The church is God saying: ‘I’m throwing a banquet, and all these mismatched, messed-up people are invited. Here, have some wine.’ (Rachel Held Evans)
One of the great voices of my generation, Rachel Held Evans gave so much of herself to seeing the church become more of what Christ intended. Though she is gone from this world, her words still ring clearly with truth and joy and love. And so many of them are words all of us in the church (and the world) need to hear now.
This is one of my favorite quotes because it what I have always believed about the church. Like the “Isle of Misfit Toys” from the old Rankin-Bass movie, the church is meant to be a place where no one would seem to fit and yet everyone is welcomed, valued, and empowered.
I remember when my Grandpa died (my mother’s father), his obituary was one of the longest I had ever seen. It included family, extended family, friends who were family, and then just friends, too. It was a testament to his life and the way he loved people precisely where they were.
During the wake, one of our relatives made fun of my mother for “taking in strays,” referring to people who no one wanted around. It was hurtful, but also something that my mother turned around and said, “yes, absolutely.” Because she had been raised by her father to believe that everyone deserves a place to be loved. And family is just that place.
It should not be surprising that I would have somehow picked up on this notion throughout my childhood and early adulthood. Nor that I ended up in the church. Because the church is the place where all people – strays, outcasts, even the overly pious – are welcome.
We are not perfect. We do not seem like the “type” of people who would get along. But the beauty of the church comes when we start to realize that Christ has called us together. Celebrating our differences, relishing in them, even. And also pushing us to work together in spite of them.
We have a much higher calling than to simply show up for worship on Sunday or bible study once a week.
It is our job to show a world full of fear, despair, and suffering, that there is hope. That God’s justice will overcome. And that love will win.
We can start by echoing this message so poignantly stated by our late sister theologian. It does not matter who you are, what you believe, where you come from, or what you have done. God is throwing one crazy, incredible banquet – and all of us are invited.