Moving into May we will drop into the St. James the Less book group and see how the writings of Rachel Held Evans bring the gospel to life.
The Gospel for the seventh Sunday of Easter, John 17:6-19
Jesus prayed for his disciples, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
Rachel Held Evans was born in Alabama then moved to Tennessee. She was raised in the Evangelical Church and later became an Episcopalian. She married her college sweetheart, and they had two children. In 2015, she spoke to a clergy gathering at Shrine Mont. She was one of us. She walked with us. She did not set out to become well known. God saw fit to bestow upon Rachel and then capitalize on her gifts for writing and expression, along with a passion to know God. Rachel Held Evans died prematurely, just two years ago, in May, following an allergic reaction to medication for an infection. She was 37.
Emma Green, writing for The Atlantic notes that Evans "was part of a vanguard of progressive-Christian women who fought to change the way Christianity is taught and perceived in the United States." Green goes on to argue that Evans' legacy is "her unwillingness to cede ownership of Christianity to its traditional conservative-male stewards" and that her "very public, vulnerable exploration of a faith forged in doubt empowered a ragtag band of writers, pastors, and teachers to claim their rightful place as Christians."
The gospel reading for this last Sunday in Easter is something of a prayer Jesus offers to his Father about his disciples. It could easily have been Rachel’s prayer to her God, about her followers. It could be the prayer of any mother to her children. It is an intimate prayer of great love in the face of great sacrifice, one that has been uttered for over two millennia. Thanks be to God!
Interested in hearing more of Rachel Held Evans? Join us for Book Club on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. as Fr. Rock and friends delve into Searching For Sunday. Any and all area invited. You can pick up where we are; no preparation necessary.
For your convenience:
Join the meeting on Zoom HERE.
Or call in at 1 301 715 8592 and enter: meeting ID: 840 2332 3497 | passcode: 570346.