I have just listened to Nadia Bolz-Weber on the world service, you can hear her here:
Now it is very easy to get caught up in the so called radical elements of her church, ie their understanding of LGTB people, but that is not what I want to talk about here, important though it is.
Instead I want to mention the beautiful things she has to say about community and real church.
One small enough to know people’s stories, one led by the people and set up in such a way that Jesus is at the Centre, not leaders or music or other things that hamstring churches.
Of course this isn’t heaven, I’m sure the church had its fair share of problems. But listening to Nadia’s theology and ideas for how church should be, I find I have come home. It makes me want to learn more from her and her church and to find ways to replicate it in my small corner of England.
How lovely it is to find someone who inspires you to show more of the love of Jesus where you live.
What an interesting project this is. You can learn more on their blog, and this is their story:
The Detroit Tattoo Project, a large-scale community artwork in progress, is a collaboration between partners-in-art Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, and Ash Nowak.Kurt and Kremenalive and work in Lexington, KY. A native of Detroit, Ash is co-founder and artistic director ofHaute to Death.
The Detroit Tattoo Project is the fourth of its kind in the nation. It combines poetry, tattoos, photography, storytelling, pride of place, and much much more into an artwork that celebrates Detroit and its people.
This artwork began with commissioning Detroit poet Jamaal May to writea poemas a love letter to Detroit. Divided into 250 words and phrases, May’s poem will be offered as free tattoos to people who call Detroit home. A year-long project, it will culminate with a short film that showcases the finished tattoos and unveils a secret image that can only be seen when each of the tattoos is shown as part of the whole. The music for the film will be composed as a special commission.
If you are interested in participating in this artwork–by getting a tattoo and/or by becoming a sponsor–contact Ash Nowak, Project Manager for the Detroit Tattoo Project.
Its old hat I know, but still true, that the church is its people, not the building we meet in.
So how come so much time is spent acting like that isn’t so? We spend lots of time doing and less time being with each other.
I read this article on pastoral care today and it reminded me that no one ever came to Jesus because of a program. Instead it was the personality of Jesus that drew true discipleship.
Paul says that God is using us as ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us (2Corinthians 5:20). Note, us, not our buildings or our doughnuts or our super-duper worship/speaking/toddler group.
Paul goes further. He said he became nothing so that people wouldn’t get tangled up in the programme and miss the personality of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
And yet all around me I see the church both traditional and modern getting tangled up in… Stuff.
You know, we could meet in a porta-cabin with a battered old CD player and a packet of rich tea biscuits, as long as we had love. That is, after all how Jesus said people would know we were his disciples (John 13:34-35).
Photo via http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/3/28/1301326990499/Rich-Tea-biscuits-007.jpg
I find the lack of love I sometimes see particularly painful when it comes to young people. We are called by Jesus to love our neighbour as ourselves, and yet again and again I see adults putting what they want at gatherings of Christians before what young people might want or need.
And that’s Christian young people, never mind non Christian folk.
So my prayer for myself and others is that we might truly see and hear the people around us and love them more than our (church) stuff.