By Andrew Fox of Clay Cross, Derbyshire, England
Open your hearts and feel the yearnings of your brothers and sisters who are lonely, despised, fearful, neglected, unloved. Reach out in understanding, clasp their hands, and invite all to share in the blessings of community created in the name of the One who suffered on behalf of all.
Do not be fearful of one another. Respect each life journey, even in its brokenness and uncertainty, for each person has walked alone at times. Be ready to listen and slow to criticize, lest judgments be unrighteous and unredemptive.
Be patient with one another, for creating sacred community is arduous and even painful. But it is to loving community such as this that each is called. Be courageous and visionary, believing in the power of just a few vibrant witnesses to transform the world. Be assured that love will overcome the voices of fear, division, and deceit. —Doctrine and Covenants 161:3a–c
Most days I work in the office at the back of the church so, quite regularly, have opportunity to meet with people coming into the church building for the first time. In the church sanctuary are various symbols and objects that represent Community of Christ and what it stands for. A picture of Jesus, books of scripture, and various church leaflets are also there.
But the thing that people ask about more than anything else is the chair.
All but one of the chairs in the sanctuary are alike—red fabric on a grey frame. The one exception is much bigger than the others and is a totally different color. “What’s with the chair?” I am often asked. I respond, “Oh, that’s Dorothy’s chair.”
This gives me an opportunity to share about Dorothy, a member who has attended church all of her life and continues to do so now, even in her nineties. I explain that Dorothy has a very special gift, the gift of appreciation. “If you have participated in a worship service,” I say, “you can be pretty sure that afterward Dorothy will tell you how much she has enjoyed the service and thank you for what you have done.” Dorothy’s words of encouragement and support are part of the fabric of this church.
The chair—Dorothy’s chair—is a symbol of Community of Christ. It represents those wonderful souls who have dedicated their lives to serving Jesus through the church, often in simple but vital ways.
Each time I pass through the church sanctuary on my way to the office, I see the chair and am prompted to give thanks for those who, like Dorothy, have brought blessing to me and so many others through their faithful service.
May I see your light in all life.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Light of God
Close your eyes, and become centered with your breath. As you breathe gently in and out, reflect on the statement, “The light of God is in all things.” The light has a bright, soft beauty and radiates God’s healing love. The light of God reaches you and permeates you with a deep sense of peace. Rest in the light as it surrounds and fills you. Thank God that you live in God’s light, and it lives in you.