The Angels

By Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, a Christmas Eve sermon

[This sermon is a reflection on the biblical stories from the angel’s appearance to Zechariah to the shepherds returning from Bethlehem — stories imagined, acted out and recorded by seven different families with young children from the community.]

Friends, we gather tonight in the darkest time of year, in a year that for so many has been the darkest they have ever known. And right here, right now, in this virtual but very real moment, come the children of this community, like angels bringing joy and delight to our hearts, bringing the ancient and ever-new good news to the people who walked in darkness. Angels, messengers of God of the impossible becoming possible. There are SO. MANY. ANGELS in these stories!

An angel arising from behind the altar where Zechariah was coloring, I mean, doing his work and tending the incense. The mildly maternal-looking angel telling Zechariah how it’s all going  to go down and then giving Zechariah a big long, silent time out for not believing her. 

Another angel with green wings coming to Joseph in a dream!

Another angel descending to sit on the floor next to Mary like best friends with dolls, giving her the news of her unexpected pregnancy, patiently answering her questions, letting her process her feelings until she was ok. An angel doing what a best friend would do.

Continue reading “The Angels”

The Deeper Hope

SNGBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (right), Salt and Light Lutheran Church (Portland, OR), Sunday, November 29, 2020, Mark 13:24 – 31

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the service this week. For the season of Advent, the plan was to have a storyteller for each Sunday of the season…one story each Sunday to go along with the theme for the week: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Well, when I reached out to folks this week I found stories of Peace, Joy and Love, but hope…? Hope was a little harder to come by. Now, maybe not. Maybe I just didn’t happen to reach out to the people with hope stories! Or maybe, as I ultimately discerned, the Spirit was inviting ME to tell a hope story because hope has been a little hard to come by FOR ME. And I admit it! I have struggled with the whole notion of hope for a long time now, and I actually think I am not alone in this struggle. Continue reading “The Deeper Hope”

I Need a Moment to Breathe

canaaniteBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (August 16, 2020), from the second-half of her homily at Salt + Light Lutheran Church (Portland, OR)

Radio silence. Is that what you’re giving me? Radio silence? I expected better from you, Jesus. I just told you my daughter is horribly demon-possessed, and you ignore me! We’re family, remember? From way, way, way back. Or did you forget that your ancestors  Rahab, Tamar and Ruth were all Canaanite just like me. We’ve got the same blood, Jesus. Breathe the same air, too. Our bodies made of the same earth. Our spirits part of the same God. 

Well, if that’s how you’re going to roll, then I guess I’ll have to get a little louder.

“Heir to the house of David, have pity on me! You are a healer and my daughter is sick!” Continue reading “I Need a Moment to Breathe”

Five Loaves, Two Fish and a Rack of Ribs

riot ribsBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Salt and Light Lutheran Church, Portland, OR (Sunday, August 2), Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus, a young movement leader, desperate to be alone, grieving, raging, mourning the state-sponsored murder of his cousin, John. A crowd gathers. Thousands upon thousands. They are there so long, learning and listening and longing for change, that it gets late into the night and they are hungry. Some want to say, go home! Fend for yourselves! Go to the store and buy your own food! You’re on your own! But that is not The Way of Jesus. That is not The Way of this movement. And suddenly, seemingly miraculously, food for thousands appears. And the hungry are fed. They feed one another. Because when the system fails or it isn’t designed to care for you in the first place, you have to care for one another. And from that place, create a new way of being in the world. Continue reading “Five Loaves, Two Fish and a Rack of Ribs”

It is Time to Wake Up

gethsemaneThe following devotion was offered by Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin during the weekly online gathering for ELCA leaders on “Being Church in Times of Crisis,” Wednesday, June 17, 2020 (The Commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Emanuel 9). See video here.

On Maundy Thursday of 2020 I posted about praying like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Today, as tens of thousands take to the streets daily demanding racial justice and systemic change, Jesus’ call to WAKE UP couldn’t be more urgent. Dear fellow white Christians, the hour is upon us. It is time to WAKE UP! Continue reading “It is Time to Wake Up”

Praying Like Jesus in the Garden

gethsemaneA timely post and prayer practice from Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, when crowds were pressing in on him, when thousands were needing to be fed, when he was discerning his next steps, he prayed. When the disciples asked him how to pray, he taught them. And when the death squads were coming, and even his closest friends were too exhausted to keep watch for him, he prayed. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, alone, when death loomed near and his friends were close at hand but far away, Jesus prayed.

But how? How did he pray? How did he pray in the Garden?

He wasn’t reciting the rote version of what we know as the Lord’s Prayer, though perhaps that prayer brought him comfort and connection even in his isolation.

He wasn’t doing a breathing practice, though no doubt Jesus drew on his skills of meditation and contemplation to ground and strengthen him even to the end. Continue reading “Praying Like Jesus in the Garden”

EcoFaith Recovery and the Practices for Awakening Leadership

DISCOVER_Our_Stories_800_942_90
“Discover Our Stories” by Sarah Holst

By Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, originally published in Geez 54: Climate Justice

“Are you a self-help group?” “Are you a church?” “Where do you worship?” We get these questions a lot! But for EcoFaith Recovery, the answers are more evolutionary and revolutionary than simply yes or no.

EcoFaith Recovery was birthed in 2009, when Robyn Hartwig began calling together friends and colleagues in Portland, Oregon, to try to make sense of our addictive culture and its escalating symptoms – the economic, social, ecological, and spiritual crises culminating in global warming and climate chaos. Gathering in those early years, we embarked on a process of discovery. Not unlike the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, we discovered that we felt more sane just by coming together. We felt less alone. We were less despairing. And we also discovered common experiences and feelings among us that compelled us to seek a way of recovery. Continue reading “EcoFaith Recovery and the Practices for Awakening Leadership”

The Heirloom Seeds of an Ancient and Profoundly Relevant Faith

sngBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (right), a pastor, parent, author and organizer in Portland, OR

*This is the third installation of a year-long series of posts from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

As is often quoted within Radical Discipleship circles, ‘Radical’ comes from the Latin: radix, meaning root — getting to the root causes, the root pressures, the roots of our faith. Yes! Let’s get to the roots!

But today as I reflect on what Radical Discipleship means to me, and why it is necessary in the first place, I want to talk about seeds. Continue reading “The Heirloom Seeds of an Ancient and Profoundly Relevant Faith”

The First Hope in our Inventory

SNGDay 31 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

From Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (photo above, with family), Wilderness Way Community (Portland, OR)

I turn my headlamp off. A faint pulse of fear shoots through me in that split second of complete darkness before my eyes adjust. Wind whips. Salty water sprays off the crashing waves. The ocean roars. I mean, roars.

This is not a habit of mine — venturing alone to the beach at night in gale force winds. But I cannot find my place in the camaraderie and singing around the campfire. Tonight, I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the turbulent oceans and ever-rising tides of hate manifesting in our country. Overwhelmed by the tidal wave of climate change already literally crashing in on our shores. Internally I flail and gasp for air, inundated by the torrential consequences of greed and corruption, sexism and homophobia, racism and classism, colonialism and violence — everywhere it seems, violence — economic and ecological, sexual and physical, psychological and spiritual. The deluge just. doesn’t. stop. Continue reading “The First Hope in our Inventory”

The earth we are leaving for our children…The children we are leaving for our earth…

Wilderness WayBy Solveig Nilsen-Goodin

Just a few weeks ago, the Wilderness Way Children’s School (read: Sunday School…Wilderness Way style) opened its doors to invite children whose parents are not regularly participating in the life of the community. Why?

Imagine this…

Imagine a “Sunday School” program happening mostly outside.

Imagine a Sunday School program led by two well-paid (for the few hours a week they prepare for and work with our children), highly skilled and experienced teachers of children, who view their work with children as a calling. Continue reading “The earth we are leaving for our children…The children we are leaving for our earth…”