Neighbor Love Reflections from Acts 8 and Nadia Bolz-Weber

PastrixI am in the midst of reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Pastrix:  the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint.  So far, I love it. It seems to be a very honest and authentic memoir of what it means to be found by grace, as well as what it means to be a person who has seriously wrestled with faith.

Yesterday while I was reading I read through chapter 9, “Eunuchs and Hermaphrodites.”  I couldn’t help, especially in that chapter think that this is a chapter all about how difficult it is to love your neighbor.  As Bolz-Weber alludes to, the challenge of “inclusion” is that we generally only want to include so many types of people and then exclude others who we may not agree with (91).  This realization is an important one for all of us to make.  We aren’t called to create barriers and to ‘be inclusive.’ We are called to be part of the community, God’s community which knows no bounds and has no limits. Or, to use Bolz-Weber’s image, God’s tent has no limit.

I greatly appreciate the way she weaved the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch from Acts 8 within the chapter. I am not going to give away the story, because you really need to read it for yourself. But I am going to share two quotes that stick out with me this morning.

“I realized in that coffee shop that I need the equivalent of the Ethiopian eunuch to show me the faith.  I continually need the stranger, the foreigner, the ‘other’ to show me water in the desert” (94).

Neighbor love, I believe is built off of being in a multi-directional relationship.  This is not an “us and them” scenario, we need each other.  If we really believe that all are created as Children of God, it only follows that we treat each other as this and meet each other with mutuality, love, and respect. By doing so we learn about each other, but we also learn about ourselves.  We also come to see God, and more of what God might be up to in the world by meeting others.

“We all can be converted anew by the stranger, and see where there is water in the desert and enter fully into the baptism of God’s mercy with foreigners, with the ‘not us.’ And then go on our way rejoicing, having converted each other again and again to this beautiful, risky, expansive life of faith” (95).

Whether we meet someone in worship or not, by meeting, we have an opportunity to learn and see more of God’s creation. By meeting another, we meet another Child of God.  Meeting another is risky, but its also beautiful.  Having faith is risky, but its beautiful and expansive.  To love our neighbor may be risky, challenging, and stressful; but I promise you, its wonderful.

I look forward to continuing to read this book, and expect to share my sort of review on it some time next week.  Thanks to Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber for sharing and writing so honestly.

Source:  Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix:  the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, (New York, NY:  Jericho Books, 2013).

Image Credit:  Pastrix

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