Hey, Jonas here. I'm a guy who decided to go to seminary in his 40s to become an ordained Lutheran minister (you know, like ya do). Before this, I'd stepped away from the church for a decade or two due to the tyrannical god they tried to sell me growing up. Somehow, much to my chagrin, I couldn't shake the Jesus thing. In coming back to Jesus's eternal story, I met some crazy-ass Lutherans who taught me about God's radically scandalous grace for me (and yes, even those I deem unworthy of it). I knew I'd found my theological home and signed up for seminary on the double.
I've been sharing my whimsical ramblings online for more than a decade. Somehow, over the years, I've put together a somewhat popular blog on Medium. I've also written for other publications like Huffington Post, Observer, Crossings, Good Men Project, and more.
Some of my stuff is good. Some of it isn't so much. Either way, this is my place to say some things off the cuff. I might share a sermon or three here, but mostly, this is where I share the things that I wouldn’t share in the pulpit for fear of tar and feathering.
*The ideas shared here are my own, not necessarily those of my denomination (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 insanely 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.
And, one of the best things is, it makes me a better writer. It dis-illusions me from my false egoic self so I don’t take myself or others so seriously. Which is nice:)
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 in a very small town in the Sierra Valley of Northern California about an hour north of Lake Tahoe.
- Strong coffee throughout the day and a libation (just one - maybe two) in the evening 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).
- 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. And AC/DC. And Celine Dion. And Bach (I know, such a basic Lutheran move).
- I can’t stand praise music or any kind of contemporary Christian music including Hillsong-type Christian rock. Give me old hymns and Gregorian chants over that nonsense 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 prefer mountain lakes over ocean beaches.
- I used to be a golf pro. We should totally play sometime. But you have to spot me three a side.
A warning is due here… Yes, I’m studying to be a pastor. 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 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. 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.
Aaaand that’s about it. Okay, one more time, to sign up for free via email, here’s where you can get situated.
Grace & Godspeed, Jonas Ellison