Book Review: Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

  • Subtitle: loving, leaving and finding the church
  • Publisher: Nelson Books
  • Subject: 248.843 religion/spiritual growth/Christian life
  • Recommended by: Jessica N Turner
  • Author blog/website: www.rachelheldevans.com/
  • Moments for me: there’s a lot of reasons people leave the church – mine was not hers but this is very thought provoking.

Blurb: Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals–church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it. Centered around seven sacraments, Evans’ quest takes readers through a liturgical year with stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death that are funny, heartbreaking, and sharply honest. A memoir about making do and taking risks, about the messiness of community and the power of grace, Searching for Sunday is about overcoming cynicism to find hope and, somewhere in between, Church.

sunday

While I always have called myself Christian, I’ve been away from “church” for a long time. Hypocrisy, one-upmanship, jealousy, gossip, simply feeling like l don’t belong – those are all valid reasons why I walked away from certain places. It’s not a valid reason as to why I am not at or searching for THE church that will be my second home. I don’t agree with every viewpoint that Evans has but there are enough points for me to have really enjoyed the thoughts this book provoked, even if I am uncomfortable with some of my thoughts.  I’m not going into all those thoughts here on the blog, as they are for my consumption but here’s some portions of the book I am thinking on.

Talking about Hands (relevant verse 2 Timothy 1:6 “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands”) There is power in touch – a connective energy, a bond…Jesus didn’t have to touch the blind man’s eyes or the leper’s sores, but he did…the church blessed its sick and commissioned its leaders ith the laying on of hands…the hands that pass the peace can past a meal to the man on the street, the hands that cup together to receive Christ in the bread will extend to receive Christ in the immigrant, the refugee, the lonely, or the sick. Hands plant, and uproot, and cook, and caress. They repair, and rewire, and change diapers and dress wounds. Hands tickle giggling children and wipe away tears. Hands rub heaving bellies of big, ugly dogs. Hands sanctify all sorts of ordinary things and make them holy. My hands bless my family & workmates by what they do, a non-verbal way of saying that “I care about you & what I can do for you”.

 

The Meal: The first thing the world knew about Christians was that they ate together…rich and poor, slaves and free, Jews and Gentiles, men and women to celebrate the day the whole world changed…they remembered Jesus with food, stories, laughter, tears, debate, discussion and clean up…the focus was not in Jesus’ death, but rather on Jesus’ friendship. Later on in the same section, Evans continues: I need the Eucharist because I need to begin each week with open hands…because I need to practice letting go and letting in…because I need to quit keeping score. Or in the words of Alexander Schememann “No one is worthy to receive communion. No one is prepared for it. At this point all merits, all righteousness, all devotions disappear and dissolve. Life comes again to us as a Gift”.

On Church: but the gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors and shouting “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” This isn’t a Kingdom for the worthy; it’s a kingdom for the hungry. Don’t look at everyone else as worthier than myself. Be secure in the knowledge that I am God’s too, and I am loved.

 

On Healing & stuff like that: the truth is, the church doesn’t offer a cure. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace. The Church offers grace.

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