pastrix I“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.” [Nadia Bolz-Weber, ‘Pastrix – the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner turned saint’]

i am busy reading ‘Pastrix’ by Nadia Bolz-Weber, unlikely, heavily-tattooed Lutheran pastor and while i don’t necessarily agree with everything she says, for the most part it has been a challenging and refreshing read and the bits i don’t necessarily agree with are for the most part areas of following Jesus’ness that i continue to wrestle with and try to figure out – this is a book worth reading.

and this extract from her chapter titled ‘Dirty fingernails’ will hopefully give you some idea as to why:

‘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.

New doesn’t always look perfect. Like the Easter story itself, new is often messy. New looks like recovering alcoholics. New looks like reconciliation between family members who don’t actually deserve it. New looks like every time I manage to admit I was wrong and every time I manage to not mention I was right. New looks like every fresh start and every act of forgiveness and every moment of letting go of what we thought we couldn’t live without and then somehow living without it anyways. New is the thing we never saw coming – never even hoped for – but ends up being what we needed all along.

“It happens to all of us,” I concluded that Easter Sunday morning. “God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”‘

[and then she finishes off this chapter with this piece]

‘There are times when I hear my name, turn, and recognise Jesus. There are times when faith feels like a friendship with God. But there are many other times when it feels more adversarial or even vacant. Yet none of that matters in the end. How we feel about Jesus or how close we feel to God is meaningless next to how God acts upon us. How God indeed enters into our messy lives and loves us through them, whether we want God’s help or not. And how, even after we’ve experienced some sort of resurrection, it’s never perfect or impressive like an Easter bonnet, because, like Jesus, resurrected bodies are always in rough shape.’

pastrix II

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