A mission scholar reflects on the future of the UMC with “the grit of a blues artist.”
REV. DR. BENJAMIN L HARTLEY
UM & Global
“Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem… They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?” John 11:55-57
The Scripture text above for the day before Palm Sunday ends with a question: Will Jesus show up? It is a question many people in The United Methodist Church are asking – sometimes with anguish in their hearts, yearning for renewal.
At our best, I think we ask this question not with anxious handwringing but with what Cornel West calls a “blues sensibility” sort of faith. Our eyes are wide open to the problems in our church and world, but we have faith that Jesus will always show up. It is the faith and love of Jesus working out in our lives that moves us with hope and a persistent unconditional love for others. At our best we sing with the pathos of a famous African American spiritual as our model, yearning for the “City Called Heaven.” It is that ultimate hope expressed with the grit of a blues artist that I pray will animate our life together as United Methodists in the years to come.
Where do I see this happening? What gives me this kind of gritty hope for the UMC? I have two stories.