My Heart Was Burning Within Me

By Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, a sermon preached at St. Luke Lutheran Church (Portland), for Earth Day (April 23, 2023)

Scripture: Luke 24:13-35 (First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament)

The Road to Warm Springs

On the same day, two of the followers of Creator Sets Free (Jesus) were walking to Village of Warm Springs (Emmaus), seven miles out from Village of Peace (Jerusalem). As they walked along, they were talking about all that had happened. Creator Sets Free (Jesus) came alongside them as they walked, but their eyes were kept from seeing who he was.

He said to them, “What are you talking about?”

They stopped walking and a look of sadness fell over their faces. One of the men, Honored by His Father (Cleopas), answered him, “How can you not know about the things that have happened in Village of Peace (Jerusalem)? You must be coming from far away.”

“What things are you talking about?” he asked.

“About Creator Sets Free (Jesus) from Seed Planter Village (Nazareth). He was a prophet from the Great Spirit, with powerful medicine, who did many good things among all the people. The head holy men and other leaders handed him over to the People of Iron (Romans) to be put to death on the cross. We had hoped that he would free the tribes of Wrestles with Creator (Israel) from the People of Iron (Romans). It is now the third day since they killed him on the cross, but today some women told us an amazing story. Early this morning they went to his burial cave and found that his body was not there. They told us about visions of spirit-messengers who told them he was alive! Some of our men went to see with their own eyes and found the empty cave, but they did not see Creator Sets Free (Jesus).”

Continue reading “My Heart Was Burning Within Me”

A Vision of Beauty

By Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Salt and Light Lutheran Church, Sunday, January 24, 2021, Mark 1:14 – 20

Well friends, it’s January 24. Far and away the most common response I’ve received to the question, How are you feeling since January 20? is…RELIEVED. Not a naive, “Oh everything is going to be fine now” kind of relieved, but a clear and palpable sense of relief nonetheless. 

Two images of the nation’s capitol, two weeks apart, have now been seared into our psyches and could not be more striking…one from January 6, and one from the very same place just two weeks later on January 20. Nearly everyone who spoke on Inauguration Day spoke to this stark contrast, though Amanda Gorman said it best:

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”

Continue reading “A Vision of Beauty”

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” 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”