Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Sing Forth Our Joy

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Staying isolated with our joys isn’t helpful either. It minimizes them, thus cheating us out of feeling their full thrill. We deserve joy in our lives — lots of it — because we will have our full measure of pain. Perhaps we fear others will criticize us for being braggarts if we sing forth our joy. But our real friends will sing right along with us. Our joys are deserved; they offset our trials. Telling others about both will let all our experiences count for something.

— Karen Casey, Peace a Day at a Time, June 28

Bringing People Together

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Belief exists inside a person. As such, it has the power and the tendency to separate a person from his neighbors who believe differently. But authentic religion connects people rather than separates them into the elect and the misguided, the saved and those who walk in darkness. The primary function of religion, as Durkheim discovered and taught and as every congregational clergyman of any denomination has discovered for himself or herself, is to bring people together rather than to separate them, thereby increasing their joy and diluting their sorrows. For that to happen, one’s theology has to escape from the prison of the self and translate into sacred deeds shared with others, deeds sanctified by having the fingerprints of God all over them.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 117.

We Need Each Other.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

I’m not exactly sure how all this works, but I think, ultimately, it means I can’t be a Christian on my own. Like it or not, following Jesus is a group activity, something we’re supposed to do together. We might not always do it within the walls of church or even in an organized religion, but if we are to go about making disciples, confessing our sins, breaking bread, paying attention, and preaching the Word, we’re going to need one another. We’re going to need each other’s help.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 255

Grace

Monday, April 18th, 2016

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.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 209

Community

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

It may well be the case that the word “religion” is related to the word “ligament,” from the Latin ligare, “to connect.” One might argue that the word refers to beliefs that connect a person to God, but I am inclined to side with Durkheim that the role of religion is to bind us to other people in order to evoke together the sense that God is in our midst. We don’t go to church or synagogue to find God; God may indeed be more accessible in nature on a sunny day. We go to church or synagogue to find other worshippers who are looking for what we are looking for, and together we find it. We become something greater than our solitary selves.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 112

Healing

Friday, February 26th, 2016

There is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome….

The thing about healing, as opposed to curing, is that it is relational. It takes time. It is inefficient, like a meandering river. Rarely does healing follow a straight or well-lit path. Rarely does it conform to our expectations or resolve in a timely manner. Walking with someone through grief, or through the process of reconciliation, requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 208

The Good in Our Neighbor

Friday, January 29th, 2016

For we are accountable for the sin in ourselves, and have to kill it. We are accountable for the good in our neighbor, and have to cherish it. But we are not accountable for the bad in him. He only, in the name and power of God, can kill the bad in himself. We can cherish the good in him by being good to him across all the evil fog that comes between our love and his good.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, First Series, “Love Thine Enemy,” quoted in Knowing the Heart of God, p. 347

Truth Shared

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

The best quotes don’t speak to one particular truth, but rather to universal truths that resonate — across time, culture, gender, generation, and situation — in our own hears and minds. They guide, motivate, validate, challenge, and comfort us in our own lives. They reiterate what we’ve figured out and remind us how much there is yet to learn. Pithily and succinctly, they lift us momentarily out of the confused and conflicted human muddle. Most of all, they tell us we’re not alone. Their existence is proof that others have questioned, grappled with, and come to know the same truths we question and grapple with, too.

— Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough, p. xv

Grace Gets Out of Hand

Friday, December 25th, 2015

Philip got out of God’s way. He remembered that what makes the gospel offensive isn’t who it keeps out, but who it lets in. Nothing could prevent the eunuch from being baptized, for the mountains of obstruction had been plowed down, the rocky hills had been made smooth, and God had cleared a path. There was holy water everywhere.

Two thousand years later, John’s call remains a wilderness call, a cry from the margins. Because we religious types are really good at building walls and retreating to temples. We’re good at making mountains out of our ideologies, obstructions out of our theologies, and hills out of our screwed-up notions of who’s in and who’s out, who’s worthy and who’s unworthy. We’re good at getting in the way. Perhaps we’re afraid that if we move, God might use people and methods we don’t approve of, that rules will be broken and theologies questioned. Perhaps we’re already afraid that if we get out of the way, this grace thing might get out of hand.

Well, guess what? It already has.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 39-40.

Truer Christianity

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

I was recently asked to explain to three thousand evangelical youth workers gathered together at a conference in Nashville, Tennesee, why millennials like me are leaving the church.

I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff — biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice — but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hears and minds behind, without wearing a mask.

I explained that when our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends aren’t welcome at the table, then we don’t feel welcome either, and that not every young adult gets married or has children, so we need to stop building our churches around categories and start building them around people. And I told them that, contrary to popular belief, we can’t be won back with hipper worship bands, fancy coffee shops, or pastors who wear skinny jeans. We millennials have been advertised to our entire lives so we can smell b.s. from a mile away. The church is the last place we want to be sold another product, the last place we want to be entertained.

Millenials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity, I said. We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. Like every generation before ours and every generation after, we’re looking for Jesus — the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. xiii-xiv