Hadn’t heard a thing about it from anyone.
But how can you resist a cover like that with a title like Pastrix and a subtitle like “The cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and saint”? It arrived in a shipment with three other new titles of interest, the four of them making it on my “to read sometime this millennium” shelf. But Pastrix beckoned from the crowd for my attention.
I just didn’t realize at the time that it was Nadia Bolz-Weber beckoning me with four-letter words. And if you don’t want to read any such four-letter words, please stop reading this post now, and by all means don’t pick up Pastrix. You’ve been warned.
How can you not fall in love with a book that has as its opening sentence, “Shit,” I thought to myself, “I’m going to be late to New Testament class.”
Okay, Nadia most certainly isn’t for everyone – which is no doubt why Pastrix was such a wondrously refreshing read for me: she doesn’t try to be. And what would you expect from a Lutheran pastor whose church has the acronym HFASS (House for All Sinners and Saints)? Perhaps that’s why she’s so refreshing to me: I fear, dread, suspect that I’m trying to be. Nadia seems totally at home in her tattooed skin – or at least well on her way to being there. Her model is Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus cast out seven demons, Luke tells us. Nadia would, I imagine, be the first to confess that she no doubt still has a few of those Christ is working on. Which makes me like her for the simple reason that so do I. We also share a Church of Christ heritage which was another point of instant identification for me. I may have scandalized my Church of Christ family – I left it and ended up in the Vineyard – but I feel oh so tame by comparison. Nadia’s passion for Jesus, for Life, is utterly contagious. Infectious. Yes, she will infect you. Like a good disease.
I frequently recommend this or that book as a read that will “stretch” you. This one will assault you. And stir
you. And disturb you. And comfort you. And it just may inspire you to believe again after you recover from the
bitch slap she just ministered to you through Pastrix.
I’ve been at this ministry gig for thirty-two years, and I’m trying to remember when I have read a more honest description of ministry by someone in ministry. What is ministry? Pastoring your people.
Yes, those people. The ones you find yourself with.
And you will love them.
And hate them.
And the chapter in which she relates her experiences as a chaplain essentially undergoing on-the-job-training is simply one of the most eloquent, edgy, emotive treatments of suffering I’ve read in some time. I’ve been around the block a few times in this suffering business. Well said, Nadia.
The chapters are relatively brief, and so, for me, served well as part of my morning devotional read alongside the gospels (now imagining the daily devotional Nadia would write…)
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
I was so enjoying the combination that I really wanted this to stretch out further. But alas, there are only nineteen chapters.
And so, I conclude with just a peek from Nadia’s pen. I know we’re heading into Christmas season and this is from an Easter liturgy she delivered in April of 2008. But it applies to Christmas season too.
It applies to every season.
To each of us.
“Jesus didn’t look very impressive at Easter,” I said, “not in the churchy sense, and certainly not if Mary Magdalene mistook him for a gardener.”
As I looked out over the shivering crowd, I suggested that perhaps Mary Magdalene thought the resurrected Christ was a gardener because Jesus still had the dirt from his own tomb under his nails. Of course, the depictions in churches of the risen Christ never show dirt under his nails; they make him look more like a wingless angel than a gardener. It’s as if he needed to be cleaned up for Easter visitors so he looked more impressive and so no one would be offended by the truth. But then what we all end up with is a perverted idea of what resurrection looks like. My experience, however, is that the God of Easter is a God with dirt under his nails.
Resurrection never feels like being made clean and nice and pious like in those Easter pictures. I would have never agreed to work for God if I had believed God was interested in trying to make me nice or even good. Instead, what I subconsciously knew, even back then, was that God was never about making me spiffy;
God was about making me new.
Take and read.
If you fraking dare.