Start at the Beginning
By Sergio Juarez of Los Angeles, CA, USA
Heed the urgent call to become a global family united in the name of the Christ, committed in love to one another, seeking the kingdom for which you yearn and to which you have always been summoned. That kingdom shall be a peaceable one and it shall be known as Zion. —Doctrine and Covenants 161:6b
A university professor known for his intellect and wit once gave a very complicated assignment to his post-graduate students. They were dumbfounded. One eventually dared to ask, “Professor, where does one start such an assignment?” The professor calmly replied, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the easiest question of all: you simply start at the beginning!”
I read this in a devotional resource, and it reminded me of a conversation I had with Azucena, one of the youth in our congregation, regarding her possible future in college. She asked me a similar question: “How can I start planning to go to college?”
Azucena, often called “Suzy,” was frustrated because of several factors, one of which was lack of funds. My answer was much like the professor’s (though maybe without the same panache!). “Let’s start where you are. Concentrate on good grades, and God will take it from there.”
God has indeed taken it from there. We at La Nueva Esperanza en Cristo in Los Angeles are so excited about this news: Azucena Amador Arista is the first person to attend Graceland University from our congregation. We believe that after her more will be willing to go to Graceland. Just before the school year began she was still several thousand dollars short, then received word from the university that she would be receiving an additional grant that would fully meet her financial needs to begin her higher education. With the right beginning, God takes us further than we could go on our own.
We are blessed by so many in our mission center who have contributed on countless occasions to our ministries here at La Nueva Esperanza, including ministry to our young people. Azucena, who has been part of our church for the last decade, has certainly been blessed by these gifts. Her parents, Nicolas and Sabina, joined three years before Azucena and just last year were ordained to the priesthood. Azucena’s journey to Graceland marks another milestone in her family’s journey with Community of Christ, which includes breaking the cycle of poverty and developing disciples who serve.
Azucena’s story is a story of one less teen in trouble, one less teen unmotivated, and one more young person pursuing peace in our neighborhood and our world. It is a story that might have been written differently if not for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the vision of God’s shalom. Our church’s mission is made real—often in our very own lives.
God is with us.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Ordinary time is a season for awakening to God’s presence in all the details and circumstances of our everyday, ordinary lives. Wherever you are, pay attention to your surroundings. Allow yourself to be fully present for a time with whatever is before you. Where do you sense God with you right now exactly where you are?
How does today’s story invite you to discover God in the realities of your everyday life?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.