Stop the Madness – Return to Our Senses in Advent.

I am delighted to announce that November 16th we will hold our first ever retreat to help participants prepare for the season of Advent and Christmas. I hope you can join us.

In The Liturgical Year, Joan Chittister, says: “The function of Advent is to remind us what we’re waiting for as we go through life too busy with things that do not matter to remember the things that do. Advent asks the question, what is it for which you are spending your life?”
 We all desperately crave more meaningful, less cluttered, lives, yet we rarely take the time to slow down and ask this question.

We invite you to prepare for Advent and Christmas this year by refocusing your life on what really matters. Take time to renew, refresh and restore your priorities.

Join us November 16th at the Mustard Seed House for a contemplative retreat Stop the Madness – Return to OUr Senses in Advent which I will facilitate. This retreat is based on my book, Return to Our Senses: Reimaining How We Pray.

(Read the most recent review here)

When: November 16th : 9:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.
Where: The Mustard Seed House, 510 NE 81st St, Seattle WA 98115

Cost: $25.

Include a copy of Return to Our Senses for only $10 more!

Snacks and coffee will be provided.


Celtic Retreat – Morning Liturgy



[Three Readers are needed for this liturgy.]

A Vision of the New : Revelation 21v1-5

ONE: Then I saw

a new heaven and a new earth;

for the first “heaven” and the first “earth” had passed away,

and the “sea” was no more.

TWO: And I saw

the holy city, the new Jerusalem,

coming down out of heaven from God,

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

THREE: And I heard

a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.

He will dwell with them;

they will be his peoples,

and God himself will be with them;

he will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Death will be no more;

mourning and crying and pain will be no more,

for the first things have passed away.”

ONE: And the one who was seated on the throne said,

“See, I am making all things new.”

Call to Worship – Peruvian Gloria

Peruvian Chant


ONE: The Maker of Heaven and Earth is with us

Glory to the Maker of Heaven and Earth

TWO: The Son of Mary is with us

Glory to the Son of Mary

THREE: The wild and wonderful Spirit is with us

Glory to the wild and wonderful Spirit

ONE/TWO/THREE: We gather in the name of the Holy Three



ONE: When author Paulo Coehlo wrote, “a ship is safest in port, but that’s not what ships were made for”, he wasn’t the first to say it, and he definitely wasn’t the first to feel it, because deep down we all know that we were made for more than simply a lifetime of playing it safe. Deep down we all know that we were made for a lifetime of adventure and mission and the invigorating, yet terrifying risk of the open and unknown sea of God’s new future.

TWO: And this brings us to this weekend’s patron saint.  Brendan was a 6th century Irish monk.  He is probably best known for his heroic voyage to find the mythic Isle of the Blessed. The stories about his sail across the uncharted Atlantic Ocean in a small wooden craft with 14 other monks became some of the most popular and enduring medieval legends.  In modern terms, St. Brendan was likely clinically disturbed in his obsession with finding this new thing to which God was calling him.  He was willing to risk everything.

THREE: Certainly God is doing something new here on this land that is so pregnant with possibility.  After years of dreaming and hoping, we can finally see posts rising out of the ground; a framework growing into what’s to come.  Certainly God is doing something new within you.  In the words of the prophet, “God is about to do something.  Something you’ve never seen, heard or thought of before.  Can you see it yet?”  Or do you need to be disturbed first?

Prayer of Sir Francis Drake

ONE: Let us pray with the words of English sea captain Sir Francis Drake:

Disturb us, Lord,

When we are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.

TWO: Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.

THREE: Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love.


Chant : All Things New

All things new


The Prophetic Voice : Isaiah 42v5-9

TWO: This is what God says, the Lord,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

who gives breath to the people upon it

and spirit to those who walk in it:

“I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,

I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

I have given you as a covenant to the people,

a light to the nations,

to open the eyes that are blind,

to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.

I am the Lord, that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to idols.

See, the former things have come to pass,

and new things I now declare;

before they spring forth,

I tell you of them.”

Listening SIlence

THREE: In this nature sanctuary let us take time to listen for the still soft voice of God.  [2 minutes silence]

Dressing the Altar


THREE: What is the new direction, undiscovered future, the holy voyage that God is calling you to? – Think of all the things you might leave behind for this new land? – Think of all the risks that might be involved in setting sail? – Think of those who might be in the same boat with you.

– Think of the calling that wont stop calling you.

Keep these questions within you as you walk.  Search for an object in nature that might be a symbol of your setting sail.  Bring it back to set on the altar as we begin our day (10 minutes to walk and find an object.


Song: Be Thou My Vision


An invitation to Lectio Divina.


God something new is emerging,

Something new is being birthed,

In our lives, in our world and through our faith.

God may we journey with patience and hope towards your newness,

Willing to walk on paths unknown,

That you have marked out with loving care.

May we wait in trust and not fear for your new world,

For the justice and peace and freedom that has been promised,

For those things hoped for and not yet seen.

Knowing that the journey belongs to you

And our future is in your hands.


Chant : All Things New

Sunday Morning Liturgy For Celtic Retreat

Wish I was at the Celtic retreat today where they will be finishing with this liturgy. I am heading home to Seattle from Sydney instead. Lots of memories, lots of tears, much to remember and think about.


Our annual Celtic retreat is over, one of the best we have ever had. Jeff Johnson’s beautiful chants and music are still with me as I unpack and prepare for the coming week. Those of us who stayed through the weekend finished out time together with this liturgy.

As this day begins Christ be with us,

Be in our hearts and in our minds,

Be in our souls and in our spirits,

Be in our thoughts and in our desires.

As this day begins Christ walk beside us,

Show us the love only you can give,

Show us the light only you can provide,

Show us the wholeness only you can reveal.

As this day begins Christ surround us,

Circle us with your presence,

Keep protection near and danger far,

Bring us the assurance of your love.

Pause for a time of silent reflection on the glory of God.


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Celtic Retreat Evening Prayer

The MSA 22nd Annual retreat begins tomorrow evening on Camano Island. There is still time to consider attending, just email me for directions and pay at the site. However for those, like me who are too distant there are other ways to enter into the spirit of the event. Consider reading along with the liturgies which I will post over the next few days. We begin with evening prayers Friday evening, this year using the same prayers as last year.


The retreat is only a few days ago. We are pulling out our tents, packing our bags and getting ready to head up to Camano on Friday. So many of you have told me that you wished you could come that I thought I would share some of the programme with you. (More to come next week). Hopefully you can be with us in spirit if not in person. For those that are undecided there is still time to sign up.

Here is the prayer that we will begin with on Friday night – a prayer to prepare our minds for a time of thanksgiving and gratitude towards God.



Friday Evening Prayers

God we gather this night to thank you for the many blessings in our lives,

We praise you for your generous goodness new every day,

To you our God we offer praise and thanks.


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Still Time to Register for the Celtic Retreat


22nd Annual Celtic Prayer Retreat
It’s not too late to join


Don’t Miss Out – Register Before Midnight August 7th!
We’re counting down to the Celtic Retreat!  This year’s theme: “Celebrate the Newness”.Join us at Mustard Seed Village on beautiful Camano Island (Washington State) and enjoy times together in worship, prayer, meditation on scripture, creative activities, and the celebration of the Eucharist/Communion.

We’ll also have plenty of alone time for wandering the prayer trails, walking the labrynth, and relaxing quietly.  And of course, there’s always time for conversing, conspiring, and dreaming!

We will have programs designed especially for children and teens.  The younger kids will expand their imaginations with Kendra Long, and teenagers will explore igniting their own creative spark with Cindy Todd.

Only one week left to register for the event.

This is a great opportunity to get away from it all and enjoy the company of fellow sojourners on The Way. Come just for Saturday, or join us the whole weekend for camping and more informal times of conversation, prayer, and meandering the prayer trails.
Bonus – You get to see in person the progress
being made on the new building!

Be sure to register before midnight, August 7.
(Late arrivals are welcome to register the day of the event, however
we cannot guarantee enough prayer books and programs to go around.)

Here’s a quick breakdown of activities:

  • 6:00-8:00 pm — arrive and set up tents
  • 8:30 pm — evening prayers

Saturday – The Main Event

  • Breakfast on your own – coffee and tea provided
  • 8:30 am — Morning prayers for those who stayed overnight or who arrive early
  • 9:30 am — Registration and gathering (coffee and tea available)
  • 10:00 am — Preparing to Set Sail- decorating the altar
  • 10:30 am — Building together: lectio divina
  • 12:30 pm — Potluck lunch
  • 1:30 pm — Dreaming together – dedicating the pole barn
  • 2:00 pm — Working and resting together — walk the prayer trails, pray in the labyrinth, meditate amongst the trees, help us paint the mural, make boats for St. Brendan
  • 5:00 pm — Setting Sail into Newness – eucharistic service and sharing with Ryan Marsh
  • 6:30 pm –The Great Shared Feast – BBQ dinner (bring your own BBQ items & potluck salads)


  • Breakfast on your own
  • 9:00 am — morning prayers, worship and feedback time
  • 10:00 am — break camp & prepare to go home.
Hope to see you there!

Find out more on our Celtic Prayer Retreat page

Celtic Retreat Early Bird Special Ends July 1st.


Preparing for the Celtic Retreat.

Celtic crosses

While I am here in Australia I am working on the program for the Celtic retreat. I really do this will be the best ever! The theme is Celebrate the Newness, an exciting exploration led by Ryan Marsh and the team at Church of the Beloved. Ryan comments:

“New” is a high value in our culture.  Everything must be new – the newest fashion, the newest technology, even the newest theology… I know what kind of “new” is being sold to me, but is there anything new about me? About you, about us?  What is new that is of substance? Real newness… or do we need a new “New”?  Might God think about newness differently than we do?

This year’s retreat will explore newness from God’s perspective. To help us explore we will journey with Brendan the Navigator, 6th century Irish monk, who with 14 companions set off to find new lands. From Ireland via the monastery at Iona, Brendan and his companions are said to have travelled through the Faroes to Iceland and on to Greenland and Newfoundland. Their journey was at heart a spiritual journey to explore new insights in the scriptures and prayer.

We will embrace many aspects of newness from fresh liturgies and songs composed by the Church of the Beloved team to a new and exciting children’s program led by Kendra Long. Afternoon activities include walking the prayer trails and labyrinth and painting a mural designed by Erica Applewhite Nordfors.

We will also celebrate the new structure that is taking shape at the Mustard Seed Village. Two weeks ago we raised the beams for the roof which we expect to complete by August 10th. There is still time to accept Graham Kerr’s invitation to donate shares for this structure and we hope all of you will join us in making this dream a reality.

I do hope that you can join us – Early Bird Special is good until July 1st so it really is time to sign up and let your friends know.

Still Listening to the Celtic Saints

Brendan's voyage

I am starting to get ready for this year’s Celtic retreat at the site of the future Mustard Seed Village. This is one of my sacred spaces, a thin place where heaven always seems but a breath away. This year’s theme is Celebrating the Newness. There are many new things emerging in MSA and new things that God is giving birth to within all of us. We want to celebrate and encourage this newness.

I am working with Ryan Marsh of Church of the Beloved to put our program together. He has wonderfully creative ideas of how to use the voyage of St Brendan in our retreat. I am delighted with the fresh new approach and what is emerging. Tomorrow I will meet with Kendra Long and chat about how to incorporate the same themes into the children’s program. We also hope to initiate a new program for youth this year. What began as a gathering for half a dozen people in the Camano State park over 20 years ago has become the central gathering event for Mustard Seed Associates.

This may be our 22nd retreat but there is a newness and freshness to what is emerging that I am really excited about. It’s time to sign up if you want to take advantage of the early bird special. I hope that you can join us.

In getting ready for my meetings with those helping to develop the program I came across this beautiful prayer that was written by Jennifer Parker Reeves at a retreat I conducted on Learning from the Celtic Saints a few years ago. I thought that some of you would appreciate it.

Christ around me, Christ within me
Spirit in my soul, Spirit in my mind.
God my Father, God my mother, in my body, in my life
In my rushing, in my anger, my impatience and my pride
God is with me, offering mercy, peace, trust and love.
Stillness, stillness, I choose stillness.
The presence of my God is here.
In that stillness, find my center
I see who I was made to be.
Hope grace, Lord have mercy.
Next time I rush, call me back to center.
When I get angry, call me to confession.
When my pride dictates my movements
remind me of your grace once more.
Stillness, stillness, I choose stillness
The presece of my God is here.

Spirituality of Gardening Seminar this Weekend

Last chance to sign up for the To Garden with God seminar at the Mustard Seed House on Saturday. Or contact me for details of the seminar in Port Townsend May 25th.


To Garden with God is Coming

The To Garden with God seminar here at the Mustard Seed House is only a few weeks away. We hope that you can join us. Or if you live on the Kitsap peninsula join us in Port Townsend May 25th. For details contact Pastor Coe Hutchison for details The increasing popularity of this seminar has amazed me. The news is spreading God does indeed love gardening and is revealed every time we get our hands in the dirt.


If you would like to host a garden seminar next year or if you would like to be trained as a facilitator for these seminars please contact me at for details.