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Giving Presence


By Deacon Tammy Devine

ELCA Wellness Manager
December 2017

"Prepare the way of the Lord..." Matthew 3:3b

As a teenager, the musical Godspell inspired me to make Advent a time of preparation. Instead of focusing on the thrill of Christmas and the whirlwind of activities that fill the season, I discovered the deep joy that comes with taking time to pause and reflect.

Still, as I got older I fell into the trap of saying yes to many family traditions: baking lots of cookies, decorating the house inside and out, sending handwritten Christmas cards, wrapping plenty of gifts. What I recognize now is that even though I thought I could do it all, I was more focused on the tasks at hand than the people around me. In short, my to-do list kept me from giving the gift of presence.

Our call to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world is about embodying Christ’s presence for one another every day. Throughout this year I have been living into my personal wellness goal of being fully present. That starts with letting go of the internal messages of my past and not wasting energy worrying about tomorrow. It means aligning my heart with Christ so I can listen with compassion and care for those around me.

Living this goal out during these weeks before Christmas will take some intentionality. My first step: simplify my expectations and set clear boundaries about what I will and will not commit to. Then, identify those people who could use an extra measure of care, and make time with them a priority. This Advent season, my heart is leading me to be fully present with my godchildren and a dear friend, all of whom are dealing with ongoing challenges in their lives.

During this time of hope and holiness, I invite you to pause and reflect. To whom can you give the present of Christ’s presence this season? There is no greater gift we can share than God’s great love through Jesus Christ. May you be blessed by Christ’s presence as you serve this Advent, and beyond.

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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