Searching for Sunday is a hard book to write about because I just want to copy the whole thing into this post for you to read. So, here’s my official recommendation that you all pick up a copy and read it pronto! It’s beautiful and transformative and important. Rachel Held Evans did a wonderful job.
As I look back through all the passages I underlined or circled in the book (there’s a lot of them!), I notice a few themes.
Facing death. Leaving the old behind. Grief. Resurrection.
These are what church should be doing, but what it isn’t always good at.
As Christians, we have many opportunities to face death together: when we lose or doubt our faith, when we individually and collectively fail to be “good” Christians, when a congregation breaks up or disperses, when we pray hard for something and it doesn’t happen. All of these are losses and leaving behinds that need to be grieved. Yet, there isn’t always space in the church to grieve them.
I often wonder if the role of the clergy in this age…[is 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. …There is a difference, after all, between preaching success and preaching resurrection. Our path is the muddier one. (112)
It frustrates me that the church has become a symbol of power when, in reality, every member of every church—including the clergy—is so broken and powerless. We each need so much—redemption, sustenance, reassurance, resurrection, hope, relationship—but we often aren’t allowed to voice those needs within the church because it’s too messy and church, it seems, is for the already-clean.
I can’t pretend to be spotless when I go into a church on Sunday morning anymore than I can pretend to be spotless when I go home to family for holidays. They know me too well for me to keep up that façade for long. I feel most at home when my messiness and neediness isn’t overlooked or shamed into hiding, but when it is named as normal, when others speak up and say “me too.”
Rachel Held Evans says “me too” in Searching for Sunday. She shows that for centuries, Christ followers have been saying “me too.” That is where church begins.
I find myself wondering if perhaps every generation of Christians has felt itself at the edge of this precipice, waiting for resurrection and worrying it might not come. Perhaps every pilgrim in search of church has wondered if it’s a lifetime of feeling his way through the dark, longing for light. (257-258)