Put a good book in my hands, a gorgeous summer day, my patio and a Starbucks Refresher or iced tea and I am one happy camper. However this summer, I have not been able to read on my patio as much as I have wanted. That is what I get for being such a crazy traveler this summer. However I wouldn't give up those trips for anything. So this past week I have been making up for lost time! Friday I finished the book "Orphan Train" that I sadly began last May.
Saturday morning, I picked up the next book on my pile "Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church" by Rachel Held Evans. And my friends, I devoured this book. I read it in three days. Rachel's words are words that all of us need to hear. She reminds us of the gift of God's grace and the beauty of this glorious yet sometimes messed up church.
Church is the place where we can experience that grace, but church is more than a church building. Church is everywhere where"two or three are gathered in Christ's name." Church is where we experience loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. Church is every bit of it grace. Rachel captures it best when she writes:
"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. Church was alive and well long before we came up with the words relevant and missional, and church will go on long after the grass grows through our cathedral floors. The holy Trinity doesn't need our permission to carry on in their endlessly resourceful work of making all things new. That we are invited to catch even a glimpse of the splendor is grace. All of it, every breath and every second, is grace." (Searching For Sunday, Rachel Held Evans; P. 113)Oh how true my friends. We are all invited to experience the gift of God's grace. God's grace is eucharisto and has a way of always getting through. God's grace is always always enough! It is a gift of healing and reconciliation for all of God's people; saints and sinners alike.
The gift is that church is the one place where God invites all of us to come to the table. Church is the place where we can share in our "me toos." Church is the place where we can come and know that we are imperfect people loved by a perfect God. And as imperfect people, we are going to stumble along the way. We are going to disagree. We are going to have to ask for God's forgiveness. We are going to have to pick ourselves, dust ourselves off and continue to journey along. We are going to have to be continually reminded of who and whose we are."But our God is in the business of transforming ordinary things into holy things, scraps of food into feasts and empty purification vessels into fountains of fine wine. This God God knows his way around the world, so there's no need to fear, no need to withhold, no need to stake a claim. There's always enough---just taste and see. There's always and ever enough. (Searching, Rachel Held Evans, P. 157)."
And as God's beloved children, we are always invited to the table; called to 'taste and see' what Christ has done for us. It is our call as Christ's disciples to invite others to that table as well; to know that this table is for all of us with all of our brokenness to come and REMEMBER all Christ has done for us. I realize that is not an easy call for any of us, but that is the beauty of God's grace, God calls us to show God's love to one another. And in this book, Rachel continually reminds us of this glorious messed up church whose doors are open to all of God's people.
"And even still, the kingdom of God remains a mystery just beyond our grasp. It is here, and not yet, present and still to come. Consummation, whatever that means, awaits us. Until then, all we have are metaphors. All we have are almosts and not quites and wayside shrines. All we have are imperfect people in an imperfect world doing their best to produce outward signs of inward grace and stumbling along the way. All we have is this church--this lousy, screwed-up, glorious church--which by God's grace is enough. (Searching for Sunday, P. 256)
And to that my friends, I simply say AMEN!
I am linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story and Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart.