Disappointed? Stick around!

Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber

“I’m not idealistic about any kind of human project. I try and always keep that in check. I’m completely idealistic about God’s ability to redeem our stuff and our mistakes, but I think if we aren’t open about the fact that we’ve made them, that can be a barrier to experiencing that forgiveness and that redemption and that grace.

So I think in a way what might sound sort of cynical about, you know, don’t trust us, don’t be idealistic about this community or about me, to me that just opens a door for grace in a sense. Because what I say to people, I mean, I literally say that as our welcome to house brunches — like, I’m glad you love it here, but like at some point, I will disappoint you or the church will let you down. Please decide on this side of that happening if, after it happens, you will still stick around. Because if you leave, you will miss the way that God’s grace comes in and fills in the cracks of our brokenness. And it’s too beautiful to miss. Don’t miss it.” –Nadia Bolz-Weber, from On Being with Krista Tippett 10/24/14

If you are not familiar with Nadia Bolz-Weber is, this is a good time to go find out. A quick check of your google machine will offer you a vast treasure trove of her work, beginning with her own website. OK, now that I have dispensed with that, let’s get going.

As I drove to work the other day and heard these words via a podcast, I was moved to tears. Alleluia, I thought to myself – this is good theology. Really good theology. How I love, love, love the theology of realistic expectations. What wisdom – and what grace.

Naturally, humans being humans, we will screw up on the realistic expectations part quite a bit. This problem is filled with the opportunity and promise of God and God’s grace. That’s why Bolz-Weber’s words make sense – look at it this way…

Come on in
Be enthused
Get involved
Fall in love
Get crushed
Be disapointed
Or angry
Or hurt
Or all of the above
Stick around
Stop doing “work”
Let God do the work

This is what I would call the “mosaic of community.” All the broken pieces, shards full of the jagged edges of us, dangerous if left that way, but smoothly pieced together by God’s artistry of grace.

To be even more realistic, some disappointments are too difficult. There are extreme situations. However, in most cases, if we start showing up for God, and if we start to make gods out of God’s house or God’s people, which we will all invariably do – a lot – we will find ourselves with broken hearts, disappointments, cynicism, anger, resentment. You get the picture I’m sure. Cooperate with grace and work with God to know when to “shake the dust from our shoes” and go to the next house, if it is that bad.

Most of the time, stick around. Forgive. Be forgiven. Expect to be hurt again. And again. And again. In these places, God is most present, as we become infused with grace – if we surrender to that grace. Thus the mosaic of the broken pieces of the Body of Christ, literally being remembered (think opposite of dismembered) one by one by one.

It is, to paraphrase Bolz-Weber, trust in God’s work in redeeming us, piece by little piece, no matter how sharp the edges. What could be more powerful than that? Stick around – don’t miss it.

(Nadia Bolz-Weber will be in Albany on December 12-13 sponsored by the the Capital Region Theological Center (CRTC). Details and registration are here. I’ll be going to the Friday evening portion, I hope to see you there!)

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