I recently finished Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. The book is Rachel's story of her relationship with the church throughout her life; "loving, leaving, and finding the church." I have heard so many good things about this book, so I had pretty high expectations going in, and the book lived up to the hype. Rachel is such a gifted writer. And on top of that, Rachel asks a lot of the same questions about the church and faith that I have asked; that I think a lot of us have asked.
My favorite thing about Searching for Sunday is that Rachel doesn't pretend to have it figured out yet. Her story is still going. She still asks questions about the church, she still loves and doesn't love the church. She still goes to church and doesn't go to church. She's still searching.
The truth is that the church is far from perfect. It's messy. It's offensive. But it's so beautiful. To be a part of a community that hurts and offends, and loves through all of it, is the greatest gift. Reading this book reminded me of the reasons I love the church. It's easy sometimes to get caught up on the difficult things that we forget the beautiful things. I would be so lost without the church, without the people who make up the church.
This book also reminded me how important it is for each of us to do our part; for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I know for me it's so easy to forget I have a responsibility as a follower of Christ. It's easy to just fall into the motions of church in America and forget the importance of your life and your actions. But this book reminded me of my importance. So my challenge for all of us is to pay attention. Notice. Be Jesus to people. Don't forget that you have an important role to play in this life. And read this book!
An excerpt from chapter 16, titled Feet:
"For as long as anyone could remember, the ceremonial foot washing had taken place at the grand Basilica of St. John Lateran as part of the Holy Thursday Mass. The pope would choose twelve priests, and in remembrance of Jesus' act of service to his disciples, wash the priests' feet. But in 2013, just ten days after his election, Pope Francis stunned the world and broke with tradition by traveling to a juvenile detention center outside Rome where he washed and kissed the feet of twelve prisoners, including two women and two Muslims.
Traditionalists responded with angst to rival that of Peter, particularly over the inclusion of women, but Francis had captured the attention of the world, reminding us that when Jesus washed the feet of his friends, it was an act of humility and love directed toward ordinary people, not merely a ceremony observed by the religious elite... When Jesus washed his disciples' feet, he was showing them what leadership in the upside-down kingdom of God looks like.
...When 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.
... 'To be a priest,' writes Barbara Brown Taylor, 'is to know that things are not as they should be and yet to care for them the way they are.'
Such a purpose calls us far beyond our natural postures. It means surrendering all cynicism and pride to take up the basin and towel."