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God Talk

Accidental Saints - Meet Nadia Bolz-Weber @Sarcasticluther

It is fairly clear to everyone that the Christian Church (as it has existed for decades) in this country MUST do something different. The flight from the traditional church to the land of SBNR (Spiritual but not religious) is leaving church pews and congregational funds depleted – and the local church's future doubtful.  I’ve been watching from the side lines, listening and waiting to see what kind of creature the evolution of the Church will become. I found an interesting creature today…I thought I’d share her with you…

When Christians really critique me for using salty language, I literally don’t give a shit.
— Nadia Bolz-Weber

As reported by The Atlantic, “This is what it’s like to talk to Nadia Bolz-Weber, the tattooed Lutheran pastor, former addict, and head of a Denver church that’s 250 members strong. She’s frank and charming, and yes, she tends to cuss—colorful words pepper her new book, Accidental Saints. But she also doesn’t put a lot of stock in her own schtick.”

Bolz-Weber brings a refreshing and candid – albeit somewhat shocking – perspective to church leadership. There is certainly vivid life in her message and perhaps a hint of a reframed theological perspective that will feed the metamorphosis of the church. For example, in contrast to the expected stand of many religious folk that we all stand in judgement by a higher, pure version of ourselves, Nadia proclaims, ““Sometimes I can be an asshole, but it’s almost as though I can hear Jesus saying”—here, Bolz-Weber cleared her throat a little and moved her voice one half-step lower, perhaps trying to imitate bro-Jesus—“‘uh, that’s okay, it’s not that I, like, love you and claim you despite that. I love you and claim you because of that.’” 

Wrap your mind around that one…

I’ll leave you to the full article in Atlantic to discover and ‘dissect’ this new 2.0 version of pastor, and suggest you follow my lead and pre-order her new book, Accidental Saints.

Maybe - Don't Interrupt Those Interruptions

Feeling Ceaselessly Interrupted?

Interruptions Are the Best!
— Said No One...Ever

30 years ago…The morning sun shone through the stained glass of my church office windows. I settled into my chair preparing to type up my sermon when the door buzzer sounded –

Inner voice - “No! Not again!”

Yesterday’s attempt to find some time to write had been interrupted repeatedly and with the weekend looming, I was feeling the real pressure of being unprepared for Sunday. The person at the door turned out to be Edith. I need to tell you about Edith, and I need to tell you what happened that morning.

Edith, a 60 something year old woman, was a regular to the church for worship on Sunday morning. She was perpetually down on her luck and yet dedicated to Sunday attendance and a life of independence. She lived two blocks from the church in a low income housing complex. With only sporadic employment, she had very little to her name. She lived in a meager apartment, wore overly worn clothing and squeaked by from payday to payday.

On a few occasions, Edith had allowed the church to assist her with groceries and rent, but mostly her stoic and determined mindset made her powerfully independent. Each time I spoke with Edith, I was mindful that she likely warred with some internal mental health issues – but all in all – she was a gentle spirit, if consistently odd.

Today, Edith eagerly wanted to tell me something. Her enthusiasm barely allowed her to wait for me to serve her a mug of coffee. Once she took the coffee and sat down, she started talking.

What she told me was…

She had recently gotten a second part-time job had gotten paid the day before. After she had paid her bills and bought groceries for this week, she had some money left over. Then she leaned over and spoke as if telling me a secret.

“There was this bedside stand down at the drug store that I’ve had my eye on for some time. Something I could place by my bed, for glasses, and my bible and stuff. You know. Well I went right down there and bought that stand, yes I did. And I took it back to my room and put it together. Sat it right by the bed. Then I had a troubling thought. Something didn’t seem right.”

“What was that,” I asked.

“It took me a minute, but I figured it out. You remember that sermon you preached last year about tithing and bringing the first fruits of the harvest to God?”

I didn’t. “Go on,” I said.

“Well I have something for the church,” she exclaimed!

With that, she bounded from my office outside and in a blink was standing in front of me holding her prize. That stand, the bed side table wasn’t an actual piece of furniture at all. It was one of those cardboard storage boxes, the kind that you fold tab A into slot B to make a flimsy two drawer chest. There she stood, beaming and childlike insisting I take the chest.

“I want the church to have this,” she employed. "I’m sure you can use it somewhere. Can’t you?” she asked.

I stood there speechless. Part of me wanted to explain to her that her application of my sermon wasn’t needed in this situation. Still, part of me knew no amount of theology or biblical talk would help her right now. What she needed most, as one of the hardest things I’ve done.

I took the cardboard chest from her, feeling all the while like I was receiving the Eucharist from the very table of Christ, and said, “Thank you. I’m sure we can.”

She burst into tears of joy, hugged and thanked me.

I learned some things that day.

1. Most of the time, the interruptions people bring into our lives ARE the work of our lives.
2. Gratitude is a powerful thing…for the grateful and for those around them.
3. Always consider the person behind the action – not just the action
4. Big lessons often come from messy places

I’ll be headed down to that church in August for a centennial celebration of the church, 30 years after receiving Edith’s donation. I will be surprised if the office bathroom still houses a simple cardboard chest that I left there all these years ago.  I know it still rests in my heart and for that day, Edith's interruption will be very present.

Right Now - Dog Spelled Backwards is God.

Right Now - Dog Spelled Backwards is God.

Sometimes the pace of life is so swift that it sweeps away ever opportunity for reflection and self-analysis. The stimulus of voices, choices and ideas pour forth like a monsoon deluge, and the deafening stream of life invades me completely. Only the deepest sanctuary of self remains intact, only the most basic of truth dwells secure and I waver, twisting against the torrent of being, at risk of loosing self. Still, the desire to continue is unfaltering, and I risk an even further journey into this mire of self-exertion.


Tonight I am in that place. Yet, just now, I found myself holding my small canine friend, bending over him, embracing his warmth and feeling the softness of his fur against my cheek and the fluff of his ear upon the base of my nose, and in the earthy smell of his being and I was reminded that I am held in the arms of God; safe. I choose tonight, for the next few moments to recline with that knowledge and my familiar upon the sofa. Come what may, I have finished this day and am done with it.