“A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.”
– Chinese proverb
As a pastor, I draw on an eclectic education and career path. I was an anthropology major with an environmental studies minor who fulfilled premed requirements. I’ve changed sheets and cleaned toilets out at the Heart Six Guest Ranch, taught humanities at a boarding school, answered phones for Patagonia and sold outdoor gear at a climbing and ski shop, and educated doctors about osteoporosis drugs. My vocational exploration was also spatial: Alaska, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania; even England, France, South Africa, and Malaysia! My wanderings have filled me with wonder and an awareness of the myriad ways God is at work in the world.
I am excited to be at Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church because the congregation shares my joy, interest in justice, and passion for learning (from scripture or a formal commentary, or from a casual conversation of experience). I say joy, as opposed to a naïve or blind happiness, because we are shaped by the pain of life. We are not strangers to death or sin, but as a community we trust in God’s love and presence. We help each other through struggles and doubts and celebrate triumphs and break-throughs.
For me, joy and justice are entwined with reflection and study. God engages us through scripture and sacrament. As pastor, in sermons and education opportunities, I cultivate curiosity and connections between scripture and our everyday lives. For example, in the future we may look at the relationship between sports and spirituality, or music and faith, or Lutheran theology and a current film. Recently, parishioners read Austin Channing Brown’s “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness” and are discerning what racial justice looks like in our context. A Bible & Breakfast group meets Tuesday mornings over Zoom to study the lectionary texts over breakfast. A women’s group meets by Zoom on Sunday nights to explore the work of contemporary theologians. I am excited to facilitate our explorations, and to continue learning alongside my parishioners.
In our study, we ponder the endless mystery of our God. In our service, we hope to embody God’s compassion for each fragile human life. In the many forms study and service take, we find ourselves with renewed joy and wonder.
– Rev. Inger B. Hanson