A couple of things right off the bat. First off, I’ve never really read Rachel Held Evans’ blog (though that is going to change) and I know that lot of people won’t give her or what she has to say a chance, which is terribly sad, because I think what she has to say is so important. It’s not that I have had anything against her, it’s just that I’ve been immersing myself so much in the literature of what is often referred to as “emergent Christianity” or “post-Christian” that I just hadn’t gotten around to reading her yet. Well, I’m glad I did.
In fact, I don’t really want to reduce her or her wonderful book to something just in the “emergent Christianity” label. What I’d really call this book is “honest Christianity.” You see, the faith journey that she relates in this book really speaks to the same journey and the same issues that many of us have had, including myself. What happens when you become skeptical of a church that is consumed by ultra right political issues instead of serving it’s members and society at large as Jesus did? What happens when you can’t square the inclusive nature of Christ’s love with a church that slams it’s doors in the faces of the marginalized? What happens when you really decide that can’t continue to be a part of a church that refuses to ordain women and excludes LGBTQ people from full fellowship of Christ’s table?
Rachel Held Evans tackles these issues and much more as she explores her own faith journey and the purpose of the church itself through a look at the different sacraments of the faith:
Anointing of the Sick
Each of these topics is covered in a fresh, honest, and revealing perspective. There’s no theological rambling. There’s no attempts to sharpen her own sword and exclude others. What there is is an honest exploration of these sacred topics and what they mean to us as Christians and to the Church as an institution.
In particular I enjoyed the sections on confession, communion, and confirmation. Confession is good because it gets to us to ponder our own faults and our own need of Christ’s abundant grace. That section really convicted me. The Communion part was great because it really strengthened my personal belief about the Lord’s Supper: It is the table of Christ, not the table of the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church, or anyone else. It is Christ who issues the invitations to his table and we are not meant to be “bouncers” that keep people away. However Christ happens to be present in the bread and the wine, one thing is for sure: we are all equal at his table. Finally I really enjoyed the discussion of the Spirit and how it moves and works in the confirmation section.
In the end she comes to the conclusion that despite all it’s faults, shortcomings, and imperfections, it is church that is the vessel we ride in this life. It’s church that really helps connect us to Christ and community, however church isn’t “some community that 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.”
What a fresh, wonderful, and enlivening perspective! I really enjoyed the book so much and I can’t wait to read more about what she has to say.