Y’all.  I haven’t fallen in love with a book like this since I read Traveling Mercies back in college.

PastrixPastrix: the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, by Nadia Bolz-Weber

A friend of mine actually recommended this to me.  He was on his way to church a few weeks ago and heard an interview with Nadia on NPR.  He thought I would be intrigued, so he grabbed me after worship and told me I had to look her up.

I looked her up and read an excerpt from Pastrix, which was actually being released the next day.  I had another book that I wanted to order to keep my brain occupied post-surgery, so I put the order in and – thankfully – the books arrived as I was getting ready to leave for my pre-op appointment.  Perfect timing!  I brought Pastrix with me to the hospital – it was the perfect book to read there!

Nadia is an ordained Lutheran pastor.  She has not had an easy life, but heard God’s call and fell in love with the ancient rituals, prayers and liturgies of the Christian church.  She found a home in the ELCA and founded House for All Sinners and Saints, a Lutheran church in Denver, Colorado.

Nadia talks about things that people in the church are often afraid to talk about.  She talks about suffering, temptation, addiction, disbelief and despair.  She asks hard questions.  She tells the truth.  She talks about how difficult it is to live in this faith.

But she doesn’t give up.  And I think that is what inspires me most about it.  Despite everything she has gone through and/or witnessed in her life – she doesn’t give up.

Here are three of my favorite quotes:

Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings.  My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God’s grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word.  My selfishness is not the end-all … instead, it’s that God makes beautiful things out of even my own shit.  Grace isn’t about God creating humans as flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us grace – like saying “Oh, it’s OK, I’ll be a good guy and forgive you.”  It’s God saying, “I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word.  I am a God who makes all things new.”

God is not distant at the cross and God is not distant in the grief of the newly motherless at the hospital; but instead, God is there in the messy mascara-streaked middle of it, feeling as shitty as the rest of us.  There simply is no knowable answer to the question of why there is suffering.  But there is meaning.  And for me that meaning ended up being related to Jesus – Emmanual – which means “God with us.”  We want to go to God for answers, but sometimes what we get is God’s presence.

The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up.

I’m anxious to hear what others think of the book!


(p.s. I’m back to work!  Feeling great and lots to share – hopefully I can get back into the blogging swing of things.  I tried to be good while I was on medical leave and keep my computer closed, so this little corner of the world wide web kind of fell to the wayside.

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