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  • Pastor Nancy Switzler

Shameless: First Post

Dear Friends,

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I wish I could have been at the birthday celebration for Ron Reid. I will certainly be thinking about him… and wish him continued blessings as he is a blessing to us all. This Sunday I was at the first National Park, Bryce Canyon, of a little road trip that my husband and I are doing with his brother and wife. Other places we will visit are Zion National Park, followed Lake Powell and South Grand Canyon.

Last week I briefly introduced the book, ‘Shameless: A Sexual Reformation,” by Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. As the title indicates, Pastor Nadia is inviting us to delve deeply into our views/feelings regarding sex. Culturally, I think this is a hard topic because we are conditioned not to talk about such topics (maybe you are feeling a bit of discomfort as you read this).

I think we battle with cultural ideas that hold up an old idea of purity while also making sexual expression a form of entertainment. We have both cultural and church rules, implicit and explicit, that can sometimes hinder a healthy self-understanding, or lead us to exclude others.

The author uses the theme of Creation to delve into these topics. I like that, because when I talk about sexuality, I always start with the story of creation.

The Genesis 1 story, where, after God created humans in their image, male and female, God said it was “very good.” Remembering that we too are part of this “very good” is always a helpful place to start. This is the first instance of God’s extravagant grace for us!

The introduction is titled, “Invocation,” and chapter 1 is “Sanctus.” These set the stage for what is to follow. Here is a key quote:

“It doesn’t feel very difficult to draw a direct line between the messages many of us received from the church and the harm we’ve experienced in our bodies and spirits as a result. So my argument in this book is that: we should not be more loyal to an idea, a doctrine or an interpretation of a Bible verse than we are to people. If the teachings of the church are harming the bodies and spirits of people, we should rethink those teachings.”

This quote can encompass so much more than the issues around sexuality.

It’s a reminder that we are always to be reforming…to always be seeking to understand God’s grace in ways that give life.

And when we discover that we have either inherited or constructed barriers to the full experience of that grace, we need to be about tearing those barriers down.

Sometimes the things we build come from a desire to do the right thing, and yet we do more harm than good.

Pastor Nadia shared an example of this from US history: prohibition.

This constitutional amendment had its roots in the temperance movement, which formed because alcohol abuse was damaging to lives and families, but then it grew to mean that nobody could drink, and ultimately ushered in new problems.

It took about 14 years to repeal that amendment.

In our country, we always seem to struggle from a desire towards purity and this desire can hijack our religion in ways that lead to the exclusion of others…of those who are not sufficiently "pure".

But what if we thought of holiness rather than purity? How can this framing help us to encounter the love of Jesus without feeling like we have to be someone other than who we are?

These are great questions for reflection!

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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Shameless Post 2

Greetings, I am sending this note from Zion National Park in Utah. This is the second major stop of our 2-week road trip (Bryce Canyon was the first). I am thinking these beautiful National Parks are


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