Years ago one of my BFF’s introduced me to the blog writing of Rachel Held Evans.
I was looking for authentic, reverent, yet critically-minded theological content that hadn’t been hijacked by all the brands, labels, and schisms of America’s nationalistic and denominationally divided Christianity.
In 2007,I had lost a child. PERIOD. That event ALONE drew me closer and deeper in my walk with God, but it was my biggest game changer for cutting through the fluff, flowers, and much of the franchising that made up some of my Christian experiences.
I just couldn’t stomach ONE MORE BOOK WRITTEN BY A WOMAN THAT BLEW SUNSHINE AND FLOWERS AT ME ABOUT TRUSTING IN JESUS…dear LAWD, stop candy-coating intimacy with God with happy endings! God’s more awesome than that! AND I COULDN’T GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF ONE MORE CHURCH SERVICE, regardless of how awesome the playlist was.
Continuing on in my walk with God in any mainstream way was no longer an option. I had always known a depth of God’s goodness and extravagant love, and wasn’t going to lose it within the systems of man, regardless of how well-intentioned they were and which denominations thought they had the corner on the market on Truth.
Eventually I learned of the candid work and wrestling of Rachel Held Evans and read some of her blog posts.
I was so ANTI- “famous Christians” at the time that I took a break from reading who was popular, but as time went on, Rachel’s work and persistent truth-telling and establishment-questioning honesty drew her apart from the pack, for me at least. And I dug the way she fostered space for discussion and disagreement. Ahhh…faith didn’t have to mean we checked our God-created minds at the door.
She was enough of a lover of God, lover of mankind, and bold enough ball-buster to gain my respect. No way was she going to let God’s extravagant love be thrown away with the bath water.-www.adriennegraves.com
Finally, I could read the content of someone, a woman, no less, who served up solid food in a church culture that hadn’t even realized it was still serving formula, or diluting it with trending church enterprise.
Two years ago, I read, “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church,” a book I had in queue for some time, and between those pages, all tabbed and underlined and annotated, I went to Church. I read it on a beach in Thailand and as I stopped on benches in gardens in Singapore. Rachel’s reminder that “unity doesn’t mean uniformity,” was oxygen as I sat in those beautiful places, one’s populated by beloved children of God of all colors and languages. She had written sentences on the pages God had spoken to my heart for years…like how, “the dichotomy between the sacred and the secular is a Western construction,” and how “it’s important for pastors to serve communion…because it steals the show.”
The pages were a reminder to me of how I was not alone in my pursuit to know God intimately, the same way Jesus had declared, the same way the woman at the well got to meet him…outside the confines and systems and programs and doctrines and dogmas and rules and filters and laws man has tried to define and refine over millennia.
Over bread. Over a cup of water. Beside a well, without memorizing one scripture or attending whichever denomination thinks it’s going to make God great again…as if He ever wasn’t.
“Searching for Sunday” was fresh water during a deep place of drought and grief.
I’m grateful for the faithful pursuit of God’s unconditional love with which Rachel Held Evans wrote, shared, and persisted.
We never know how or if our words may impact others. That’s part of faith, too…trusting if God puts something on our hearts, it’s likely not solely for us, but communion…to share.
Sadly, Rachel was called an apostate and accused of being too: liberal, progressive, inclusive…too, “woman,” these, labels assigned by *some strange camp of self-appointed Christians who believe their job is to: not share the actual Good News, but call out all the imperfections of “others” they disagree with. Funny how we can cherry-pick the scriptures to support either “side.” And we forget we belong to each other…
Thankfully, in spite of the haters, she pressed on, speaking truth, questioning the establishment, engaging her God-designed ability to use critical-thinking, allowing the Holy Spirit to bring up the hard questions, and as a result, the worst thing that can actually be said about Rachel Held Evans was that EVERYONE was welcome at her table, because EVERYONE was also welcome at the Lord’s.
The TABLE is where Jesus gathered humans, the sons and daughters of God, to break bread and hear the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
I have so much more to say on this, but that’ll be for another post or a book chapter.
Eishet Chayil, Rachel Held Evans.
It was an honor to sit at the same Table as you, Rachel, not one we were invited to because any of us have our sh*t together, but one where we are welcome because thankfully, God does.www.adriennegraves.com