In Memory of Rachel Held Evans

A church member poked her head in my office; “Have you read this new book called A Year of Biblical Womanhood? If not, you should. It’s really good.”

Some years ago, this was my introduction to Rachel Held Evans. The release of A Year of Biblical Womanhood came at a time when many progressive voices were emerging who either had a conservative upbringing or who had been claimed at one time by the right wing of the evangelical church. Truth be told, growing up in a forward-thinking mainline tradition, I sometimes feel left out that some are discovering as adults what I’ve been taught since I was in the church nursery.

RHE

 

I (for better or worse) approached, at the time, these new voices in two ways. Skeptical and grateful. Skeptical they are just discovering what many have known and proclaimed for centuries. Grateful for the new audience they are reaching with the message that God and Jesus love them, just as they are today. Grateful that people who have never heard the good news of God’s grace and passion for justice are real and for them.

About a week later, I sat down with A Year of Biblical Womanhood. This book was different. Rachel Held Evans was different. She had this gift of authenticity in her writing that jumped off the page. She wasn’t trying to be cool, she was just trying to be herself. It wasn’t so much reading a book, rather it was a conversation with a wise and trusted friend. I was hooked.

Rachel Held Evans had a way of reaching and gathering those whom the church had cut off. Her work served as a gateway into a larger community for people to share doubts, ask tough questions, and find faith for the first time or once again.

In her memory, these are some of my favorite passages from her books. She will be greatly missed. Her family and close friends are experiencing a level of grief and pain that’s hard to imagine. Her work will continue through the many whom she inspired to believe that God is love and God’s love is for all people.

“I’ve watched congregations devote years and years to heated arguments about whether a female missionary should be allowed to share about her ministry on a Sunday morning, whether students older than ten should have female Sunday school teachers, whether girls should be encouraged to attend seminary, whether women should be permitted to collect the offering or write the church newsletter or make an announcement . . . all while thirty thousand children die every day from preventable disease. If that’s not an adventure in missing the point, I don’t know what is.” 

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

 “…faith isn’t about having everything figured out ahead of time; faith is following the quiet voice of God without having everything figured out ahead of time.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

 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.”

Searching for Sunday

 “We could not become like God, so God became like us. God showed us how to heal instead of kill, how to mend instead of destroy, how to love instead of hate, how to live instead of long for more. When we nailed God to a tree, God forgave. And when we buried God in the ground, Got got up.”

Searching for Sunday

 

“The apostles remembered what many modern Christians tend to forget—that what makes the gospel offensive isn’t who it keeps out but who it lets in.” 

Inspired

“Jesus did not simply die to save us from our sins; Jesus lived to save us from our sins. His life and teachings show us the way to liberation. But you can’t fit all that on a bumper sticker. So we try to boil it down to a formula. Four steps. The “Romans Road.” John 3:16. And yet the gospel itself, in its eternal scope and scandalous particularity, defies reduction.

Inspired

 

Her last blog post appeared on Ash Wednesday. On that day she wrote a reminder that we are dust and that to dust we will return. She wrote that “death is a part of life.” Thankfully, so is the promise of resurrection and of new life. Thanks to Rachel Held Evans, many now hold faith and hope in this truth.

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