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Epiphany, Chaplains and an Ordination


Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, a celebration of the Zoroastrian leaders who were faithful astrologers from the Middle East (likely Iran). Bringing gifts of frankincense and myrrh, these interfaith chaplains brought an ancient reminder that it is possible to be injured without dying:


"Extracting the sap is a tenuous dance—you must injure the tree without killing it. If done properly, the wound will stimulate a process called “gummosis,” which is exactly what it sounds like: the tree tries to gum up the damage, and you can carve off the resulting ooze for your own uses." (Cummins, E., Popular Science, 2021)


While some have interpreted the life, death and resurrection of Christ into a theology that proclaims that God needs or likes suffering, I believe the scattered reminders of Lent in Christmastide and Epiphany are God's proclaim that God is with us when our humanness is palpable. This includes the intersectional complex times that may be healthy, hopeful and joyous, and also full of emergencies, disasters and death.


Chaplaincy is a type of ministry that cares for people during hard transitions, emergencies and in work spaces that include regular exposures to first hand or vicarious trauma (compassion fatigue). During the election for Bishop, I spoke about my vision for chaplaincy in our Synod. I invite you to listen to my vision below:

I believe that having diverse chaplains is one of many ways individuals, congregations and our Synod work to decrease our bias and racism. Chaplaincy is also a part of our Synod's response to the changing effects of climate change and I hope to help members of our congregation respond to local and larger disasters.


This afternoon, on the Feast of Epiphany, we will celebrate the ordination of Taylor Hagbo who serves as both an outreach minister at the Lutheran Church of Arcata and a chaplain with Hospice of Humboldt. Taylor, like many ELCA pastors who are called to specialized ministry, provides non-judgmental support for people going through the fragile transition between life and death. Meet Taylor, and listen to this beautiful song, here:

Over the coming weeks and months I will be writing more about various kinds of chaplaincy in our Synod and efforts to support new kinds of chaplaincy training to care for folk in disaster. I hope you will stay tuned!

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