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Dawn Hutchings B.A.(Hon.); M.Div.

I have the honour of serving as the Pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church; a small progressive Christian community just north of Toronto in the town of Newmarket. Holy Cross Lutheran Church is a place for seekers of a Christianity that is unconstrained by church dogma, liberated by reason and imagination, and nourished by our passion for peace, justice, and diversity.

Jacob who was wounded one dark night when he encountered the DIVINE has always been my favourite biblical character. Perhaps it is because Jacob was willing to wrestle with the DIVINE to extract a blessing that causes me to identify so closely with him. Or maybe it is a vision of Jacob’s ladder that tempts me to long for visions of my own of the MYSTERY that lies at the heart of Creation; the MYSTERY which is the LOVE that we call God.

The letters after my name indicate that I have earned the title Master of Divinity. I sometimes think that the title should have come with a cape like the comic super-heros wear. But then I fear that I would only become entangled in such a cape as I wrestle with the DIVINE. Some days my wrestling results in a blessing. Other days my wrestling is an exercise in frustration as I try to articulate an inkling of the DIVINE.

Being a pastor in the 21st century brings with it a whole host of challenges. Not the least of which is wrestling with how to reconcile the explosion of information that has burst forth from the academies in the past few decades with the tradition that we have inherited from those who have gone before us in faith.

This blog is my way of gathering together stories, sermons, liturgical resources and musings as I wrestle with my role as a Lutheran pastor serving a small, progressive, suburban parish in the 21st century. Here, I will publicly wrestle with the DIVINE, confident that I am no master of divinity but rather a seeker of DIVINITY.

37 thoughts on “ABOUT

  1. Hi Dawn,

    I have so appreciated discovering your website a few days ago. I have just started training as a Presbyterian Minister here in New Zealand. Currently it is a fairly conservative church but thankfully there are some progressives among us! I have just began my 2 year placement at a church of elderly people in a small rural town. I am to preach for the first time this Easter Sunday on the aspect of Chrisitanity that I find most challenging. I had already entitled my sermon Practising Resurrection and was delighted to find your reflections which have certainly assisted my sermon preparation.

    I just wanted to write and say thank you and that I will be checking into your website regularly.

    Warmest Blessings


  2. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this web site before but after going through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly pleased I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  3. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no backup.

    Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

  4. seasons greetings,
    likely no coincidence that the last time I was here was last year at easter, alas holy week is stirring me too..thanks for the gifts of sharing your blessings ,reflections and reactions..gonna keep in closer contact TB2G

  5. Pingback: Monday, June 9th | public theology

  6. Thank you, Pastor Dawn, for all your words of wisdom. Reading your blog on a regular basis has truly lifted my spirits on many occasions. Wishing you much continuing joy in your ministry.

    • Hi Annie: I’m out of town at the moment so I don’t have access to all my files and can’t find the source. But here is the psalm as it was used:
      Give thanks to El Shaddai, for She is goodness itself!
      Her love has no end!
      Let all God’s people say, “Her love has no end!”
      Let all who serve God say, “Her love has no end!
      Let all who are devoted to God say, “Her love has no end!”
      The gates of God’s generous goodness are open,
      and I will enter them with thanksgiving!
      And the just and faithful will enter by my side.
      I will thank El Shaddai for answering me, for making me whole.
      She takes a stone that has been rejected and makes it the corner stone of Her purpose!
      Her transforming action is marvelous in our eyes!
      Today is the day El Shaddai has made!
      Be glad in it, an dance for joy,
      for God has saved and prospered us!
      Blessed are you who come in the name of El Shaddai!
      We bless you in the presence of God, who has given us light.
      We bear branches of celebration in festal procession.
      We make our way to the altar of adoration.
      We offer God our heartfelt thanks!
      We extol Her glorious name!
      We praise Her goodness, singing, “Her love has no end!

  7. It is leaders like you that provide hope for many us stuck in the literalist Christian wasteland.
    Thanks. Peace be with you.

  8. I just want to thank you for your blog. I’m a new pastor in the UMC, in a small fairly small town in Colorado. Those who attend church around here are mostly conservative, and I feel as though our little church is THE progressive voice in the valley. I frequently start my search for sermon inspirations right here. You are indeed a blessing. Thank you again, and if you’re ever in Western Colorado look me up! You have a standing invite.

  9. Thank you for your beautiful faith and work, Pastor Hutchings. We will be using some of your Ash Wednesday service here at our United Church of Christ church here in New Mexico. (We will be attributing your work to you, of course!). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  10. In sermon prep, after wading through each weeks commentaries, I often turn to your posts for inspiration. I just searched your posting for Luke 14:1, 7-14 from 2013 and had to “humbly” read about Americans, LOL, especially in light of our current political elections. I have referred to your sermons many times at our ELCA Lutheran text study. I have also quoted you from the pulpit! You rock! Thank you and God’s blessings on your valuable work.

  11. Hello Dawn

    Andrew passed on this link to me which I will try and review before Christmas. Please pass on my regards. He is a gentle Christian and a devoted disciple.

    Charles Ormrod

  12. I am a long time member of a UCC church in San Diego. I came upon your sermon on John 3:1-17 in a search for a progressive understanding of this scripture passage. I look forward to listening to it. Having read about you on your “About” page, I plan to revisit your website to see what else you have to share. I expect it will be enriching. Thank you.

  13. Our small rural church is currently without a minister. I conduct the services in our church regularly. I stumbled upon your website while researching for sermon. I absolutely love the fact that you offer the “listen now” option as well as the written word. Your inspiration has helped me great deal. Thank you!

  14. You give me hope for the church. Thank you! I’m also in ministry with one foot in the church and one foot out. Your sermons make me want to jump in with both feet.

  15. Hi! I am looking forward to meeting you in Cleveland, Ohio at the Annual Retreat and Meeting of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

  16. Pastor Dawn,
    You speak of being a seeker of divinity. I like Michael Morwood’s “Tomorrow’s Catholic” where he says “Jesus was fully human just like you and me”. This implies so much. I also see Jesus as fully “reflecting” God and each person of all creation as being called to be just like Jesus. This is a call to become what we may call divine and also reflect God by giving up and fully moving past our selfishness which might be seen as a misuse of our consciousness and self-consciousness. I see each person as being like a partial sum of a convergent infinite series and Jesus as its limit. Example:
    1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64 + . . . = 1. I see each of us as a partial sum such as 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, 15/16, 63/64, or whatever and Jesus as 1. We probably cannot attain 1 but we can with G-d’s help get good enough for G-d’s work. I am confident that the old stories of Jesus can be fully and accurately retold in new stories that are free of literal interpretations that cause cognitive dissonance in 21st century culture. In the 1st century the stories they told about Jesus and which were handed down to us made perfect sense to most people living in the culture of that time. I see Jesus as a man upon whom a religious mythology of the day was overlaid on his life and told in terms of the scripture stories defining that religion. The resulting personage became the image we call the Christ. This picture of what went on over time is no longer in conflict with my 21st century culture and for me does not diminish the importance of Jesus in any way. I also see Jesus as savior of all homo sapiens for by the following way he has shown (and which we perhaps can see in others) we have a way off the conveyer belt moving toward technological destruction that can result from disregarding others as we misuse technology for selfish purpose.

    I am forever indebted to authors John Dominic Crossan, John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Michael Morwood, Daniel Smith and some other authors of the Jesus Seminar.

  17. Your reflections, your words, inspire me as i prepare to speak in new ways about Christianity to my community. Thank you for your wisdom and insights!

  18. Thank you for your wisdom and insights. It helps me to into words, and give clarity for some ways to talk about Christianity in a progressive way.

    Christ is risen!

  19. Your Epiphany sermon on Progressive Christianity is the greatest I have ever read! I need to memorize every phrase.

  20. Thank you Dawn. I have been struggling deeply and painfully for a whole now with how to reconcile the faith I have had for 2 decades with the realities of the world we live in, and all that we keep discovering and learning as a human race. I have been trying to find a way to keep hold of the God who is creator and energy and spirit and love, while not losing my integrity and suspending all belief, as you say, to accept doctrines that just do not make sense to me/fit with reality for me (such as original sin). You have articulated so many of the questions and concerns and ponderings I’ve been churning over and over in my mind in the wee hours. Reading your words and knowing that someone with far more experience than me has and is wrestling with these things, and articulating them so powerfully, is deeply comforting, and is the reassurance I have been crying out to the Divine for throughout this wilderness time. So thank you a thousand times over, and I look forward to delving into all that you have shared on this blog.

  21. Hi dawn, I just found your sermon about Tabitha … I just adore your work… Thankyou so much!! I am exploring the meaning of bible stories to try to communicate them to my 14 year old son in a way that enriched his life… we’ve lost so much wisdom along the way. Big Thankyou to you and much love and bright blessings, Tracey (from Brisbane Australia)

  22. Dawn:
    This is, I think, the third time I have written you a note; I only mention this because I don’t know if I’m reaching you.
    Dawn, you are a superb theologian and excellent preacher. Thank you for your discipline, scholarship, and courage.

  23. One More Thank You…. Cos in our professional work we need to be reminded that our work matters. Like others I am “the” progressive voice in my region, and some of the people in our wee congregations (there are 3) are starting to find vocabulary to express an ineffable faith. This message was succinct and I love your delivery style. Makes me miss no longer having family visits to do in the Barrie area. I serve in rural SW MB through the UC of Canada; anytime you need a break from the cell phone….there’s a guest room and lots of wide open space. Heather

    • Thank-you Heather! Good to know there are progressive voices in MB. As soon as this lockdown ends my wife and I will be traveling through your neck of the woods as we travel to Vancouver to finally see my family…so perhaps we can share a brew. In the meantime welcome to the site. Hopefully you may find time to join us in one of our Zoom faith CHATs. Shalom, dawn

  24. Dawn, some time ago, you said you would like to read “some of my stuff.” I Now have it finished. By what method can I send it to you?? It’s length is 11 pages….

    Thank you for modeling Christianity.

  25. Dear Pastor Dawn,

    I just wanted to thank you for the beauty of both your faith and your words. I am a member of a small intentional, inclusive community in the Christian tradition and I often use your past sermons (shortened a bit) as readings for our liturgies. We like to use current thoughts along with the traditional readings. We end each with the phrase “Inspired words,” because they truly are!

    I especially wanted to reach out after this past Pentecost Sunday. We listened to your beautiful account of the way the Spirit flowed from within the followers of Jesus found in a past homily “The Spirit Alive in Our Midst: a Sermon for Pentecost Sunday.” Our other reading was from Michael Morwood, “Celebrating the Spirit in Everyone.”

    Our community found your thoughts inspiring and many shared aspects that especially touched them in our shared homily. A thought shared by one of our members who had been a Hospice counselor, was that he loved the way that you told the story from the perspective of grief. He said that one of the most important ways to deal with grief is to try to keep the person with you as you go on…and that’s exactly what your interpretation of the Pentecost story was showing! I had been moved mostly by the quickening of excitement and fire that I actually felt reading your words, but I thought that my friend’s interpretation was also a wonderful way to look at it, and wanted to share it with you!

    Thanks again for the way that you talk and live Christianity. You help others to also make a difference in their lives and their world!


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