Author: Rod Anderson

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in anticipation of Black History Month, I made the drive to Gustavus Adolphus College to take in a 90-minute conversation between Black English and African Studies Professor Phil Bryant and our first Black Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, Alan Page. Christ Chapel on the campus was packed with students, faculty and staff, and campus visitors like me, numbering more than a thousand. Trust my estimate, please – I was Interim College Chaplain in that room at Gustavus from 2011-13. Of course, Page needed no introduction for most attendees. Still, hearing that he was inducted…

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Decorating a saguaro cactus is a prickly undertaking, but with ladders and lifts, they do it each year all around the southwest’s Sonoran Desert. We traveled to Phoenix this Advent to spend time with close friends to mark the first anniversaries of both their parents’ deaths in the past year. Like with many people, this season of family gatherings brings grief to the surface, but more importantly, also faith, hope and love that still remain! Picture the saguaro’s lighted form as metaphorical, representing worshippers with arms lifting up bright lights to pierce the darkness in this holy season of joyful…

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“The principle of give and take; that is diplomacy – give one and take ten.” Mark Twain Sad but true, we all tend to categorize others, and even ourselves, as a giver or a taker. Both result from intentional and/or unintentional motivations that come into play in our daily relationships. We may admire givers over takers, but, as Mark Twain suggests, even if we aspire to be givers, all of us likely are well-practiced at each. In his book, “Give and Take; A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” Adam Grant adds a group he calls “matchers” – those who practice reciprocity…

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Several years ago, a friend of mine was on a business trip in Kansas City, where he treated a client to a Royals baseball game. They left the stands before the final inning, but not remembering their rental car’s color, couldn’t find it in the parking lot. Only when the game ended and the parking lot cleared were they able to find that car by a frustrating process of elimination. That story came to mind for me recently when I couldn’t find my own quite recognizable car in the huge Hennepin County Medical Center parking ramp in downtown Minneapolis. When…

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A few years ago, my wife Julane and I were privileged to be guests of friends in Hartford, Connecticut, who took us on a road trip to see the breathtaking autumn leaves around that whole region from the Atlantic shore to Mount Washington State Park. Our friends didn’t have to try very hard to convince us that “God paints the leaves, but in the northeast God uses a bigger brush!” Our home is in the Cedar Forest neighborhood along Pioneer Road in southwest Eden Prairie, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we have 22 red cedar trees on our…

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During a discussion of DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) at a meeting I was attending, God brought to mind a song titled “All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir.” Some characterize it as an old children’s song, and I remember learning it from my mom’s cousin, who taught it in our Wastedo Elementary School music class. The lyrics include a menagerie of creatures — literally a diversity of animals singing in the same choir, but those critters are analogous to all God’s people, for sure! Nothing brings all of us together like music! Every voice in the vocal…

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Thinking back over my lifetime, I’m amazed at how common rhetoric around firearms has devolved from the subject of gun safety to gun control to gun violence. I was sitting by the shore of our favorite lake watching the sunset when the news came to me across the internet. There was an active shooting at our Eden Prairie shopping mall. A young man died. It was the second shooting death in a Twin City shopping mall in just a few days. In a flash, my pastor’s mind rifled through memories of deaths by gunfire way back to my youth. Gun…

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I’m beginning to think the most popular color this summer is orange. It’s not just because my granddaughter, who attends Clemson University, likes to see me wearing orange, which might be a bit confusing if I’m in the stands on Oct. 22 when the Tigers play the Syracuse Orangemen. No, as you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s because of all those orange “cone zones” on the highways I’ve been traveling this summer! The orange is everywhere, whether I’m on Highway 10/371 going north or Highway 55/52 going south, heading east or west. If the color is consistently orange, then the…

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A few days ago, I was pondering my next subject for this article while, at the same time, the parable of the good Samaritan was approaching on the horizon of my preaching calendar.  Just then, much to my surprise, WCCO-AM radio talk show host Chad Hartman came on the air in my mancave announcing, “Today the subject for our consideration is, ‘Not caring is not an option!’”  You can imagine the title referring to any number of social concerns that could have been on the discussion docket for the day, from gun violence to Roe v. Wade or the war…

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It was midsommar in Sweden when the phone rang at 4 a.m. in our Stockholm hotel room.  Because we were just 500 miles from the Arctic Circle on the first day of summer in this land of the “midnight sun,” it was bright as day outside our window when our son Nathan called. “Hi, Dad … I thought you’d want to know Pastor Paul Youngdahl from Mount Olivet Lutheran Church died today.”   I didn’t fall back to sleep after that message but got up early to bring the message to our Gustavus Adolphus College president, who was leading the college board and…

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