Author: Joel

Pentecost 22A – Nostalgia or Tradition

…We probably wouldn’t have this past year in Colorado if not for the work of Deacon Erin Power in the Rocky Mountain Synod office. I met Erin almost 20 years ago at Outlaw Ranch. Pastor Lydia Ziauddin and I have known each other even longer. Lydia has hosted Tangled Blue concerts in churches she’s pastored on both coasts. Aimée, Lydia, Erin, and I also spent some time together in Germany for the Luther 500 Festival. And now, here in the mountains, she’s invited me to preach in the community she calls home. I’m genuinely grateful when the arc of the Spirit’s leading is so visible as it is in this photo in front of the Wartburg Castle in Germany. One other long time friend appears in this sermon. Nate Houge is a gifted songwriter and musician, and is the master baker and co-owner at the thriving Brake Bread in St. Paul. Since Nate makes an appearance in this sermon, it’s only fitting that a playlist accompany this post. Here it is…

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20 songs for 2020

I’ve posted a little request/challenge of some of my friends that’s turned out to be a really lovely and inspiring exercise in listening. Here are the few directives I’ve given: Make a playlist on any service(s) you choose, any 20 songs that have played a part in your year, any theme you like (funny, motivating, ironic, favorites, whatever), share your playlist link and maybe add #20songs42020. That’s it!

Have a playlist to share? Let me know. Here’s mine…

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A Movement not a Moment

Jesus asks of his disciples what they have to share. They bring forward five loaves, and this is where the Jesus movement heads down a new path. Jesus does not ask whether those who hunger are also pure. He has spent the day with them. He knows that their deep need is all the purity God requires. And to ask for some other proof would be to invalidate both their need and their beauty and worth to God.

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Fire of Pentecost – a playlist for summer 2020

In July and early August of 2020 I had the new experience of preaching for five Sundays in a row for the first time in my life. Fire of Pentecost is a playlist of songs that accompanied me in this journey preaching the texts from the Gospel of Matthew. The voice and music of Mavis Staples is prominent in this playlist. Her voice is one of the ways I’m getting through this summer; she is a prophet for this time; her words a balm… more healing than soothing, both heat and light. If you are unfamiliar with her story check out this video.

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Good Trouble

Now notice what Jesus does in his parable. He does exactly what no gardener would do; he sows mustard into his field on purpose. He gives the so-called weed prime real estate! This is no small parable solely about the small seed of faith growing large and giving shelter. This is also about the disruptive power of that small seed on our carefully cultivated monocultural fields of faith. Make no mistake Jesus knows exactly what he’s saying to both his audience then and to us now. He is not interested in the civility we create with our neatly formed rows of doctrine. He is however interested in whether or not our faith gives shelter to those whose migrations leave them in daily need. This shelter forming faith is the kindom.

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