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Brian Hiortdahl


Brian Hiortdahl is pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church, Sacramento, Calif., and an avid baseball fan.

A day to remember - February 22, 2023

Ash Wednesday is a poignant day for many rostered ministers. We trace the assurance of death on faces we love: old faces wrinkled with stories, newborn faces with eyes too big for tiny heads, furrowed faces sagging with worry, bright faces warm with joy, beloved faces of so many colors and contours and expressions—all of […]

The gift of no - May 2, 2022

Sometimes God says “no.” I was so looking forward to visiting a dear friend, but a gut feeling told me not to go. I reluctantly canceled. Two days later, I tested positive for COVID-19. My friend is immunocompromised, and I would have exposed him to the virus had I not accepted God’s unwelcome “no.” This […]

Let us see again - October 22, 2021

Like a one-wish genie, Jesus asks the loud man in the crowd, “What do you want me to do for you?” The man who was blind replies, “My teacher, let me see again” (Mark 10:51). This is a courageous request. Many sighted people become adept at keeping certain things invisible—“out of sight, out of mind.” […]

The beginning of good news - December 9, 2020

She was born full-term, 5 pounds. Her jaundiced head was too big, her eyes too wide, her appetite too small. Her mother knew something was wrong. After two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit and genetic testing, Sydney was diagnosed with Jacobsen syndrome. Her prospects were bleak, likely severe. Her mother wept.  Mark opens […]

That’s a different story - August 27, 2020

What if we’re both wrong? There’s a long-standing difference of interpretation between Roman Catholics and Lutherans about what Jesus meant when he said to Simon, “You are Peter, and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Lutherans have traditionally taught that, […]

Look for the scars - May 28, 2020

Where is God in this crisis? Is this punishment? Why does God allow this to happen? Seventy-five summers ago, locked in his prison cell, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer lamented: “They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.” Such potent questions resist easy answers, so I distrust anyone who tries to give any. There is wiser […]

Search the darkness - January 2, 2020

Where is God? If you ask some children and many adults, they will point to the sky. And they might be right—at night. The Gospel readings that frame January locate God in darkness. On the first Sunday of January (which marks the end of Christmas), the Gospel bears witness: The light shines in the darkness, […]

From hype to hope - December 3, 2019

Anticipation and excitement make the jump to hyperspeed as we approach the big day in late December: the release of the new “Star Wars” movie, the final chapter in the “Skywalker Saga” series. A long time ago, in a Galilee far, far away, the same was true. The empire ruled affairs with an iron grip, […]

Three persons, one love - June 14, 2019

I thank Ethel and Ed for teaching me about the Trinity. They weren’t seminary professors or pastors or even Sunday school teachers. They were pillars of my congregation who had been married for about 50 years when I was a teenager. One Sunday, I looked around the sanctuary and noticed Ed and Ethel holding hands. […]

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