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Creating Sanctuary


By Deacon Tammy Devine

ELCA Wellness Manager
December 2018

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14

Advent is rich with sights, sounds, and flavors. For me, the season comes alive with the scent of evergreen boughs, the harmonies of familiar carols, the sweet-salty deliciousness of white chocolate-covered pretzel sticks. What about you? When finding focus in this distracted, busy time of year becomes difficult, tangible reminders like these can help us live more in the now. Too often, staying on top of our to-do list drives our days leading up to Christmas. It is easy to lose sight of God’s presence in the present.

I recently discovered a beautiful hymn that will be part of my morning Advent ritual this season. With candle lit, I will begin my time of prayer with this verse: “We are called to ponder myst’ry and await the coming Christ, to embody God’s compassion for each fragile human life. God is with us in our longing to bring healing to the earth, while we watch with joy and wonder for the promised Savior’s birth.” (“Unexpected and Mysterious” by Jeannette M. Lindholm, ELW #258, v. 3)

Then, I will intentionally connect with the world around me as I strive to notice God’s presence. I invite you to join me and use your senses as your anchors this season to help keep you grounded in the present. Each day:
Pause and notice: What do I see, hear, taste, smell, and touch?
Consider: What memories and experiences do these senses awaken for me?
Reflect: How or where do I sense God’s presence in my life right now?

As you ponder the mystery and await the coming Christ, may the Spirit stir within you the grace to notice God’s presence at work in, around, and through the world. May your senses feast richly on the many blessings of the season. And may God open your heart to receive God’s great gift, Christ Jesus.

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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