Am I Fully Recognized For What I Am?

My mother at 20 and at 90

My mother at 20 and at 90

It is just over two weeks since my mother died and I am back in Seattle feeling somewhat normal and re-anchored. This is a time of reevaluation for me. One friend wisely commented

No matter our age, I think the passing of our mothers awakens a new life stage for us.

I think she is right. Some things will never be the same again. And in the midst of the ache in my heart, I find myself rethinking my own life and its priorities. I continue to read the book In Search of Sacred Places, which I was reading aloud to my mother in her last few days. It has some great insights for me at this stage. In talking about the Celtic saints who died at the hands of the viking raiders Daniel Taylor comments:

If they were to die, they hoped to do so fully recognized for what they were. (p129)

He goes on to ask the challenging question:

how willing am I to organize my own life and actions and relationships around those spiritual truths that I claim should define every life? How eager am I to be fully recognized? (p130)

For the Celtic saints, all of life was organized in light of spiritual realities. Daily life was an ordered rhythm of worship, work, and study – all as an offering to God.

I am not sure that I can say the same for my own life. We follow a God who was not afraid to suffer and die to draw us close. We adhere to a faith that found its home among the poor and the outcast. It was spread initially by persecution.  and rejection, yet we want none of that.

Early Christians were not afraid to be fully recognized, even if it meant their death. Yet for us faith is often a benign and comfortable value, “useful for food drives and homeless shelters, but ugly and even dangerous when it publicly asserts its claims as truth. ” (p129)

I want, in this season of my life to be fully recognized for my faith, not just for I what I say but for how I live out every aspect of my life. I want my purposes to become more aligned with God’s purposes. I want the rhythm of my life to more closely follow a Godly rhythm and I want my actions to more fully proclaim the values and culture of God’s eternal world.

Will you join me on this pilgrim path so that together we may all be fully recognized as the caring, compassionate, generous, life giving people that God intends us to be?

 

God Circle Us

God circle us

God circle us (c) Christine Sine

I posted this prayer to the Light for the Journey page on Facebook yesterday. Like all  circling prayers it has been extremely popular.

Circling prayers are an important part of Celtic Christianity. Some help us to visualize the attributes of God we want lodged in our hearts and the antithesis of these we want to fling from us – “keep peace within and hate without”. Others , like the one I wrote above are a more general expression of our desires for a God embraced life. Like everyone else I love prayers like this that give me a sense of God’s encompassing love, the understanding that we sit in the midst of God’s embrace and I hope you do too. They are also some of the easiest and most comforting prayers to write. So why not give it a go – don’t just read and enjoy the prayer above – write your own and add it as a comment at the bottom of this post.

Jeff Johnson Joining Us For Celtic Retreat & Selah Service

As many of you know, in a couple of weeks we will celebrate our 21st annual Celtic retreat on Camano Island. There is still  time to sign up. This year we have a special treat as Jeff Johnson, internationally known Celtic musician will provide music and a special service in the evening. I have used Jeff’s music for years as background for my Advent devotional videos. He is one of my favourite contemplative musicians. Here is a little more information:

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Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson

Since 1977 Jeff Johnson has produced and recorded a body of work reflecting his journey of faith and creative musings. His many solo projects segue rich instrumental passages with songs that feature Jeff ‘s uniquely interpretive vocals producing soundscapes full of wonder and beauty.

Much of his current solo work is derived from his experience with leading the Selah service, which combines simple Taizé chant and other original choruses, hymns, as well as instrumental passages with Biblical based readings and silent prayer in the church’s rich tradition of contemplative worship.

Johnson is perhaps best known for his collaboration with Irish flutist, Brian Dunning. Their CDs have often been inspired by the evocative stories of best-selling novelist, Stephen Lawhead including the acclaimed Byzantium, which includes a track featured in the Martin Scorsese film, Gangs of New York.  In addition, many of their songs have been included on some of the most popular compilations of the Contemporary Celtic genre including those released by Windham Hill and Hearts of Space.

Jeff has recently been collaborating with world renowned guitarist, Phil Keaggy, on the critically acclaimed instrumental CD,  Frio Suite and the soon to be released, WaterSky.

Jeff lives on Camano Island, Washington with his wife, Susie. For more information, please visit:  www.arkmusic.com

Christ Has Walked This Path music video link:

 

Prayers for Celtic Retreat

Below are some of the introductory prayers that we will be using for MSA’s 19th annual Celtic retreat in a couple of weeks.  The first part of the prayer is adapted from a Native American prayer.  The second is adapted from Jude 1:20, 21 and 1 Corinthians 3:11

Gathering prayer:

Creator God, loving God, maker of all life, compassionate and caring One.  We give you thanks for all you are and all you bring to us for our visit within your creation.

In Jesus, you place the gospel at the centre of this sacred circle through which all creation is related.

You show us the way to live a generous and compassionate life.  Give us your strength to live together with respect and commitment as we build your community and grow together in your Spirit,

For you are God now and forever Amen

(Silence)

God we gather in the midst of your creation,

To build each other up in the faith you have given us.

God we come, not alone but as part of your community.

We come from isolated lives and self centred living seeking community,

So that together we might be kept safe in God’s love,

God we come, not alone but as part of your community.

As we build together may we pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,

And await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ open our eyes to see you,

God we come, not alone but as part of your community.

No one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have – Jesus Christ,

Who takes our anxious thoughts and the worries that blind our sight,

God we come, not alone but as part of your community.

Rescue us dear God from the tumult of our busy lives,

Bind us together as we breathe your quiet presence,

God we come, not alone but as part of your community.

Heavenly God, you who are community shelter us;

Christ before us and behind us, Holy Spirit deep within us;

God we come, not alone but as part of your community.

Celtic Spirituality – the Distinctives

I often get asked “Why are you interested in Celtic Christian spirituality?”  Below is a summary of the distinctives of this form of Christianity that make it attractive to me and have resulted in Mustard Seed Associates using it as the foundation for the annual retreat we hold.  This year’s retreat will be on Camano Island August 14th.

Distinctive Features of Celtic Christianity

  1. Central to Celtic spirituality is incarnation and an intense sense of the presence of God. “The Celt was very much a God-intoxicated man whose life was embraced on all sides by the divine Being”
    1. The presence of Christ was almost physically woven around their lives
    2. God was treated with awe, reverence and wonder but was essentially a human figure intimately involved in all creation and engaged in a dynamic relationship with it.
    3. The Trinity was seen as family and each family unit, clan or community was an icon of the Trinity
    4. All creation responds to God’s creative presence and sustaining love. God not only encircles and protects creation but also enlivens, activates and inspires it.
  2. A belief in the thinness of the veil between this world and the next.  Heaven and earth are interconnected and interacting.
    1. Celtic Christians prayed consciously as members of the great company of hosts – the persons of the Trinity, angels and archangels, the risen saints and disciples were all seen as close companions on their journey.
    2. Through this same host of witnesses God protected them from evil forces and enemies.
  3. Importance of little things – no task is too trivial to be sanctified by prayer and blessing
    1. Even mundane little task like washing dishes, milking the cow and sowing crops have sacred significance
    2. This is parallelled in their identification with the little people, the marginalized & the oppressed.  All persons represented God and might be heavenly visitors in disguise.
    3. Extending hospitality opened a door to the kingdom of God and welcomed Jesus into their midst.  It was an important expression of love both toward God and neighbour
  4. All of life flows to a rhythm of ebb and flow reflected in the natural world. This is reflected in the monastic rhythm that flowed between prayer and study, work and rest, community and solitude.
  5. A strong sense of sin and of the presence of evil forces in the world resulted in a strong recognition of the need for penitence which often led to austerely ascetic lives. Some become perpetual pilgrims or lived as hermits to avoid the comforts and temptations of a settled existence in which evil might flourish.
  6. Celtic Christians adapted well to the culture in which they operated. They are sometimes accused of syncretism because of their use of pre-Christian symbols which they transformed into the symbols of faith.

Thin Space: Learning From the Celitc Saints

Our workshop on Celtic Christianity is coming up in a couple of weeks.  If you do not live in the Seattle area but would like to participate on Skype please let me know.

Thin Space Learning from the Celtic Saints: a day long learning/sharing experience hosted by Mustard Seed Associates and the Mustard Seed House.

Register online

The rediscovery of Celtic Christianity has been a delightful revelation for many followers of Christ in recent years. Many Christians are intrigued by this rich tradition and by the men and women who led it. They were described as God intoxicated people who lived with an intense sense of the presence of God. All of life and all of creation were embraced by the triune God whom they believed walked with them throughout life’s journey.

The invigorating prayers and traditions of this movement continue to inspire people today. Come and learn from the Celtic saints and see how this wonderful Christian tradition can enrich and empower your prayer life and your spiritual observances. This day long seminar will explore the lives of Patrick, Columba, Brigit and Brendan and the rich understanding of prayer that each of these Christian leaders brought to their faith.

Discover new ways to connect your prayer walk to your everyday life as you explore the many examples of prayer that under girded the lives of these dynamic ancient followers of Jesus. Discover a deeper understanding of prayer as you learn to write Celtic prayers based on your own life situation.

Schedule for the Day:

  • 9:00 Welcome & morning prayer
  • 9:30 Learning from Patrick – the all encompassing presence of Christ
  • 10:30 Break
  • 11:00 Learning from Columba – rhythms for life
  • Lunch
  • 1:00 Learning from Brigid & Brendan – journey into hospitality
  • 2:30 – 4:00 Writing prayers for the journey
  • 4:00 Sharing.
  • 4:30 Closing and afternoon prayer

Register online