Teenage Affluenza?

Here is a very powerful satirical video produced by World vision Australia.  It not only reminds us of how lucky we are but it also reminds us of how most of our world’s young people live.  I find that I need reminders like this to keep me aware of what my priorities are really meant to be.  It is not just the teenagers in our society that suffer from Affluenza.  It is a very contagious disease that easily infects all of us.

Thinking Missionally

This video was produced for our upcoming Seed Sampler on the Missional Church which will be published later this week at Mustard Seed Journey.  I thought that you might appreciate a sneak preview. The images are used with permission by Emerging Grace. They are some of the most eloquent definitions of missional terms that I have come across. The music is from Jeff Johnson’s album Patrick. Enjoy

A Rose of Peace

Today is International Day of Peace and this evening we celebrated a beautiful peace liturgy here at the Mustard Seed House.  As we sat in silence for a few moments I was reminded of one of my favourite symbols of peace – the peace rose.  nothing speaks to me more strongly of God’s desire for peace than this rose.  It was developed in France during WWII and was smuggled out by the French resistance forces to England.  By accident or “coincidence” the celebration being held for the naming of this rose fell on the day that peace was declared.  I think that maybe God was at work in the midst of this story just as he is at work in our world today bringing about peace.

May the God of peace grant you peace this night

The Spirituality of Rhythm

Moon shoreI have been intrigued by the interest in my post on knitting and fact that knitting can be a spiritual exercise. Actually this should not surprise me – when I was writing my book GodSpace I read an article that talked about how any rhythmic action – even sweeping the floor – can relax and renew people. So anything that has a rhythmic motion to it can become the basis of a spiritual exercise for us.

There are many rhythms besides knitting that connect me to the presence of God and contribute to my spiritual well being. Here are a few that are very important to me

  1. The most obvious is the rhythm of the seasons. The life, death and resurrection of nature that occurs with the changing seasons is a wonderful reminder of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
  2. The rhythm of the day that we so take for granted – our faith in the fact that the sun rises each morning providing us with light and warmth is a reminder of the faithfulness of God who comes to us each morning with the promise of life and love .
  3. The rhythm of tea breaks – very important to anyone who claims any alleigence to the British Commonwealth – punctuates my day in a way that renews and refreshes me. It is often in those quiet moments over a cup of tea that I sense the presence of Christ in me, over me, behind me, beside me and before me.
  4. Weeding the garden – I not sure if it is becausee pulling out weeds helps me get rid of some of my aggression or what but I have found that working in the garden and particularly yanking out weeds is a wonderful time to pray and meditate on the goodness of God.

Obviously this is only a small sampling but I would love to know what rhythmic actions in your life connect you most strongly to God and to the incarnate presence of Christ within you too. If you can’t think of anything than maybe you need to spend time in quiet reflection thinking about how you can connect the repetitive actions of the day to your sense of God’s presence. Often a simple prayer that we associate with a particular action and that we recite every time we perform that action can transform the mundane or the boring into a wonderful touch of the intimacy of God.

This is one of the aspects of Celtic Christianity that so attracts me. The Celts really knew how to find God in the midst of the mundane acts of life.

Here is a modern Celtic prayer written by a participant at a retreat in Sheffield Tasmania several years ago.

At the Sink

As I froth up the water running into the sink
I froth up thoughts of you in my life God.
Keep me bubbling with the quest for honesty
the quest for growth
I don’t want to stagnate in the scum of my own ignorance.
In the floating debris of my mistakes
I feel dirty with the things that go wrong in my days
but want to come out clean
like the utensil I pull out of the sink right now.
Take my mistakes
and wash them down the gurgling plughole
Oh God,
and let me start clean again.
(Marion Wilcox)

The Spirituality of Knitting

venyarnnest.jpgThe last couple of days we seem to have moved from summer into autumn.  The mornings are cool and crisp, the leaves are starting to change colour and the lake is glowing with that special light that only occurs at this time of the year.  Now that the weather is a little cooler I am starting to knit again.  It is one of the most relaxing ways to spend my time in the evenings.

I learned to knit when I was 8 and have knitted my way through life ever since.  I have endured many boring meetings with my knitting needles in my hands and even knitted my way through medical lectures and while I studied.  What has not really occurred to me until recently however is that knitting is a very spiritual activity.  Others are obviously much more aware of this than I am – I was amazed at how many books on spirituality and knitting there are out there – everything from Zen to Christian prayer goes better with knitting it seems.

Prayer and knitting circles have sprung up all over the place.  The Prayer Shawl Ministry is one beautiful way that knitters have combined their faith and their knitting.  According to Jane Bristow co-founder of the ministry “Shawls … made for centuries are universal and embracing. They enfold, comfort, cover, wrap, give solace, warmth, mother, hug, shelter, and beautify. They are symbolic ofinclusive and unconditional loving. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed.”

You can even go on knitting retreats to learn how to knit and pray, meditate and reflect on scripture.  Interestingly knitting has undergone a resurgence of interest in the last few years.  Which doesn’t surprise me because I think that connecting ones creativity to a rhythmic activity like this has a very therapeutic effect – whether one is spiritually inclined or not.  I love the reflections I found by Pastor Judy Anderson-Bauer on the Monastic Musings blog.  She starts with Everything is done one stitch at a time. No amount of wishing will get a cable sweater done faster. It is all done stitch by stitch. And that is a good thing.  Read more

The New Conspirators

The New Conspirators

We are just starting to get ready for our conference The New Conspirators: What in the World is God Doing? February 28, 29 & March 1 next year. I am really excited by what we already have planned. Shane Claiborne will be with us again & Mark Pierson will be coming from New Zealand. We are hoping to have a good representation of speakers from the 4 streams of renewal that we want to emphacize – the emerging, missional, monastic and mosaic streams.

I find that preparing for a conference is always a challenging & stretching process that forces us to rethink why we do what we do & how we are going to live out our values in spite of the pressures to make ends meet financially and to conform to participants expectations of what a conference should look like. We want to highlight our commitment to creation care, our concern for the marginalized and our desire to see all God’s people live their lives to the rhythms of wholeness and completeness that God intends for them. I will probably be reflecting on this a lot more in the coming weeks.

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on how we can emphacize these values – apart from holding seminars on all these topics that is.

Celebrating the Shalom of God

Friday is International Day for Peace so I thought that this video would be an appropriate offering for the week. The chorus for the song was written by a group of Mennonite youth workers at a course we conducted in Winnipeg some years ago. The verses came from the poem I wrote on Shalom that I posted last week. As you can probably tell the music was not professionally produced but it definitely conveys my feelings and the longing deep within my heart to enter into the new world of God in which peace and justice will reign.

Rhythms of life

Iona Abbey window - largeRecently I was asked what I do with my time. I was not sure if the person was getting at me because I had been talking about processing apples or if they really wanted to know. However it started me thinking – how do I prioritize my time and how do I find time for all the things that I really think matter?

It seemed an appropriate time to reflect on the ideas that are the foundations for my book Godspace and some of the ideas that lead to the setting up of this blog.

I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and have done for 15 years.  During the first year of my illness I spent much of my time in bed.  I couldn’t work, drive the car or do anything that lifting or carrying.  I had loads of time to think about what had gotten me to this stage & ask what could I have done to avoid it.  During those months of incapacity I studied the life of Jesus looking specifically at how he prioritized his time and what kind of a rhythm his days had.

I came to the conclusion that there were three rhythms that he balanced in his life – the rhythm between the spiritual and the secular, between work and rest and between community and solitude.  Not surprisingly when I started to study the monastic communities I realized that their lives flowed to the same rhythms and it seems to me that throughout the ages those that have been able to sustain and grow their faith maintain these same kind of disciplines.  Of course what this looks like varies from time to time depending on whether we are single, married, with kids, working or retired but I do think that maintaining these rhythms is important.

This is not easy in our world today.  There are so many “important” things that pull us away from God’s intended rhythms.  What concerns me is how many followers of Jesus I meet who allow these to govern how their time and resources are used.   Our time with God and our spiritual practices often give way to our jobs, our shopping sprees or our sports obsessions. – and we have all kinds of reasons for rationalizing this.  Many of us don’t even think it is possible to live a life that is centred on God and that flows to God’s rhythms.  Busyness really is the applauded addiction in our society & we think that this is God’s way.

I love the words from Matthew 11: 29, 30 as translated in The Message

Walk with me & work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me & you’ll learn to live freely and lightly

I think it would do all of us good to spend time meditating on these verses regularly.  What are the unforced rhythms of grace that God wants us to embrace in our lives?   What do you think?

Are the Rich Falling Behind the Super Rich?

Now this is something we should all me concerned about. The gap between the wealthy and the absurdly wealthy is widening.  How we can help the merely rich catch up.

In The Know: Are America’s Rich Falling Behind The Super-Rich?

Learning Environment

Grist e-zine just highlighted the 15 greenest universities and colleges in the world.  Unfortunately none of them are Christian colleges or universities.  Obviously we need to do a better job of encouraging teaching institutions that are Christian based to care for their environment too.  Actually I do know some that are concerned about this issue.  Which ones top your list?