From Bethesda’s Administrative Coordinator, Amy Weinkauf

This year, as my family sat around the table for our traditional Christmas Eve meal, we commented how much we had enjoyed the Advent season. When was the last time we felt that way? We paused for a moment trying to remember. We decided that had to do with purposeful decisions.

We spent our Wednesday evenings leading up to Christmas like some of you; singing the Holden Evening Prayer. We carried the words “My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, and my spirit rejoices in you” and “God of mercy, Hold us in love” throughout the week. We prepared for Sunday services by allowing ourselves margin to get to and from services. We set out clothes, prepared our breakfast, and set up the coffee the night before. This helped us to get to church in a more leisurely fashion. (Two things of note: my family would say, “Hey Mom, it’s about time.” Also, we no longer have young children living at our house, so it’s easier to get out the door and to church on time.) After services, to get to know the people we worship alongside each week, we took time to chat with fellow congregants (BTW, this stems from something Pastor Steven mentioned in a conversation we had about the importance of knowing who we worship with). Stopping to listen, smile, and learn a little more about the people we spend time with each week adds joy to our Sunday mornings. We arrived each week knowing one more name, ready to follow up with a conversation from the previous Sunday and feeling more relaxed as we allow ourselves to become known. We found these intentional decisions renewed our hearts and minds. In that margin, we found we could sit a little longer in the words of the liturgy, finding it easier to carry the language of our faith around with us during the week.

As we head toward the new year, I find it difficult to let go of Christmastime. I find it easier to engage with the spiritual when there is a purpose; a feast or celebration. Those weeks after Ephiphany and before Lent have, at times, felt somewhat empty to me. So I made a purposeful decision. I signed up for the Life in Liturgy and Liturgy in Life class sponsored by the Oregon Synod. This one night-a-week class leads right up to Ash Wednesday.

During these classes, people from all over Oregon engage in learning about the seasons of the church calendar. We will also discuss how to create space to bring all the elements of the liturgy together. My favorite part is that this course encourages participants to develop a personal daily rhythm of worship that I hope encourages others. If anyone is interested in joining me in this journey, please email me with any questions about the course or call me at the church office.