Lutheranism and the God of offensively ordinary things

This is an interesting video, well worth the twenty minutes: ELCA pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber speaking on how and why she converted to Lutheranism as an adult (having had quite a journey to get there, as she tells us in the first half of the video):

Now, this is a rather different-looking Lutheranism in many ways from the one you’d find in my own church, say. Our quotient of tattooed female pastors is quite low, for example :-). But, as a Lutheran convert myself (albeit with a less dramatic backstory), I could identify with a lot of what Pr Bolz-Weber said.

For example, I love the description of her first encounter with the liturgy (having grown up in a non-liturgical, fundamentalist church):

But the liturgy… I didn’t even know that’s what it was called. But I had never heard that kind of language used to speak of God, and I thought it was so beautiful, and eventually the liturgy felt like it was this stream of the faithful that flowed for generations before us and will flow for generations after us, and we just gotta kind of wade in it and come out… (@10’50”)

And on some of the language of Lutheranism, in particular the language of “simul iustus et peccator”:

 So you know why I’m a Lutheran? Because you are the first people in my life who gave me language for what I had experienced to be true. (@13’47”)

For me, the language that Lutheranism gave me was slightly different (as my background in Anglican evangelicalism had taught me “simul iustus et peccator”): for example, the language of law and gospel, of the hiddenness of God, of vocation. But it still felt like an unveiling of things I’d already known deep-down.

The closing section, from 18’00” on, is worth listening to in its entirety even if you don’t get to watch the rest of the video. “Before I leave, I want to tell you about this God,” begins Pr Bolz-Weber, with one of my favourite parts being:

This is a God who rose from the dead and grilled fish on the beach and then ascended to heaven and is especially present to us in the most offensively ordinary things: wheat, wine, water, words. And this God has never made sense, and you don’t need to either. (@19’13”)

Yep. That’s it: especially God coming to us in the “offensively ordinary things” of “wheat, wine, water, words”. For me, that’s the heart of what the Lutheran take on Christian faith is about.

(Via Arni Zachariassen, HT Lee M..)


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