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  • Writer's picturegraeme

Lockdown Reflections Day 39: Thank God for Rachel

Rachel Held Evans passed away a year ago today. After a very short illness, this young mother of two small children, and wife to Dan, slipped out of the coma she had been in and passed into eternity. The shockwaves rippled around the world.

Rachel had burst into my world a few years earlier with a superb book, “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” in which she documented her attempts to follow to literalistic precision all the instructions for women in the Bible. She discovered very quickly that this was literally impossible, and her book was an attempt to come to terms with what the Bible is and is not.

Surely if it’s meant to be a rule book, or at least God’s manual for how life should be lived, it couldn’t be impossible to follow or implement. Rachel went on to write two further books, and was a prolific blogger and speaker.

It’s tough to be a Christian at the moment. It’s tough for any religion I suppose. And I guess that’s why I am seeing a huge correlation between conservative religious beliefs and a willingness to believe conspiracy theories about Covid-19. It’s easier to believe that 5G, or a Chinese lab, or Bill Gates or the Illuminati is destroying the world than have to accept that your God has abandoned you.

As with any global tragedy, religion will be changed as much as any other aspect of society as we emerge out the other side.

But my faith stands firm. And it was people like Rachel Held Evans who helped me to build a new faith over the past decade or so. I don’t know what’s going on with Covid-19. But then I don’t know what’s going on with climate change, or global poverty and wealth inequality, or gender based violence, or war or corruption. Actually, I do. It’s people’s selfishness and self-centredness. It’s greed and envy and lust and fear. What I don’t understand is why these things appear to be winning.

And into that world, Rachel reminded me, God comes not as a vengeful owner returned after a long absence who sees no choice but to wipe everything out and start again, but rather as a kind, eternally patient, loving parent who will soothe, and calm, and heal and love, even just by their presence.

And the most significant way this God becomes visible in the world is through my actions. It is in my caring for widows and orphans, my sharing of what I have with those who do not, my push back against unjust systems and corrupt institutions, my reaching out to all those who have been excluded, my love of others, that God is made visible in this world.

Whether you are religious or not, the world view Rachel espoused is a good one to follow. It’s the way of love. And from what I can see, it sums up all of the Law and the Prophets perfectly. I think it sums up everything good about following Jesus.

One year after her passing, I continue to thank God that we had Rachel in our world. She left too soon. But she left a better world behind her when she departed. I would be happy if my life - however long it may last - could do the same.

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