Seeing Nadia Bolz-Weber

It was a joy last night to hear Nadia Bolz-Weber, the author of the New York Times Best Seller, “Pastorix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint.”

What was striking to me …

The Mind Blowing Speed of Change

Nadia, in her tatooed, swearing splendor noted that a decade ago she would not have been standing where she stood, speaking to whom she was speaking.  It would have been an impossibility (and unfortunately still is in some denominations).  But it no longer remains an impossibility.

The building in which she spoke easily seated 2,500.  In talking to the staff, their attendance averages between 600 to 700 out of 5,000 members.  Nadia last night easily drew 1,500+.  The picture of the future speaking within the context, the holding space of the past, contrasted beautifully to the opportunities and challenges churches face today.

And worthy of note as well within the context of change was to witness the number of NewChurch LIVE friends and parishioners there.  Seeing John, Janice, Lisa, Mary, Shada, Bronwen, Bob, Cory, Rob, Ruth, Gail, Edwin and others served as a powerful reminder that the journey of change aligns many fellow travelers.

The Ancient-Future Resiliency of the Christian Message

Nadia is in many ways a staunch defender of tradition within a context of the above change.  She remains a strong supporter of liturgy, the Eucharist, traditional hymns (in 4 part harmony).  She preaches in clerical garb.  I love her language that in hewing close to tradition she can rely on an integrity not her own.

In that regard she appears blessed with the ability to “bridge” two worlds, progressive and traditional, in a fashion that allows both to feel at home.  If I was a traditional church members, at home in old forms, I would have left with a smile.  If I was a teen, hair died in rainbow of colors, wondering if Christianity could offer anything to me, I would have left with a smile as well.

The simple call

And some of her most choice remarks centered on the simple.  In describing her anxiety at serving as a young hospital chaplain, she made note of that call, one that encapsulates our role amongst the brokenness of life that often surrounds us, as she shared, “In that messy chaos, my job was to just stand there and be aware of God’s presence in the room.”  Words to live by!

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One Response to “Seeing Nadia Bolz-Weber”

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