Ascension Day & Pentecost – Distant neighbours

African Christian art - Zaire Jesus

A couple of days ago I was thinking about the juxtaposition of Ascension day and Pentecost.  One to commemorate the ascent of Jesus the other to remember the descent of the Holy Spirit.    Ascension Day and Pentecost are closely linked.  It was because Jesus ascended into heaven that the Holy Spirit could descend and fill us all.  I thought that you might enjoy the prayer that my reflections inspired

Jesus Christ ascended into heaven

First born of a new creation

Marking the way with his blood

Shining as a light for all to see

An advocate in heaven

Now at the right hand of God

Holy Spirit descended from above

Indwelling presence of God

Opening our hearts to the Good News of Christ

Leading us into all truth

An advocate within

Forever with all who are called by God’s name

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The Wonders Worked by Womanhood from Lucy Kellaway

A friend (male) sent me a copy of this article The Wonders Worked by Womanhood which was published on FT.com today & I thought that many of you might enjoy reading it too.

….  It shows that when it comes to the intelligence of a group, the presence of women lifts the results, even if the individuals are not particularly brainy. The study, by Anita Woolley and Thomas Malone and written up in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review, shows that the more women there are in a group, the more intelligently it performs.  Read the entire article

Prayers for the Journey

The end of another busy but satisfying week.  Lots of time in the garden and now we are up in Leavenworth in the Cascade mountains with time to renew and refresh before I head to Australia.  Not surprisingly I am drinking in the beauty and renewing my soul with the wonder of God’s presence.

Bavarian style buildings in Leavenworth WA

Here is the summary of prayers that I have posted on facebook in the last couple of weeks

Sitting in Leavenworth surrounded by beautiful snowcapped mountains inspired this prayer today:
Eternal God, creator of the universe,
You are more majestic than the mountains
More secure than any rock, more to be desired than any vista
My trust is in you all the days of my life

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Lord jesus Christ I trust in your abiding presence

You who are the cornerstone of God’s building

And hold all creation together with your love

You who are the One in whom truth and justice unite

I trust in you and find peace

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God may I remember today that my times are in your hands

My future belongs to you

May I witness to your truth

And participate in your redeeming work

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God almighty we praise you

For your love that never gives up

For your forgiveness that never says no

For your mercy that never lets go

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Today’s prayer is adapted from Colossians 3:12-15

May we remember today to forgive as God has forgiven us

May we clothe ourselves with God’s love

And let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts

So that we can be bound together as one body living in perfect harmony

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God may we realize that in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge

May his words become life for us

May his purposes become our purposes

May we reside in his kingdom of justice and peace

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Today has been a beautiful day here in Seattle which inspired this prayer:

God may I breathe in the sweet perfume of your grace

And rest secure in the beauty of the place where your peace is found

May I bask in the sunshine of your sustaining love

And hold firm to the truth of your salvation

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May we sit quietly before the One who gives life and love to all creation

May we sit in of the One who formed us in our mother’s wombs

May we sit at peace surrounded by the One who fills every fibre of our being

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May we today embrace the fullness of all God has for us

May we live in communion with God & in fellowship with God’s people

May we share freely, love generously and live at peace with all who fill our world

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Jesus Christ you are the great shepherd,

The One who calls us by name and leads us with love

The One who carries us when we fall, and comforts us when we hurt

May we follow to place of your choosing,

And drink from your life giving wells

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God may we remain open and attend to what you are saying
May we see your ways and hear your voice
May we touch the hem of your garment
And be healed from from all that distorts our ability to follow you

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God may we breathe in your presence

And let go of our our fears and anxieties

May we soak in your grace and love

And throw off our busy distractedness

May we sit quietly in the place where you draw close

And know the intimacy of your sustaining touch

_______________________________________________________________________

Listening to Stanley W. Green inspired this prayer today

God you give us the power to transform the world

Power to heal the sick and to set free the oppressed

Power to forgive our enemies and care for our friends

Power to love our neighbours as we do ourselves

God may we unleash the power you place within us

And reach out as your hands and hearts of love

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Prayers and Liturgy for Ascension Day

Giotto Ascension of Christ via Wikimedia commons

Giotto Ascension of Christ via Wikimedia commons

Next week – June 2nd – we celebrate Ascension day.  What on earth is this you may ask?  The fortieth day after Easter Sunday is a day of great significance as we celebration the ascension of Christ into heaven and the new creation that his resurrection brought into being. It is not however a celebration that most of us outside liturgical churches have ever heard of or ever really celebrated, but it is very important and I would highly recommend that you consider incorporating it into your worship cycle.  It seems such an appropriate celebration for those of us who are interested in sustainability and creation care.

A couple of years ago I posted this list of prayers and resources that you may like to consider.  Since then I have come across a number of other beautiful liturgies and prayers that i want to make you aware of.

As usual John van de Laar at sacredise.com has some great resources – prayers, liturgies, even suggestions for hymns and youtube videos.  You can check them out here.

I particularly enjoyed this video The Ascension and Jesus Christ  on The Work of the People (love their work).

Here is another good set  of videos/loops from re:Worship

And as always textweek.com has a very comprehensive list of resources for celebrating Ascension Day

Obviously there are lots of other great resources out there too so if you have found something that is particularly helpful please leave a link in the comments below.

Church as Permaculture

Yesterday a friend forwarded me this reflection by Richard Rohr entitled Church as Permaculture.

There was a movement that began about thirty years ago in Australia called “Permaculture” (from perma[nent agri]culture) which was concerned about making good and natural use of our earth.  I would like to suggest here the idea of church itself as a kind of permaculture.

Permaculture is a design system to create sustainable living habitats.  Permaculturists seek to find regenerative solutions that are local, on-site, and natural.  We have to look right in front of us and say: “How can we regenerate what is right here?  How can we live with what we have and make it beautiful and good?”  I ask, why should that not be true for church too?  Wouldn’t it make sense that all we need for salvation is available for all peoples, all the time, and everywhere?  God and grace cannot be that scarce.  Why should any church “technology” be so centralized at higher levels, or dependent on major and specialized education?  Maybe that was Jesus’ point in starting with fishermen?

This reflection became the focal point for a discussion in our MSA team meeting.    I love the concept of permaculture.  You disturb the soil as little as possible so that the native microorganisms thrive, you add a lot of compost & mulch to keep in the moisture and you plant native crops where possible because they are the ones most likely to thrive.  Great principles for ministry too.  You don’t need to bring in lots of sophisticated stuff (or people) to be effective.  Nor do you need any highly sophisticated training to do a good job.

It is easy for those of us who work in full time Christian ministry to live in an artificial and need I say imported bubble that has little relationship to the real world or to the community in which we live. And as a result we often do a lot of things that really mess up the local soil in ways that are not very good for it.  Being hard pressed financially in the last couple of years has forced all of us to be creative in how we provide for ourselves in ways that I think are very healthy.

Many pastors and ministry workers have had to take part time jobs to provide for themselves and their families and they have had to rely a lot more on local resources too.  And this has often drawn us to get more involved in our local communities… without disturbing the local soil as it were  Maybe these hard economic times are God’s greatest blessing to us.

We have been very aware of that here in MSA.  Cindy Todd started a soap making business which has not only helped provide for her and her family but has also pushed her out into the community as she sells her products through farmers’ markets and other local networks.  Andy works part time at a local church in Hood River Oregon as well as running a small computer business.  He too has developed broad local networks as result.

It has changed the way many of us think about ministry too. International development so often really messes up the local soil.  It brings in foreign substances (overseas personnel & resources) and often does not depend on innovation and utilizing the resources that people already have.   Even when it does that utilization is often based on outside expertise and technology rather than on the ingenuity of local people.

I think hard times foster creativity and innovation.  Everyone has within them the divine spark of creativity that so often shines in the midst of adversity.

I would love to hear how these times have stimulated your creativity and what you have learned about what it means to be a follower of Christ as a result

Pray for Us During this Busy Season

All of us at Mustard Seed Associates are heading into a busy season and we would appreciate your prayers for our travels, speaking and development of the Mustard Seed Village.  I will be in Australia May 31st to June 15th spending time with my mother who will be celebrating her 88th birthday.  I will also have some time to catch up with the rest of my family and some of my many friends Down Under.

Here is a snapshot of what else we are involved in:

Upcoming speaking for Tom and I includes:

Wild Goose Worship Festival June 23 – 29 ;

Christian Schools International Leadership Convention July 18 – 21;

Recession II Ready or Not July 23rd with Bishop Rickel and Diocese of Olympia;

MSA’s 20th Annual Celtic retreat Camano Island

Kent Covenant Church WA August 19 – 21

Sanctuary’s annual Fall Retreat September 30 & Oct 1

Laurelville Mennonite Church Laurelville PA Oct 21 – 23

Tom spends most of his waking hours these days coordinating the launch of the Mustard Seed Village. An increasing part of his time is consumed in growing the circle of friends to help us launch this exciting project. Please contact Tom right away if you would like to be a friend of the MSV launch.  He always has time to get to know another friend and explain how you can be involved in creating the Mustard Seed Village as a center for Christian imagination and innovation…for life and mission in turbulent times.

For Cindy Todd, the summer market season has begun and Snohomish Soap Company continues to grow as she reaches new customers interested in her wonderful product.  A promising opportunity has recently emerged.  A friend involved in Microfinance in Uganda is facilitating the development of an organic essential oil line as well as a soap manufacturing business.  He has asked Cindy to work with him by sharing her soapmaking expertise.

Andy Wade celebrated with volunteers from the Columbia River Gorge Warming Shelter last Saturday in a “Thank You” dinner for their amazing work this winter keeping homeless neighbors safe and warm. Although challenging at times, it was truly a joy for Andy to train volunteers and coordinate their efforts in this important local cause.

Andy’s wife Susan will work with me over the summer to edit a series of Advent meditations.  We believe this will provide an exciting addition to the MSA resources.  Be sure to check back in October for updates on this exciting new publication!

Robert Watton & Levi Dillard continue to help in the garden at the Mustard Seed House and are also planning the beginning garden at the Mustard Seed Village.  This year in Seattle we have sold tomato, squash, basil and other vegetable starts to raise seed money (no pun intended) for this new venture.  We are excited about the possibilities that this new garden and ministry will offer us.

Praying for Joplin Mo. – Another Devastating Tornado Hits

Our prayers go out this morning to the people of Joplin Mo. where another devastating tornado with winds up to 200 mph has killed at least 89 people and left huge devastation in its wake.  Read the entire story here  

Lord have mercy,

Comfort those who mourn

Christ have mercy,

Protect those who are still alive

Lord have mercy

Guide those who search for survivors