Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gospel Writ Large

I am unabashed in my affection for Nadia Bolz-Weber...but not because she's edgy, or tattooed, or "emergent", or even because she's unapologetically Lutheran.  I love Nadia because she is the pastor of the only church home my sister, Krista, has known since moving to Denver in 2003.  Pastor's kids can have a difficult time finding a place in the church; especially 500 miles from their hometown.  Krista's spiritual journey collided with Nadia a few years ago, and it has been fun to be connected to her strange faith community from afar.  In that time, Nadia and I have become friends - again, not because of our Lutheran connections, but because we both love Krista.

I was excited when I found out that Nadia was preaching at the ELM Rite of Reception service last weekend in San Francisco.  I knew that she, more than anyone, wouldn't make the sermon about anything other than the proclamation of the gospel.  It would have been easy, mind you, for a preacher to claim the kingdom of God is at hand by admonishing the "conservative, Bible-beating, gay-hating modernists" and claim victory over the "evil church system" that oppressed these seven openly gay pastors for so many years.

Instead, Nadia, citing the Parable of the Workers / Landowner, talked about the kingdom of God in these terms:

The kingdom of God is like a glorious mess of a kingdom where Paris Hilton and Hilton Perez and Fred Phelps and Fredrick Beuchner and ELM pastors and CORE Lutherans all receive the same mercy we never saw coming because we were too busy worrying about what everyone else is doing.

And again:

...the kingdom of God, is founded not on the quality of the people in it but on the unrestrained and lavish mercy of the God who came and got us.

And finally:

...what makes it the kingdom of God is not the worthiness or piety or social justice-yness or hard work of the laborers…it’s the fact that the trampy landowner couldn’t manage to keep out of the market place. He goes back and back and back interrupting lives…coming to get his people.

You can watch the sermon video and read the transcript here.

Tucked away in the comments section, but no less beautiful than the sermon itself, is a reflection from a prominent member of Lutheran CORE:

While I disagree with the CWA votes, while I disagree with the new policies, while I disagree with what happened in the service yesterday, (taking a deep breath), there is much in this sermon that I know is the Gospel writ large. Pastor Megan, peace be with you and with your ministry, now recognized in this church body that we both labor in and love. From South Dakota and Lutheran CORE, 
Your sister in Christ,
Erma Wolf 

Wouldn't it be great if we could stop all of the inflammatory, partisan bullshit and start treating others like brothers and sisters in Christ?  Wouldn't it be nice if our leaders and preachers wouldn't use the privilege of their status to tear others down, cast judgment, and exalt their own piety?  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could find a way to live in the tension of our religious and philosophical disagreements without fearing the wrath of a God that we have made in our own image?

I think Nadia's sermon and Erma's response could spark a change in the way we approach differences.  I'm grateful for their witness and continue pray for the renewal of the church.


  1. I still say we should start a could be the 'left', I could be the 'right', and we could encourage everyone to ignore our 'left and right' views, and simply worship God...

  2. Wish I had something more profound to say but I agree very strongly.

    Anyway, I’m realizing that I haven’t stopped by here in a long time - like a really long time.

    Enjoyed reading about your group’s mission trip experience. Brings up a couple questions that I look forward to an offline conversation with you one of these days/years :-)

  3. 人生有些波折,才能有些成長,所以不論順逆,凡是成長、成功的助緣,都應該心存感激。..................................................

  4. "Krista's spiritual journey collided with Nadia a few years ago, and it has been fun to be connected to her strange faith community from afar." I have come to understand that through my own experience.


Thank you for taking the time to be a part of "koinonia"