Rachel Held Evans passed away early this morning.

Rachel was a friend, though like many today I'm grieving the fact that we didn't get to spend more time together. But mostly I am devastated for Dan and their children, along with the Held and Evans families.

It seems like only yesterday that I opened an email in 2010 from Rachel, telling me she followed and loved the blog and asking if I'd like to receive a copy of her first book Evolving in Monkey Town. That started our friendship over emails and through social media. We met for the first time at ACU where we discussed our lives as bloggers in an Honors College forum. Later, Jana and I visited Rachel and Dan in Dayton, TN, an experience I wrote about in a post "Visiting and Evolving in Monkey Town."

Rachel was brilliant, talented, kind, warm and so, so courageous. I cherish the books she was able to share with us, but I'm grieving the books we have lost. But mostly, I'm grieving the loss of her. And I know for many of you Rachel's blog, Twitter feed, and books have been so influential in your faith journey. Today we lost a friend and the church an incandescent, prophetic voice. As Rachel wrote in Searching for Sunday:
The purpose of the church, and of the sacraments, is to give the world a glimpse of the kingdom, to point in its direction. When we put a kingdom-spin on ordinary things--water, wine, leadership, marriage, friendship, feasting, sickness, forgiveness--we see that they can be holy, they can point us to something greater than ourselves, a fantastic mystery that brings meaning to everything. We make something sacramental when we make it like the kingdom. Marriage is sacramental when it is characterized by mutual love and submission. A meal is sacramental when the rich and poor, powerful and marginalized, sinners and saints share equal status around the table. A local church is sacramental when it is a place where the last are first and the first are last and those who hunger and thirst are fed. And the church universal is sacramental when it knows no geographic boundaries, no political parties, no single language or culture, and when it advances not through power and might, but through acts of love, joy, and peace and missions of mercy, kindness, and humility.
Rachel's life was a sacrament of the kingdom, everything she did pointed in that direction. Rachel pointed us toward marriages characterized by mutual love and submission, and toward a church characterized by acts of love, joy, and peace and missions of mercy, kindness, and humility.

Rest now, sweet sister. Until we meet again in the sunlight of that bright and coming Day.

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