“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.”
As we read this Psalm, I’m imagining our voices joining with generations before us, all creation, and the cloud of witnesses, who have and continue to sing songs of praise. I can hear a large chorus with different parts coming in and out of focus. Maybe it sounds like a round, maybe there’s beautiful harmony, maybe some of the parts are really loud and full of energy, maybe others are singing quietly, reverently.
I imagine it sounds like something between a cacophony of noises and a harmonious symphony. When I imagine the songs of praises this way, I’m encouraged. I think it would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep the song of praise going just by myself, especially when I don’t always feel like praising God. Sometimes, I’d rather sing a song than a lament. Or not sing at all, and hold space for silence. I’m continuing to learn that praising God is not mutually exclusive, meaning it doesn’t have to be the only song I’m singing. We can: Praise and grieve. Praise and lament. Praise and ponder. And in this season of advent, may we continue to praise and wait.
This reflection has been written by Amanda Vetsch who works as the Congregational Coordinator of the Riverside Innovation Hub and has recently completed her Master’s theses which focused on dismantling white supremacy, the church, and Lutheran theology.
The staff of the Riverside Innovation Hub have recently spent time reflecting on the list of “White Supremacy Culture Characteristics” written by Tema Okun to better understand how the characteristics of White Supremacy show up in ourselves, our initiatives, communities, and institutions. Some of the staff attended a webinar co-hosted by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and Tema Okun to mark the 20th anniversary of this list and to begin the launch of new website and updates to the list of characteristics of white supremacy.
Amanda joined the Riverside Innovation Hub team in August of 2018 as an Innovation Coach where she spent a year learning alongside of two local congregations and seven other young adults. From June 2019 – November 2020, she worked as the Communications Coordinator with the Hub while she finished up her M.A. in Theology with a Concentration in Justice and Reconciliation from Luther Seminary. She now works with the Hub as the Congregational Coordinator and Facilitator, which includes communications, facilitating a learning cohort, event planning, and general coordinating.
Prior to working at Augsburg, she lived, played, and learned in Rwamagana, Rwanda as a volunteer with Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM), studied Biology at Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI and grew up in Minneapolis, MN.
During her time as an Innovation Coach, she learned a lot of things and is most grateful for the opportunity to teach and grow with people as they experimented with the Public Church framework. Her favorite part of the work is Accompaniment and the various ways it takes shape, but her most favorite is meeting with people over coffee, or hanging out at coffee shops, or really anything that has to do with coffee. During her time as communications coordinator, she learned TONS about effectively communicating, managing systems, and investing in learning relationships. She’s excited to continue learning and growing with this next learning community.
When she isn’t working, she is likely playing volleyball, hanging out with family, and friends, exploring the great outdoors, watching Netflix or reading.
Amanda is grateful for the opportunity to work alongside of faith communities as they discern how to live out their values and theological commitments in their geographic neighborhoods. She is hopeful that the work we do together can contribute to healthy, just communities where everyone can thrive.