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Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber.
Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber.

Confessions of a reluctant saint

Pastrix – the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and saint
Nadia Bolz-Weber
Jericho Books, 2013
RRP $22

Frank, amusing and profoundly moving; this book is Nadia’s faith journey told through anecdotes from her life, with vulnerability and disarming simplicity.

The theme of death and resurrection weaves through the book, as Nadia tells her story of the down-and-out alcoholic who planned on being dead by 30, but was “interrupted” by God, who called her to be pastor to her people.

The book contains some strong language, but don’t let that stop you. This story of the amazing grace and transformative power of God in one person’s life is an inspiring read for anyone looking for a spiritual pick-me-up. Nadia writes with no pretension; her ironic wit is used against herself, as she describes the reluctant and desperate journey of a sinner relentlessly wooed by a loving God. Vignettes of her life are sketched out with ruthless honesty, self-deprecating humour and a lively narrative, till you’re laughing, crying and realising that God is indeed “bigger, more nimble and mysterious” than you could contrive.

Many stories in the book are based on Nadia’s ministry with her congregation. Her candid accounts of her struggle to found and nurture a community of social outsiders include refreshing insights into universal challenges such as inclusive hospitality, loving your enemy, admitting failure and dealing with suffering.

But this book is much more than that. It is a powerful and eloquent telling of the gospel that strips away much of the clutter that the church has foisted upon it. Nadia bears tenacious witness to God’s kingdom breaking into the underbelly of acceptable society where the rejects and anti-heroes dwell. Her understanding of grace extends beyond the mere forgiveness of sins, to God as a source of wholeness and beauty that transcends and compensates for our failings and brokenness. She rejects ideas of piety, purity and conformity that constrain God’s extravagant generosity. Her stories poignantly juxtapose the tenacious love of God, who gives us identity as God’s children with the clear light of Christ that confronts and reveals our true selves, shattering our facades, but allowing us to rebuild ourselves by submitting to truth.

Sureka Goringe
Convenor of UnitingWomen 2014, the national Uniting Church women’s conference to be held in Sydney, where Nadia Bolz-Weber will be the keynote speaker.

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