Spiritual Practice


Loren Mitchell, Pauline Nzeki & Hope Harle-Mould

Jesus commands us to love God and others (Matthew 22:37-39). He knows that we are better when our hearts are not divided. How can we learn to love with all that we are and to live in love and harmony with others?


Recover the Heart of a Child

Last Christmas my son received a Little People Zoo, a set of Cars vehicles, and a Daniel Tiger trolley car with figures. One day, I heard him talking to his toys: “Where did you go? Oh, there you are.” Entering his room, I saw every Daniel Tiger character, some Little People, Tow-Mater, and Lightening McQueen all crammed into the trolley.

Wow! If Pixar and PBS characters from different universes can dwell together, why can’t we? When I play with my son, I often want to keep the characters separated, as if they don’t belong together. When do we begin to separate people by categories and labels? This impulse must be learned because it doesn’t exist in children.

How do we move from fear and suspicion to love and understanding? How do we regain our childlike faithfulness to Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves? We can invest our time in engaging with people who are different from us. Simply out of respect. Simply for understanding. Simply out of love.

God’s kingdom is surely more like my son’s trolley car than the world in which we live. Perhaps this Christmas, the gift we can pray for and work toward is to love with the heart of a child.

—Loren Mitchell


Practice the Things that Lead to Peace

We allow so many things today to divide us—race, education, politics, poverty, religion. But God calls all people to live together in unity. Jesus spent time with people without excluding others. He befriended those considered outsiders as well as those who followed him. He hung out with sinners and the sick because he loved and cared about them.

As teens, we can promote unity by sharing ideas, attending cultural events, and learning from and appreciating one another. When we get to know other people and combine our strengths, we have a much better chance of solving problems and resolving misunderstandings because we are no longer divided by fear. So let’s make every effort to pursue “those things that bring peace and that help strengthen one another” (Romans 14:19, GNT).

—Pauline Nzeki, 17


Be Filled with the Love of Christ

God of Improbable Possibilities,
You gave us eyes, but we do not look—
unwilling to see past the world’s chaos and ugliness
to the reality of your Presence.
You gave us ears, but we do not listen—
unwilling to hear what is unfamiliar
yet necessary to know.
You gave us a voice, but we remain silent—
preferring to be popular instead of prophetic.
Forgive us, O God, and help us to change.
Give us the eyes of Christ
that we may see injustices others do not.
Give us the ears of Christ
that we may hear within others needs they cannot name.
Give us the voice of Christ
that we may speak the words the world longs to hear.
Fill us with the love of Christ
that we may heal division and live together in peace.

—Hope Harle-Mould

—from devozine (November/December 2019). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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