Today’s author is Prince of Peace member, Carol Swanson.

Earlier in December, while practicing yoga with our YogaDevotion group who meets on Tuesdays, I felt particularly touched by the devotions read as we listened and sat quietly, focusing on breathing in God’s presence. They were written by Cindy Senarighi, nurse, pastor, YogaDevotion founder, and a daughter of this congregation whose name joined our Cloud of Witnesses this November. I share from this two-part devotion, in her memory. I invite you to pause, take 3 deep inhales and let them out slowly; be aware of your breathing as you reflect on her words.

Mystery of Presence I by Rev. Cindy Senarighi RN

The Practice of ~ The First Incarnation      

The Scripture ~ “God made known to us the mystery of God’s will according to God’s good pleasure, which God purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
Ephesians 1: 9-10
The Breath Prayer ~ Inhale ~Open, Exhale ~ to Presence
The Spiritual Focus ~ “God is this overarching presence that allows us to feel and experience things that are beyond this realm.” Author Unknown

The Devotion ~ The mystery of God’s presence is an ever-unfolding mystery that reveals God’s great love for all creation. It is a mystery that cannot be fully realized by what we know cognitively but can must (?) be explored through our experience of God’s presence. There are many modes by which we can explore the mystery of God’s presence. The biblical narrative that leads to the Christmas mystery, the birth of Jesus, is the one we lean into during Advent. For many of us, the incarnation we prepare for during Advent—God becoming human in the person of Jesus— is the primary incarnation we relate to. We are, after all, human beings of body, mind and spirit and we experience life as whole beings. 
God entering into our world in human form informs our Christian theology which holds the body in the highest regard. Some worldviews posit that we are only spirit or only body. One worldview suggests that body and spirit have been separated and it is a challenge to reunite them. However, an incarnational worldview says that spirit and matter, that is, physical substance, were never separated. The Christian worldview teaches that God’s spirit and the world were never separate. As Fr. Richard Rohr notes, this means God’s first incarnation was creation, when God entered in and brought form to a formless mass. Christ was present in that experience long before God’s incarnation in Jesus. This revelation of God’s presence is important because it opens us up to understand the mystery of God’s presence as a continuous unfolding from the beginning of time that goes beyond the realm of knowing and informs us of our unity with God in the Christ mystery….

The Mystery of Presence 2 by Rev. Cindy Senarighi RN

The Practice of ~ Receiving God

The Scripture ~ And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;  [Luke 1:46-48]

Spiritual Focus ~ “In Mary, humanity has said our eternal yes to God. A yes that cannot be undone. A corporate yes that overrides our many noes.” R. Rohr

The Breath Prayer ~ Inhale ~ Receive, Exhale ~ Believe

The Devotion ~ Today’s verse in Luke is a line from an ancient hymn known as the Magnificat, which in Latin means “My Soul Magnifies the Lord.” The hymn is also known as “The Song of Mary.” The Song of Mary is a “yes” to God. It is the continuation of the mystery of God’s presence in the incarnation of Jesus. …

The story of Emmanuel—God with us— God entering into our human experience through a young woman’s body is an unbelievable mystery. It is a mystery that says the body is important. It says God is relational. The mystery of presence in this birth narrative tells us that God will be God in any way that assures us of God’s love and promised presence.

A faith integrated yoga practice that involves the body recognizes the symbiotic nature of knowing something in our minds and experiencing something in our bodies that is unexplainable. It is at this juncture that we must consider, like Mary, that though it is a mystery, when we receive God’s love and presence, we say, “yes!” We embrace the mystery, believe and are blessed.

Pray with me: Divine Mystery, You are the Holy Other beyond our understanding. Yet You reveal so much of your goodness and blessings through the first incarnation, Creation, and your great reconciling love for us through Your incarnation in Jesus. As we begin a new year and journey together through the Gospel of Mark, show us the way to share Your love and blessings with one another and with the world. Amen. You are welcome to join us  or to visit a class.  A new chair yoga session begins January 9, 2:00 – 3:00, in the sanctuary.