Do you know about the “Emerging Church?”
She grew up in a conservative Protestant church but migrated to ELCA Lutheranism. She’s the founding pastrix of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. They say they are
…a group of folks figuring out how to be a liturgical, Christo-centric, social justice-oriented, queer-inclusive, incarnational, contemplative, irreverent, ancient / future church with a progressive but deeply rooted theological imagination.
Pastrix? That’s the term of derision used by opponents of female pastors. It’s also the title of the book Bolz-Weber wrote, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
Here’s what the House for All Sinners and Saints says about its worship:
What are your Sunday services like?
Pretty much just like a Rolling Stones concert… ugh, we mean, nothing at all like a Rolling Stones concert. We follow the ancient liturgy of the church (chanting the Kyrie, readings from scripture, chanting the Psalm, sermon, prayers of the people, Eucharist, benediction, etc.) We also sing the old hymns of the church. So there’s lots of ancient tradition at HFASS, but there’s also some innovation. We always include poetry and a time called “Open Space” in which we slow down for prayer and other opportunities to actively engage the Gospel; writing in the community’s Book of Thanks, writing prayers, making art or assembling bleach kits for the needle exchange in Denver.
We like to say that we are “anti-excellence/pro-participation”, meaning that the liturgy is led by the people who show up. The pastor offers the Eucharistic prayer and (most times) the sermon; all the other parts of the liturgy are led by people from where they are sitting. As a matter of fact, even the music is made by the community — with the exception of the 4 or 5 times a year that we have a bluegrass service, the liturgy is a capella. So, all the music you hear in liturgy comes from the bodies of those who showed up.
In a recent episode of “On Being” on public radio, she said this to Krista Tippett about the Easter Vigil at her place:
We celebrate the Easter Vigil, where you start with the new fire and you light it and you have this Paschal candle and you parade in chanting and we have these baptisms and we have a Eucharist and it’s, like, amazing. And then we end it, when it’s done, we have a huge dance party. And we feel like nothing says “He is risen!” like a chocolate fountain in the baptismal font.
I really feel strongly that you have to be deeply rooted in tradition in order to innovate with integrity.
Bolz-Weber spent years an an addict … and a standup comic. Both aspects of her life journey are on full display in her conversation with Tippett. Do give a listen to “Seeing the Underside and Seeing God: Tattoos, Tradition, and Grace.” (Click “Play Episode” on the top right.) Bolz-Weber is unpredictable, and really funny. She says one wise thing after another, and she’s inspiring.
What do you think of all this? Is this movement something to watch for those interested in liturgical renewal and inculturation?
And what are your favorite Nadia-Quotes from the episode?