When I first came to The Riverside Church in the City of New York, there were a lot of stories about the fact that I was the first female senior minister to step into this historic pulpit. In nearly every interview I got the question: what is it like to be a woman in this role? And my standard answer was that I wanted to be known as a pastor who happens to be a woman, not a woman pastor…. Read more

Unreasonable Love Rev. Dr. Amy Butler John 15:9-17 Okay, let’s pretend we’re all Christians here. We’ll assume for the next few minutes that we have all personally decided to be Christians, that is, followers of Jesus Christ, so let’s now speak frankly about what being a Christian is like in America in 2018. Most of us know what’s expected when you say you’re a Christian: accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior in just the right way. And when you do… Read more

Fooled by the Past Rev. Dr. Amy Butler John 10:11-18 As you may recall, it was April Fool’s Day that ushered us into this season of Easter—the weeks following Easter Sunday—when we read the stories of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances and reckon with the difficult-to-believe reality of resurrection, an idea that flies in the face of everything we know to be true about being human. During these weeks of the Easter season we’re grappling with experiences we have that try our… Read more

#FoolsToo Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Mark 16:1-8 The date was April 8, 2007, Easter Sunday morning.  The church was filled with people dressed in their finest.  There were flowers everywhere and a spirit of joyful anticipation in the air.  Much like today. As I recall, the sanctuary of my former church in Washington, D.C., was set up specially that day, with risers behind the pulpit for the special festival choir to sit during the service.  I was preaching the Easter… Read more

It’s been 15 years since Fred Rogers died. To be honest, I never really knew him as “Fred;” he was always Mr. Rogers to me and probably to a lot of you. I remember thinking as a child that Mr. Rogers was a little strange—he wore some ugly sweaters and played with puppets on TV, after all. But, of course had I known he was a minister, Rev. Fred Rogers, that would have made all the sense in the world…. Read more

Making a Movement Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Mark 11:1-11 There was bright sunshine warming the cool air as thousands of people gathered in the streets, chanting and waving, singing and marching.  They were there because they wanted change to come, because they’d been invited to gather to make a statement with their very presence.  That was the scene more than 2000 years ago in the streets of Jerusalem, the day we remember today. Welcome to the start of Holy Week,… Read more

“We have had enough.  All we want is this: we want you to come to the table and figure things out.” The statement sounds a bit like it’s coming from an exasperated mother, sick and tired of hearing her children squabble with each other.  And in a manner of speaking, that’s exactly what it is. Spurred on by what has become a deadlock, a hopeless political standoff, women from all over Israel and Palestine have risen up to demand peace. … Read more

This week in particular it seems appropriate to continue reporting on the #HolyWomenHolyLand trip with a quote from non-violent Palestinian activist and political leader Issa Amro, who met with our group after an emotional walk through the formerly bustling Palestinian city of Hebron. Issa Amro grew up in the city of Hebron.  He was in college when the Second Intifada began and the presence of Israeli troops in the West Bank increased significantly.  During that time Issa began to realize… Read more

One of the people we met on this trip told us: “The two most dangerous things to lose are hope and fear.”  Our next experience painted that truth in living color. This is going to be a hard post to read; it was hard to write.  Monday afternoon we paid a visit to the Aida Refugee Camp, a Palestinian Refugee Camp in the West Bank.  Established in 1950, about 3500 people live in a very small space with no privacy,… Read more

On Monday we started our day in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally celebrated as the birthplace of Jesus.  The experience was much like other Christian sites in the Holy Land: overly ornate and run by different Christian groups jockeying for ownership and control.  All around the church, however, the atmosphere felt tense.  Palestinians largely populate Bethlehem, and political and social conflict is high. We spent most of the morning meeting with powerful women working to transform their society from… Read more

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