Sarah Hayward started attending New Comm with her husband, Dan, 8 years ago. They have been deeply invested ever since and now attend with their two children, Sedona and Boston. Sarah grew up in the Evangelical world, where she found answers for every question in a curious child’s mind. It wasn’t until college that she began to see contradictions to those answers and more gray amidst the black and white. Sarah’s curiosity and devotion to Jesus has put her on a path of continued learning, discovery and growth. Below are her thoughts on how the “&” sermon series at New Comm has affected her faith journey.
what is your context for faith?
The church I grew up in was an Evangelical Free Church. Their ways of thinking were more rigid: “this is the way to live, these are the answers, there is right and wrong.” Attending college at Marquette University started to crack open parts of this rigid understanding. Their Jesuit devotion to service was pivotal. I began to see beyond my personal life of faith. A semester abroad in Australia continued this pivot. For the first time I was a minority and being a Christian was actually frowned upon. My eyes were opened to new ideas, new ways of living, and a vast array of experiences in the world.
how do you hold onto faith amidst doubt?
I can’t ignore the many and profound ways that I have experienced God. You can make up an explanation for anything you want to say, but I choose to see that God is in it. Sometimes my upbringing can lead me to be fearful of doubt, but I really do think that God is so much bigger than we realize and God welcomes doubt, questions, and true legitimate searching. We are in God’s hands and God knows our heart.
how has the “&” sermon series impacted your faith journey?
This series fits the path I’m on really well. The wheels were already turning for me. Looking at differing perspectives on some very familiar stories has been so beneficial. I’ve been learning that even in the bible itself, people don’t have God’s character all figured out. The same stories can be communicated differently in different chapters. It’s an exercise of wisdom to be able to change - to allow yourself to learn new things about the same book. You have to have faith that God will lead you to the truth, but it takes work. It’s not going to be spelled out for you.
what do you need moving forward from this series?
More of this. I am navigating how to read my bible in this season. Having kids has already changed my bible reading, but when I do have a moment to think about it I don’t know where to start. To honor the text, it can seem like I need to do a full blown study with lots of concordances. I’ve read the bible at a surface level multiple times, and I feel the need to dig deeper. These sermons help give me cultural context and break open the stories that I’ve heard many times.
what have you learned about god’s character recently?
I am realizing with more and more clarity, the open arms of God. I grew up with an exclusive Christianity where some people were definitely out and I was definitely in, but I am learning that God wants everyone in - all of us. It’s not about the barriers we put up or the judgments we put on other people. When I see radical hospitality in the scriptures, I am reminded that God loves everyone as much as he loves me.