Over the past few days, I have been watching lectures and Q&A sessions with Rosaria Butterfield. At this point, she has authored two books (not counting professional publications.) Her most recent being Openness Unhindered. The first was The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.
As you can imagine, with the different interviews and lectures, I have been struck with a number of things about her. Writing them down here will help me prioritize them.
- Her deep and utter understanding of her primary problem before her salvation not being her lesbianism, but rather her unbelief.
Our Christian community tends so often to focus on the symptoms of our unbelief rather than the root of our problem itself. It’s a lot like the doctor who continues to treat a fever with tylenol and not look for the cause of the fever which might need an antibiotic or maybe even surgery!
We underestimate the power of hospitality which is clearly illustrated in her story
- Her emphasis on the need for true hospitality and genuine neighborliness in our relationships. Hearing how she learned those skills in the LGBT community is hard to hear. Often we think we don’t want to emulate anything about “them.” Yet she says with fondness that the hospitality she learned in that community is the same kind she still uses today.
For many of us, our desire for truth, keeps us from the very people who need to hear it…wrapped in the velvet glove of love for sure, but truth just the same!
It is so often over a meal that difficult topics can be discussed, hard questions can be asked…and mulled over. But only after the groundwork of a relationship has been laid…around a table of food! It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just there and good.
I still remember the surprisingly simple meals offered by Edith Schaeffer at L’Abri in Switzerland when we visited with friends in the late 70’s. Often a simple soup, bread, salad. Maybe a dessert. It depended on what was available from the garden. There wasn’t a lot of to-do. Just a neatly set table, fresh flowers and food.
On Wednesday evenings here in Huntsville, our small group gets together for a meal. Our hostess definitely has the gift of hospitality! They have been in the military all over the world. Usually when we arrive, the table isn’t set. While the last of the meal is being prepared, we set the table, put ice in the glasses, help get the food lined up buffet style.
During the week prior, she tells us what the main dish will be that either she or another person in the group is fixing and what is needed. The rest of us bring the accompanying dishes. It always works out.
We chat as we set up, about the day or week. People walk in the unlocked door. For the newcomer, it often seems chaotic, but there is a rhythm to it. Is it neat and tidy? No. But everyone feels comfortable. There is no pretend. We come the way we are. Many come straight from work.
We have quite a variety of people in our group and are all from our church so it isn’t the kind of hospitality Rosaria is talking about. We are couples, singles, working, retired, parents with children still at home, in college, newly in careers and long grown. At times, a neighbor comes and brings a bottle of wine. Or houseguests or others join us.
It is good hospitality. We have gotten to know each other at a deeper level than we would at church. This is where we pray for each other and discuss GOD’s Word… a little. This is where we catch up with each others’ lives and love.
Her understanding that we need to bring the Church to those who don’t know Christ first. That’s one of the purposes of hospitality. It is a bridge between real life and the church.
We underestimate the power of the means of grace to conquer longstanding sin
(more to come on this later)
- Her articulation of the relationship of longstanding sin and the means of grace is the most helpful one I have heard. It may not be new to you, but I had never heard it articulated in that way. I found it extremely helpful and am still mulling it over.
I’m including one of the lectures she gave of her testimony as well as the Q & A following it. There are more on her website. I think you will find it interesting and helpful. Her background in English gives a richness to her writing and speaking that I wish I had.
Since I come from almost the exact opposite background from hers, I appreciate her insights on questions and on the traditional church in general. She is very insightful. I realize some of my “truthful” comments on Facebook haven’t been very loving! I have some apologies to make!
Her discussions about the presuppositions of many in these communities that are foreign to many of us has been very helpful. I have much to chew on. This and many other interviews are found on her website. I love how open she is with the question times.
And I haven’t read her books yet! That is going to change very soon for sure. They are available through her website. Take advantage of the opportunity!
Listen and see where GOD speaks to you in areas that need change.