I recently finished reading the book “Searching for Sunday” by Rachel Held Evans. It was my first devotional book of 2019. I read her book, “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” in 2013 and enjoyed her humorous attempt to live a Biblical lifestyle. As good as that book was, “Searching for Sunday” was even better.
Rachel Held Evans grew up in an evangelical household in Dayton, Tennessee. She went, as was expected, to a Bible college. But something happened to her faith along the way and the questions she had became bigger than the answers the church was willing to let her ask. She and her husband left the church that had nurtured her. They searched for a church where Christ could be worshiped in a free and loving atmosphere. While she was doing this she started writing a blog, voicing the questions she had about the evangelical expression of faith.
Rachel soon found that she was not alone in her doubts and questions. Her blog struck a chord with many people. She started speaking to church groups about why Millennials are leaving the church in their search for authentic faith. Even though others see Rachel as having all the answers, she does not.
“Searching for Sunday” details Rachel’s search for a church where she can practice an authentic, searching kind of faith. She writes about her background, her blog, and a new church start that lasted less than a year. Rachel describes the problem with a lot of churches when she writes, “There are always folks who fancy themselves bouncers to the heavenly banquet, charged with keeping the wrong people away from the table and out of the church.” She has visited just about every flavor of Christianity at this point, and talks about the moments that speak to her from many different traditions.
Rachel structures “Searching for Sunday” according to the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church: baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing the sick, and marriage. Each section of the book details moments, places and people that reveal these sacraments to her. It was easy to read a chapter at a time as part of my morning devotionals, but I enjoyed the book so much that I couldn’t stop with one chapter. In searching for a faith big enough to let her ask questions, Rachel and others like her “want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.”
I found “Searching for Sunday” easy to read but with a depth that questions if we, as the church, can ever make room for all the people who are searching. Rachel writes, “Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near.” If we can do that in the church – help people draw near to the kingdom of God – perhaps that is enough.