Sierra Valley, CA

It’s interesting… The human mind seems to naturally carry an ideal of perfection as God. Even if we don’t call it ‘God’, this ideal image rules us.

The Christian faith sees God’s “Law” operating from this place. The 10 Commandments are an outline of a perfect life. Not just a good life. A PERFECT one. Like, impossibly perfect. Universally so.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus upped the ante even more from ‘thou shalt not kill’ to ‘thou shalt not even THINK of killing.’

It’s impossible. I kill people in my mind all day. I worship the gods of…

Sierraville, CA

Sometimes, I pop over to Twitter. Since I’m in the “weird clergy” algorithm, I find myself scrolling through endless tweets of clergyfolk taking potshots at other clergyfolk for being ‘heretical’.

As a fairly recent returnee to the Christian faith, and an aspiring cleric myself, this is intimidating as hell. Heretic hunters seem to have infinite digital silver bullets to dispense towards the theologically untoward on social media. What if they come after me?! I’d better mind my theological p’s and q’s!

I think we’re all prone to heretic hunting. I know I am. Maybe it’s not religion for you. Maybe…

Joshua Tree National Park at night under a full moon. Source: Me

We went on a little vacation over spring break/Holy Week that I’ve titled The Great California Road Trip. We left the Sierra Valley on a Friday, spent one night in Yosemite, two nights in Joshua Tree, two nights in Santa Barbara, two nights in San Francisco, and then came home. If I did the math right, we covered about 2,000 miles. Not bad.

Yes, it was a lot of fun. Quality time is my Love Language (yes, I know you were wondering) and there was plenty of it. We didn’t really log on to email and I gave up social…

Photo by Kellen Riggin

At age 41, I must admit, I feel strange for not feeling a sense of “home” geographically. We live in Northern California now, and though I was born in this state and feel a deep connection here, I don’t know if I feel like it’s necessarily “home.” (It’s growing on me, so we’ll see.)

I’ve been to a lot of fantastic places and there are many more that I’d love to go to. But I just don’t know, especially at this point in my midlife, if any single locale will be “home” to me.

It’s unsettling. I’m envious of people…

Photo by Daniel Joshua

And because God’s love is restless
like the surging of the sea,
we are pulled by heaven’s dynamic
to become, not just to be.

- Celtic Prayer ‘Iona Abbey Worship book

I think we all have proverbial carrots that we dangle out in front of ourselves that point to a sense of completion…

Once I get that job, I’ll be set.

Once I get x amount into the savings account, I can relax.

Once our kid is a little older, I can sleep better (btw, not true).

Once I do x amount for y person/people, our relationship will be healed.

A different way to understand it and the right time to talk about it

Photo by Claudio Schwarz

“God’s plan” language is often a go-to platitude by well-meaning Christians. When tragedy strikes someone they love and they don’t know how best to respond (because, how DO you respond to some things?), instead of weathering the discomfort of silence or lament, they go with,

“Well, I guess we just have to trust that it was God’s plan…”

Face. Palm.

I don’t want to dunk on anyone here. If you’ve used this before, I assure you that I’ve used worse. But being that I’m looking ahead to my internship as a hospital chaplain this summer, I’m wondering…

Is it…

A sermon from the fifth Sunday of Lent

Loyalton, CA — Photo by Jonas Ellison

(This is the manuscript for a sermon I gave on the 5th Sunday in Lent, 2021, at Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian Church.)

Jeremiah 31:31–34

31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt — a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will…

I think we all struggle to some degree with a sense of captivity, though it may take different forms…

Maybe in your case, you were told to shut up and sit down when sharing what you thought was an innocent funny story at the dinner table as a child and ever since that moment, you’ve heard that demeaning voice whenever you start to say something to express the laughter inside of you that urges to be expressed.

Perhaps you poured your heart and soul into your art when you were younger (by the way, it’s amazing how many of these…

What would happen if, when you walked into your classroom, office, boardroom, yoga class, or any other group environment, and in front of each of you was a big mirror. What would happen?

That’s right. Everyone would be looking at themselves.

Well, this is what Zoom is like. Everyone is looking at themselves in their screen. How awkward. I mean, how can you not? (Sorry, I’m taking 7 online classes right now in seminary, so this is why Zoom is such a big deal for me these days).

This is why the ‘hide self view’ setting is so great (just…

I always get a bit nervous when someone asks me what I’m doing these days…

“I’m a seminarian preparing for ordained ministry in the church,” I’ll say.

As nerve-wracking as this moment is, it’s also exciting. It’s exciting because there’s now an opportunity to talk about something at the root of life — the relationship between the human and the divine.

However… I notice that, more often than not, we don’t quite get there. Instead, the conversation screeches to a halt until, eventually, the conversation shifts to something more — shall I say — agreeable.

I get it. The Christian…

Jonas Ellison

Demystifying mystic. Writer. Noticer. | Follow my blogs via email at

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