Saturday, May 16, 2015

Searching For Sunday book thoughts

I read through Searching for Sunday written by Rachel Held Evens. I have read many of her articles over the last few years, I don't always agree with her and her theology (but that doesn't mean I am right, just my opinion), but she does make some great points and always gets me to seek and search out after I read her articles, much like I did this book. This goes for anyone that preaches about the Word or writes about God, you should always seek things out yourself and let the Holy Spirit speak through. For me, I have such a mixture of being a part of different church denominations, baptized at birth in Catholic church, attended catechism classes during my elementary years and completed first communion, then not attending the church again till my later 20s, which I than choose to attend a Lutheran church and became confirmed. There I also served on youth leadership team. In my thirties after we moved to Texas, I later attended, become a member at a Methodist church and worked there. Again we move, thinking I join a Methodist church in Kentucky, however God had way different plans than I did, as my family and I now attend a Baptist church. What I have learned from attending the different churches, is things I liked about each denomination and yes some things I didn't care for much. But in the end it all comes down to one thing, and one thing only! Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Also, the why of church, it isn't for me, but it is to worship the one and also for me to be around other believers and to build community in which to serve out from.

Because of things I have been taught or experienced, I am having to relearn some things I thought were right, but not always biblical. Also I have found out the Bible isn't always clear cut on things, so sometimes things can be taken out of context and other times things can be interrupted in two different ways. That is why it is so important that we are continually seeking out God and listening for His heart, and reading the Bible, which is always true! That is the one thing I do know, He never changes, He is the same yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow.

A few things I highlighted in the book~Searching For Sunday:
"Religious folks have always had it out for us night owls" Ha, and by that she means many say we are suppose to rise early to read our Bibles (haven't seen that in the Bible) OK that may work for some, but for a mama with two little's it doesn't. So yes I tend to be a night owl reading my Bible or afternoon coffee time! Amen to that!

"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 reconciliations, and social justice-but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask." 
"Millennials 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: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these." I thank her for this because I relate to seeing some churches trying to use trends, when in reality we want authentic, truth! You see I like traditions, rituals!

The sacraments-"They reminded me that Christianity isn't meant to simply be believed; it's meant to be lived, shared, eaten, spoken, and enacted in the presence of other people. They reminded me that, try as I may, I can't be a Christian on my own. I need a community. I need the church."

"I realized baptism is done at the beginning of your faith journey, not the middle or the end. You don't have to have everything together to be baptized...You just have to grasp God's grace. God's grace is enough." Oh and how true that is, because there are days I still wonder about certain things, don't always trust, and forget to put God first.

"The truth is, we think church is for people living in the "after" picture. We think church is for taking spiritual instagrams and putting on our best performance. We think church is for the healthy, even though Jesus told us time and again he came to minister to the sick. We think church is for good people, not resurrected people." "So we fake it. We pretend we don't need help and we act like we aren't afraid, even though no decent AA meeting ever began with, Hi, my name is Rachel, and I totally have my act together." So we should be safe to go to church with our doubts, fear, pride, troubles, statuses, idols, political, theology, racial or socioeconomic differences. 

"Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more, some like to say when they think the church is getting too soft on other people's sin. To this I am always tempted to respond: So how's that working out for you? The sinning no more thing? Because it's not going so well for me." Yes, oh so true! She quoted Billy Graham..."It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge, and my job to love." Love, love this, need to practice this and I relate because I have been judged many times. Love is the answer, though not always easy, but with God all things are possible!!!

"Ultimately, all are commissioned. All are called. All belong to the holy order of God's beloved. The hands that pass the peace can pass a meal to the man on the street. The hands that cup together to receive Christ in the bread will extend to receive Christ in the immigrant, the refuge, the lonely, the sick. Hands plant, and uproot, and cook, and caress. They repair and rewire, and change diapers, and dress wounds. Hands tickle giggling children and wipe away tears. Hands rub heaving bellies for big, ugly dogs. Hands sanctify all sorts of ordinary things and make them holy." 
"Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near, when a meal, a story, a song, an apology, and even a failure is made holy by the presence of Jesus among us and within us."

"Remember how God became one of us? Remember how God ate with us and drank with us, laughed with us and cried with us? Remember how God suffered for us, and died for us, and gave his life for the life the world? Remember? Remember?" Yes this I want to remember always!!

"When Jesus wanted fully to explain what his forthcoming death was all about" scholar NT Wright said"He didn't give a theory. He didn't even give them a set of scriptual texts. He gave them a meal." an example, not a step by step how to do it book

"In my struggle to find church, I've often felt that if I could just find the right denomination or the right congregation, if I could just become the right person or believe the right things, then my search would be over at last. But right's got nothing to do with it. Waiting around for right will leave you waiting around forever. The church is God saying: I'm throwing a banquet, and all these mismatched, messed up people are invited. Here, have some wine." This is so true, you will never find the perfect church, because people are not perfect.

"This is the purpose of the sacrament, of the church-to help us see, to  point to the bread and wine, the orchids and the food pantries, the post-funeral potlucks and the post-communion dance parties, and say: pay attention, this stuff matters; these things are holy."
"Even ordinary things become holy. And when received with open hands in the spirit of eucharisteo, the signs and wonders of Jesus never cease."

"Scripture doesn't speak of people who found God. Scripture speaks of people who walked with God. Keep-moving, one foot in front of the other, who knows what's next deal, and you never exactly arrive. No step taken in faith is wasted, not by a God who makes all things new." Yes, journey in faith, my motto! 

"Unity does not require uniformity. Jesus said His father's house has many rooms. In this metaphor, I like to imagine the Presbyterians hanging out in the library, the Baptists running the kitchen, the Angelicans setting the table, the Anabaptists washing feet with the hose in the backyard, the Lutherans making liturgy for the laundry, the Methodists stoking the fire in the hearth, the Catholics keeping the family history, the Pentecostals throwing open all the windows and doors to let more people in." I got a laugh at that one, but hey I do think she is onto something!

"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. "  Yes, not offer a quick fix or judgement!

"As the shape of Christianity changes and our churches adapt to a new world, we have a choice; we can drive our hearses around bemoaning every augur of death, or we can trust the same God who raised Jesus form the dead is busy making something new. As long as Christians are breaking the bread and pouring the wine, as long as we are healing the sick and baptizing sinners, as long as we are preaching the Word and paying attention, the church lives, and Jesus said even the gates of hell cannon prevail against it. We might as well trust him, since he knows a thing or two about the way out of the grave."

There is a lot more I could share, but to avoid the longest post ever, I leave you with those highlights. After reading her book, I am left pondering a few things, but I do believe she is on to something. When I read and think about all that Jesus did while he was on earth and how I desire to live to be like Him, so that others can know Him too. I am reminded of the greatest commandment He left us with...Matthew 22:36-39 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself" So let's love, even when it is hard! Because like I said before, love is what wins!

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