There was the complacent mainline Protestantism of my youth whose function seemed to be to ratify and bless the existing social divisions of power, wealth, and prestige among the attendees. There are many sorts of contemporary fundamentalism which encase "salvation" (from human impurity I think) in comforting Know-Nothingism and flat-earth anti-intellectualism. And there are also Christian efforts to erase the historic wisdom of our faith tradition and to make ourselves so hip and groovy that I want to puke.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is none of these; she is my kind of Christian. As she says in Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People she has
She's a sharp writer, an ordained Lutheran pastor, the founder of a congregation -- the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver -- and fun to listen to (lots of interviews available out there) and to read. In fact, she's made her own church so attractive that, in the afterword to this book, she begs the curious to check it out online, not to insist on visiting and crowding out the regulars. I liked that. Just because we appreciate something, we don't have to grab ... wish San Francisco's gentrifiers knew that.
In this book, the reader is offered a cycle of sermons for the church year, though no reader unfamiliar with that annual round needs to notice. Liturgical Christianity has its own calendar that almost insensibly acts upon those participating in its round of teachings. Bolz-Weber is entirely within the tradition. I vaguely remember reading that books of sermons were popular in the 19th century, though I couldn't find any ready reference online that confirmed my historical notion. This book could bring that interest back.
So it seems appropriate to share a couple of little tidbits of what she writes about preaching as her art form; when asked to give a talk about preaching, she began preparing by asking her congregants to tell her what they valued:
How often are we reminded that preaching changes and can surprise the preacher? Yet here this rings so true. It is sometimes said that all preachers really have just one message that they repackage week after week and season after season. This woman's message is certainly that God loves us as we are. How shocking!
Since we are in the season of Epiphany, when the infant Jesus was shown to foreign visitors and the empire's flunky King Herod is said to have massacred innocent babies while trying to find and destroy this new "king" (all myth-inflation as far as we know), I thought I'd quote a bit of what Bolz-Weber writes about that story.
Go look this woman up on YouTube. She is a Christian pleasure.