Celtic Retreat – Evening Liturgy

Here is the liturgy for the second session of the Celtic retreat. This was written by Ryan Marsh of Church of the Beloved. You might also like to check out the reflections that have already been written by participants following the retreat. Pinholes and Paradigms by Lisa San Martin and Where is Freedom and The Shout by Gil George.


Evening Gathering – Eucharist


Opening Responses

ONE: Peace on each one who comes in need

Peace on each one who comes in joy

TWO: Peace on each who offers prayers

Peace on each who offers song

THREE: Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son

Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One

Song : Come Thou Fount

A New Song : Psalm 98

ONE: O sing to the Lord a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.

His right hand and his holy arm

have gotten him victory.

TWO: The Lord has made known his victory;

he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness

to the house of Israel.

THREE: All the ends of the earth have seen

the victory of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;

break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

ONE: Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,

with the lyre and the sound of melody.

With trumpets and the sound of the horn

make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

TWO: Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

the world and those who live in it.

Let the floods clap their hands;

let the hills sing together for joy

THREE: Sing in the presence of the Lord, for he is coming

to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness,

and the peoples with equity.

Set Sail: St. Brendan Meditation

ONE: St Brendan the Navigator set sail with a group of Monks from the Dingle peninsula in a small boat called a currach in search of the Isle of the Blessed. There are many spectacular myths and legends that surround their voyage. They are said to have visited the northern Isles of Scotland, the Faeroe islands, Iceland and eventually Newfoundland. Many years later they returned home with flora and fauna that was neither Irish, nor European. What we know for certain is that they drifted free at the mercy of the wind and the whim of the waves, in the will of God.

TWO: Picture yourself in the place of Brendan… staring across the ocean toward the horizon, the edge of your known world, into the unknown. Maybe there are distant lands across the sea, maybe there is nothing, only God knows! See yourself standing at the wooden jetty, in front of you a feeble looking boat, made of unseasoned wood and leather, smeared in animal grease to seal it from the waves. In the bottom of the craft there lies a roll of leather, there to patch the unavoidable leaks and tears. The boat continuously slams into the jetty bruising the leather as the swell of the great western ocean throws it around. Who knows, maybe the waves themselves are returning from those far off shores, shores which at this time are simply a glimpse of the possible, a dream of what might be out there beyond the horizon.

Deep inside you hear a call that says – “SET SAIL”,

THREE: A secret voice heard only in your heart, “SET SAIL INTO THE UNKNOWN”,

TWO: A stirring on the edge of the wind “SET SAIL INTO THE UNKNOWN, STEP OFF THE EDGE OF YOUR WORLD”,

ONE: An echo of stones dragged along the beach by the tide “SET SAIL INTO THE UNKNOWN, STEP OFF THE EDGE OF YOUR WORLD, COME WITH ME INTO MINE”

TWO: What are the moorings in your life? Not the things that frustrate you, but the things you hold on to. The comforts which you cling to, the insecurities which cloud your willingness to go into the unknown… to SET SAIL.

THREE: What are your dreams, the dreams which seem far too distant and unreachable. What are the visions you have that feel beyond your grasp, too vast? What are the big ideas which leave you stumped, no idea of how to even start. Strain for them, reach for them, go for them… SET SAIL.

TWO: What does it feel like to truly abandon the shore? To leave behind Models and Strategies, to ignore the speculation of Maps and Guides, to cut oneself adrift from techniques and practices, to place yourself beyond the horizon, no turning back? No clutching to tried and tested solutions or the words of experts, to put yourself solely in the hands of God… to SET SAIL.

ONE: Brendan put himself at the mercy of the wind, at the whim of the waves in the will of God. What would it mean to drift in the Missio Dei, the mission of God? What would it mean to go beyond the horizon of your own knowledge, experience and ideas, to put your faith in the beckoning Christ… what would it mean for you to really SET SAIL?

St. Brendan’s Prayer

TWO: Brendan left us with the prayer he prayed before setting sail. It’s a glimpse into the heart of faith.

Together, let us pray the prayer of St. Brendan,

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home?

Shall I turn my back on my native land,

and turn my face towards the sea?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy,

without silver or horse, without fame or honor?

Shall I throw myself wholly upon You,

without sword and shield,

without food and drink,

without a bed to lie on?

Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?

Shall I pour out my heart to You,

confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness,

tears streaming down my cheeks?

Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach,

a record of my final prayer in my native land?

Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict?

Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean?

O King of the Glorious Heaven,

shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?

O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?

Dressing the Altar

THREE: We are ready to set sail. This morning we placed objects on the altar as symbols of that setting sail. But the day has taught us new things, given us new companions, stirred within us a new sense of the journey God calls us to. What are the new things you take with you today as preparation for the journey ahead? (Time to share – kids first, then youth, then adults)

Chant : All Things New


RYAN:  The Lord be with you

And also with you

RYAN: Lift up your hearts

We lift them up to the Lord

RYAN: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God

It is right to give God thanks and praise

RYAN: The day St. Brendan and the monks embarked, they set sail towards the summer solstice. They had a fair wind, and therefore no labour, only to keep the sails properly set; but after twelve days the wind fell to a dead calm, and they had to labour at the oars until their strength was nearly exhausted. Then St Brendan would encourage and exhort them: ‘Fear not, brothers, for our God will be unto us a helper, a mariner, and a pilot; take in the oars and helm, keep the sails set, and may God do unto us, His servants and His little vessel, as He wills’. They took refreshment always in the evening, and sometimes a wind sprung up; but they knew not from what point it blew, nor in what direction they were sailing.

So we do here tonight what those monks of St. Brendan did in the boat every evening of their long voyage. Like them, we need strength for the journey and God makes a table for us in every place.

So we do here tonight what Jesus did in an upstairs room… [Words of Institution]

Jesus promises to always travel with us, guides us, sustains us, surrounds us. Wild Wind of the Spirit, Come! And open our ears to your call. Come and open our eyes to your presence. Come and open our hearts to your love, So that we might surrender ourselves into your hands without fear, but with a simple trust, ready for all, accepting all, welcoming all. Here we are Lord, feed us and send us on. Amen.

Communion Song: My Hope Is Built

Sending Prayer

ONE: As we go we will not refuse any destination:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.

TWO: As we go we will embrace all that crosses our way:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.

THREE: As we go we will open our hearts to the good in all creation, despite our reservations:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.

ONE: As we go we will hold close to your Word and give all to you:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.

TWO: As we go we will not be bound by our weaknesses nor limited by our strengths:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.

THREE: As we go we will see each struggle as a place of learning:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.

ONE: As we go we will welcome any companion who wishes to journey with us:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.

TWO: As we go we will not predict or plan for rigid outcomes,

THREE: but will relish all of the surprises and take the greatest risks:

For wild blows the wind of the spirit.


RYAN: Bless to us, o God,

the moon rising above us

the Earth firm below us

the Friends gathered around us

and your image deep within us.


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


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.

What is Lectio Divina?

At our annual Celtic retreat we use Lectio Divina as the basis for our morning mediation and reflection.  This is not a form of spiritual practice that I grew up with but it is one that I have found to be very renewing and refreshing.  For those that are unfamiliar with this form of reflection here is a brief description:

This is a very ancient contemplative prayer technique practiced at one time by all Christians and kept alive by the monastic tradition.  It draws us into the presence of God and enables us to discover an underlying spiritual rhythm in our daily life.  There are four distinct steps to the practice of lectio divina.

Lectio divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear the still, small voice of God.   Get comfortable and clear your mind of mundane thoughts and cares. Become silent. You may find it helpful to concentrate by beginning with deep, cleansing breaths or reciting a short prayer over and over to help free your mind.

Lectio – reading/listening: Lectio is reverential listening; listening both in a spirit of silence and of awe. Read through the Bible passage slowly several times, attentively, gently listening to hear a word or phrase that is God’s word for you today.

Meditatio – meditation: Once you find a word or a verse that speaks to you personally, reflect on the passage and think about how it applies to your own life. Allow it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas.  Dialogue with God. Through meditatio we allow God’s word to touch us and affect us at our deepest levels.

Oratio – prayer: Respond to the passage by opening you heart to God. Enjoy a conversation with the One who has invited you into a loving embrace. Offer to Give God your thoughts and reflections and invite God to use the scripture to change you.

Contemplatio – contemplation: Listen to God. Free yourself from your own thoughts, open your mind, heart and soul so that you can hear God speak to you.  Sit in silence, letting go of our own words enjoying the experience of being in the presence of God.  You may like to write down what you feel God is saying to y

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.

Building Community

Our 19th Annual Celtic retreat is only 2 weeks away.  This is my  favourite event of the year and I have been busy putting together the program for this exciting event.  So I thought that over the next few days I would give a sneak preview of some of the prayers and framework for the retreat.

The theme this year is Building Community and below is the introductory explanation we are using.  Some of what I share here you may have seen before but this is such an important but neglected topic that I don’t think any of us will suffer from having it reinforced.  Building community is not always easy – we have our disagreements, our misunderstandings and our conflicts.  Communities don’t always survive and we can all point our fingers at those who have tried to build intentional communities but failed.

Unless we believe that community is important we will not even try to build God’s worldwide community and the foundations we build on will be like sand – easily washed away.

Building Community

Early Christians believed that God comes to us in community.  They reasoned that as the essential nature of God is love and because it is impossible to practice love in isolation, God the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit must model perfect community.  Celtic Christians too held a deep love for the Trinity and were very comfortable with a God whose nature was portrayed as a companionable relationship between members of a community.  They felt that it was impossible to reflect God’s image as isolated individuals and were very aware that coming into God’s presence signified being drawn into community not just with the Trinity but with the entire human family and even with God’s creation. They believed that every family, clan and tribe reflected the Trinity which intensifying their commitment to building community.

The strongly monastic character of the Celtic church produced a community minded ministry model which we hope to replicate in the Mustard Seed village on Camano Island.  To become a disciple meant building communities of mutual love and care with sisters and brothers in God’s worldwide family. “Ministry…was undertaken by teams of men and women, ordained and lay, who lived together in community and operated from a common central base from which they went out among the people preaching, teaching, baptizing, administering the sacraments, caring for the sick and burying the dead.

Alone we are a very poor reflection of God.  As Richard Twiss expresses it: Every day our lives are painted in colour, in light, 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 thing.  We dwell with women and men of many languages, cultures, appearances and nations.  This is a gift of God, and it is in this diversity we get a glimpse of God.

God comes to us in the diversity of many ethnicities, in rich and poor, young and old, sick, lonely, disabled, marginalized homeless and abandoned. It is only as we build communities of unity, love and mutual concern and enter the life journeys of brothers and sisters from around the world that we can hope to truly reflect the image of our loving God.  We need to learn to accept and embrace others as persons made in the image of God not looking for where we think that image is damaged and scarred but rather for where it shines through as the person God intended them to be.  We must learn to be vulnerable and share our own pains, struggles and heartaches with others.  Then we must allow them to reach into our lives and lead us too into the freedom of God’s shalom world.  We are called to show God’s love by sharing our talents and resources to enable others to enter into the freedoms of Christ’s kingdom.

Celtic Prayer Retreat is Over

MSA’s 18th Annual Prayer retreat is over.  We had a great time up on Camano Island and I thought that those of you who cannot make it to the Pacific Northwest would be interested in some of the prayers and photos from the event.  Maybe you would like to conduct your own mini retreat based on the format and prayers that we used.  This has become an important part of the rhythm of my life and of my spiritual practice.  We have a growing number of people that attend yearly but this year also had new participants from as far away as Denver and Florida

Kingdom Rhythms

Kingdom Rhythms

Our theme for this year was Learning Kingdom Rhythms which was based on my own reflections in earlier posts on this blog.  and the scriptures we used to meditate on using Lectio Divina were Psalm 139: 1-6, 15-16 and Matthew 11:28 – 30.  The music was again provided by Jeff Greer who wrote many of the songs specifically for the day

Jeff Greer

Jeff Greer

Here are some of the prayers that I wrote for the day that you might find useful in directing your own meditation.  I will upload more photos later today



God you promise us a burden that is light and a load that is easy,

You anoint us to study your word and meditate on your ways,

May we never be too busy to listen,

May we never be too tired to pray.

God you invite us to community but also to solitude,

You call us to work but also to rest,

May we see this day as an opportunity,

To see you, to know you, to represent you.


Speak to our hearts Lord Jesus,

In a language we can understand,

Speak to us, think within us, act though us,

Reveal in us your image.

Think within our minds Lord Jesus,

Teach us your rhythms of grace,

Speak to us, think within us, act though us,

Reveal in us your image.

Act through our labours Lord Jesus,

May we walk with you freely and lightly,

Speak to us, think within us, act though us,

Reveal in us your image.

In our work glorify you,

In our rest restore your presence,

Speak to us, think within us, act though us,

Reveal in us your image.

Through our study reveal you,

Through our prayer praise you,

Speak to us, think within us, act though us,

Reveal in us your image.

In our solitude make space for you,

In our community show oneness,

Speak to us, think within us, act though us,

Reveal in us your image.


Time for Meditation – Lectio Divina

Lunch & sharing Celtic vision

Afternoon programme including Eucharist by Ryan Marsh from Church of the Beloved

Ryan Marsh

Ryan Marsh

Lord you fill this place with the wonder of your love

Lord Jesus you are with us in this place

We came to you busy and you slowed us down

Lord Jesus you are with us in this place

We came to you weary and you refreshed us

Lord Jesus you are with us in this place

We came to you empty and you renewed us with your life

Lord Jesus you are with us in this place


Jesus we thank you for feeding so many times this day

We are nourished with forgiveness and hope,

We are renewed with strength and patience,

We are refreshed with grace and compassion

Jesus we praise you for caring for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep

We are restored with refreshment and healing

We are replenished with abundance and joy

We are reminded of your selfless abandon

Jesus we thank you for filling us with the bread and water of life

May your river continue to flow

Over us, in us and through us

And out into the world you love


For the busyness that has distracted us

Father forgive us

For the anxieties that have burdened us

Jesus forgive us

For the selfcentredness that has isolated us

Spirit forgive us

Holy Three have mercy on us

Have mercy on us

Pardon and deliver us from our sins

Draw us into your eternal family

Glory to you Lord God almighty

For the work of our hands and our times of rest

For our times together and our times of solitude

For our study of your word and our prayers

Glory and praise to Jesus for the sacrament of his life

Let us give our work to him and so bear kingdom fruit

Let us give our rest to him and bring forth peace

Let us give our unity to him and build community

Glory and praise to the spirit who fills all things

May we be filled with the solitude that builds inner strength

May we pray with the wisdom that deepens intimacy with you

May we act with the love that represents you

Glory and praise to God

Making signs for the prayer trails

Making signs for the prayer trails

God today our hands have touched what you created in love and holiness  Strengthen them that they may daily bring forth fruit to your glory.  God today our lips have sung your praise and our voices rejoiced in your sanctuary  May the words of our mouths and the songs of our hearts glorify you forever  God today we have relaxed together in the presence of your loving faithfulness  Walk with us into the blessed hope of your eternal community of rest and abundance  Grant that we who have tasted your living body and life giving blood may be renewed  May we ever be restored and journey with you into the newness of life[1].

God bless and keep us

Let our actions serve you

Let our togetherness represent you

Let our prayers be incense before you

The peace of God, which passes all understanding,

keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God

and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit,

be among, you and remain with you always.


[1] Adapted from Liturgy of Malabar