Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” of the bulletin of Fishkill UMC for this coming Sunday, May 12, 2019 (4th Sunday of Easter, Year C).
While I had heard the name, Rachel Held Evans, until two weeks ago, I did not know she was. But with her illness and death, I have come to know that this talented Christian writer and mother reached and touched the hearts and souls of many people, in and outside the church.
Raised in a conservative church environment, she began questioning her faith, I believe, during high school. (I will be adding a link to a blog post she wrote a few years ago about science and faith later today or tomorrow). But instead of destroying her faith, as the conservative church establishment says will happen, her faith grew, widened, and became stronger. Because of this conflict, RHE (as she was known) found it necessary to leave the church of her birth but she found a home in the Episcopal Church.
In seeing all the notes and quotes people had gathered, I saw the following:
“This is what God’s kingdom is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes. And there’s always room for more.” ―Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
For many, the Book of Revelation is a violent and exclusionary book. But the message of the Bible is just the opposite, that God’s Kingdom is open to all who seek God. In writing Revelation, John was writing to a church under persecution by the political authorities. His words are words of hope and a promise.
The church today is again under attack, by religious and political groups who would seek to shut the doors to all but a select few. Our task is to remind the world that God’s Kingdom looks more like us than it does the halls of power and authority. Our task is to open the doors to all who seek God.