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Into the Mess and Other Jesus Stories

Reflections on the Life of Christ

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He was a disrupter and a peacemaker, a rebel and a rabbi. His friends were the riffraff, and his enemies the religious elite. He was the wounded man who healed the sick, the homeless man who fed the hungry, the convicted criminal who released the captives, and the dead man who conquered the grave.

The stories he told were scandalous, and the stories he lived changed the world. To reflect on the Jesus of the Gospels is to reflect on paradox, mystery, wonder, and messiness. It is to find God in the shadows, the tensions, and the ambiguities of life on earth as it is. These essays on the stories of Jesus are invitations to faith in all its complexity and untidiness.

The Jesus who emerges here is not the sanitized Christ of piety and platitude, but the Christ of complicated joys and transcendent sorrows. The Christ who weeps, wonders, loses, learns, and seeks. These are the stories of the Incarnate God who finds and loves us in the messiness of our lives.

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Praise for Into the Mess and Other Jesus Stories

“In this audacious, luminous book, Debie Thomas examines gospel stories, tales made soft as cloth for many readers, and reveals their strangeness. Reading with ferocious attentiveness, she explores stories that are challenging, troubling, sometimes frightening, and always filled with invitations to a new life that is larger and more startling than most of us have imagined. ... Every reader who seeks God should own this book—dog-eared, underlined, and committed to memory.”
Erin McGraw, author of Joy: And 52 Other Very Short Stories

“Debie Thomas offers more hope in this one book than many volumes filled with religious certainty. Through reflection on her own courageous living, Thomas has learned the indispensable value of making mistakes (can’t be avoided), suffering (ditto), honesty about the aforementioned (can definitely be avoided), and taking all the above into our relationship with God. Walk with Thomas through a world you’ll recognize and find an invitation to a whole and integrated life.”
Marc Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California

“A lot of religious writing is devotional but not particularly thoughtful. Some is high on scholarship but low on personal engagement. Debie Thomas brings head and heart together. Her beautiful new book will help you understand Jesus better, and yourself too. Highly recommended!”
Brian D. McLaren, author of Do I Stay Christian?

“While most Gospel commentators offer you information, when Debie Thomas speaks of the text, she offers you insight. Into the Mess is just the kind of honest, grace-soaked, beautiful, heartbreaking view of Jesus that makes me want to believe. There are few writers about Jesus out there today I trust more than Thomas. I’m so grateful for this book.”
Nadia Bolz-Weber, Host, The Confessional with Nadia Bolz-Weber

Into the Mess and Other Jesus Stories breathes new life into sacred texts, inviting us to experience Christ with fresh eyes. Thomas’s words beckon our real, wondering selves to draw close to Christ without shame or hindrance. By making space for both the humanity of Jesus and the modern-day struggles of us, her readers, she gives us a glimpse of the fullness of God.”
Amy Olrick, author of The 6 Needs of Every Child

About the Author

Debie Thomas is a columnist for The Christian Century and an essayist for Journey with Jesus: A Weekly Webzine for the Global Church. She serves as the Minister of Lifelong Formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, California.

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