart of your substance to the poor,
each of you according to what you have—
feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked,
visiting the sick and administering to their relief.

Option B. Adapted from D&C 132:3

The words of Frederick M. Smith,
a servant of God:
“I admonish the church . . .
[that] all should consecrate
of their talents, abilities, and substance
for the prosecution of the great work entrusted to us.”

Option C. Adapted from D&C 36:2h-i

Leader:            The Lord called his people Zion,
All:                  because they were of one heart and one mind.
Leader:            They dwelt in righteousness,
All:                  and there were no poor among them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stand firm

Some worship resources appropriate for August 26. Consistent with the day’s theme, “Stand Firm,” the resources revolve around references to firmness, steadfastness, or strength.

I’m laying various options on the table today. They include a sermon help that reads the day’s Ephesians text in light of a parallel D&C text.


(adapted from Helaman 2:31)

Leader:            The church of God fasted and prayed often.
They grew stronger and stronger in their humility,
All:                  and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ.

Leader:            Their souls were filled with joy and comfort.
Their hearts were made pure and holy
All:                  because they gave way for God to take over their hearts.



It may be especially appropriate for the reading to be offered by a priest, as an expression of the priests’ ministry to share God’s gift of unconditional love and to extend the hand of reconciliation to those with broken spirits.

Option A. Adapted from Jacob 2:49-50

Before the congregation pauses for individual repentant prayer:
Look to God with firmness of mind,
and pray to him with faith.
He will console you in your afflictions
and plead your cause.

After the congregation has prayed:
Lift up your heads
and receive the pleasing word of God.
Feast upon his love!
For you may, if your minds are firm, forever.

Option B. Adapted from Ether 5:28, 38

After the congregation has paused for individual repentant prayer:
The Lord says:
My grace is sufficient
for all who humble themselves before me.
Because you have seen your weakness,
you will be made strong.

Option C. Adapted from D&C 38: 4b-c

After the congregation has paused for individual repentant prayer:
The Lord says:
You are blessed.
I will be merciful to your weakness.
Therefore, be strong from this time forward.
Do not be afraid, for the kingdom is yours.

Option D.  Adapted from D&C 83:9b

After the congregation has paused for individual repentant prayer:
The Lord says:
I will forgive you of your sins
with this commandment--
that you remain steadfast in your minds,
in solemnity and the spirit of prayer,
in bearing testimony to all the world
of those things which are communicated to you.

Option E.  Adapted from Alma 14:91-92

Appropriate for either before or after the congregation pauses for individual repentant prayer:

Leader:            I know that I am nothing.
All:                  As to my strength, I am weak.
Leader:            But I will boast of my God,
All:                  for in God’s strength, I can do all things.



To be read before the Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes.

Option A.  Adapted from Ether 5:4

Whoever believes in God
may hope with certainty for a better world.
And this hope, born of faith,
will be an anchor to your soul,
making you sure and steadfast,
always abounding in good works.

Option B.  Adapted from Mosiah 3:21

Leader:            Be steadfast and immovable,
All:                  always abounding in good works.


(adapted from D&C 9:5a-b)

This could be read in tandem with the recommended Sending Forth from Ephesians 6:17-18.

Be faithful.
Stand fast in the work to which I have called you,
and not a hair of your head will be lost.



A portion of today’s reading from Ephesians is reproduced, with some added clauses, in D&C 26:3d-f. The additions offer a commentary on the Ephesians reading that reflects distinctive emphases of the Latter Day Saint tradition--especially the Enduring Principle of Continuing Revelation.

Note what the D&C text adds to the Ephesians text (KJV):
Ephesians: your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace…
D&C: your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you

Ephesians: the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…
D&C: the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you
Our Ephesians reading tells us that the gospel, the Spirit, and the word are components of the “armor of God”--they protect us from evil. The commentary on Ephesians that appears in D&C 26 reminds us that the revelation of God’s word is ongoing: God still sends messengers, God's Spirit is still being poured out, God's word is still being revealed. Revelation protects us, but that protection does not come in the form of a text, finished and closed at some point in the past, that contains everything we need to know or the answer to every question we face. To “put on” God’s word and the Spirit as “armor” means to be open to--indeed, to actively seek--the new guidance that continuing revelation provides.

There is a paradox, then, in today’s reading. Ephesians urges us to “stand firm” in the gospel of Christ. But the commentary on Ephesians that we have received in D&C 26 tells us that standing firm in the gospel means being flexible enough to receive the further light that God still has in store for us.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

8/12/1992 - A year after the call

This post is part of a series I'm doing to commemorate the 20th anniversary of my LDS mission to the Dominican Republic. Links to the other posts in the series appear at the bottom of this one.

Twenty years ago today, I was still working in Guaricano, the second area I'd be assigned to. I was conscious of approaching my "hump" mark--that is, the one-year anniversary of beginning my mission. That milestone won't actually come til October. But it had been a year since I'd received my mission call. It had been a rough year. But I was beginning to turn a real corner. I was becoming bolder about following the Spirit's inspiration to me and working the way I felt ought to be done. Turning that corner was a matter of learning to be more assertive about my own ideas (rather than immediately backing down to companions, or DLs, or ZLs who didn't share my vision); it was also a matter of overcoming my shyness--fear, really--about approaching strangers.

The point of this series isn't to look back nostalgically, though. The point is to look back out to the DR as it is today. So in that spirit, I want to mark the one-year (well, 21-year) anniversary of my mission call by spending some time compiling a prayer roll of people I met during that year. I'm praying for them wherever they are now--assuming (hoping!) that most of them are still alive.

I'm notoriously bad at remembering names, so I'll have to settle for praying for the faces of a good number of people I wish I could still name. Apologies to those whose names I've forgotten, or for those whose names I misspell.


My companions: Hill, Macias, Thomas, Taylor, Nelson, Proffit, Cabrera, Inouye, Thrasher. For their families.

For other missionaries: Daynes, Pelanka, Blessing, Sumi, Anderson. For others whose names I forget but whose faces I hold in my mind and heart. For their families.

For the Jarmans. The Paynes. The Baumans. For the Dominicans in the mission staff.

For Nilbio, Diego, Isabel, Rando, Luisa, and their families. For Irma and her family.

For the sordomudo. For the asilo. Assuming they still exist.

For other members, investigators, acquaintances, and neighbors in La Romana whose names I forget but whose faces I hold in my mind and heart.

For Juan and Jackeline, for Castillo and Mercedes, for Geor, for Ingrid, for Altagracia, for Felix and Sonia, and their families.

For Castillo's brother especially. For Jose.

For Lino, wherever he is now. For his parish. For the sisters and their clinic, if it still exists. For Amparo and her family. For her pastor and their congregation, if it still exists as such. For William and FEDOPO.

For the students I taught at FEDOPO.

For the Guaricano branch members I met on my return visit of 1997.

For other members, investigators, acquaintances, and neighbors in Guaricano whose names I forget but whose faces I hold in my mind and heart.

I pray for them in Christ's name. Amen.


And now I'm all moody.

Other posts in this series: 
7/1/1992 - FEDOPO
5/6/1992 - Guaricano
4/1/1992 - First day in Guaricano
2/5/1992 - The Zona Franca
12/4/1991 - La Romana
11/6/1991 - My first day in the Dominican Republic
10/9/1991 - Entered the MTC
9/4/1991 - Waiting to serve
8/1/1991 - Mission call

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Make melody to the Lord

Some worship resources designed for August 19. Two options for a call to worship, plus a repentance reading.


(from Psalm 111; people’s response, Alma 14:88)

1st Reader (Leader):
When I come to worship in the congregation of the saints,
I will praise the Lord with all my heart.

Blessed be the name of our God;
let us sing his praise.

2nd Reader:
The Lord has done great things—
precious and marvelous works!
All his deeds are glorious.
He pours out blessings without limit!

Blessed be the name of our God;
let us sing his praise.

3rd Reader:
How can we ever forget what the Lord has done for us?
In his kindness and compassion,
he provides for his people—
just as he promised.

Blessed be the name of our God;
let us sing his praise.

4th Reader:
Everything that the Lord does is just and true.
Everything that he says can be relied on.
He will never break the covenant
that he made when he freed his people.

Blessed be the name of our God;
let us sing his praise.

5th Reader:
Be true to the Lord—
that is the secret to life!
If you want good counsel,
look to his teachings.
To him be praise forever!

Blessed be the name of our God;
let us sing his praise.


(adapted from D&C 110:19, 22-23; formerly Appendix C)

Leader:   What do we hear in the gospel which we have received?
All:         A voice of gladness!

Leader:   A voice of mercy from heaven!
All:         A voice of truth out of the earth!

Leader:   Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad!
All:         Let the earth break forth into singing!

Leader:   Let the mountains shout for joy!
All:         And all you valleys, cry aloud!

Leader:   You seas and dry lands—tell the wonders of the Eternal God!
All:         You rivers, and brooks, and rills—flow down with gladness!

Leader:   Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord!
All:         You solid rocks, weep for joy!

Leader:   Let the sun, moon, and morning stars sing together,
              and let all God’s children shout for joy!
All:         Let the eternal creations declare God’s name for ever and ever!


(adapted from Alma 3:11-17)

Leader:   He changed our hearts.
              He wakened us from a deep sleep—
All:         and we awoke to God.

Leader:   We were encircled by the bands of death.
              But the bands were broken,
              and our souls expanded—
All:         and we sang redeeming love.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Speak the truth

An experimental approach to the scripture reading for August 12. I emphasize "experimental"—I would need to see this done before I could judge how well it works, or if it's just unwieldy. (For what it's worth, though, Christian Scientists are used to hearing two different books read from side-by-side.) Because of how the text is laid out, the reading looks longer than it actually is.

1st Reader:   
In the mouth of two or three witnesses—
2nd Reader:        
—shall every word be established.
1st Reader:    [holding up the Bible]
These are the words of Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
written to the saints at Ephesus.
2nd Reader:    [holding up the Doctrine and Covenants]
These are the words of the Lord to the Latter Day Saints,
as given through Joseph the Martyr.
1st Reader:    [Eph. 4:25]
So, then, putting away falsehood,
let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors,
for we are members of one another.   
2nd Reader:    [D&C 16:4e]
Take upon you the name of Christ,
and speak the truth in soberness.   
1st Reader:    [Eph. 4:26]
Be angry but do not sin;
do not let the sun go down on your anger.   
2nd Reader:    [D&C 42:23a]
If [your] brother or sister offend [you], . . .
take him or her between him or her and [you] alone;
and . . . be reconciled.   
1st Reader:    [Eph. 4:29]
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is useful for building up . . .
so that your words may give grace to those who hear.   
2nd Reader:    [D&C 17:11a]
See that there is no iniquity in the church,
neither hardness with each other;
neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking.   
1st Reader:    [Eph. 4:31-32]
Put away from you
all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander,
together with all malice[;]
be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.   
2nd Reader:    [D&C 85:38a, c]
See that [you] love one another;
cease to be covetous; . . .
cease to find fault one with another; . . .
and above all things, clothe yourselves with the bonds of charity, . . .
which is the bond of perfectness and peace.   
1st Reader:
2nd Reader:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Prayer for Peace - Haiti

Yesterday, the Dominican Republic (where I did mission work with both Mormons and Catholics) was the special focus of the Community of Christ's daily prayer for peace. Today, the focus was on Haiti, a country I visited a few years ago with Episcopalians.

From today's program at the Independence temple, a prayer composed by Haitian Pierre Gerard Berard:
Eternal God,

You are with us in times of joy and in times of tragedy.  I therefore come humbly before you today Lord, remembering the worst days in our history, the pain and sorrow for the little children, the young, and the old, victims of famine, diseases, and of injustice.  I remember with pain and sorrow those victims of terror, despotism, racism, and exploitation.  The poor, the hungry, the homeless, and the powerless saw a light of hope and peace of mind when the UN and the US contingents arrived.

My people said, "At last, there will be enough food on the table for everyone."  But today, Lord, the people are still waiting and becoming weary as days pass.

In you, Lord, they continue to place their hope, for you have said, "Blessed are those who thirst for justice.  Justice will be granted unto them." and "I was hungry and you gave me food."  In your eternal and gracious peace and justice, the day will come when at last victory of peace and justice will be established in Haiti.  And the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and the powerless will rejoice in you.  Amen.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Prayer for peace - Dominican Republic

Since the beginning of the summer, I've been observing the Daily Prayer of Peace, which is held each day at 1:00 Central Time in the Community of Christ's temple in Independence. At 2:00 my time, Outlook pings me an alert, and I take a few minutes to visit the website and read through the day's prayer.

Each day a different nation is singled out for special remembrance during the prayer. Today happened to be the Dominican Republic, my former mission field. From the day's prayer:
We hold to your light of love and healing the children, youth and adults of the Dominican Republic.  Bless them as they strive for justice in their leadership and for all their people.  Bless those who work for peace in all nations.