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Extra Grace Required - Our Blog

Love Came Down

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This week we pause to consider a kaleidoscope of faith events. Almost all faith traditions are celebrating a connection with the Sacred this month. Hanukkah commemorates the restoration of the miracle of light in the holy temple of Jerusalem. In pre-Christian Scandinavia the Feast of Juul, or Yule, lasting for 12 days, celebrated the rebirth of the sun god and gave rise to the custom of burning a Yule log. After the winter solstice light returns and the days grow incrementally longer. Many traditions pause at this time of year to acknowledge that there is something greater than the self; there is something sacred, and many experience the Sacred in the light that surrounds us.

The Christian faith stands alone in a narrative that celebrates God choosing to become human. It celebrates the story that is proclaimed afresh every Christmas—the story of love coming out of the heavens to dwell among us.  Read More 

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Surely the Lord is in this Place

Bienvenue! They came from half a world away and now stood before the congregation to receive simple welcoming gifts of fleece-knotted prayer shawls made by the Sunday School. The father and boys were soberly clad in western clothing but the mother and teen-age daughter were attired in bright-colored dresses and turbans, proudly proclaiming their African identify. Before arriving in the United States this family of six had spent three years in a United Nations refugee camp in Cameroon, fleeing violence in their Central African Republic homeland. Now, after months of preparation by the church to sponsor and outfit a home for them, they were finally here.  Read More 

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A Joyful Noise

Broad Ripple Village Holiday Parade, Indianapolis, Indiana

On a crisp cloud-covered night last Saturday, my husband and I walked into the village to watch the annual holiday parade. The sidewalks were lined with bundled-up children, attentive guardians, and young adults in Santa hats taking a break from the village pub crawl. The parade's "floats" consisted of trucks and cars strewn with ropes of colored lights and blinking holiday decorations, many advertising local businesses. The girl scouts and animal rescue organizations marched and dispersed candy canes to the crowd, a couple of community bands enthusiastically played Carols, and a waving Santa Claus brought up the rear. The parade ended at the historic brick fire station where the parade's Santa led the gathered crowd in singing Jingle Bells. Kids, pub-crawlers, parents and grandparents, all sang together in the cold night air, "...jingle all the way!" I felt like I was among Who’s down in Who-ville, with nary a Grinch in sight.  Read More 

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Advent Worship: The Practice of Waiting

A favorite commercial of mine is of a little boy, 5 or 6 years old, who is standing in the bath room, having trouble with his belt. At first he tugs on the belt calmly, but quickly the struggle becomes real. He hollers out, “Mom we have a situation!” Clearly, waiting, in this “situation” is out of the question. Often waiting is uncomfortable and at best, tolerable, yet waiting for the coming of God in human flesh during Advent is a special, sacred, holy practice.

As we light the Advent candles of hope, peace, joy and love, we remember again the Story of the people who waited for the promised Savior. They had been holding their breath for a long time and when at last they exhaled, the Savior they waited for was born. As the Story goes this was not a king born in a royal setting but a babe born in a dirt cave whose parents were on the run. The practice of waiting during the liturgical season of Advent invites us into the ancient story of the people who wait.  Read More 

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The Mystery By Which We Live

I have a stack of wonderful books on my bedside table: An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor; The Yamas & Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele; and Torah Yoga by Diane Bloomfield. And I have read part way through all of them. But what have I actually finished reading lately? Last week I had my nose in a cozy mystery, a story about a smart and sassy middle-aged detective, and a victim genteelly poisoned amid descriptions of nostalgic small town life: literary comfort food. Meanwhile, the books of wisdom on my bedside table gathered dust, unopened, and unfinished.

Unfortunately, my prayer life is often like my reading habits. I stick with the familiar and comfortable and then get frustrated with my own stagnant spirituality. Over the weekend my darling Aunt G sent me a beautiful quotation attributed to the Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, that pushed me out of my recent prayer complacency.  Read More 

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Love Replaces Hate in Bean Blossom

Mary & Joseph in line to help scrub.

I waited my turn in line to scrub the swastika off of the church. The temperature was dropping and I wished I had remembered to bring my gloves. There were two other lines of scrubbers: one to remove “Heil Trump”, and the other to remove the words “Fag Church”. A local TV news crew was there with a beautifully coiffed reporter bouncing up and down on her toes to stay warm between takes. Cleaning the hate speech off of the church walls began after the Rector, Rev. Kelsey Hutto, first led us in prayer, “Tonight we gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing as we wash these symbols of division and evil from this church building and also from our own hearts.” A surprisingly short time later, the spray-painted graffiti was gone, and we celebrated, singing Amazing Grace as we processed into the little church’s sanctuary for a candlelit service of healing.  Read More 

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