From the Diversity Team: Community on the Bus
By Peter Smith of Odessa, FL, USA
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. —Doctrine and Covenants 161:3a
I joined the Community of Christ Historic Sites fall bus tour. The ten-day tour was a resounding success. The trip reaffirmed and strengthened my appreciation of our church heritage.
However, my most memorable experience on this trip had nothing to do with historic sites. Instead, it had to do with my 48 fellow travelers—most of whom I had never met before. We were from 13 different states and all walks of life. Some were lifetime church members, and some had found Community of Christ as adults. We were a diverse group of travelers, packed together on a bus for ten straight days.
Around the fourth day of the trip, my mother phoned and told me her doctor had found a mass on one of her ovaries and was going to do further testing. There was a great fear in her voice as she shared this news with me. I was overcome with fear for what these tests might find.
The next morning I shared my concern with my companion travelers. Never before have I experienced such a compassionate response to a prayer request. The entire bus immediately joined in prayer. The next day, they passed a get-well card around the bus and sent it to my mom. They filled it with well-wishes and prayers from all of these “strangers,” united in love and concern for her. Their response overwhelmed me beyond words—such an outpouring of support.
Her test results were normal and the doctors successfully removed the mass. Beyond this good news, though, I am eternally grateful for the compassionate love shown to me by the community on the bus, people who have now become my brothers and sisters in Christ, and my friends forever. I have learned that we are never “strangers” when we unite ourselves in Christ-like love and compassion for one another. There is truth in the words of that beloved hymn: “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord… and they’ll know we are Christians by our love…” (by Peter Scholtes, ©1966 F.E.L. Publications, CCS 359).
Prayer for Peace
Open our hearts, compassionate God, that we may sense the fear of others. Drawing on your strength and love, we can reach out in understanding and share your assurance of peace.
Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community
Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the friendships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, and people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings flow to you from these circles? How have you felt the love of the community?
Reflect, pray, or write in your journal about the call to be “Community of Christ.” Go deeper each day as you consider what acts of blessing you can complete for stranger and friend alike.
Today, God, I will clasp the hand of one who is fearful and share the peace of Christ.