Christianity 201

June 2, 2019

Excerpts from the Program and Funeral Liturgy for Rachel Held Evans

This is something rather different today. Please bear with us as we offer a different type of content for our Sunday Worship feature. The funeral for author Rachel Held Evans took place on Saturday, June 1st at First-Centenary United Methodist Church. For a link to the full text of the Requiem Eucharist or a link to the full video, click here. Because so much of this is either direct quotation or allusion to familiar scripture texts, we are foregoing our usual practice of place Bible quotations in a different color.

I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord.
Whoever has faith in me shall have life,
even though she die.
And everyone who has life,
and has committed herself to me in faith,
shall not die for ever.

As for me,
I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking,
he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.

I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.
For none of us has life in himself,
and none becomes her own master when she dies.
For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord.
So, then, whether we live or die,we are the Lord’s possession.

Isaiah 2:2-5

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.
”For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more


Leader: Let us in the presence of God and one another confess our brokenness and strife. Holy One who makes all things new:

People: We confess that we have sinned against you and one another. We have thought better of ourselves than others. We have told lies, said hurtful things, acted in ways we wish we could take back, and looked the other way when action was needed. We cannot live up to even our own values and ideals. But you make all things new. In your infinite compassion, set us free from the bondage of sin and shame and lead us to the new life in Christ that you have prepared for us. Amen.

Leader: God, who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, loves you as you are. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

People: Amen.


Leader: When the disciples were locked in a room mourning the death of Jesus, he appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you”; and then, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon them.

Leader: The Peace of the Lord be always with you.

People: And also with you.


Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are those whom no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers. The closeted. The teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like. Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried. Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else. Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.” Blessed are those who mourn.You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

I imagine Jesus standing here blessing us because that is our Lord’s nature. This Jesus cried at his friend’s tomb, turned the other cheek, and forgave those who hung him on a cross. He was God’s Beatitude— God’s blessing to the weak in a world that admires only the strong.

Jesus invites us into a story bigger than ourselves and our imaginations, yet we all get to tell that story with the scandalous particularity of this moment and this place. We are storytelling creatures because we are fashioned in the image of a storytelling God. May we never neglect that gift. May we never lose our love for telling the story. Amen.