I got behind on several of my book club’s selections and this is one of them that I’m catching up on. Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber was highly discussed and recommended by my fellow book clubbers and I’m happy that I can now share in their enthusiasm, having just finished it last night.
The buzz around the book and the author is that Ms. Bolz-Weber isn’t your typical ELCA pastor. She’s tattoed, swears, and drops truth bombs like no other. While I haven’t met her, just from her prose alone I can tell that this isn’t a show. It comes across that she is herself, for good and bad, and that’s what’s attracted all of the accidental saints to her church. Beyond all the outward distracting features, she has a heart for ministry. She’s open to sharing her doubts, fears, and questions with her congregation (and her readers), she struggles to be like Jesus in every moment, but she loves with a heart of gold.
One of the most moving moments in this book was when she discussed how her church dealt with the shootings at New Town, CT. The shooting occurred around the Christmas season and Ms. Bolz-Weber felt like their church community couldn’t ignore the shootings and plow through the uplifting Christmas liturgy. Instead, they decided to look at the Christmas story, but include a discussion of the killing of the innocent children by King Herod. I’m familiar with this part of the Nativity story, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve ever heard a pastor bring it up around Christmas. As Ms. Bolz-Weber points out though, to ignore this tragic event is to ignore the crux of the Nativity itself. Jesus was born into a world that killing innocent children. Christianity shouldn’t be a wall that its believers hide behind when tragedies like the New Town shooting happen. Instead, they should mourn and connect with the people around them. Which is really the heart of Ms. Bolz-Weber’s ministry–to accept the people around her and treat them as Jesus would.