Liturgy of Remembrance

Here is a beautiful Liturgy of Remembrance that I just came across on Brad Culver’s blog.  It is a great liturgy to use for All Hallow’s Eve.

You who spoke the universe into being, whose eye is on the sparrow
Come among us Blessed Three in One, meet us here

You who is present in the poor and the broken, who comforts the mournful and stands by the forsaken
Come among us Sacred Three in One, meet us here

You who dances in silence and shines in darkness
Come among us Blessed Three in One, meet us here

Read the entire liturgy here

Sine Meanderings – The Netherlands in Review

I have finally downloaded all my photos and had time to catch my breath from our trip, though Tom is still on the move and I just drove him to the airport for a trip to Pittsburgh and a Youth Specialties event.

It was great to be able to take this trip together.  Tom’s three week trip to Britain was the longest we have been separated since we were married and neither of us like travelling overseas on our own.

Enjoying our trip

Enjoying our trip

I think that more than anything on our trip to the Netherlands I enjoyed the people we met and the new friendships we made.  We asked to stay with people rather than in hotels and this provided a wonderful foundation for getting to know some of the organizers of the various events.  The first few days were spent in Utrecht with Frank and Marika Mulder.  Frank heads up Time To Turn which is a part of an international network of organizations that campaign for justice.  Frank was also one of the translators for The New Conspirators into Dutch.

Frank Marika and their son

Frank Marika and their son

One evening we crammed 20 people into their small apartment to discuss what it means to live in community.  11 of them are about to move into a series of 5 small apartments (at least by American or Australian standards) in Utrecht in order to be involved in intentional community together.  Frank and his able assistant Wanda kept us busy during our 2 weeks away speaking to emerging church groups, the Evangelical Alliance and several church congregations as well as the Time to Turn Festival in delft this last weekend.  The emerging church is really only just beginning to grow in the Netherlands but there are some very creative new church plants that I think we will hear a great deal about in the near future.

Time To Turn - enjoying a meal together

Time To Turn - enjoying a meal together

On Saturday afternoon participants engaged in a protest outside the Nokia headquarters, highlighting the fact that many of the cell phone components are made by slave labour in the Congo. Everwhere we spoke we found that people were craving a deeper understanding of the kingdom of God and how to live out our Christian values in today’s worlds.  Young people in all the groups we met with were looking for an authentic whole life faith that could impact every aspect of their lives.

Frank ready to protest

Frank ready to protest

One of the highlights of the trip for me was the opportunity to get together with a good friend from Australia who just happened to be in Europe while we were there.  Louise and I went to medical school together and have remained friends ever since.  It was wonderful to wander through the old city of Delft together on a glorious afternoon.

With Louise in Delft

With Louise in Delft

I was really challenged by the young people we met who take their faith seriously and as a consequence have committed not just to social activism but also to simplicity and community.  Most of them don’t own cars – of course in a bicycle culture like Holland this is a little easier than it would be in most parts of the world.  But they have also taken some very deliberate steps to live in the poorer parts of their cities and work to enable those at the margins to have a better life.  May God continue to bless their efforts for his kingdom.

Catching Up

Ever returned from a trip to find a mountain of work waiting and feeling as though you have just been on a visit to another planet.  Certainly how I feel at the moment. While we were gone it seems as though the whole world has been turned upside down and inside out.  The economic crisis goes from bad to worse, the mail is overflowing across the dining room table and my inbox has hundreds of messages I am not sure I want to look at.  As for Google reader – I don’t even want to think about the thousands of blog posts I have been out of touch with.

So I am just going to wipe the slate clean and start afresh from today.  Noticed on Brother Maynard’s blog that Emergent Village is reimagining itself more as a network than as a typical charitable organization.  The report from the Board of Friends of Emergent Village is well worth reading.  This is of great interest to me as that is the same way that MSA is heading and it looks as though they too used a discernment process like we are working on. Everywhere we go people are talking about the need for connectedness, for community and networking.  I think that the spirit of God is definitely doing something new and it will be exciting to see what develops – maybe we are entering a new age of Christian unity and cooperation – but then again maybe that is just wishful thinking.

Emergent village also mentioned that Stevee Collins has started to post links to alternative worship in the UK.  Here is a great link to a worship service at Grace with Jonny Baker one of the more creative worship leaders we know.

Home At last

Canals and Windmills - this must be Holland

Canals and Windmills - this must be Holland

Tom and I returned from Holland on Tuesday evening – still trying to get our clocks turned around but it is great to be home.  I will share more on our experiences in the next couple of days as I have time to sort photos and reflect on experiences.  One thing is obvious however – for me travel and blogging do not go well together.  By the time I have done email and prepared for speaking events all I want to do is spend time with my new found friends.

Actually I find that I am less inclined to travel than ever and for someone who has spent all her life in the air, on the sea or somewhere in between that is amazing.  The more that our Mustard Seed House community develops the less I want to be away which raises the question for me –

Is society becoming more mobile because we lack community or do we lack community because we are more mobile?

Maybe it sounds a little like the question of which came first the chicken or the egg but I really am wondering – we tend to think that our lack of community is a result of our increasingly mobile society but I wonder if in fact it is more the cause of it.  Place and relationships both matter.  When we feel secure and comfortable where we are none of us want to be on the move.  It is only when we feel alone, insecure or dissatisfied with life that we want to get up and go somewhere else

What do you think?




Is this Where Capitalism Began?

Tom and I are struggling to get our clocks turned around while getting ready for our first speaking event later this afternoon.  Actually I should say I am struggling with getting up when my body tells me it is time to go to sleep, he is full of energy and do most of the preparation.

I just learned that The Netherlands was the first country in the world where banks charged interest on loans and where company stocks and shares were first sold.  Evidently Catholics and Lutherans really struggled with this but for the Calvinists it was no problem.

We are particularly enjoying learning about Time to Turn, a small organization (one of God’s mustard Seeds) that seeks to raise awareness of issues of injustice toward the poor.  Last year they published a copy of the new Testament with all those difficult sayings of Jesus about money removed.  After all as they pointed out Jesus did not really understand the modern world and free market economic policy.

Of course this was very tongue in cheek but some of their readers actually believed it was for real and that this was a good idea.  No wonder our world economy is in trouble!

Heading to Holland

Tomorrow Tom & I leave early for a flight to Amsterdam and a 2 week tour of the Netherlands.  We are mainly working with an organization called Time To Turn

However we have several other speaking engagements and are particularly looking forward to the opportunity to catch up with friends we have not seen for many years.  To me catching up with friends like this is a foretaste of heaven.  It reminds me of a line from one of the Narnia books “There is nothing like a joke that has been forgotten for 400 years. ”  Now it may not be 400 years since we saw most of our Dutch friends but it is still wonderful to reminisce and share fellowship together.  Much to my delight an Australian friend that I went to medical school with will be in Europe too and she will come and spend a day with us in Delft.

We would appreciate your prayers as we travel

Here is our complete itinerary. If you are interested in attending one of these events please contact Wanda Schuurman Time to Turn, Faustdreef 183, 3561 LG Utrecht
tel: 030-2621969: wanda@timetoturn.nl

The New Conspirators Tour

with Tom and Christine Sine

morning afternoon evening
Wed 15 Oct 07.00 arrival / free time / / free time /
Thu 16 Oct 10.00Interview with Maarten Vermeulen for Nederlands Dagblad) 15.00Interview with Frank Mulder for magazine CV Koers / free time /
Fri  17 Oct 15.00-20.00 Symposium Evangelical Alliance + book launch (continued)
Sat  18 Oct 14.00-17.00Emerging Network Utrecht

Utrecht

Sun 19 Oct 11.30 and 14.00Dutch Reformed Church Houten

2 services

(continued) Meeting in Utrecht Overvecht
Mon 20 Oct Gerard Kelly lunch or coffee 20.00Workshop Imagine That Amsterdam
Tue 21 Oct Rik Zutphen Gouda
Wed 22 Oct 10.00Emerging Church Foremen

Utrecht

20.00 Meeting with protestant Christians in Best
Thu 23 Oct 10.00-16.00 Youth for Christ, training for youth workers (continued) 19.30-22.00 Dutch Reformed Church Utrecht
Fri 24 Oct Jeff Fountain 19.00Time to Turn festival, Delft
Sat 25 Oct Time to Turn festival workshop Time to Turn festivalfree time Time to Turn festivalservice
Sun 26 Oct 10.00Christ Church Amsterdam

service

(continued) Leadership meeting Christ Church Amsterdam (optional)
Mon 27 Oct 09.55 departure

Becoming God’s Compasisonate Response in Times of Economic Crisis

I have just been reading up on what others are saying in the Christian world about the financial crisis.  Some have me fuming as they suggest that this is God’s punishment for our greed.  Consequences for greed and corrunption yes but God’s punishment definitely not.  I do not believe that our loving caring God would ever deal out vengeful punishment that has more impact on the poor and the marginalized than it does on those who are responsible for much of the current situation.

Others are encouraging our compassionate response which I think is the greatest witness that followers of Christ can give at this time.

As you know MSA’s latest ezine addresses this issue and we want to continue to share with you creative examples of how we can respond:

In his lead article Recession Is Looming: How Can We Prepare? my husband Tom Sine explained

On September 7th, weeks before the US and numbers of other nations began to slide into this serious global recession, Mustard Seed Associates hosted our first ever Recession Preparedness Brainstorming Session in Seattle. We asked almost fifty friends to imagine creative ways we could more fully be the compassion of God in our communities during a possible worsening economic situation.  Read the entire article here

Here is how some other organizations are responding.

The Mennonite Weekly Review has a great article entitled Models of Courage in Economic Crisis

Sojourners is going to take up that challenge. In his excellant article A pastoral Strategy for Economic Crisis Jimm Wallis explains:

We want to turn the God’s Politics blog, SojoMail, and our sojo.net Web site into Christian forums for a wide-ranging discussion and collective discernment of the issues of this economic crisis. We are already planning cover stories and articles for Sojourners magazine and a new Sojourners study guide on all of the above issues. We will be doing wider media messaging, interviews in television and radio, and op-eds in newspapers, while also making the economic crisis a focus of my own writing and speaking.

We too would like to post ideas of how we can continue to be God’s compasisonate response.  And we would love to hear from you.  What are you doing to reach out to others during this difficult time?

Learning From Stress In Times of Financial Crisis

The group writing project What I have learned from Stress, initiated by Robert Hruzek’s on Middle Zone Musings really caught my attention this month because I don’t think that there has ever been a more appropriate time to talk about financial stress and  the growing economic pressures we are all aware of at this time.  For those who enjoy riding the roller coaster at 6 Flags the current economic crisis might provide excitement but for those who are watching their savings dwindle and their chance for retirement disappear it seems more like crashing into a mountain at high speed.

I have never had a stable income and for most of my life have had to raise my own support as well as support for the ministry I was involved in first as Medical Director of Mercy Ships and now as CEO for Mustard Seed Associates.  This is commonly called living by faith. though I am not sure that faith has always come into the way I coped with this method of supporting myself.  I well remember one occasion on which I needed to raise about $10,000 for a recruiting trip that a friend and I were making around Europe to raise awareness of the ship ministry.  As the time of our departure grew closer my stress level soared.  I lost weight because I couldn’t eat, I got irritable because I couldn’t sleep and worried myself sick because I was not sure where the money was coming from.   The last of the money we needed for the first part of our trip came in 2 days before our departure date.  As we travelled God faithfully provided all that we needed for the next step of our journey. It wasn’t the way that I wanted it to happen but it certainly taught me a lot about trusting in God.

I think that God is a strong believer in what I would call the “just in time” delivery system.  So often we focus on what we think we will need next week, next year or even in ten years time and we get anxious when what we have accumulated doesn’t seem to be enough or when as in the current crisis what we thought we had suddenly seems to slip away.    It is very hard to relax and trust that God will provide.
One of my favourite Bible passages about God’s provision is:. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. (2 Cor 9:8, New Living Translation). I have learned over the years that God does provide for our needs and often God provides richly and abundantly far more than we can ever imagine.  However God provides not so that we can accumulate for ourselves but so that we can share, otherwise what we already have is likely to go bad before we are able to use it.

When we face financial insecurity as many of us do at present, it is easy to focus on the seemingly scant resources we hold in our hands and our stress skyrocket. Trusting in God’s promise of abundance and generosity is almost impossible and so we can easily become tightfisted.and selfcentered. Yet often God’s miraculous provision only comes when we share the seemingly paltry provisions we hold in our hands. Like the way that God provided for the widow and her son who shared what they thought was their last meal with Elijah. Or like the way the young boy who shared his small helping of fish and loaves must have watched with awe and wonder as Jesus used it to feed thousands. The best way to deal with our financial stress is not to worry about how we are going to accumulate more for ourselves but rather to focus on how we can be God’s compassionate response to those who have less than we do.

I am convinced that God has a different way of doing multiplication tables. When I share generously of the provisions God has placed in my hand it often seems to multiply in awe inspiring ways that confound my understanding and that prodces joy not stress.

As we look ahead to what will probably continue to be financially insecure times, I think that all of us need to ask ourselves: What are we holding onto that God intends us to share? How can we reorient our thinking and remember we trust, not in the diminishing resources we feel we hold in our hands but in the God who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. (2 Cor 9:10)

Faith in Turbulent Times

Today the MSA Seed Sampler How to Prepare for Recession, will be sent out to our mailing list.  The artcles will also be published on the MSA website. However I thought that in view of the way that our world economy continues to rock and roll I thought that you might appreciate a sneak preview of the liturgy I wrote for this publication.I find that it is very important to remind ourselves at times like this that God is the one in control.  And God is always faithful.  However we also need to remind ourselves that it is the poor who suffer most and this is a time to be generous with the resources God provides.

*************************************

God our world has been battered by hurricanes and earthquakes and global warming

God our lives have been drowned by economic downturns and rising food costs

God our hearts have been deluged by uncertain futures and increasing life pressures

In our pain and anguish we reach out Oh God

Needing the comfort of your love,

We are weary, take our burdens and give us rest.

We are flooded by the many tragedies that fill our world, yet we are still thirsty,

We are broken by our fears for tomorrow and are bowed down by our sorrows,

We share the anxieties of those who have lost their jobs and become homeless,

In our pain and anguish we reach out Oh God

Needing the comfort of your love,

We are weary, take our burdens and give us rest.

Pause to lift your burdens and sorrows to God

God of Hagar and Ischmael,

God of the woman at the well,

God who draws close to those who are outcast and abandoned,

We cry out to you, the One who gives water in the desert,

We trust in you, the One who made a nation from a band of slaves

We are embraced by you, the One who welcomes us all into the eternal family.

God of the despised and rejected ones,

God who gives sons and daughters to those who are alone,

God whose body was broken to bear all grief and carry all sorrow,

We cry our to you, the One who leads us through death into resurrection,

We trust in you, the One who invites us to drink deeply of the water of life,

We are embraced by you, the One who welcomes us all into the eternal family.

God of mercy and compassion,

God of love and faithfulness,

God who asks us to take up our Cross and follow,

We cry out to you, the One who unveils abundance where we see only scarcity,

We trust in you, the One who makes life flourish in place of death and destruction,

We are embraced by you, the One who welcomes us all into the eternal family.

2Cor 9:8-11 (New Living Translation)

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”[

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

Matt 6: 25 – 33 (The Message)

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

God who sent Joseph into Egypt to prepare a place for your people,

We believe you still provide for the needs of all who cry out to you.

God who fed the five thousand with a handful of fish and loaves,

We believe you are still able to multiple our efforts and feed all who are empty

God who asks us not to worry about tomorrow but to trust in your daily provision

We believe you still desire to transform our scarcity into your abundance and plenty

God who sent your Son to share our fears and carry our anxieties

We believe we can give up our burdens and open the floodgates for your mercy and compassion to flow

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours. Now and for ever. Amen

God who offers abundance and plenty where we expect scarcity,

Provide for all those who are hungry and in need of food today.

God who lives amongst us, hear our prayer

God who promises security and safety when we expect turmoil,

Provide for all those who have lost jobs and are forced into homelessness today.

God who lives amongst us, hear our prayer

God who grants us rest in face of our fears and anxieties

Provide for all those who are anxious about finances today,

God who lives amongst us, hear our prayer

God who provides community for all who are alone and abandoned

Provide for all who feel abandoned and uncared for in these troubled times

God who lives amongst us, hear our prayer

God who is always in control even when nations shake and economies crumble,

Fill all who are empty and rescue those who are enslaved by debt

God who lives amongst us, hear our prayer

May the God who led the people of Israel through the desert

Guard and protect you this day

May the Christ who transforms the worst experiences into the best of God

Comfort and embrace you this day

May the Spirit who draws close and seals you with God’s love in times of need

Reach into your circumstances and fill you with the water of life.

The peace of the Creator of love be yours

The peace of the Christ of hope be yours

The peace of the Spirit of life be yours

The peace of all peace be yours this day and forever.

Amen

Discernment at the Mustard Seed House

Sunday night we started a series of discernment sessions with the Mustard Seed House community to work out how we can put our MSA rule of life into practice.  Over the next few months we plan to use this process to flesh out the shape of not just our community life but our personal disciplines too.  The idea is not  to dictate how each person practices their faith but to provide a framework of accountability for the practices that each person wants to commit to.  I am a great fan of British theologian John Stott.  One of his great comments from a lecture of his is

“The answers we get depend on the questions we ask.  Our job is not to give people answers but to help them ask the right questions

Part of what we are discovering is that this discernment process enables us to ask the right questions that move us towards a more intimate walk with God and a life in which God’s presence is more deeply connected to everything that we do.

The first half hour of our meeting was spent checking in – reflecting on what we are looking forward to and what we have experienced in the last week.  This provided a wonderful foundation for our discussions.  We then asked other the question:

What personal prayer and Bible study practices would you like others to hold you accountable for?

As we shared we realized that we are all had very different ideas of how much time we should spend in prayer and Bible study.  Some of us were struggling with the very idea of daily prayer times because these had become rote routines that seemed to do little to strengthen our faith.  After a very open time of sharing we started to grapple with what is probably a much more important question for us.

What makes us feel closest to God?

As we discussed this question we realized that most of us draw closer to God through a variety of avenues that often have very little to do with Bible study and traditional forms of prayer.  However these practices often then draw us into prayer and Bible study as a way to go deeper into the revelation of God that we are already experiencing.  Some of us connected to God through nature, another person through walking on the beach or reading and yet another through encountering the divine presence of God in the mundane everyday things of life. Someone else encountered God through talking to friends and strangers.

Out of this discussion we have shaped our question for next week

Out of knowing how we experience God, what practices should we encourage in each other in order to help us experience God more deeply?