This weekend came and went so fast. It seems like only last week I was sitting in the best Indian buffet in town with the Lutherans for lunch. There’s something just so … unifying about samosas but anyways I love the Lutherans – Jeff and Colleen. Jeff has been around for 8 years and Colleen has been here for a year but it might as well be 8, too. I felt an immediate connection – they were saying things that I had been thinking for the last year, and affirming what I was feeling about faith and church and local community.
Why are there so many churches and campus groups and still such a small demographic who claim to be Christians?
Why is there really only one expression of Christianity here?
Why does it seem like the mainline churches aren’t a big draw to young people?
Why aren’t we gathering as a larger community on a regular basis?
What kind of witness could we bring to Bloomington?
We talked some more and realized that there was an opportunity to get funding for an ecumenical project. Free money is good. Always good. So, long story short, after many cups of coffee (drunk mostly by me) at the local coffee shop, emails, miscommunications, texts, Facebook messages, and this past weekend we had Nadia Bolz-Weber come out and speak on a Friday night at First Presbyterian with the Open Door providing worship, the Pourhouse providing fellowship space, and Rachel Pederson (associate at First Presbyterian) providing Taize worship (with me pretending to be a musician by playing the piano), Andy, Charlie (the local Episcopal rector), Kate (PhD student in Religious Studies), and Nadia providing some meaty discussion on public church. It was a FULL. WEEKEND. And we bagged up 100 ziplocks full of foods for the Backpack Buddies program.
It was kind of a whirlwind and I was so focused on last minute details, and making sure some pieces fell into place, but the little snippets of grace that I heard from people … made it worth it.
And Nadia … I’ll be honest. She didn’t swear as much I expected – maybe I was thinking something along the lines of the movie The Departed for some reason. I don’t know why – maybe the tattoos and muscles. But, what came out the most was a genuine compassion. I could see that she was tired – and yes, I would be after such a horrible day of travel with delays, etc. – and yet, she still mustered up presence – flesh, blood, tears, and heart – and it was a gift. She says she’s a liturgical nerd and didn’t call her talk a sermon … and all the perfect comedic timing, and images of a church in the streets and among the people … there’s no denying, it preached. She preached and proclaimed the saving death of the risen Lord until his promised return. It was words of hope. It was sacramental. She is a minister and preacher through and through.
Her latest book uses the word Pastrix (pastriks) noun:
1) A term of insult used by unimaginative sections of the church to define female pastors.
2) Female ecclesiastical superhero: Trinity from The Matrix in a clerical collar. “What on earth was that noise?” “A pastrix just dropkicked a demon into the seventh circle of hell!”
3) Cranky, beautiful faith of a Sinner and Saint. – newwineskinsdictionary.com
And, I think, it’s lovely and fortunate that the weekend before Women’s History Month I’m reminded by Nadia’s faithfulness to being God’s beloved and bravely answering God’s call – of all the women who in their own ways suffered for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s lives. Clergywomen haven’t been around for terribly long, and definitely even less so in my denomination. I don’t take that for granted – all the bush-wacking and hacking through the underbrush, setting fire to the trail, laying down markers, so that I would have some space to set my feet. I’m grateful. So so so grateful.