Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Accidental Saints

Nadia Bolz-Weber may not be what you were expecting when you meet a pastor. She is heavily tattooed, curses like a proverbial sailor, and consistently finds herself unprepared for the situations she finds herself in. She hopes to find inspiration in a local legend only to discover the woman was a KKK supporter, she wonders how to deal with the shooting at Sandy Hook in a season of Christmas trees and joy to the world, and she dares to imagine that demons still reside among us in the guise of depression.

It was both heartening and revelatory to me when Bolz-Weber suggests that the reason that church and life are so hard is because we need the practice of getting and giving grace. It breaks down our insistence on not needing other people and not needing forgiveness. We see each other in our most vulnerable, most devastating, most broken moments and then we choose to forgive and move forward, realizing that we need forgiveness just as much.

"The fact is, we are all, at once, bearers of the gospel and receivers of it. We meet the needs of others and have our needs met. And the strangeness of the good news if that, like those in Matthew 25 who sat before the throne and said Huh? When did we ever feed you, Lord?, we never know when we experience Jesus in all of this. All that we have is a promise, a promise that our needs are holy to God. A promise that Jesus is present in the meeting of needs and that his kingdom is here."

Our pastors are supposed to have it all together and know all the answers, right? But they don't. No one does, so the questions becomes whether we put them on a pedestal and wait for them to fall or allow them to be the nuanced people that they actually are. As someone whose father and husband are pastors, I have seen this on a very personal level. Bolz-Weber compassionately points out that our pastors are people too, with doubts and questions, struggles and triumphs.

Being in the church today, right now, can be beautiful. It can also be incredibly frustrating and sad. Reading Accidental Saints gave me hope for the future of people who want to do good and love Jesus and each other better.

"The gospel, this story of a God who came to us through Jesus and who loved without bounds and forgave without reservation and said that we have the power to do the same, cannot be destroyed by all the stupid mistakes you will read about in the chapters that follow. These mistakes, sins, and failings are mine, but perhaps they are also ours. And the redemption is ours, too."

Accidental Saints: Finding God In All The Wrong People
By Nadia Bolz-Weber
Convergent Books September 2015
211 pages
From the library


  1. This sounds interesting! Accepting that we are imperfect people helps us to rely on God to make anything good come out of our feeble attempts in this world.

    1. Yes! I really loved her message and her honesty. I think she makes some people uncomfortable with just how honest she is, but I found it to be just right (and so readable)!

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