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BY REV. ALEXIS JAMES WAGGONER

May 7, 2019


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Rachel Held Evans has died at 37, but her legacy of fierce love and inclusiveness lives on.
A tribute to Rachel Held Evans in the New Yorker highlights her brand of “radically inclusive Christianity,” which many of us affiliated with The Resistance Prays subscribe to. Speaking to her journey away from the harmful tenets of Evangelical Christianity, her friend Nadia Bolz-Weber explains, “Rachel pried open the door and then put her foot in the threshold and kept it open for other people.”
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! … I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. - Psalm 130:1-2. 5-7
I was one of the people who walked through the door that Rachel Held Evans pried open. My journey out of the conservatism of the Evangelical church in many ways followed hers. And, while I hesitate to memorialize her, for so many more eloquent things have been said, I must acknowledge publicly the role she played not only in my own life, but in the lives of so many women I knew who were hurt by the conservative church.
 
Psalm 130 has a special Latin name: De Profundis. Fittingly, this means “out of the depths” and it speaks to the very visceral and necessary action of crying out to God. In the beginning of this Psalm, that’s exactly what’s happening. The Psalmist is crying out to God, personally, from the depths of despair.

The Psalms express repeated concern with the “heart,” which is used to refer to elements like “spirit,” and “soul.” (The soul is featured prominently in Psalm 130.) A common theme, and one we see in Psalm 130, is that the person whose heart waits for the Lord without turning back will come close to God.
 
Elsewhere in scripture the heart is given to evil, said to be “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9) and untrustworthy. But this language rarely shows up in the Psalms. Instead, if one’s heart is oriented to God, evil is far from it. In fact, commentators point out, the Psalms underscore the belief that the way to find God is to look within.

This message is entirely congruent with the life, work, and memory of R.H.E. She rejected the dualism present in the church of her upbringing, embracing instead a theology of radical inclusivity - stepping through the door of the notion that we are made in the image of God, exactly as we should be. Praise God that she planted her foot on that threshold, stubbornly refused to move, and ushered so many through the doorway.
If Rachel Held Evans' life and work touched your heart, you can write to her family. If you’re so inclined, there’s also a GoFundMe page set up to help them - including her two young kids.

Regardless, if Rachel’s life touched you, or those in your community, share these opportunities, and her books, and her love, with the world around you!
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
 - Mary Oliver
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