Why Being Spiritual may be More Important Than Being Religious by Rob Rynders

Grace cathedral San Francisco

Yesterday my friend Steve night posted a link to this video. It seemed so appropriate in our discussion of creating sacred space that I thought many of you would appreciate it too. Sacred space as someone comment yesterday is where the soul goes and that is very much reflected in this video. We need to get our souls (and our bodies) outside churches and into the streets to discover the sacredness already present in our neighbours and our neighbourhoods. We need to rediscover the sacredness of those third places where people gather.

Snapshot Inhabit 2012 – Andrew Wade

Inhabit is over. Great fun, great fellowship with friends old and new and much to think about. Here is a snapshot from MSA team member Andrew Wade. A great event to be a part of. Will let you know as soon as we have the dates for next year.

Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus – A YouTube Phenomenon

This video that was posted just a week ago on Youtube has taken the world by storm with over 15 million viewings in just over a week. It certainly made me think and has obviously made others think too. I found the responses that I looked at as thought provoking as the original video and have chosen some of those I thought the most interesting, especially as they made me grapple with the video from diverse perspectives.

It has also provoked a number of responses from a variety of viewpoints. Here are some of the responses that I thought were the best or the most challenging at least.

This from a catholic perspective:

And here is a very compelling response from a Muslim

This a rather angry response from someone who does not seem to be too sure what he believes

So what do you think?

What’s Taking Root in Our Area: Announcing Pacific Northwest Sustainability Semester

This morning I was reading some of the posts on a new facebook group I have been added to called Emergent Village Community. Someone had just asked the question :What’s good/thriving/taking root in your local context these days? All I could think of was the move towards local, sustainable communities and church groups like The Parish Collective that foster these.  Which, not surprisingly reminded me that I have not yet posted the details of our own exciting new development here at MSA – the launch of the Pacific NW Sustainability Semester in September 2012.

More information or download the flyer here

Mustard Seed Associates, in partnership with the Creation Care Study Program, the premier Christian student semester away experience, is launching a brand new opportunity in the Pacific Northwest in Fall 2012.

Just an hour north of Seattle and an hour south of Vancouver, BC there is a special place, tucked into the idyllic Camano Island on the Salish Sea. Together, we will live, learn and imagine a whole new way of building sustainable communities and sustainable faith. Rigorous courses and rigorous play will be woven throughout meaningful curriculum and the opportunity to collaborate and cultivate new responses to environmental and economic challenges of today and tomorrow.

More information or download the flyer here

Pacific NW sustainability semester (2)

Pacific NW sustainability semester (2)

What is Worship?

Alternative worship - infinite creativity, transformation possible

Alternative worship - infinite creativity, transformation possible

I hosted a blog series over the summer on worshipping God in the real world.  To be honest I was a little disappointed with the response  Most of the posts were about traditional spiritual practices like praying and singing hymns in the midst of everyday life.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think that these are very important, but what I was really hoping for were more contributions that unpacked the ways that we can worship God through ordinary everyday acts of life like taking a shower, walking in the park and even reading the newspaper.

This week I have really gotten into Mark Pierson’s book The Art of Curating Worship .  One of Mark’s motivations for developing the art of worship curation was his desire to connect the worship experience that occurs inside the church on Sunday with his everyday life.  He talks about the need to:

develop an ability to see the stuff of ordinary life – stuff going on in the culture around your community – and bring it into the worship event in ways that enhance the ability of the the worshippers to engage with God with heart, soul, mind and strength.

As I read this I realized that asking people to view ordinary everyday aspects of life as worship is almost impossible when we have never before brought ordinary daily acts into a worship context.  Worship services need to be transformed in the ways that Mark talks about so that our lives outside the church can be transformed into living acts of worship.

You may think this is rather strange, but reflecting on these thoughts this morning reminded me of Peter Seeger’s song Little Boxes which I have added at the bottom of this post as a possible meditation point.  It seems to me that we do indeed live in little boxes – there is the worship box of Sunday morning which some can be as limited as the songs we sing, for others it embraces the liturgy of the service but for most of us it ends the moment we step outside the building.  Outside is the life box with houses made of ticky tacky, and lives all the same – whether we go to church or not.

We must learn to take our worship outside the church box and do so we must continue to take church outside the boxes of tradition we have wanted to confine it in.  To do so we must constantly encourage our worship leaders to become worship curators just like Mark suggests.

Unfortunately this is never easy because it means we also need to take theology outside the boxes in which we have placed it.  As Mark comments:

A worship event should never be about theological purity.  It should always be about ordinary people engaging their messy selves with the transformative person of the God who became flesh and lived in this messiness.

And that for me is where worship and the real world connect.  As we take worship outside its boxes we become more sensitive to the presence of God in every ordinary mundane act of life and eventually all of life becomes worship to God.  Would love to hear your thoughts on this.  How do you think we move our understanding of worship outside the church box and into the world?



Parish Collective – Learning to Belong to A Place

Last night we met with Paul Sparks, Dwight Friesen and Ben Katt involved in the Parish Collective here in the Pacific NW as well as Steve Knight from the Transform network.  It was an exciting time of learning as we grappled with what it means to incarnate Jesus in the places within which we live.

The Parish Collective is one of the most encouraging networks I have come across for a long time as I strongly believe that churches of the future will need to be deeply rooted in their local communities.  It is very much in keeping with the emphasis on sustainability that we are concerned.  In fact the whole network is about local presence and sustainability and I would highly recommend it for all those who are looking for resources on how to be more locally present in your neighbourhoods..

They will be hosting a conference Inhabit together with Mars Hill Graduate School and Transform Network April 29th – May 1st.  Yes I know it is the same weekend as my spirituality of gardening seminars in Portland and Hood River.  So time to struggle with those choices between local and distant.

Here is how the Parish Collective is described:

Welcome to a collective of people who have begun rooting in neighborhoods and wish to develop supportive relationships that link their groups to:

a) Stories from similar contexts
b) Critical resources and guides
c) Friends and partners in their neighborhood, city, and region.

Learn more here

Podcast with Missional Monks

On Saturday I had the opportunity to record a podcast with Missional Monks Chris and Brett.   It deals particularly with the challenges of sustaining faith and spiritual practices in today’s world.