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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday Sessions Current Read Searching for Sunday
by Rachel Held Evans pages 161-188

Hello again! Welcome to the brand-new Sunday Sessions where you are welcome to join my small group as we discuss life, liberty and the pursuit of the perfect cup of tea each week.

Chapter 23: Breath

Our church keeps records of attendance for members and as a way to connect with visitors. But on the flip-side is a space for prayer requests.

During church service today, I found myself drawing a blank. My ballpoint pen bounced on the lines. There was plenty to pray for. Some of my dearest friends are battling cancer, wrestling with being new mothers, in the beginning stages of pregnancy and marriage.

But for whatever reason, this morning there was a huge block. I was numb to the requests and the needs around me. Too caught up in task lists. Too focused on the projects, laundry, commute, guided readings, career goals, movie butter popcorn and finishing all six seasons of LOST to truly be plugged in.

That, in a sense, it what this chapter is about. Being numb to faith. Taking simple blessings, like breath, for granted. Stampeding over not fragile, but perhaps delicate, faith with rumbling, digital distractions.

Group thesis: Walks and sunsets along the Lafayette River can be a simple, quiet reminder that God is present.

There was also a reference to this scene from A Walk to Remember*. 

*I didn't mention this at group tonight, but definitely not a fan of this movie. At all. Sorry, friends! I like my romances comedic.

Can I quote you on that?: "We are born into a windy world, where the Spirit is steady as a breeze and as strong as a hurricane. There is no city, no village, no wilderness where you cannot find it. So pay attention" (Evans, 163).

Chapter 24: Wayside Shrines

Stop. Remember. Give thanks for where you are.

This chapter focused heavily on Rachel's (we talk about her as though we're her best friends) trip to a monastery that holds the Ava Maria Grotto (pictured above), miraculous replicas of tiny cities created by Brother Joseph in the 1920s-30s.

Group Thesis: The ceremony and rituals of church can be both comforting as well as reflective. So many are quick to dismiss them as ritualistic. Or a way to get by. If we use them correctly they can help slow us down and give us space to remember.

Can I quote you on that?: "It's funny how, after all those years attending youth events with light shows and bands, after all the contemporary Christian music and contemporary Christian books, after all the updated technology and dynamic speakers and missional enterprises and relevant marketing strategies designed to make Christianity cool, all I wanted from the church when I was ready to give it up was a quiet sanctuary and some candles. All I wanted was a safe place to be. Like so many, I was in search of sanctuary" (Evans, 174-174).

Chapter 25: Trembling Giant

Pando is a collection of trees in Fish Lake, Utah. Above the ground, they look like a forrest, a set of trees identical to one another. But they all share the same roots, the same DNA beneath the surface.

This is the modern church.

Group Thesis: For so long, the schisms, the disagreements within the differing church bodies seemed like something from out of C.S. Lewis' the Screwtape Letters: the work of the Enemy. Many of us had never considered the counterargument. That perhaps this is a fair, albeit imperfect, representation of the same faith across so many different nations and cultures.

After all, in Norfolk, Virginia, where many of us live, there are distinctive cultural shifts from one side of the train tracks to the other. Why would a world of faith and denominations look different?

Can I quote you on that?: "...Unity does not require uniformity" (Evans, 184).

"As my friend Ed puts it: 'When you join a church you're just picking which hot mess is your favorite'" (Evans, 185).

Chapter 26: Easter Doubt

Group thesis: We want our table, our community, our group to be a place of hard discussions. A place to admit when we have doubts or uncertainties that consume us or nip at our heels throughout the day. But we also want to be a place of restoration, a place of healing from doubt or cynicism.

Also, Rachel tends to get really heavy during events like brunch and baby showers. If she's going to be our friend, we want to make sure that she lets us enjoy our mimosas before she asks questions about death.

Can I quote you on that?: "...If the question gets answered too quickly or if the silence goes on too long – please know that you're not alone."

Are you having your own Sunday night session? Follow along with us on Instagram: #SundaySessions. Next week we'll be discussing pages 189-223. We'd love to hear from you and have you join along.

*All quotes and passages represented in this blog are the intellectual property of Rachel Held Evans and her book, Searching for Sunday.

photo credit: pie wedge, blueberries via photopin (license)

photo credit: Lourdesgrot, domein Ursulinen via photopin (license)

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