I read Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans this past summer, and I have recommended it to many people. In the book, Evans walks through seven of the sacraments through stories that help the reader to see what it really means to be part of the Church. She walks through her story of doubts about the church and the faith of her childhood. I think this resonates strongly with many people today, and I know it resonated well with my upbringing.
Searching for Sunday is a brutally honest look at evangelicalism and the raw messiness that makes up community and the church. I would highly recommend you pick up Searching for Sunday and see the hope for the church within it.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book, in no particular order:
- When my faith had become little more than an abstraction, a set of propositions to be affirmed or denied, the tangible, tactile nature of the sacraments invited me to touch, smell, taste, hear, and see God in the stuff of everyday life again. They got God out of my head and into my hands. They reminded me that Christianity isn’t meant to simply be believed; it’s meant to be lived, shared, eaten, spoken, and enacted in the presence of other people. They reminded me that, try as I may, I can’t be a Christian on my own. I need a community. I need the church. (xiv)
- We all long for someone to tell us who we are. The great struggle of the Christian life is to take God’s name for us, to believe we are beloved and to believe that is enough. (19)
- The people didn’t have to go to God anymore; God was coming to the people. And God, in God’s relentless love, would allow no mountain or hill–no ideology or ritual or requirement or law–to obstruct the way. (37)
- Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. Imagine if every church became a place where we told one another the truth. We might just create sanctuary. (73)
- No one ever said the fruit of the Spirit is relevance or impact or even revival. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control–the sort of stuff that, let’s face it, doesn’t always sell. (…) There is a difference, after all, between preaching success and preaching resurrection. Our path is the muddier one. (112)
- Whenever we show others the goodness of God, whenever we follow our Teacher by imitating his posture of humble and ready service, our actions are sacred and ministerial. To be called into the priesthood, as all of us are, is to be called to a life of presence, of kindness. (116)
- The church is positively crawling with people who don’t deserve to be here…starting with me. But the table can transform even our enemies into companions. The table reminds us that, as brothers and sisters adopted into God’s family and invited to God’s banquet, we’re stuck with each other; we’re family. (152)
- Walking with someone through grief, or through the process of reconciliation, requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route. But the modern-day church doesn’t like to wander or wait. The modern-day church likes results. Convinced the gospel is a product we’ve got to sell to an increasingly shrinking market, we like our people to function as walking advertisements: happy, put-together, finished–proof that this Jesus stuff WORKS! (…) But if the world is watching, we might as well tell the truth. And 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. (208-9)