Looking for Harvest Prayers – Try these

Carrying wheat to church

Lots of people are looking for resources for harvest festivals and worship services. Here are some I have found recently that might be of use.

1. I have just discovered this excellent list of harvest resources from Christian Concern for One World and thought that some of you might be interested. The organization is based in the UK so the resources all come from there but It gives some great suggestions for us to consider no matter where in the world we are.

2. Lord’s Prayer has some good resources from both Catholic and Anglican traditions as well as some prayers and craft suggestions for children.

3. My friend John Birch at Faith and Worship has this resource list as well as this great Harvest Thanksgiving liturgy. 

4. This resource is from 2007 but I still think it has great relevance

Or perhaps you might like to use this beautiful prayer of Gerald Manley Hopkins

SUMMER ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
Majestic—as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet!
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins



One Million and Counting

Celtic crosses

Yesterday the one millionth person visited Godspace. Exciting, amazing and uplifting.

Now I know that is not really one million different people as many of you visit several times a week. However I still feel it is quite an achievement. What began as a place for me to share my personal thoughts and ideas five years ago has become a go to place for those looking for resources for creative worship, prayers and out of the box spiritual practices that connect to their every day lives.

Many of you have told me about how your faith has been strengthened by the resources provided here. Others appreciate the ways your faith has been stretched and challenged by some of the issues discussed. Your comments and questions have stretched and challenged my faith at times too. I love it!

The blog has also provided an avenue for a growing network of writers and creative thinkers around the globe to contribute their ideas in a venue that gives them more exposure than they would otherwise receive. Our spiritual growth is grounded in community, not a community of like minded people, but a community of rich diversity. Increasingly, I want to provide an outlet for these diverse and enriching voices.

The question is: Where do we go from here? In the last couple of months at Mustard Seed Associates, of which this blog is a part, we have had numerous discussions about what this blog could and should become. First we want to upgrade it to get rid of those annoying ads that a free blog template attracts. We want to add a section for daily prayers, another for online retreat curricula and more publications that flow out of the blog series. And we want to make access to the existing resources a lot easier.

To move forward however we need your help. At Mustard Seed Associates we believe that every venture is a collaborative opportunity.

  1. First we need your input. What kinds of resources would you like to see added to Godspace?
  2. In what ways would you like to participate in the development of resources?
  • Would you like to write prayers, liturgies or blog posts?
  • Would you like to help with the new web development?
  • Would you consider financially supporting the expansion of this website and the valuable content it provides?

MSA is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

I hope that you will prayerfully consider these questions and help us grow the mustard seed that is Godspace.


Stations for Praying in Response to Boston marathon – Lilly Lewin

I don’t usually blog on Sundays but was chatting to Lilly Lewin at Inhabit this weekend where I learned about this wonderfully creative Stations that she produced in response to the Boston marathon. I wanted to share it for those who might like to use it for their Sunday observances. Check out the entire post and her blog: Praying in Response to Boston marathon and Global Violence




Stations created April 16, 2013 in response to the bombings at the Boston Marathon and as a prayerful way to responds to violence in our everyday world.

Use all of these stations created and set up together as a prayer experience for your small group, youth group or your whole church, or just pick one or two to do as a corporate prayer response during worship. Or just use the run/walk prayer yourself this week as a part of your personal prayer /devotion time.

Feel free to use these stations to inspire you to create your own prayer stations. I would love to hear about how you used them in your community.

Praying for peace and healing for us all!


Read the entire post: Praying in Response to Boston marathon and Global Violence

Resources for Starting a Faith Based Community Garden – 2013

George Fox students help out in the Mustard Seed Garden

George Fox students help out in the Mustard Seed Garden

Each year, as you know I like to update my resource lists. Here are the best sites and suggestions I have come across since I posted my list last year. I have already written some comments on the topic of community gardens this year:

Creating A Faith Based Community Garden – Much to Reflect On

And if this does not provide enough reading for you, you might also like to check out this list of resources for urban farmers:

My Top 10 Urban Farming Books

My Favourite Urban Farming WebSites

Note: This is partly reposted from last year’s list with some additions and deletions where links have changed.

Resources for Creating a Faith Based Community Garden

Some resources from my friends at ARocha Canada

And from England

  • Grow Zones – a community growing resource started by Earth Abbey in the UK, that brings people together locally to help one another grow fruit and vegetables in their own gardens. Participants are supported by the Grow Zones Kit, which is designed to make the prospect of growing fruit and vegetables a less burdensome, more enjoyable prospect and overcome the obstacles to ‘growing your own’.
  • Earth Abbey

As well as my own book To Garden with God, you may also find the following books on spirituality and gardening helpful

Resources-Curricula for Churches / Faith communities

From Catholic Community Gardens

Some of these ideas are a little repetitive but I also loved: 

And of course there are dozens of seed calalogues and websites which also often include very helpful newsletters and videos on how to grow vegetables.  My favourites  are:

This year I have taken Seeds of Change off my list (see explanation here)





Resources for Holy Week 2013 – Maundy Thursday

This is the fourth in a series of posts on resources for Holy Week.

You might also like to check out the previous posts:

Resources for Holy Week #1: Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Prayer 2013

Resources for Holy Week #2: Stations of the Cross

Washing the Feet - Jan Hynes - Used by permission

Washing the Feet – Jan Hynes – Used by permission

Today I am focusing on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, which commemorates Jesus’ last Supper with the disciples and the institution of the Eucharist. Its name of “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning “command.”This stems from Christ’s words in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you. Love one another as I have loved you”. Many of us associate it with foot washing:

 a rite performed by Christ upon his disciples to prepare them for the priesthood and the marriage banquet they will offer, and which is rooted in the Old Testament practice of foot-washing in preparation for the marital embrace (II Kings 11:8-11, Canticles 5:3) and in the ritual ablutions performed by the High Priest of the Old Covenant (contrast Leviticus 16:23-24 with John 13:3-5). The priest girds himself with a cloth and washes the feet of 12 men he’s chosen to represent the Apostles for the ceremony. Read more

It is the oldest of the observances peculiar to Holy Week but seems to have attracted the least attention and I must confess creative suggestions were hard to come by. 

Foot washing has taken on new significance for me this year as I read two posts that have been contributed to my blog. Some of you might like to revisit these too.

The Dirty Job of Special Needs Parenting by Barbara Dittrich

Living Into the banquet Feast of God

Maundy Thursday reflections – this post includes a link to a this  great Maundy Thursday reflection by Beth Stedman.

I have adapted other customs of Maundy Thursday here that you may like to consider for your own observances:

  1. Visit 3 or 7 local churches or other places of worship after (or before) your own service.
  2. In Germany, Maundy Thursday is known as “Green Thursday” (Grundonnerstag), and the traditional foods are green vegetables and green salad, especially a spinach salad. Consider planning a vegetarian Last Supper banquet for your celebrations and highlight the environmental issues you are concerned about.
  3. Visit a local homeless camp or home for the elderly (make sure you get permission first) and do foot washing and pedicures for the inhabitants.
  4. This is the traditional night for an all night vigil of prayer and meditation. Give yours a new twist by holding an all night reading of Dante’s Inferno as St Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church has done for the last 5 years.
  5. This is a day to reach out and help someone in a special way: consider looking after a child so that the mother could have a free evening, undertaking some mending or darning, humble, unostentatious things like that.
  6. In Mark Pierson’s Lenten devotional he comments: Jesus, a king who acted like a slave. Perhaps on Maundy Thursday you would like to consider a special way to reach out to those who are still in slavery. 
  7. One symbol of Easter I grew up with that is not so common in the U.S. is hot crossed buns wich some think originated from a 12th-century English monk who placed the sign of the cross on the buns in honor of Good Friday. So if you want to have your hot crossed buns ready for Good Friday make them on Maundy Thursday, together with your family or community. Here is the recipe I use

For those celebrating with kids I rather liked this Fill Your Seder Plate game

So consider including this day in your Holy Week celebrations and if you do something creative let me know.

Resources for Holy Week #2: Stations of the Cross

This year I thought that I would separate out the stations of the Cross from other Good Friday resources as I know many churches like to have Stations of the Cross available for people to walk throughout Holy Week. This year I tried to put together a collection from around the world attempting to highlight some of the challenging issues of our turbulent world that are portrayed. Most of the images are far from the traditional stations of the cross though I have ended the collection with a mimed rendition of Sandi Patty’s Via Dolorosa. If there are other international images you think should be a part of this collection please add them in the comments. Enjoy!

From Australia

Stations of the Cross by Indigenous Australian Shirley Purdue via abc.net.au

From New Zealand 

This series comes from Hamilton New Zealand

Cityside Baptist church in Auckland New Zealand has held an exhibit of contemporary icons to reflect on at Easter for a number of years. The photos shown were taken at their 2002 and 2004 presentations.

From Middle East and Sudan – 

Here is a heartrending presentation of the stations of the Cross using images of refugees from Iraq and Sudan as spectators and participants.  (The stations of the Cross are down the side of the post)

I also came across this  interesting set of Jordanian stamps which  Mansour Mouasher has found depicting the Stations of the Cross.

From South America

very powerful presentation of the stations from the perspective of liberation theology by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina

From Asia

I enjoyed meditating on this series by a nun in Bangalore India

And another very beautiful, Korean Stations of the Cross by Korean sculptor Choi Jong-tae from Myeong-dong Cathedral.

From Africa

I love this stations of the cross from Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya. The designs were created by Father Angelbert M. Vang SJ from Yaoude, from the Cameroon who was a well-known historian, poet, musician and designer and executed by a Kenyan artist.

This meditation is a poignant reminder of those who struggle daily to carry crosses we cannot even imagine.

From U.K.

This Stations of the Cross series by Chris Gollon was commissioned by the Church of England for the Church of St John on Bethnal Green, in East London. Gollon took the unusual step of using his own son as the model for Jesus, his daughter as Mary, and his wife as Veronica. Fr Alan Green is cast as Nicodemus, and David Tregunna (Gollon’s friend and agent) as Joseph of Arimathea. The juxtaposition of real figures with imagined ones creates a heightened sense of reality. I think that the images are both compelling and powerful.

From Netherlands

I found this mimed rendition of Sandy Patti’s Via Dolorosa very refreshing.


Resources for Holy Week #1: Palm Sunday

Every year before Holy Week I like to update my resources for the season. The list continues to grow so this year I thought I would divide it into several lists: Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday, this coming Sunday marks, the beginning of Holy week.  It celebrates Jesus procession into Jerusalem where people threw down palm fronds to celebrate his entry into the holy city. Many churches process around their churches waving palm fronds and crosses as a symbol of this triumphal event.

Last year I wrote this reflection which contrasts Jesus entry into Jerusalem with the very different entry of Pilot on the other side of the city:

Palm Sunday 2012 – Which Procession Will We Join?

There however a huge number of resources for this season.

As usual Textweek.com has a very comprehensive and excellent list of resources  from all over the world to help prepare for this celebration.

Faith at home has some good suggestions on activities to participate in with children.

And Little Takas  has a variety of colouring pages available for children of all ages.

What we often don’t realize is that this was a very subversive event, symbolizing the in breaking of God’s kingdom with its upside down values and countercultural ways. Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem may have begun with crowds shouting Hosanna but it ends with Good Friday and the apparent triumph of the powers of the Roman Empire and of Satan.  It does not end with a gold crown but with a crown of thorns.  Jesus triumphal entry ends with his willingness to take into himself all the pain and suffering of our world so that together we can celebrate the beginning of a new procession on Easter Sunday – a procession that leads us into God’s banquet feast and the wonder of God’s eternal world.

I really enjoyed watching this short video on how to make a palm cross for Palm Sunday.

You might also enjoy watching this rendition of All Glory Laud and Honour which is the traditional hymn sung on this day.

The traditional hymn sung on this day is All Glory Laud and Honor

Lent and Hunger – Is There a Connection

Wealth and poverty - Mural Sheffield Tasmania

Wealth and poverty – Mural Sheffield Tasmania

In the class I am currently teaching on Wednesday evenings on spirituality and gardening we are currently talking about what I call liturgical gardening. It is not by accident that Christmas occurs, at least in the Northern Hemisphere where the liturgical calendar was developed, at the coldest, darkest time of the year. The message of the season is: wait for the light and as we move into Epiphany, the season of light, we are all aware of the lengthening days and how welcome the emerging light is. This interweaving of the rituals of faith with the daily activities of life would have been a faith affirming and strengthening part of life for more rural societies.

The connection with Lent and the seasons of the year is less obvious. Often it is associated with spring cleaning, but that seems more of a middle class, urban association that I suspect developed as a later association for Lent. Wednesday evening this became the focus of our discussion. I pointed out that in Africa hunger and malnutrition is often seasonal. During the harvest season everyone is able to eat their fill and no one starves. By the time the stored supplies have dwindled it is a different matter. Sometimes the last of the stored grain is used for planting and in a very lean year even this may be used to feed the family. In 2010 925 million people in our world were still chronically hungry. (2012 World Hunger and Poverty Facts)

The season of Lent for many of us coincides with the planting season and I wonder if this seasonal hunger which would once have been experienced by a large part of the population influenced its shape. The typical fasting Lenten diet of lentils, beans and grain with little fresh produce and little meat could have come from the fact that this was often all that remained in the larder at this season.

I have tried to find information on this hypothesis but without success and would appreciate hearing from others who have considered this possibility. What I do know however that the dietary restrictions for this season became less and less rigorous as societies became more affluent and I suspect, people did not want to give up their indulgent diets. And today, if we give up anything at all it is usually something as trivial as chocolate or coffee.

Once when Tom and I were in Lebanon during Lent we had lunch with an Orthodox priest and his wife. They ate only lentils and rice but had prepared a lavish feast for us. Lent is a great time of the year to enter into the hunger of others by restricting our diets and giving what we save to those at the margins.

Each year Tom and I participate in what we call the $2 challenge, restricting our food budget to $2/person/day for a week. It isn’t easy and it often results in a rather monotonous diet, but it is a challenging and sobering way to identify with those who never have enough to put on their plates.

In my internet search for information on Lent and hunger I did come across some good resources you might want to check out:

The ELCA has a great World Hunger Lenten Series available – lots of good information and suggestions. They go for a $3/day diet – probably more doable today.

Bread for the World always produces wonderful resources that challenge us to face the issues of hunger. This year they have worked in collaboration with Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement to develop a series of Lenten activities around the theme of Maternal and Child Nutrition in the 1,000 day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday. Check out what is be available here

Episcopal Relief and Development has chosen the alleviation of hunger for the theme of their Lenten Meditations this year too. They are available in both English and Spanish and can be downloaded for free.

Obviously this is only a small number of the many resources available during this season. If you know of others that specifically focus on issues of poverty and hunger please add them in the comments below.

A Year Of Prayer – Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Kimberlee Conway Ireton has already accepted the Return to Our Senses challenge – not just of Lent but for the entire  year. She will be posting regularly on this blog over this period.

Kimberlee comments: As you’ll read below, 2013 is my (second) Year of Prayer. To help hold me accountable to this commitment to live more prayerfully, I promised myself (and my blog readers) that I’d write about (some of) my prayer experiences. Since Christine’s book on prayer, Return to Our Senses, will be a large part of my Year of Prayer, she’s kindly letting me crosspost my prayer reflections here on Godspace.


Last January, I declared 2012 my year of prayer. And I made some strides toward being more prayerful last year: I began praying the Psalms each day (I’ve prayed through the whole Psalter twice in the past six months); I continued to update and pray over the names on my prayer window; I kept up a steady stream of gratitude prayers, writing many of them down (I’ve listed over 3,000 gifts in the three years since I undertook this discipline); and I experimented with praying Scripture and other blessings over my children at times beyond bedtime, like before they leave for a class or a playdate.

But despite continuing to practice my accustomed prayer disciplines and adding a few more to the mix, I know I have a long way to go—to grow—in learning to pray, in living a life of prayer.

Then, too, some time around August, I got distracted from my year of prayer and stopped growing, just sort of coasted on autopilot for a few months. Oh, I still prayed in the ways that had come to be habits, but I wasn’t stretching myself. Sometimes we need to rest on the rails of habit; that’s why we create habits in the first place: so they can sustain us when life starts to pull in too many different directions. But I’ve had a nice long rest, and now I’m ready to start stretching again.


Which is why I’ve decided that 2013 is going to be my second year of prayer. Who knows? This may become an annual thing.

For now, it means a commitment to:

  1. read four books on prayer this year,
  2. blog once a month about something in those books that has me thinking and/or praying in new ways,
  3. choose one new-to-me prayer practice to embrace each month, and
  4. blog the end of each month about that practice and my experience of it.

My first book on prayer will be Eugene Peterson’s Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer. I will be drawing the monthly prayer practices from Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray, a new book by Christine Sine. This month’s prayer practice will be blessing the water, mostly because I am heartily sick of rain, and I want to practice giving thanks for this precious resource that is in abundant supply in my life.

My hope (and prayer) this year is that as I grow a little (or maybe a lot?) deeper into prayer, I will also grow closer to Christ. After all, that’s the whole point of prayer, isn’t it?, to become ever more deeply rooted and grounded in God. And that’s what I want, to send down deep roots so that I can lead a life fully pleasing to the Lord, bearing fruit worthy of the Gospel.

Kimberlee Conway Ireton is a mother of four and the author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year.

Lord Break Our Hearts

I have been thinking a lot over the last few days about ways I should be engaged in helping to alleviate the world’s suffering in pain. I always feel so inadequate in this area and my heart aches for those who live in poverty. Wrote this prayer earlier in the week

God pierce our hearts with your love,
Break them open into greater capacity,
Break them open ,
That we might hold more of the world’s suffering and joy,
That we might share more of the world’s despair and hope.
Lord break our hearts,
As we stand in the gap between what is and what could be,
Break our hearts open to a largeness that holds the possibility of a better future for all the world’s people.

and just came across this TED talk (have not had time to listen yet but I thought some of you might be interested.