The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.

Oh, how I love hymns.

So there's this coffee shop we've been hanging out at a lot -- Café Yesterday -- that is owned and operated by some super rad guys, Ryan and David. Ryan is an ordained Wesleyan pastor, and David is a filmmaker. They're super chill, and serve us good coffee while we slave over our theology-reading and paper-writing. The goal of opening this coffee shop is (to borrow a phrase from the great "You've Got Mail") to be a piazza -- a place in the city where people can mingle and mix and be. It's the ground floor of an apartment building, so the residents have a pretty sweet place to call home. Ryan and David's plan is to take the money they make from lattés and sandwiches and give it back to the community in Berkeley. Another of their goals is to be a music venue. Tonight, they hosted two bands -- Ember Days and Ascend the Hill. I was late (choir practice!) so I missed Ember Days entirely, but Ascend the Hill was very lovely. They played a few original songs, but the end of their set was all hymns. Oh, how I love hymns. I chatted with their frontman, Joel, a bit afterward, to say "hey I love hymns" because I doubt that a lot of people ever say that kind of thing to leaders of Christian rock bands. Maybe they do? I think this may have been the first time I ever talked to one. Regardless, he was appreciative. And Ryan and I were talking about how simultaneously weird and rad it was to think about the fact that, tonight, "Rock of Ages" was wafting down University Ave. Doubtful that that has ever happened before.

And Ryan and I were also talking about how neither of us are the kind of person to just put out front that we're Christians and we want to talk about it. Yeah, he's a pastor, and yeah, I'm a seminarian, but we're like, way more likely to talk about it if someone else brings it up. We were laughing about how like, after a few songs, Joel stopped what he was doing and talked for like five minutes about the presence of God in the room because this kid in the front row said something about how he was "lost in the presence" or something. I think that if it had been me behind the microphone I would've been like, "sick, bro" and kept playing. But Joel just sort of organically took that moment to talk about Jesus.

I don't think there are any Lutheran rock bands. If you know of any, let me know. I would love to hear some Christian rock that talks about grace alone instead washing in the blood of Jesus and all of those wack metaphors. So we, as Lutherans, don't have a lot of experience with this setting. But we do have a lot of experience with hymns. Joel and the gang played "Hallelujah, What a Savior" and "How Great Thou Art" and "Rock of Ages" and "Sanctuary" and Amanda and Cara and I sang our harmonies like nobody's business. It was such an unexpected experience.

Maryland sucks.

I love the internet.