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.



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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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.


Celtic Spirituality – What Is The Attraction?

Celtic Cross Kildalton Ireland

Celtic Cross Kildalton

Part of what I teach here at the Overseas Ministry Study Center is a a session on Celtic Spirituality. It is also time to sign up for the 22nd Annual Celtic retreat if you want to take advantage of the early bird special.

The Celtic stream of Christianity has impacted many of us who look for a whole life faith that interweaves through every area of life. Their emphasis on the God who is revealed in and through creation has also influenced me and contributed in many ways to my thoughts on the sacredness of creation and its importance as a sanctuary in which we meet God.

The major heritage of Celtic spirituality is the beautiful prayers like this one which are found throughout Ireland, Scotland and Wales. May have been collected in the CARMINA GADELICA. One I love and return to often is this one:

I Weave a Silence 

I weave a silence onto my lips,
I weave a silence into my mind,
I weave a silence within my heart.
I close my ears to distractions,
I close my eyes to attractions
I close my heart to temptations.
Calm me, Lord,
As you calmed the storm,
Still me, Lord, keep me from harm,
Let all tumult within me cease,
Enfold me in your peace.

art from book of Kells

art from book of Kells

There is however more to this tradition than the prayers that attract me and so thought I would repost this list of Celtic distinctives which some of my may find of interest.

Distinctives of Celtic Christian Spirituality

  1. Central to Celtic spirituality is incarnation and an intense sense of the presence of God.  The Celt was very much a God-intoxicated person 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 seen as a  human figure intimately involved in all creation and engaged in a dynamic relationship with it.
    3. Christ is our “walking companion”.  He is our guide, our protector, and we pray with him and can trust him always wherever we go.
    4. The Trinity is part of God’s eternal family to which we also belong.  Each family unit, clan or community was seen as an icon of the Trinity.
    5. 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 believed that the “cloud of witnesses” is always with us.  They prayed consciously as members of the great company of hosts – the persons of the Trinity, angels and archangels as well as all who have gone before us 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. All work is holy – 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. According to Celtic theology, the body is essentially good.  Sinful action was seen as wrong, but the body is a gift in all its capacities.
  5. A strong sense of sin and 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.  Celtic spirituality holds that sin deforms the person we are called to be in Christ.  It enslaves, and the goal therefore is freedom from slavery.  Some Celtic saints became perpetual pilgrims or lived as hermits to avoid the comforts and temptations of a settled existence in which evil might flourish.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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 pastorcoeh@gmail.com. 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 christine@msaimagine.org for details.

Don’t Miss The Wild Camano Tour

It is just over a week until our wild Camano tour at the site of the future Mustard Seed Village. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the vision for the village and about how to live more sustainably. More information and sign up here


Time to Garden

Its garden day at the Mustard Seed House. We will be transplanting tomatoes, and other summer vegetables, weeding and tidying up the porch (I hope). Our garden never looks as tidy as we would like but it produces lots of food – including these wonderful early greens (had our first garden salad this week).

Early garden greens grown under row covers.

Early garden greens grown under row covers.

All of this reminded me that I have not mentioned how you can be a part of our garden efforts here;

  1. If you live in Seattle and would like to participate in our garden days – good times of food, fellowship and gardening – let me know
  2. I have started over 120 tomato plants, and more basil and squash – obviously more than we can plant. Each year we sell vegetable starts as a small fundraiser for MSA so if you would like to buy your plants from us (sorry only if you can pick them up) here is the order form.
  3. And it is also time to sign up for the Spirituality of Gardening seminar on May 18th.
  4. Those of you who do not live in the Seattle area may like to consider developing your own garden community and perhaps, like other groups we are connected to,  you would like to use To Garden With God as a resource – lots of garden reflections, liturgies and prayers to start your garden days with. Even recipes to help you with what to do with the produce. It is available in black and white, colour and ebook versions. You can even get it together with Snohomish soap’s wonderful hand cream and garden soap in our garden bundle.