Pastor’s Blog

Easter Vigil+Easter Lily+Azaleas at St. Stephen Lutheran Church +Ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

Pastor Andy’s Musings


I had never even heard of Karin Krog!

May 22, 2015 I love listening to KCSM, a jazz radio station broadcasting from San Mateo, California. I listen to their live stream over the Internet. I especially enjoy listening early in the morning here in Virginia because it’s still night in California, and middle-of-the-night jazz is the best! This morning I was captivated by one selection, an amazing arrangement of the Duke Ellington classic, “Caravan.” The singer was a woman, backed by a trio (piano, bass and drums). I put down whatever I was reading, and just listened.  The trio was good.  The…more

Day by Day during Holy Week, According to the Gospel of Mark

March 30, 2015 The gospel of Mark is remarkable. It is only 16 chapters long, and six of those chapters are devoted to Jesus’ activities during the last week of his life. We commemorate that this week, Holy Week. I’ve made an attempt to identify each day in Mark, chapters 11 through 16. Of course, a new day began at sundown in that culture, so there might be some quibbling in my division below. But it will suffice if you are interested in following along this week, day-by-day, in the gospel of Mark.…more

What does a community of faith formation look like?

March 23, 2015 Last night, in the College Room, there were 10 or 12 students who had arrived early, before their weekly Sunday night dinner. They were in animated conversation. I walked into the room and heard, “There’s Pastor!” Immediately I was hit with this: “Pastor! What’s the first day of the week?” “Sunday,” I said. “See?!” said the student to those who had been opposing her in the argument. At issue was the danger of cultural malformation. Through incessant and innumerable messages, our culture would form us into thinking that the most…more

With Open Eyes

February 25, 2015 I’m not usually a visual person when I pray. I’ve read a lot, and know a lot about visual prayer practices — such as gazing into the eyes of an icon to see the eyes of God looking back at the person praying.  I have tried to practice visual prayer. But, when I look at an object, the usual result is that my thinking mind becomes too stirred up; I’m unable to sink into prayer that is very deep. This morning was different. As I was preparing for Morning Prayer, for some reason,…more

As Lent begins

February 18, 2015 I find reading the Daily Lectionary to be an important practice of the faith. Here’s why: because of how a phrase in the Bible will catch my attention! I find that God the Holy Spirit uses words (that I have read many, many times at this point in my life) to stop me in my thoughts and to provoke my prayer. Here’s how it happened this morning. The New Testament reading for Ash Wednesday is Hebrews 12:1-14, and it includes these words: “but he (God) disciplines us for our good…more

In the Whirlwind

February 15, 2015 Our worship space at St. Stephen is very noisy when there’s lots of wind outside! That’s because there are vents and louvers high up in the steeple. We can hear the wind rushing through the vents. We can hear the louvers being blown open and then banging shut. I loved that sound this morning! I love hearing the whirl of the wind, especially as the Lector was reading the first reading (2 Kings 2:1-12) and came to this verse: “As [Elijah and Elisha] continued walking and talking, a chariot of…more

God’s Delightful Cosmic Dance

January 28, 2015 Since November, I’ve been reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation. The only way to read this book, it seems to me, is to spend months with it. It’s a collection of semi-related essays (“seeds of contemplation,” Merton suggests), Merton’s reflections on our true selves, which are our selves in Christ, which we come to know in mystical, contemplative prayer. I see less possibility than Merton does that we can actually descend into our true selves because of my Lutheran conviction that is expressed in the liturgy: “we are captive…more

The Blessings of Ordinary Time

January 23, 2015 This past fall, as Advent was approaching, I decided to pattern my days around the liturgical year.  I’ve been conscious of the themes of Advent, then Christmas, and now Epiphany, and interpreting what I’ve been noticing, feeling and experiencing through those themes.  What rich blessings I’ve been receiving from the Spirit! I am writing this during the weeks of “Ordinary Time” that follow the Epiphany.  There are two periods of Ordinary Time each year: now (until Lent begins on Ash Wednesday), and during the long season of Pentecost (in the…more


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.