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Creating Sanctuary


By Deacon Tammy Devine

ELCA Wellness Manager
September 2017

I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea. "Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!" You came near when I called on you; you said, "Do not fear!" Lamentations 3:55-57

The church was created to be a safe place of grace, where people shared their struggles trusting they would find refuge. Central to the life of the congregation are prayer practices of lament, personal and corporate confession, and intentional efforts of reconciliation and forgiveness. These things reflect the very real emotive relationship with God we see in Psalms and Lamentations —shouting, crying, hoping, praying aloud.

Still, sometimes it seems seeking God’s healing has become a personal endeavor, not a communal one. We who gather too often keep our pain to ourselves, not knowing if the place is safe or the person can be trusted. If we are to reclaim the church as a center of healing, we must find ways to accompany one another, affirming the worth and experience of all. And we will need to lean on God, for culture change is long, tedious work.

Diah Craik, in her 1859 book Life for a Life, wrote, “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away."

As church leaders, we too long for that safe person in whom we can confide. Who is that for you? Perhaps a spiritual director, faithful friend, coach, or counselor. We yearn for that safe place in which we find comfort, rest, and peace — a favorite spot in nature, a retreat setting, or at home. As we find sanctuary, we trust that God is present. And we find strength and patience for the journey that we can share with the church.

Tammy Devine's monthly reflection invites you to consider how your faith and health are intertwined. She shares her personal journey to help support you in new ways as you strive to live well in Christ — for the sake of ministry in God's world. ELCA organizations, feel free to print or link to Tammy’s reflections in your publications.

Since joining Portico in 2004, Tammy has provided whole-person health promotion, education, and inspiration to ELCA rostered leaders and lay employees. Contact Tammy Devine at

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