3419 Grand Avenue, San Marcos
Pastor: David Jorstad
Born: Palo Alto
Formation: University of Redlands, Redlands; Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Years Ordained: 29
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor David Jorstad: God’s claim on us. There are so many voices along the way telling us that we’re not good, beautiful, young, or rich enough. But God comes along and says, “You are my beloved child and in you I am well pleased. I have come to give you a life of purpose and a love of God and neighbor — even as we love ourselves.”
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PJ: We no longer assume that everyone goes to church, synagogue, mosque, or temple. Those days have passed a long time ago, so we need to be the church in the world. Our national church is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and we have a slogan: “God’s work. Our hands.” We need to be about God’s work in the world and God uses us seven days out of the week out in the world to do his work.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PJ: I tried not to be one. My dad was a pastor and it was the last thing I wanted to be. I wanted to be a history teacher. But somehow I discerned in my formation that I was running away from that calling. Someone put it to me this way: a pastor lives at the intersection of people and texts. The pastor is the storyteller to put these stories of God’s love in the context of people’s lives. We get this great privilege as pastors to walk with people during times of illness or death of a loved one, loss of a job or other grief to let people know that they’re not alone, but that God is with us. There’s great power in that, so I’ve enjoyed the vocation.
SDR: Why Lutheranism?
PJ: I grew up in the Lutheran Church but in my study of theology I found more and more resonating in me this idea that it’s all about God’s grace, that God’s free and unmeritorious love comes to us and that we are to be a servant people: as the Messiah Jesus was the servant Messiah, we are to be servants to other people.
SDR: Where’s the strangest place you’ve found God?
PJ: For me, the strangest place would be in my own doubts. As I grow in years, I don’t have any fewer doubts — but God comes to me in my own struggles, and I’ve seen God’s presence, and God meets me there, in spite of myself, and God still loves me.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PJ: I like to talk about God’s dream of shalom. After we die, we’re going to be part of that dream, where every child of God has enough food, shelter and love — and no one has too much…. I believe that God doesn’t coerce us to love him, so it’s finally up to us whether we’re going to enjoy that. Years ago, someone said, when you get to the afterlife, there’s only one bar open. So, you can either come inside or not. It’s up to us whether we accept or reject that. Hell is not something I dwell on a lot — I leave that in God’s hands.