Merry Christmas From MSA
Christmas Greetings from Tom and Christine Sine and the MSA team
The MSA team wishes you and your loved ones a joyous Christmas and a new year filled with hope for all our neighbors and God’s good earth! It has been a busy but fulfilling year, and we thought you might appreciate a few snapshots from each of us.
For Tom and me, hospitality is the theme that best describes 2014. We hosted Shane Claiborne and Al Tizon for Inhabit in April, Mark Pierson from New Zealand in May and Rita and Gerald Iversen in July. Over the summer, we enjoyed barbecues and rich fellowship with numerous friends including Dwight Friesen, Tim Soerens and Paul Sparks, our Parish Collective amigos who regaled us with stories from their Canadian tour for their new book The New Parish. We hosted another gathering for John Pattison and Chris Smith, authors of Slow Church, and then in November welcomed Andrew and Debbie Jones, also from New Zealand. How we found time to facilitate our Lent, Advent and Celtic retreats and Spirituality of Gardening seminar, as well as participate in several speaking engagements, write books and blog I am not quite sure.
Forrest Inslee sees this year as bringing new perspectives, not just for him, but for the MSA team as a whole. He says: While in the recent past I have been quick to trust in our “best laid plans,” it seems that God has had us on a somewhat unexpected path. Greg Abell has very helpfully guided us through a “backcasting” process; rather than running ahead to take hold of what we assume will be MSA’s future, we’ve found God’s Spirit waiting for us as we retrace our steps and look to the past. It has been a good season of defining what MSA has been – a season for paying attention to where we have come from in terms of values and principles. It is this work of recollection and re-gathering that will make us better able to walk forward into whatever exciting future plans God has for MSA. Even as I work on being patient, I am really eager to see what is next for our community. Step by step, slow by slow, and in God’s time — yet I know without a doubt that something amazing is up ahead!
Andy Wade too senses the new things on the horizon and is very aware of the birth pangs we are going through. He comments: One of my favorite books about spiritual direction is Margaret Guenther’s Holy Listening. In it she uses the language of spiritual midwifery, an apt analogy especially during Advent and Christmas as we sing “be born in us today.” As I reflect back on this year at MSA, I’m struck by how well this describes my journey and, indeed, our journey together as an MSA team. While I’ve continued to develop our websites, I’ve also seen God growing in me a desire to write and teach, something I haven’t done much of since leaving pastoral ministry seven-and-a-half years ago. I feel a bit like Mary and Joseph must have, knowing I’m about to give birth, but not knowing exactly what it will mean for my future. Similarly, as an MSA team, we are going through birth pangs this year. God is leading us into an exciting new future, some of which we catch glimpses of, some of which we still cannot fully see or even imagine.
I think that Katie Metzger, who is fast developing as our event planner and product marketer, best sums up our feelings at this time of year: “Merry Christmas! I am so excited to be a part of a team that not only celebrates the birth of Christ but that encourages contemplative thought during this time of the year. In a world full of turmoil, I encourage you to take time for reflection and meditation and to engage in relationship as we celebrate Christmas. I wish blessing and peace on all of MSA’s friends and partners as we move into the New Year. Cheers!”
Tom, Andy, Forrest and I all join Katie in wishing you God’s blessing and peace as we celebrate Christmas and move into the New Year.