Austin Experiences by Heidi Hansen

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to participate in a three-week Spanish Language and Hispanic Ministry Intensive at the Lutheran Seminary Program of the Southwest in Austin, TX. It was simultaneously an amazing, insightful, and thought provoking experience. While there, we students were introduced various national, internal and external cultures: languages (linguistic dialects), histories, values, beliefs, customs, clothing, family and social organizations, foods, music, arts, religiosities (traditions, rituals, and communities), and governmental politics within many overarching Hispanic contexts.

While there I elected to stay with two families to further augment my experience.  I stayed with one family of Mexican decent in Austin and one of Columbian descent in San Antonio.  In these two locales I was also mentored by two pastors (one Anglo: Ellen Williams and one Puerto Rican: Eric Miletti) serving bilingual congregations and was able to participate in both the English and Latinx worship services. The Latinx worship services were especially engaging and spiritual using traditional Lutheran liturgy embellished with congas, maracas, and tambourines.

These experiences along with the scheduled formal presentations gave me the opportunity to learn history from a perspective other than that which I was taught growing up.  I heard how the United States of America’s politics have adversely affected and contributed toward the current crisis’ in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. I heard horrific stories of persistent racism and abuse in Texas and beyond. It was shocking to hear Enedina Vasquez, a Tejana (indigenous Texan-Mexican descent) relate how she was told to “go back to where you came from” when in fact her ancestors predated Texas’ statehood. I was sickened to hear a gentleman from Togo living in an Austin shelter retell his harrowing immigration story which included a flight to Brazil, a trek through South and Central America, questioning in Panama, rafting to Texas only to endure a 10-month detainment in a cold cell with a final release to the shelter where he was receiving legal assistance. He was ever so grateful to have just been granted a truck driving license. It was a dangerous journey wrought with violence, bribery, and occasional human kindness. Nicole Garcia shared some of her troubling experiences living as a transgendered Latinx candidate for ordained ministry and I heard a young woman named Julieta relate some of her experiences as a Dreamer.

Julieta’s story prompted me to participate in my first ever rally (United We Dream) dressed in a clergy collar where I heard immigrants, attorneys, and politicians speak and march in downtown Austin.  I was personally thanked by a couple of people for “showing up”.  They were appreciative of the church’s presence. It might serve as a reminder to all of us to show up where and when we are called. We are all the church and we are all called to share the good news and hope in Jesus.  Throughout scripture are many stories of migration: Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Joseph’s brothers, Moses, Ruth, Esther, the Samaritan, and lastly Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. We are instructed in both the Hebrew and New Testaments to care for widows, children, and immigrants without qualifications. Jesus himself commands us do this in Matthew 25:31-46.

There are many great religious and secular organizations doing fine work on behalf of refugees: LIRS and Ammparo are two such ELCA affiliated organizations. Please consider how you might be of service to our neighbors however you are gifted. I want to encourage everyone to work together to eliminate suffering and walk alongside refugees to eliminate injustice and find sustainable solutions to long standing issues. There is hope.

Lapazde Jesucristo/The peace of Jesus Christ, Heidi+++Spirit Garage Children’s Minister


Dude, Where’s My Bulletin?

Welp, we have joined the mega-church trend of having a screen and projection during worship.  There are many reasons for this: saving paper usage, eliminating the staring-down while the band is up front, saving time in formatting, etc.  We still have a printed bulletin [worship order, announcements, people up front, etc] but it’s much less work to assemble it now.

Some of you have noted that you miss taking the lyrics home with you. We have your solution!  All of our original lyrics are now saved in the members area of our website.  Select “Login” or “Signup” to access them.  In the dashboard, select “Downloads” and BOOM, there you go.  You can easily view or download them.  While you’re there, check out the Prayers, Announcements, Hosting Guides and belonging booklet.  These documents will help you participate in worship if that’s your thing.

What about all the other songs that you play?  Can’t we see those lyrics too?  Yes, but those lyrics are not ours to do with what we please.  One lyric site I like to use is  There have far less ads and clickbait than most sites. Say for example, you wanted to read lyrics to Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers’ Ballad of Lupe Montosa. They have it.  Click HERE.  BTW this is the 3rd saddest song i’ve ever heard.

While compiling all these lyrics into single documents from our full-length cd’s, Free Parking, Faith, Love and Rock & Roll and #the40project, i got a little nostalgic thinking about how these songs were written.  Some were written on computers, some were started on scratch paper or bar napkins, and at least one was written on an airplane motion discomfort receptacle.  I’m certain more songs will join the fold, but it occurred to me that we only have 37 definitive recorded versions of these songs.  Although we aren’t quite ready yet, we have MANY songs already that are ready to be recorded.  I’m excited to think about another recording project.  What would the theme be?  What songs do we already have that fit together?  What songs have moved you [and me] the most?

As some of us mourn the loss of printed word, others embrace focusing our energy into something else.  Something new.  Something audible.

As always, we welcome suggestions for songs to play and more importantly, songs to WRITE.  All suggestions can be sent to  Let’s all write some lyrics today.

A Word From the DriveTrain

“Drive train: The drivetrain of a motor vehicle is the group of components that deliver power to the driving wheels and help drive it forward.

The Drivetrain of Spirit Garage is a leadership group of people that deliver power (direction, motivation) to help move Spirit Garage forward.”

We are up and running! After just two meetings, the DriveTrain is becoming focused and running at high RPM. We have taken on some specific roles and are going to work hard this year to make some important changes to, and help maintain other, Spirit Garage events, missions, community engagements, and financial goals.

The first is events. We have planned three big events this summer, labeled as “Summer Nights with Spirit Garage.” Our first event is approaching quickly, “Longfellow Walking Tour,” on June 27th from 6:30-8:15. Starting at Hook and Ladder, we will be walking a 3.5 mile triangle starting south, including ice cream and a park, and end up at Rodeo Nuevo for a drink for those who want to stay out a little past bed time! The second is a Revealed concert at Carbone’s on Cedar Ave, July 21st, and wrapping up summer with a Friday night (Led Zeppelin!) night at the St. Paul Saints on August 17th.

Our mission statement as the DriveTrain is currently being fine tuned to really encompass what we are trying to accomplish and will be shared with the community as soon as it is polished and waxed up.

Our financial goals are little behind this year. You have all done a fine job getting us as far as we have. However, we are looking at a year-long deficit of over $12,000. With just a little simple math, assuming 50 people show up per week, that is a mere $10 more per person per week. Sounds like a lot, but there are more than 50 people that give to Spirit Garage regularly, so knowing that, every little bit helps. A dollar, a peso, a euro; whatever you have laying around that you could see donating to the meaning you get from sitting in on a sermon from Holly or a sweet lick from Kerns. If the spirit moves you, never hesitate to feel good about giving to a great group of people who work tirelessly to bring you great music and wonderful messages every week. If you have an extra $5 here and there, we can take this ugly deficit out and finish the year strong!
Finally, have a wonderful, warm, wet, crazy, cool, safe, spirit filled summer! We’ll see you at the Hook and Ladder next Sunday!

Jason Eldridge


God is Wild Summer Exploration


We often try to domesticate God, but what if God is wild?

This summer we have a summer exploration theme: God is Wild. Lots of times, we think we know what God is up to, and people think they have a pretty good sense of what God thinks. This is what I like to call our “God box.” We think we know what is in that box. But I wonder if by doing that if we make God too small? And what if God is wild and can’t fit in a box?

Each week this summer, we’ll focus on a different story from scripture where God acts in a way that seems contrary to the order we might expect. Why would someone plant a weed in a garden? Why did God make such strange creatures? Why doesn’t God know how to dress for a party? Does God change God’s mind? What is that crazy dream about? All these questions have something to do with the texts we found that tell us wild stories about God.

Along with that, you’ll hear “Wild” songs all summer long (You can read John Kerns’s post about the wild songs), and hear poetry that is about the wilderness or wild things.

We also have a summer book read, and three dates for discussions if you’d like to participate: Brené Brown’s newest book, Braving the Wilderness will help us form discussions about being brave in unknown territory; being brave in the face of vulnerability, and finding true belonging. Join us for a book discussion night upstairs at the Moon Palace Bookstore, 3032 Minnehaha Ave. There is also a cafe there if you want to grab food or drink.

There is one book behind the counter with my name on it that you are welcome to buy from Moon Palace! I put it there just for you!

June 12th
7:30-8:30 PM
(Chapter 1)

July 10th
7:30-8:30 PM
(Chapters 2-4)

August 14th
7:30-8:30 PM
(Chapters 5-7)

Join us for a God is Wild Summer Exploration!


God is Wild Summer Playlist

Our summer sermon series, God is Wild, features a lot of these wild-titled songs at worship. We believe that God cannot be contained in a box and exists everywhere, even the dark places like rock & roll. It’s nice to know that my job allows, nee, REQUIRES me to play the likes of Steppenwolf, Tom Petty, INXS, and Duran Duran at church.

Check out this Spotify playlist I’ve created. In an ongoing effort to support musicians and their craft, please listen to this often; each spin gets the artist a fraction of a penny so let’s make it add up!


Please Note:

  • Junior’s Gone Wild is not on Spotify, so listen here.
  • Wild Child by Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter may not be viewable in the playlist. Listen here.
  • The Mob Goes Wild by Clutch may not be viewable in the playlist. Listen here.

The God is Wild Summer Playlist:

  1. The Mob Goes Wild by Clutch
  2. Wild Animals by Trampled by Turtles
  3. Wild Thing by The Troggs
  4. Wild One by Thin Lizzy
  5. Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf
  6. Walk On Wild Side by Lou Reed
  7. Wild Child by Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter
  8. Wild World by Yusuf/Cat Stevens
  9. Wild Boys by Duran Duran
  10. Wild By Troye Sivan
  11. Wild Wild West by Will Smith, Dru Hill, Kool Mo Dee
  12. Wild Wild West by Escape Club
  13. Into The Wild By Philip Philips
  14. Into the Wild by LP
  15. Wild In The Country By Elvis
  16. Wild Life By Inxs
  17. Wild Wild Life By Talking Heads
  18. Wild In The Streets by Bon Jovi
  19. Wild Times By Jeff Lynne
  20. Wild World By Johnny Stimson
  21. Wild Child By Heart
  22. Wild Child by Sugarloaf
  23. Wild Side By Motley Crue
  24. Wild Flowers by Ryan Adams
  25. Wild Cherry by Foghat
  26. Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones
  27. Wildflowers By Tom Petty
  28. Honorable Mention: Cum On Feel The Noise by Quiet Riot
  29. Junior’s Gone Wild by King’s X

Summer Podcast: For the Wild 

We hope to see you at Spirit Garage on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. at the Hook & Ladder Theater for the God is Wild worship series.

Enjoy the God is Wild playlist!

What Is 3rd Thursday Theology on Tap?

In January Spirit Garage launched a new event, in partnership with the young adult group at Bethlehem Lutheran. 3rd Thursday Theology on Tap will be held at Sisters’ Sludge Coffee and Wine bar at 38th street and 23rd Avenue S. The next one will be February 15th, from 7-8:30 PM.

At the first “soft launch” about 8 people showed up to discuss the question of the ages about religion: If God is all-powerful and all-knowing and all-loving, why do bad things happen?

When you arrive at Sisters’ Sludge, there are two sides; we take over the part by the fireplace, that has some couches and some chairs gathered around. On the table in front of you will be a few light appetizers, name tags and a “quotes and questions” page. This has a variety of different quotes on the subject to get you thinking, followed by some questions to use as jumping off points.

A few minutes after the start time, there is an introduction. In that introduction, you will hear that you are welcome there, with whatever questions, doubts, assurances, ideas, or lived experiences you come with. You are also invited to be listen for the wisdom of your neighbor.

Then we ask everyone to introduce themselves. This last month we asked people to say their name, and one unhelpful thing that people say when someone is suffering—like “God needed another angel.”

After that, we see where the conversation takes us. On the first night we ended up talking about the difference in magnitude between our personal heartbreaks and, say, Syria. We also talked about where God is in suffering…causing it or sitting in it. One question we tossed around is whether God makes bad things happen to teach us lessons, or alternatively, finds ways to make something good out of the bad things that happen.

Its hard to say—but we’re not there for answers as much as conversation. So join the conversation! In February, since it is the day after Valentine’s day, it seems appropriate to talk about Love and Marriage…like that song “Love and Marriage…go together like a horse and carriage…” Um…this is a really horrible metaphor. One is a working animal owned by a riding owner…

So, until 3rd Thursday. See you there.


Pastor @ Spirit Garage