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Brian Hiortdahl


Brian Hiortdahl is pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, West Hills, Calif. and an avid baseball fan.

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. […]

Three tests in the wilderness - March 13, 2019

“I can resist everything except temptation,” Oscar Wilde quipped. Why? From the serpent in Eden to the devil in the desert, temptation always offers the most delicious fruit. When Jesus resists the bait, the devil lures again, quoting Scripture (Luke 4:10-11). Faithfulness can be so tricky. The Gospel readings during Lent lead us into the […]

Come, thou unexpected Jesus - December 5, 2018

I was dreading Christmas. As a pastoral intern serving across the country from my family, I didn’t have the money or time to make it home for the holiday. My beloved, trustworthy grandmother had once warned that if I were ever away from home on Christmas, I would probably die of a broken heart. Yet, […]

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