Just came from hearing Jay Bakker speak this morning at the PSR Earl Lectures. He expresses a Bible-saturated, heart-felt message to both "liberal" and "conservative" Christians to practice the grace they both believe in...
I had the pleasure of meeting Jay Bakker on Monday night, driving him from Oakland airport to our hotel in Berkeley, California. Both of us are on the program to talk about the movements and margins happening in Christianity.
Well, today Jay spoke, and it was a funny, daring, vulnerable, bold -- what some of my students would call "real."
Jay just talks. But when Jay talks, he talks from a lifetime of experiencing the exile of his parents and their work of forgiving the abuse they experienced, the still-emotional loss of his mother, the raw shock of the break-up of his marriage, and his own transformation from being angry to being desperate for others to experience what he simply calls "the grace of God."
One of Jay Bakker's heros. Image via WikipediaHe's a preacher. He uses his Bible while quoting Martin Luther King Jr. (he loves Dr. King). He exhorts toward love, care, and reconciliation.
His boldest move today was calling on the LGBT community to love Ted Haggard in his time of need rather than allowing his, his wife's, and his children to suffer pain out of a sense that he "deserves" to suffer. He intertwined his life, the life of Jesus, and the ever more public life of Ted Haggard in this unique and timely talk. He said he knew what it was like to live out of a UHaul. He knew what it was like to be abandoned by many who had been friends. He said he knew how hard it was to try getting through school, having enough money for clothes, and getting the few gestures of kindness amidst so much hate. He said all people, liberal and conservative, and even the gay community, needed to reach out and actually love Ted Haggard.
And the crowd cheered.
This was a marvelous moment of seeing a type of liberal-conservative exchange. After 15 years in ministry, Jay is still a young man. Even though attendance at his Revolution church that meets in a bar in Brooklyn is around 50 people, I suspect his "parish" is rapidly expanding. His passion is to preach the love and grace of God. He's driven by compassion. He has two books coming in the next few years. And his unique platform of being marginalized (the outsider) while still believing the the physical life and resurrection of Jesus (the evangelical) is forging yet another potential path for bringing together the problematic divisions of American Christianity.
Bottom Line: Watch for Jay Bakker. (Actually, because he's such a media-magnet, you might be forced to watch Jay Bakker, so what I'm saying is to just pay attention when he's on.)
Read more about Jay here.