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.


After church on the Sunday before Christmas, I chatted with two women I’ve known since childhood about holiday plans and intentions for 2019. Mostly, we gaped at Dory’s plan to read 100 books (up from this year’s goal of 75, which she knocked out of the park, obviously). We laughed uproariously at all of the possibilities for 2019. You see, I have been trying to decide whether I will refer to this year as twenty-wine-teen or twenty-shine-teen (both excellent options) and it turns out that there are many, many words that rhyme with nine.

Perhaps this year’s Thanksgiving turkey will celebrate twenty-brine-teen.

With every food photo on instagram, we will use the hashtag #twentydineteen.

On every thirst trap, we will comment #twentyfineteen.

We will wait in twenty-line-teen at every grocery checkout.

You understand.

Whether you had a twenty-great-teen or a twenty-hate-teen (woof) I hope that things are looking up for 2019 and beyond. And though I will continue to crack myself up for the next 12 months with all of these jokes (new year, same me) I have, since, decided to shine.

You’re familiar (or are about to be) with Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory—I don’t shine if you don’t shine. It’s about collaboration instead of competition. It begins with women (in large part because Ann and Amina are women), but it extends to all of us in all of our relationships. I intend, in 2019, to focus on myself as part of a collective. I don’t shine if y’all don’t shine.

I didn’t engage in a dedicated process of discerning this intention, per se. A few days before Christmas, I was driving down the 5 (an eight-hour straight shot) and listening to all the year-end episodes of my favorite podcasts and the Hamilton soundtrack (it lasts like 150+ miles) and just...thinking.

As I mentioned in the last edition of my newsletter, a little hymn has been stuck in my head for...months. “Arise, shine, for your light has come and glory of the Lord has dawned upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). On my drive, this merged with the “rise up” refrain that peppers the Hamilton soundtrack, though it always grates on me a little bit because the “up” is implied in the directionality of “rise”...I digress.

I’ve been mulling over a fourth tattoo for a couple of years now, but hadn’t settled on anything in particular. And you probably know me well enough that you would not use “spontaneous” to describe me. But somewhere between Kettleman City and the Grape Vine, it came to me. I sent a quick series of texts to my high school friend Lauren who tattoos professionally in our hometown, and ten days later, my left forearm was forever changed.

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It’s a reminder of the day-in and day-out simplicity of the sun rising and setting. It’s an instruction to myself, whenever I see it. It’ll show whenever I hold up my arms for the Great Thanksgiving and preside over the Eucharist, another connection to God-with-us.

Will you rise and shine in 2019? Have you had enough of that, in fact, and will be hanging back this year? What are your intentions, goals, hopes, dreams? Is a year too daunting, so you’re just looking at Q1? Taking it one day at a time? Tell me more.

Twenty-Shine-Teen—A Sermon for Epiphany

The Bests of My 2018