Recently I was listening to a podcast, a conversation between Bishop Michael Curry and Shane Claiborne.
You may be a bit familiar with Bishop Curry but maybe not with Shane Claiborne. He is the founding partner of The Simple Way, a faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is also a leading figure in the New Monasticism movement.
Bishop Curry and Shane were talking about what is called the Red Letter Christian movement, which is a non-denominational movement within Christianity. Years ago, and still in some Bibles today, the words attributed to Jesus were actually printed in red. The phrase “Red Letter Christians” came from an interview of Jim Wallis, the founding member of the Sojourners Community and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, by a DJ in Nashville, Tennessee. In the interview, the DJ said that he finds Christianity and the Bible difficult to understand sometimes but that he loves “the red letters,” meaning the actual words attributed to Jesus. From that conversation came the Red Letter movement.
In the conversation between Bishop Curry and Shane, they discuss how different it would be if we listened and lived into the words of Jesus as if he really meant them. I found that to be a simple but profound thought.
It reminded me of a quote from Richard Rohr’s book The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For and Believe, which is a must-read if you have not yet read it. Rohr says:
“Too often, we have substituted the messenger for the message. As a result, we spent a great deal of time worshiping the messenger and trying to get other people to do the same. Too often this obsession became a pious substitute for actually following what he taught—and he did ask us several times to follow him, and never once to worship him.”
May we strive to listen and follow the one whose words are transformative.
— Fr. GeorgeTags: From the Clergy, Hope for the Journey