Pastrix Chapters 16, 17, 18, and 19

Chapter 16: Dirty Fingernails

  • “The notion that our names are spoken by Jesus, and that this is what makes us turn and recognize him, had become important to me, especially in light of how I was called by God.” (Page 167)
  • “He confessed that after nine months at our church he still wasn’t so sure about this Jesus thing. But he knew something real happened in church, especially in the Eucharist.” (Page 168)
  • “The best I could do in that moment was to assure Michael that I didn’t care that he felt like Jesus was ignoring him.” (Page 169)
  • Nadia reminds Michael about how they first met, and what has happened since. (Easter Sunday sermon at Red Rocks)
  • “Easter is not a story about new dresses and flowers and spiffiness. Really, it’s a story about flesh and dirt and bodies and confusion, and it’s about the way God never seems to adhere to our expectations of what a proper God would do (as in not get himself killed in a totally avoidable way.)” (Page 172)
  • “New doesn’t always look perfect. Like the Easter story itself, new is often messy.” (Page 174)
  • “God simply keeps reaching down into 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 to life over and over.” (Page 174)
  • “Lack of connections is death,” he told me as we sat in Hooked on Colfax, nine months after he’d first visited HFASS. “The opposite of that is being able to hug a perfect stranger.” (Page 175)
  • There are times when I hear my name, turn, and recognize Jesus. There are times when faith feels like a friendship with God. But there are many other times when it feels more adversarial or even vacant. Yet none of that matters in the end. How we feel about Jesus or how close we feel to God is meaningless next to how God acts upon us.” (Page 176)

Chapter 17: The Wrong Kind of Different

  • “It was the summer of 2011, and three months earlier a bad thing and a couple of good things had happened” (Page 178)
    • Bad: HFASS was evicted from the church building they had been in for three years
    • Good: Nadia preached at Red Rocks and the Denver Post cover feature, with her picture, had been printed.
      • “This will change everything, I’d thought.” (Page 179)
      • Up to this point HFASS rarely had more than 45 people show up on Sunday
      • “When I dreamed of my church growing, I dreamed of having seventy people at liturgy.” (Page 179)
      • “The very next week after Easter — after the Post and after Red Rocks — our church doubled in size.” (Page 180)
  • “But what we didn’t realize was that they were going to stay, and that they wouldn’t look like us.”
  • “As the weeks progressed during the early summer, I found it increasingly more difficult to muster up a welcoming attitude toward a group of people who, unlike the rest of us, could walk into any mainline protestant church in town and see a room full of people who looked just like them.” (Page 181)
  • “I called a meeting for the church to talk about the ‘sudden growth and demographic changes.'” (Page 182)
  • “For the two weeks prior to the meeting, I had been engaged in a heated emotional battle, but now I felt calm.” (Page 183)
  • “I had lost in what I felt like divine defeat. A few days before the meeting, I underwent what I can only describe as a heart transplant.”
  • “A few days before the meeting, I had called my friend Russell who pastors a church in St. Paul with a similar story and demographic as HFASS.” (Page 184)
  • “But Russell refused to play along, ‘Yeah, that sucks,’ he said sarcastically. ‘You guys are really good at welcoming the stranger when it’s a young transgender person. But sometimes the stranger looks like your mom and dad.” (Page 184)
  • Russell was right.
  • “Then Asher spoke up. ‘As the young transgender kid who was welcomed into this community, I just want to go on the record and say that I’m really glad there are people at church now who look like my mom and dad. Because I have a relationship with them that I just can’t with my own mom and dad.'” (Page 185)
  • “Aaaaand heart transplant healed.” (Page 186)
  • “Out of one corner of your eye there’s a homeless guy serving communion to a corporate lawyer and out of the other corner is a teenage girl with pink hair holding the baby of a suburban soccer mom. And there I was a year ago fearing that the weirdness of our church as going to be diluted.” (Page 187)

Chapter 18: He’s a Fuck-up, But He’s Our Fuck-up

  • “Being conned is up there with throat cancer in terms of things I want to avoid. I had already been had by a Denver pimp and I hardly was up for repeating the experience with a Denver con man. So when Rick Strandlof showed up at church in August of 2011, my first instinct was to try to get rid of him. You know, like Jesus would do.” (Page 191)
  • “Yet the fact that I manage to now move from ‘fuck you’ to something less hostile, and the fact that I am often able to make the move quickly, well, once again, all of it makes be believe in God. And every time, it feels like repentance.” (Page 192)
  • “Repentance in Greek means something much closer to ‘thinking differently afterward’ than it does ‘changing your cheating ways.'” (Page 192)
  • “Repentance, ‘thinking differently afterward,’ is what happens to me when the truth of who I am and the truth of who God is scatter the darkness of competing ideas. And these truths don’t ever feel like they come from inside me.” (Page 193)
  • “the real Rick has a history of childhood neglect, mental illness, and alcohol abuse.” (Page 193)

Chapter 19: Beer & Hymns

  • “Singing vespers in a bar is something even we had never done, but it was July 20, 2012, and nineteen hours earlier and nine miles east of us, a gunman had walked into a midnight showing of a Batman movie and opened fire, killing twelve people and injuring dozens more. Some of our friends had been in that theatre.” (Page 196)
  • “It took a few minutes for me to pinpoint the uniqueness of how these hymns were being sung. But then I knew. It was defiance.” (Page 197)
  • “The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up. And Mary Magdelene is the patron saint of just showing up. Showing up, to me, means being present to what is real, what is actually happening.” (Page 197)
  • “And it was her, a deeply faithful and deeply flawed woman, whom Jesus chose to be the first witness of his resurrection and to whom he commanded to go and tell everyone else about it.” (Page 198)
  • “To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim, like Mary Magdalene did to the apostles, and like my friend Don did at Dylan Klebold’s funeral, that death is not the final word.” (Page 201)
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