Gather around the table, friends, because no-nonsense pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber is serving up extra helpings of truth this Thanksgiving.
While the holidays can bring warm reunions for some, Bolz-Weber is reaching out to those who may feel out of place, unwelcomed, or alone. "We all have to know where we belong, in order to know who we are," she says. "If there were a time of year that we are faced with this, it's definitely during the holidays—a time when issues of belonging and identity and family come up for so many of us."
In our new episode of Have a Little Faith, Bolz-Weber reminds everyone that it's not what your family thinks or even how many friendsgiving dinners you attend that truly defines you. Ultimately your sense of self is really connected to your spirituality. "Your belongingness is determined by the voice of the one who created you. And, really, nothing else gets to tell you who you are, not even at Thanksgiving," she says.
So set aside the grueling political discussions and painful holiday reminders and focus on the truth. "As a pastor I know that Thanksgiving can be a painful time for those whose family do not know how to love them well, or for those who have lost their parents," she told MAKERS. "Around this time of year I wanted to remind people that they belong to God, even if they don't feel like they belong with their families of origin."
For the holidays, Bolz-Weber will be bringing her family together in Denver. "My boyfriend and his family are joining my parents and our family. I will probably be bossing everyone around and laughing my ass off," says Bolz-Weber, who is preparing to launch her upcoming book Shameless: A Sexual Reformation due out Jan. 29. Until then "I'll be watching lots of Doctor Who with my kids while they are home for the holidays."
This year, Bolz-Weber says she's been grateful to see her message in the Have a Little Faith videos reach more than 54 million people around the world. With the strong connection she has built with the Have a Little Faith community online, "I have been really aware of the longing people have for faith that isn't shaming, for religion that isn't institutional, for hope that isn't platitude."
Ten years ago, it was that same guiding principle that led Bolz-Weber to start the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver as a place of worship for the faithful from all walks of life. "My parish is a hot mess. It's a bunch of people who don't really belong in a church. The drag queens, the weirdos, and the gays, but then we have the baby boomers from the suburbs," Bolz-Weber has said.
But after more than 10 years as pastor of HFASS, Bolz-Weber announced in July that she was stepping down. In her final sermon to her congregation she focused on "the thing I cannot get over. The thing I forget and then turn around and see the power of every day. The thing that has changed my life and the lives of so many and that thing is, of course, Beyoncé—and grace."
Now she's embarking on her next chapter as the "People's Pastor" and a public theologian with a message of hope and belonging for the world.
"The faith of our parents or the faith we had as children often isn't what we need right now in this time of history and in this place in which we find ourselves," Bolz-Weber tells MAKERS. "Our ideas about the divine, and our relationships to faith can be ever-expanding. In a world where faith is sold to us as a complete package—take it or leave it—we can actually see faith not as a set thing, but as a living, changing, dynamic thing."
For more inspiration from Nadia Bolz-Weber, check out the Have a Little series here.