Embracing a Future We Cannot SeeBy GEORGIA HARRISON
The Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, senior minister at Riverside Church in New York City, spoke on “Embracing a Future We Cannot See: Conversations on Becoming the Beloved Community” at the 2015 Perkins Lectures at First UMC Wichita Falls on March 8-9, 2015.
Dr. Butler preached on Sunday morning about the Ten Commandments as the blueprints of the church and said, “How shameful and embarrassing it is for us to use what God intended as a blueprint for human community instead as a weapon for the exploitation and exclusion of folks who need this kind of life-giving community.” She encouraged us to hear again God’s best dream for us. We can live lives and build community that reflect the radical love that Jesus came to teach us, building “communities that can lead our very hurting world to a future where all of God’s children are loved and blessed."
Dr. Butler’s lecture Sunday evening was “When Everything Changes,” focusing on the changes in the institutional church, raising the question of “how we become beloved community in the way of Jesus when the very way we’ve known to do this our whole lives is changing so quickly.”
People are leaving institutional religion in droves because religion isn’t compelling to them anymore or they are mad at the church for not taking a stand on controversial issues.
None of us know what the future of the church will hold. But she encouraged us to relax against our own experience, because we know how to be the beloved community, the beautiful blueprint of God’s imagination. We know how God transforms us and how to live and to love in the way of Jesus, even when everything changes.
Dr. Butler’s lecture Monday morning was “Back to Basics.” She began by asking, “What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?” She asked if the church has any relevance in today’s society since it is often not showing up to deal with problems in society.
She said that the Gospel boils down to loving God and loving neighbors. The church is not going away because we long for a place to ask questions about God and things that matter. The church is a training ground for radical love. The world needs the beloved community.
We need to do the hard work of letting go of the trappings of the past in order to become again the beloved community. We have to have those hard conversations, but we need to go back to the basics of loving God and loving each other.
Dr. Butler’s lecture Monday evening was “Risky Becoming.” She addressed the fear of welcoming a future that we can’t imagine. She suggests that we embrace edgy prophecy, diverse community, public witness and stalwart faithfulness.