“Half of living is reflecting on what is being lived.”
Fr. Henri Nouwen

Hey, Jonas here. When I was on the verge of entering my 40s, I had a midlife crisis and decided to go to seminary to become a priest in the Lutheran church1 (you know, like ya do).

I grew up Roman Catholic. And then I drifted away, lived a bit, got married, had a kid, and spiritually floated for a good while. For almost twenty years, I was a “none” and identified as “spiritual-but-not-religious.” Eventually, I discovered and fell in love with more contemplative Christian thinkers, both modern and ancient. And then, in spite of myself, I had a conversion experience in the middle of a Roman Catholic mass that brought me back into the fold. Shortly thereafter, I met some Lutherans who held my catholic liturgical tradition while teaching me about God's radically scandalous grace and showed me a theology that was expansive and life-giving. I knew I'd found my spiritual home and signed up for seminary on the double. I now consider myself theologically Lutheran and liturgically catholic with a waywardly contemplative and mystical spirituality.

I've been sharing my whimsical ramblings online for more than a decade (since before I came back to the Christian faith). My work has shown up in Huffington Post, Observer, Crossings, Good Men Project, and more. Some of my stuff is good. Some of it isn't so much. Either way, I hope you get a good word out of it.

This blog is my creative outlet for sharing my journey ‘along the way’ with you. I see this as my chance to say some things I might not say from the pulpit. Some posts might lean toward a more ‘religious’ direction, while others might resemble sloppy poetry or scattered journal entries about random things. Either way, I hope you get a good word from them.

*The ideas shared here are my own, not necessarily those of my denomination, the ELCA (though sometimes they do overlap).

More on the Christianity thing

Please know this…

I am not here to make you a Christian.

That would be impossible as I am not God (thankfully). All I can do is share my tradition and perspective with you.

The way I see it, being a Christian isn't about being 'right'. It isn't about swearing less and judging others more. It's about trusting that, as flawed and busted as we all (!) are, we're also overwhelmingly loved at the core of our being by our creator and designer.

The Gospel of Jesus is the great cosmic leveler. It’s harshly universal while being intimately personal. None of us live up to any notion of a divine standard AND none of us are left out of God’s loving embrace (even those whom we reeeeally wish were).

We don’t have to be ‘right’ in order to be loved by God. Instead, we are loved by God in order to be made right. Again and again.

This Christian faith liberates me to spend more time doing the things I love and going to more places that make me feel small and even a bit afraid. It frees me to remember to laugh at myself more and to let others off the hook as much as I need to be let off the hook. It marks the changing of the seasons via the liturgical calendar as we move from Advent to Pentecost and back again. It gives me the sacred ancient words and liturgical movements that our ancestors have said and embodied for thousands of years.

Miscellany About Me (If you’re interested)…

Let’s see… What are some random personal things you might want to know about me…

  • I’ve been married to my wife, Alex, for a buncha years. We have one child, our daughter, Rory (yep, that's her on the right - your right, that is), who has me wrapped several times around her mac and cheese-laden fingers. We’re both a bit older now, but not much else has changed (except that I'm now in recovery from my past addiction to sophomoric graphic tees).

  • We live on the Central Coast of California in the small town of Aptos where I serve as the pastor at Christ Lutheran Church.

  • Strong coffee throughout the day and a libation at the end of the week just about cover my material indulgences.

  • Both of my parents died when I was relatively young. Which basically makes me like Bruce Wayne (but without the trust fund or the Batmobile).

  • I’m the child of an alcoholic and I grew up on food stamps and free lunches. But I was blessed in a multitude of ways.

  • I’m an introvert, albeit a social one. I register as an INFP on the MBTI and a 9w1 on the Enneagram. If you’re into that kind of thing.

  • I like listening to indie folk, pop grass, outlaw country, and roots-rock music. Oh, and AC/DC. And Celine Dion. And Bach (I know, such a basic Lutheran move).

  • You can keep most of the contemporary Christian music and Christian rock. Give me old hymns and Gregorian chants over that stuff any day.

  • I’m a big fan of fire (as long as it’s controlled). Anywhere from a candle flicker to a raging bonfire will do.

  • I’m of Celtic and Danish descent and am a purveyor of all things hygge.

  • I used to be a golf pro. We should totally play sometime. Go easy on me, though - I’m rusty these days.

Some caveats

A warning is due here… Yes, I’m an ordained Lutheran priest. But I am a human and not a perfect one (shocker, I know). I will (yes, I promise) fail you in some way (or in a number of ways). I’m as bogged down by my human bustedness (aka ‘Sin’) as anyone else. This is why I need God’s grace just as much as everyone.

Also, I plagiarize a lot of plagiarizers… This is kind of the nice thing about being a proclaimer of the Gospel - our job is to plagiarize Jesus. Luther did it. Tillich did it. Sölle did it. Mr. Rogers did it. So many people do it. It’s our job. So if you see something that you’re sure you’ve seen somewhere else… Yep, you probably have.

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As Ever,
Jonas Ellison

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The ELCA, to be specific.

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