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Extra Grace Required - Our Blog

Sacred Silence

In my family, we like to create traditions. One tradition my grandchildren especially like is, after seeing a movie or play each person gets uninterrupted time to say what they thought of the production. The only rules are, no judgment on the comments and no interrupting. We played this tradition out after a particularly powerful Passion Play that was so dramatic in its presentation, one felt they were really part of the story. When the time came for me to share my thoughts on the play I was awe-struck, stuck in a kind of sacred silence. I had entered the story as a 21st century believer and it caused me to pause in silence to consider what the story meant.

The Gospel accounts of the Passion of Jesus vary. The one that is considered the most problematic for folks is the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s Gospel ends abruptly with the disciples being told to go and tell the Good News that Jesus lives, but instead they leave in fear and silence, telling no one. I understand this response, I mean, who could believe such an unbelievable story let alone tell others, without seeming crazy. Yet, they did tell the story after pausing in silence, entering the story in their own way. That same invitation to make the story our own is available every Easter but rather than rushing to repeat someone else’s interpretation of the story we can pause in sacred silence to tell the story in our own way.  Read More 
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What's Your Name?

Encouraged by a friend last December, I joined an Interfaith group in St. Paul, MN. Our group began, prompted by the facilitator, with sharing our name and something about ourselves. I relaxed into familiar territory. Then the woman next to me introduced herself as Cynthia. My stomach clutched, my eyes widened and I tuned in: that name meant something to me. That name signaled trouble! Next it was my turn and I of course introduced myself as Cindy and we all chuckled at two very different people having the same, kind of, name. During the break Cynthia and I discussed our names. Cynthia preferred the more formal given name as she felt it held more mystery. I shared that the only mystery for me in the name Cynthia, was the mystery of what had I now done wrong? Cynthia was the name used whenever my mother needed to draw my attention to the error of my ways.  Read More 

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EGR: Creating Grace Space

Have you wondered why we named our book’s blog, Extra Grace Required? Here is the back-story. In my first year as an ordained pastor, I found myself shocked one day by a tirade from one of our church's most faithful and supportive members. The topic of his ire is not important, that anybody could say the things he said to anyone, let alone a group of pastors and church members who had walked with him through many tough situations, left me speechless. All I could do was pause and breathe. The war within me was: 1) should I respond with my well honed psych nurse voice, 2) should I default to my Welsh/English upbringing and not respond in kind, or 3) should I dig deeper for the pastoral voice? While I was sorting through my options, the man stomped away and the lead pastor standing next to me simply smiled and said, “ Well that was an eager situation.” Not understanding what he meant I looked at him with a quizzical expression and he explained, “ Extra Grace Required.”  Read More 

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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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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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Introducing Yogadevotion, Practicing in the Presence

After a year of loving this “God breathed” book into existence we are ready to introduce it to all of our friends. Heidi Green and I have created a beautiful book that we hope you will not only enjoy yourselves but will also give to your friends. This is a book of 52 weekly devotions that blend faith and yoga practices with photos of real people doing yoga in the world. Each week’s devotion includes scripture and spiritual focus to help guide your home yoga and prayer practices. We invite you to our website for more information on the book and how to purchase it. And please like us on Facebook at YogadevotionTheBook to receive the latest book news. If you are in a Yogadevotion class in the Twin Cities, Duluth or Indianapolis you may contact your instructor for information on a direct purchase. May this book bless you with God’s Promised Presence on your mat and in the world today and every day.

Rev. Cindy Senarighi  Read More 

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