A God with dirt under His nails

Dirtblog An excerpt on Easter from Nadia Bolz-Weber, from her beautiful book Pastrix:

"For many churches," I said to the crowd, "Easter is basically another word for church showoff day--a time when we spiff up the building, pull out the lillies, hire a brass quintet, and put on fabulous hats and do whatever we have to do to impress visitors. To me, it always felt kind of like the church's version of putting out the guest towels, which makes no sense. Easter is not a story about new dresses and flowers and spiffiness..."

Mary Magdalene thought the resurrected Christ was a gardener because Jesus still had the dirt from his own tomb under his nails.  Of course, the depictions in churches of the risen Christ never show dirt under his nails; they make him look more like a wingless angel than a gardener.  It’s as if he needed to be cleaned up for Easter visitors so he looked more impressive and so no one would be offended by the truth.  But then what we all end up with is a perverted idea of what resurrection looks like.  My experience, however, is that the God of Easter is a God with dirt under his nails.

Resurrection never feels like being made clean and nice and pious like in those Easter pictures.  I would have never agreed to work for God if I had believed God was interested in trying to make me nice or even good.  instead, what I subconsciously knew, even back then, was that God was never about making me spiffy: God was about making me new.

New doesn’t always look perfect.  Like the Easter story itself, new is often messy.  New looks like recovering alcoholics.  New looks like reconciliation between family members who don’t actually deserve it.  New looks like every time I manage to admit I was wrong and every time I manage to not mention when I’m right.  New looks like every fresh start and every act of forgiveness and every moment of letting go of what we thought we couldn’t live without and then somehow living without it anyway.  New is the thing we never saw coming-never even hoped for-but ends up being what we needed all along.

“It happens to all of us," I concluded that Easter Sunday morning.  "God simply keeps reaching down in to the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions.  And God keeps loving us back into life over and over."

 

I loved Pastrix, for the record. It was a beautiful, honest and funny story of an unusual pastor's life. Check it out.