Tag Archive: new life


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

when i saw the theme for this week’s challenge my immediate thought was this picture of my youngest sister Dawn [one of my most favourite people in the world] hanging out with some kids in Umtata [South Africa] on this missions trip we did and the idea of bringing renewal through the simple act of love and friendship and touch and story-telling…

let the little children come unto me…

the second one that came to mind was the collision of serious and comedy as i got the opportunity many year ago to baptise one of my good friends Megan Giggles on this camp that we did as a bunch of young adults – Megan asked if she could be baptised and so i asked the campsite people where the deepest part of the lake was and turns out it must have been low tide or something as we walked and walked and walked and walked and it just didn’t seem to be getting deeper. and so in what must be one of the world’s most shallowest baptisms [focusing strongly on the theme of renewal – symbolically joining with Jesus in His death as you go beneath the water and then rising up out of it symbolising new life, new beginnings, new commitment] we managed to get Megan mostly under the water and the context with laughter interspersed with deep meaning really added so much to the whole experience.

dying to the old, rising up into the new…

[For the previous Photo Challenge on the theme of ‘Geometry’ click here]

so for anyone out there not familiar with the Christian faith, this is what this holiday is all about in the shell of a nut:

# mankind is sinful – this is a pretty easy one to verify – read a newspaper, watch the news, hang out with yourself for a 24 hour period or anyone else that you like or specifically some people you don’t – you don’t need test tubes in a lab to verify that we are not perfect, none of us – we mess up, we hurt people, we hurt ourselves, we do stupid things, and we often fail to do good and right things

# the punishment for sin is death – this is a harder one to verify [our reasoning is ‘because the Bible says so’ and that is enough for me, but it may not be enough for you, and that’s okay, this is where faith and belief start to kick in] although i would say not completely. if you follow the natural progression of sin in someone’s life it always leads to a death of some type – death of trust, of relationship, of good health, of life possibility etc. however, we are talking about a spiritual/eternal death – we believe that one day every person will stand in front of God and be judged and that those who have not dealt with their sin will receive an eternal death or punishment

# that paints a pretty bleak picture because if all of us have sinned and the punishment is death, that means we all have to die – if the story ends here, we’re all in a lot of trouble and that is kind of the picture of Good Friday – Jesus Christ, who many believed to be the Messiah who had come to save the world [many of the jews believed He had simply come to free them from roman control and persecution] hanging on a cross, dying the worst kind of death known to man. It all looked like a bit of an epic universal fail.

[which is why you should not stop reading here – it gets better – click somewhere over here]

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