The Creative World Festival Was Great Fun

Aaron Strumpel on the mainstage

Aaron Strumpel on the mainstage

Tom and I and our MSA intern Chris Holcomb have just returned from the Creative World Festival in Mission British Columbia. It was a great opportunity to renew friendships with some of our Canadian friends and collaborators and to begin some new friendships as well.

I love getting together with friends

I love getting together with friends

Such a great group of people – grassroots advocates for God’s concerns for justice and reconciliation. Great music by Aaron Strumpel, great poetry by Joel  McKerrow and lots to think about from Pete Rollins and all the speakers.

Aaron Strumpel and Joel McKerrow at Creative World Festival

Aaron Strumpel and Joel McKerrow at Creative World Festival

There was a particular focus on concerns for aboriginal people in Canada. My heart ached to hear about the thousands of missing and/or murdered women who have disappeared with little or no public outcry. And I wept to hear stories of the atrocities that have been carried out against aboriginal children in many countries who were stolen from their families and moved into residential schools. Many of them never saw their families again.

Praying for the missing, murdered and stolen ones

Praying for the missing, murdered and stolen ones

In justice comes in so many forms and I so appreciate those who keep us aware of these important issues and challenge us to respond.


Have We Settled For Cheap Faith?

Death to the World

This morning in my post The Ugly Tomato, I included a link to a post that I did on Cheap Faith a few years ago. I have been thinking about that ever since and decided that I would update and republish it. Part of the reason for this is that I am struggling because more and more speaking invites expect us to work for free. The real cost of a conference or event is not really taken into account. And Christians don’t want to have to pay the full cost. Yet I know that in the secular world people expect to pay much more because they know and accept what it costs to put on a conference.

MSA has not held a large conference in the last few years mainly because of some of these concerns. We have always liked to start planning a conference by asking “What are God’s kingdom values we want to represent at this gathering?” It is often an uncomfortable conversation, hopefully not just for us but for everyone who is involved.

In all that we do, I grapple with how to provide resources, technology and events within the constraints of a limited budget. I struggle with how to live and operate our ministry sustainably without jeopardizing our concern for the environment and for the poor.  Fair-traded tea and coffee is more expensive than regular coffee.  Lunches from Fairstart that provides jobs for the homeless are more expensive than the local supermarket that only pays workers minimum wages. Environmental concerns create even more constraints as we struggle to reduce waste & provide environmentally friendly alternatives.  How do we bring in speakers and participants from around the world in fuel guzzling aeroplanes and still show respect for the environment?

I love the way Shane Claiborne approaches some of these concerns.  Whenever he travels he gets people to commit to reduce their fuel consumption in compensation for the additional fuel he is using by flying.  Not easy but I think it is a great way to show how seriously we take these issues.  Or maybe we should all cut back our fuel consumption for a month beforehand to compensate. Maybe we should hold more local events that don’t require a lot of travel or expensive accommodation and encourage us to cooperate with each other in what do.

Not easy but why should I expect it to be easy?  It is never easy to choose deliberately to live by God’s kingdom values in all our actions.  Unfortunately we live in a world that wants everything especially food, clothing, household goods and technology at bargain prices but, at what cost to the poor and the environment?  For us to have access to bargain priced food, technology and resources often means that those who produce and sell our goods are not paid a living wage.  Our bargain goods often are produced in conditions that devastate the environment and add to our polluted air.

What concerns me most is that our obsession with bargains extends to our faith as well.  We want to buy salvation and Gods grace at bargain prices too.  My quest for bargains encourages me to believe I dont have to pay the full price for redemption either.  Which is great because I would much rather settle for a relationship that demands little of me in terms of penitence or repentance.  Like many Christians, I would rather experience Gods grace and forgiveness without sacrifice, without commitment and without the need to change.

It is not surprising that in a culture like ours, few people practice fasting and self-sacrifice during Lent anymore.  Deliberately walking with Christ towards the Cross never comes at bargain prices, it is very costly.  In fact it demands our whole lives but it is absolutely necessary if we want to become the disciples God intends us to be.  It means recognizing that the true self is made in the image of God and reflects the characteristics that are true to Gods image love and compassion, concern for justice for the poor and freedom from oppression…considering the needs of others as more important than my own.

I think many will get a shock when they enter the kingdom of God.  It will be a real cross-cultural experience for them because the bargain price values they have lived by will be totally worthless.  Fortunately, Gods spirit continues to work within all of us enabling us to confront the false self and its cheap values.  It constantly breaks down the barriers that distort our ability to lead a life that is fully integrated with God and Gods ways.

The question I find myself asking this morning is “Where do I still go after a bargain and sacrifice God’s values as a consequence?”  Maybe you would like to ask the same question.  Where is the spirit of God nudging you to change so that your false self will be transformed into the true self that reflects the glory of God?

The Wild Goose Has Flown

Tom & I and Cindy Todd have just returned from the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina.  The weather was hot, humid and dusty but any discomfort was quickly outstripped by the joy of the festival.  In some ways it was like a great homecoming of friends and family that we have not seen for a long time.  Mark and Robyn Pierson from New Zealand, Doug Pagitt, Mark Scandrette, Tony & Peggy Campolo, Brian McLaren, Geoff and Sherry Maddock to name just a few.  But it was also a great opportunity to make new friends some like Mike and Julie Clawsen that I have wanted to meet forever.  Others who just happened by the Mustard Seed booth and soon became staunch friends.

It was also a great opportunity to  listen to new viewpoints, grapple with new perspectives and learn new approaches to worship, social justice and theology.  I can’t remember the last time my head was so abuzz after a conference and I know that there will be a lot more reflections to come over the next few days.

More photos here

Upcoming Events from the Transform Network

Three exciting events — and important deadlines — to update you on.  Tom and I will both be at the Wild Goose festival and the Inhabit Conference.

1) Tonight at midnight is the deadline to get reduced rate tickets to the inaugural Wild Goose Festival gathering — June 23-26 at Shakori Hills outside of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina! This event has been in the works for years, and a lot of TransFORM Network folks are planning to be there. There will be startling speakers, fantastic music, and great activities for people of all ages. The over-arching themes of Wild Goose are Art, Justice, and Spirituality, and this gathering will have all three of these things presented in a wonderful way. Please don’t miss it!

2) This Sunday (March 27) is the deadline to get the reduced individual or group rate registration for Inhabit Conference — April 29-30 at Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle, Washington. Inhabit is not just any conference, it’s the West Coast gathering of the TransFORM and Parish Collective tribes — and it’s going to be phenomenal! If you’re looking for help in forming a new missional community and new friends to join you on the journey, then please do not miss Inhabit Conference — especially if you live on the West Coast.

3) East Coast and especially Northeast folks, don’t forget to RSVP for the TransFORM Northeast Regional Mini-Gathering, taking place the same weekend as Inhabit Conference, featuring great conversations among missional practitioners. This gathering is free, but you do need to RSVP to let the organizers know you are coming.

Hope to see you at one of these gatherings!

Steve Knight
TransFORM Network Community Architect


Selah Service on Camano Island

A special Lenten service featuring music, readings and silent prayer in the tradition of St. Patrick led by Jeff Johnson with violinist, Wendy Goodwin. St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church; 1318 E. State Hwy. 532; Camano Island, WA 98282. Childcare provided.
they will also present the service at St. Columba Episcopal Church the night before.
Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 7pm
26715 Military Road; Kent, WA 98032

Grunewald Guild – Something Good Happening in Leavenworth

This morning Dan and Lois Orberg from the Gruenewald Guild came to visit us at the Mustard Seed House.  It was another delightful encounter as we discussed our respective ministries and overlapping passions.  The mission of the Grünewald Guild, an ecumenical Christian community in Leavenworth Washington, is to promote and encourage creativity within individuals and congregations in response to the mystery of creation through the exploration of art & faith.

They are getting ready to host a series of Living Room Lectures – the first being on Art and Earthkeeping February 25 – 27 .  I wish that I could attend.

A Taste of the Mustard Seed

Many of you know that we are in launching mode here at Mustard Seed Associates and this is your official invitation to participate.

Join us for A Taste of the Mustard Seed and the launch of Mustard Seed Village

We invite you to join our growing circle of friends as we seek to increase awareness of how God can use our mustard seeds to make a difference in new and creative ways.

  • Preview plans for Mustard Seed Village, envisioned as a sustainable eco-village dedicated to re-defining ways to live and serve God in these turbulent times.
  • Experience a taste of who we are and what we do at
    Mustard Seed Associates
  • Hear Chris Elisara from Creation Care Study Program as he joins us in casting a vision for a new educational initiative to enable college students to create sustainable lifestyles and spiritual practices for life in a volatile future.
  • Enjoy Celtic music by Third Harbor and abundant finger food and drink.

Join our growing circle of friends by investing time and resources to help launch the Mustard Seed Village. Funds raised will support both Program and Facility Development.

Mustard Seed Associates
DATE: Sunday, October 17,2010
TIME: 1:00 pm to 3:30pm

LOCATION: Shafer Baillie Mansion
907 14th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112

Please RSVP with the number in your party to
If you have any questions please call
Christine or Tom Sine at 206 524 2111

Soapmaking 101

The Art of Being in Community

Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday, the day when we focus on God as Trinity.  One comment our priest made really impacted me.  He said that when we think of God we rarely think of the Trinity.  As I thought about that after the service I realized how true that is.  And because we do not think of God as Trinity, we do not think about God as community either.  Nor do we think about God’s revelation in the rich and diverse community of human kind and of all creation around us.  This morning as I read Richard Twiss’s thoughts in the Mosaic Bible I was reminded of this.

Every day our lives are painted in color, in light, in beauty and in mystery.  We walk in a world of day and night, wind and rain, heat and warmth.  We share this planet with myriad species of living things.  We dwell with women and men of many languages, cultures, appearances and nations.

This diversity is an ‘earthen image” of the mystery of God.  It is a reflection of the diverse, interrelated community shared by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Before Creation, God already existed in diverse community.  The relationship enjoyed by the Trinitarian sovereign was a glorious experience of divine love, coequality, mutuality, interdependence, unity, affirmation, righteousness, peace and more.

The next gathering at the Mustard Seed House will be about community and we would love to have you join us.

The Art of Being in Community:

An afternoon of food & conversations

We are inviting you to come together with other friends (old and new) interested in Christian community (new monastic, intentional residential/non- residential, proximity communities, hyper-local,  faith communites) for an afternoon of good food, conversation and community.

Bring BBQ food to share (meats, veg, drinks, bread, dessert. fruit – we are still working on the possibility of having some grills in location for us to cook). We will have a casual time to get to know each other. There will also be two structure time of conversations related to the art of living in community – Desolations and Consolations in Community.

Facilitated by Eliacín Rosario-Cruz, Ricci Kilmer and you.

Register online :

When? Saturday, June 26, 2010 – 4:00 – 7:00 PM

Where? Mustard Seed House (this location might change, stay tuned.)

Who can come? Anyone involved and interested in community. Families are encouraged to come.

This is an open invitation, but  spaces are limited  – Registration via is required in order for people to know how much food to bring for sharing.

Suggested donation of $10-20 will go to support the ministry of Mustard Seed Associates. No one will be turn away for lack of money.

Please contact Eliacín – – if you have any questions.

A Year in the Life of MSA

Every year, we devote one issue of the MSA ezine, the Seed Sampler to the happenings at MSA. The other issues are all about what other people are doing to address the urgent challenges of our times.

Some great stuff has been happening here: a fantastic Celtic Prayer Retreat, hands-on gardening workshops, putting an East coast intern to work, planning a monastic village on Camano Island, the development of a Rule of Life, and the list goes on. This Seed Sampler reports on most of these events and brings you up to speed on the lives of our board members and staff. There is also a list at the end of every MSA resource you might want to know about—books, articles, curriculums, mp3s, videos, etc.

My contribution is A Year in the Life of MSA. As I worked on this I was amazed at how much our small team of 5 people plus numerous volunteers have accomplished in the last year.

When I wrote our annual MSA update a year ago, I wrote about the discernment process that we had embarked on to reimagine MSA more as a network of communities and individuals with a common purpose rather than as a program-based organization. We have now completed the work on the MSA rule of life and developed a foundational document that explains the MSAvision, goals, and pillars as well as the discernment process we continue to use for decision-making.  Read the article here

Because we are such a small team we are always looking for volunteers to help not just here in Seattle at the Mustard Seed office but in researching, writing for the Seed Sampler and dare I mention it in financially supporting our efforts.  Much of what we do can be done from anywhere in the world.  So check out the different ways that you can be involved If you are just learning about MSA I suggest that you at least sign up for the Seed Sampler (its free) and discover some of the ways that your mustard seed can make a difference in God’s world