Searching for Sunday

Let's get this out of the way first: I'm a fan of Rachel Held Evans. I wish everyone would read her with an open mind, especially her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood (which I reviewed here). Unlike some, I don't read her blog or her books because I see her as a nuisance or a threat, but because she is unfailingly honest, vulnerable, entertaining, thoughtful, and insightful. So I expected her latest book, Searching for Sunday (subtitled "Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church"), to be the same.

It is.

It is a thoroughly honest, searchingly vulnerable, wholly entertaining, thoughtful, and insightful book. It tells the story of Rachel's solid fundamentalist/evangelical upbringing, her subsequent questioning of, disillusionment with, and departure from the church as she had always known it. Much of her story and struggle will ring true for many, especially with her generation (but not exclusively, as it often tracks with my experience, and I'm pretty ancient compared to her).

But don't think this is a diatribe against evangelicals, much less the church as a whole. It is far from it. Organized around the seven sacraments recognized and practiced among Catholics, Episcopalians, and in Orthodox traditions, Searching for Sunday is a hopeful book. It is shot through with love for Jesus and his Body. It is this:
Not every young adult gets married or has children, so we need to stop building our churches around categories and start building them around people. 
It is this:
Even when I don't believe in church, I believe in resurrection. I believe in the hope of Sunday morning. 
And this:
The good news is you are a beloved child of God; the bad news is, you don't get to choose your siblings. 
And these:
Sometimes I think what the church needs most is to recover some of its weird.  
Sometimes the church must be a refuge even to its own refugees.  
[After relating the story of the woman caught in adultery] Perhaps it would be easier for us to love if it were our sins we saw written in that dust and carried off by the wind. 
I often wonder if the role of the clergy in this age is not to dispense information or guard the prestige of their authority, but rather to go first, to volunteer the truth about their sins, their dreams, their failures, and their fears in order to free others to do the same.  
Our various traditions seem a sweet and necessary grace.  
As my friend Ed puts it: "When you join a church you're just picking which hot mess is your favorite."  
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
Like almost everything Rachel Held Evans writes, Searching for Sunday will prompt tears and laughter, anger and "amens," nods and groans. It may not change many minds, but I hope and pray it will open hearts.

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