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Authenticity: Lessons from a Gen-X Traditionalist

September 1, 2011

Several months before I arrived at St. George’s, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a continuing education event held in Chicago that was talking about something called “The Emerging Church.”

Some of you will have heard of this movement, others will not have.  Essentially it is a pan-denominational group of folks who are doing church in some fairly innovative (non)traditional ways.  It is a reaction to the slowly decreasing numbers of folks showing up in protestant “main-line” churches across the board.  It is organic, (officially) leaderless, somewhat chaotic, and all the rage.  Now for those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’ve been described as an “old soul,” – when it comes to liturgy, I tend to look backwards and see how we can reinvent the traditions of the church in a relevant, meaningful way for the present.  In seminary I used to say, “all that once was is not bad,” and consequently ate by myself at lunch.

One of the people I had the privilege of meeting at this event was the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastor who if you saw her walking down the street you may be inclined to say several things, but unless she had on her collar, “there goes a Lutheran pastor” would likely not be among them.  For one thing, she wears full sleeve tattoo.  If you look closer though, you’ll see that they are the Church year, illustrated in ink.  Pastor Bolz-Weber had a lot of good things to say and I found her particularly engaging because she was doing in a denominationally-affliliated, emerging church context the kind of thing I was interested in: looking to the traditions of the past and reinventing them for the present, in a group of people who might never darken the door of a church like St. George’s.

I sat and listened to her in awe, like most of the other clergy in the room.  I knew that what she had was such a clear sense of self and that this was a major key to her success for the Kingdom of God.  Others in the room raised their hands to ask a variety of questions which all amounted to some form of: “How can I do what you’re doing?”

Her short answer, “You can’t.”  She told us that we had to figure out who we were and do what we do best, authentically, in our own settings.  Authenticity.  If you know who you are and you are being who God made you to be, others will see that and want to be a part of what you’re doing, too.

That was a lengthier introduction than I intended to make, but here’s the meat of the matter:  I came across this great Q&A with the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber and wanted to share it with you!

Nadia Bolz-Weber – Entering the Stream of the Faithful

Fr. Ryan+


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brent permalink
    September 1, 2011 12:05 pm

    “Authenticity. If you know who you are and you are being who God made you to be, others will see that and want to be a part of what you’re doing, too.” – Great quote there Ryan!


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