I just finished reading Rachel Held Evans‘ new book, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, and found it to be an absolutely blessed read. It was challenging at points, encouraging at points, hopeful at points, and realistic all the way through. As I read, I found myself hearing many points of my own faith life over the last 25 years since I jumped into this thing called church. Like her, I have bounced all over the theological spectrum and found myself eventually bouncing out of many of the categories that we like to lump ourselves in. What I was really blessed through it all was the structure of the book – the structure of using the traditional seven sacraments to outline her experience. As a Presbyterian, we “officially” only recognize two sacraments – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However, I cannot leave behind some of my growing up years in the Lutheran church while attending Catholic school and the practice of the seven sacraments of Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage. Each of those continues to hold a special place for me even if my own tradition recognizes only two officially as “sacraments.” Without going into all the detail of what Evans writes, I will say that if you have ever wrestled with matters of faith and how you live out faith in our current context, pick up her book and take a read. You may not agree with everything she shares, but there is a beauty in the ways she honestly wrestles with it all, prayerfully searches, and the openness with which she hears the movement of the Spirit speaking.
One of my favorite quotes comes from near the end of the book (spoiler alert):
But if I’ve learned anything in this journey, both in writing this book and clumsily living its content, it’s that Sunday morning sneaks up on us— like dawn, like resurrection, like the sun that rises a ribbon at a time. We expect a trumpet and a triumphant entry, but as always, God surprises us by showing up in ordinary things: in bread, in wine, in water, in words, in sickness, in healing, in death, in a manger of hay, in a mother’s womb, in an empty tomb. Church isn’t some community you join or some place you arrive. Church is what happens when someone taps you on the shoulder and whispers in your ear, Pay attention, this is holy ground; God is here. (p 276)
Yes indeed. Even with all its faults and challenges mixed with all the beauty and blessings…there is holy ground. God is here. Amen.
I would be remiss with this blog if I didn’t include some images that came to mind for me with the chapters. Some of these will be pretty obvious the connection, some might not be. You’ll just have to read the book to understand. 🙂