After I became a Christian during my junior year of college, I found myself attending a church where I heard the gospel of grace at Church every Sunday morning, at small group gatherings every Sunday night, and while sitting around kitchen tables and coffee tables with my new Christian friends as our conversations about Jesus lingered into the late hours of many nights. I soaked up the solid teaching and theology that was handed to me every time I turned around. At first I wondered why everyone kept talking about the gospel and how we all needed to “remind each other of the gospel.” But it didn’t take long to see why it was so necessary for my pastor and small group leaders and friends to be so repetitive. I kept forgetting the truths of the gospel and who I am as a daughter of God. 22 years later, I still forget the truths of the gospel and who I am as a daughter of God.

In one of the final chapters of Churchy, Sarah Condon quotes Rev. Dr. Stephen Tyng, sharing his words on the role of the Christian pastor:

We are never wearied with proclaiming the gracious message from God. We love to repeat this effective intelligence of pardon for the chief of sinners, through the atoning blood of an Almighty Savior.

Condon then says of Tyng’s instructions, “He told [pastors] that their job was to preach a word of grace over God’s people again and again and again.” This is an apt way for Condon to wrap up her first book because she has just heeded Tyng’s mandate throughout every page and chapter of Churchy. If you’re like me, you will appreciate the many opportunities Condon offers her readers to connect with our God who pours out love and grace and pardon to all who are hungry for the Bread of Life.

Touching on topics such as friendship, hospitality, marriage, motherhood, death, and church, Condon reveals our need for a Rescuer again and again and again. She does this with humor, graciousness, and a healthy (not too heavy) dose of self-deprecation. Condon is able to tackle these topics in a fresh, very readable, engaging manner because she sees herself, she sees those around her, and she sees the risen Christ. She also recognizes the power of narrative and how her personal stories connect with the larger Story of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration.

One of my favorite chapters of Churchy is “A Brief Argument in Favor of Christian Hypocrisy.” Condon writes about how some of us feel like we need to distinguish ourselves from other, less righteous, more hypocritical Christians—especially during the current political climate. But she says we’re all the same. Condon writes,

There are no hypocritical Christians. There are just Christians; the hypocritical aspect is a given. When we read St. Paul’s assessment of his own faith in Romans 7, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do,” what we are reading is a concise statement on what it means to be an authentically neurotic Christian aware of his or her own hypocrisy. We are powerless over ourselves.

Amen.

I wouldn’t be surprised if most people who read Condon’s words end up wishing they could befriend her in real life. I have spent a few minutes wondering if my husband could be transferred to Texas so I confess I’m officially a member of the Sarah Condon Fan Club. People who are drawn to Condon because her teaching and her words remind us of what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (RSV) How great would it be to have a friend who reminded you to rest in Jesus?

Unfortunately, we can’t all be besties with Condon. Texas is a big state, but it’s not that big. So what are we to do? By the grace of God, we have a bestie in the One who makes Condon’s message of grace possible, who asks us to do nothing. He takes our yoke and gives us the rest our souls crave.