Like so many others, I grieve the tragic death of author, speaker, and prophet Rachel Held Evans, who unexpectedly and tragically died Saturday after complications from the flu and resulting allergic reactions to antibiotics. She was 37, and leaves behind husband Dan and two small children.
I've long admired her work, from her earliest blog posts to her interactions on Twitter to her bestselling memoirs. She was faithful. She asked difficult questions. She openly challenged the forces who would seek to oppress. She spoke of love, and of grace, and of mercy.
Hop on Twitter today and you'll find thousands of touching tributes - women, "ex-vangelicals," LGBTQ people, those who describe themselves as Spiritual-but-not-Religious, people of color, and countless others who found in Rachel hope, inspiration, and even an affirmation of their holy calling... that they, too, had a place in the body of Christ and an invitation to participate in God's work of bringing about the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
This is holy work, and if Twitter is any indication, Rachel helped many, many people begin to see themselves as the beloved, created, image-of-God-bearing people they are.
I know this to be true for me, too. I first found her writing when self-doubt lingered in my soul. Later, I had the incredible privilege of serving on the launch team for two of her books (Searching for Sunday and Inspired). Coincidentally, this was at a time in my life where I was struggling with feeling like a fraud, and where I was actively wondering if I could ever begin to find the courage to bring all of myself to my ministry. In short, the pastoral lens I brought to the launch team, joining alongside others in exploring, examining, and excitedly sharing her work, was not only great fun, the experience also helped me to hone my voice as a pastor-educator just out of seminary. Rachel helped me to trust that - by God's Grace - my voice, my ministry, my presence - all of me - matters.
Many have spoken far more eloquently in tribute to Rachel than what I can. Thus, I thought I'd simply link to my past reviews, with much gratitude for those who first introduced me to her writing, and to the launch team opportunity.
Well done, Rachel Held Evans, good and faithful servant. Rest in power.
I'm a husband, father, news junkie, theatre lover, enneagram enthusiast, bi advocate, amateur foodie, wannabe barista, and an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
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