It’s incredible how much I have been impacted by the death of someone who’s ‘prolific’. I can’t fully comprehend it. I think the last time I hurt this much was when my grandfather passed away a decade ago.
It kind of scares me. I think the reason that I have been affected to this extent is because Rachel Held Evans was someone who was a faithful presence to anyone who knew her. She never wavered in her commitment to others. She never wavered in her support of others. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts where Rachel was graced as a guest this week. She saw the good in people. She celebrated people. SHE WAS KIND (but also called people out, as needed). She gave people a platform – people who wouldn’t normally have a platform otherwise. She helped bring many back to a local church, recognizing that doubt and faith and go hand-in-hand. She recognized her own limits and privilege – I was listening to Matthias Roberts’ Queerlogy podcast and she talked about how she recognized she was probably the second non-queer person to be on his show. And she didn’t compromise when she fought for her friends. she didnt back down. Never! And she didnt definitely didn’t compromise when fighting for the dignity of the LGBTQIA+ community, much to the chagrin of many. Reading tribute after tribute, blog post after blog post, tweet after tweet, reinforces this.
Seeing everyone hurt is really difficult, but to see the depth of the lives she’s touched, both directly and indirectly, is just astounding. But of course, that makes me even sadder.
I also can’t keep thinking about how the news about Rachel’s illness surfaced on Holy Saturday, the day where the Church waits for what seems like forever. Without end. The disciples probably thought about how this was the end. The one they had followed for a few years they saw killed by one of the most gruesome ways to die. And surely this was the end. “What do we do now?” But 2000 years later, we know that wasn’t the end. And so on Saturday night we move from the sorrow and emptiness of Holy Saturday into the eager anticipation of the knowlegement that our Lord defied human odds and appeared in human flesh. On Holy Saturday, as we waited in that tension, thousands of faithful Christians, doubtful Christians, and ex-Christians-hurt-by-God alike offered desperate prayers to God for healing. I remember my brother Kevin, tweeted about asking God to wake this little girl, His daughter, up. Yet for reasons that we dont know, our Lord raised Jesus up from the dead, but instead he brought Rachel into his eternal rest instead….
I believe in God, the father almighty, the creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ God’s only son our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; on the third day he rose from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, and he will come to judge the living and the death.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, amen.
“Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.”
John 21:1-14 NLT
I am devastated. I’ve questioned every theological thing I can think of. Especially the goodness of God. I’ve resorted to quiet but desperate prayers for the Lord to tarry and come back soon. But I’ve also been mumbling the Apostles creed over and over again. Especially the last part. The tenets that i have gone back and forth about whether it’s something of true validity and something that I truly believe in. But right now it’s what I cling to: the hope of the resurrection. The hope of the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Life that will never fail. I cling to the day when family members no longer die, nations no longer drop toxic lethal bombs, politicians no longer make vile remarks, white armchair theologians on the internet no longer make damaging remarks within the comfort of 280 characters and decide someone else’s salvations, depression no longer holds dominion, marriages no longer crumble, and people no longer have to come out. I cling to the promise that one day Christ will come and make all things new.
I cannot wait for the day where I am able to meet this eishet chayil, this woman of valor. But for now I’m going to grieve, and I’m going to keep being part of the faith tradition that I discovered after reading Searching for Sunday. I’m going to fight for my all brothers and sisters (yes, its possible to do that) the same way she faithfully had done.
Even in the abundance of my doubt, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Behold this wonderous mystery of faith! Christ has died, Christ is risen, and we desperately look forward to the day where Christ will come again. One day, death will have no more sting. Amen.
Thank you Rachel for your faithful witness. Rest well.
If you are hurting because of her death, check out Everything Happens. they are offering grief counseling services and that’s just incredible.