If you’ve listened to more than one interview or sermon from our new Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, no doubt you’ve encountered this phrase: “The Jesus Movement.”
Like every good public figure, Michael has given us a tagline, a sound bite, by which to identify his core message and mission as our new leader.
I’ve been excited by these three words… and spent some time on my morning walk trying to unpack what it is that gets me going when I hear “the Jesus Movement.”
I realized, in part, that I am attracted to the edgy, radical nature of a “movement.” I am just old enough to be considered part of the baby boomer generation… and just young enough to have missed a full engagement with the 1960s and its provocative, sit-in-protest-Woodstock-free-love-drug-hazed-rock-and-roll- days. There were several movements in that era, carried along by our country’s young adults challenging injustice and the status quo. I will admit that I have romanticized that era, and- in spite of having brothers in the Navy and the Army during the Vietnam war- I seem to step over the memories of the carnage of war, students killed on university campuses and riots surrounding racial justice. I’ve clung onto the idea of a “movement” as something that sounds brave, thrilling and prophetic. And, I think that movements are, brave, thrilling and prophetic. But they have their costs as well as their rewards. The 1960s “movement” dubbed as “anti-authoritarian” struggled to effect change in civil rights, women’s rights and issues human sexuality. It cost lives, included no small amount of violence and strife and… it made great strides. And, as I look around today, there’s still plenty of work to do. The Jesus Movement is not, in my mind, the next-best-plan for how to solve our on-going social ills; it is a way of life that changes us at our very core- when we “turn and accept Jesus as our Lord, putting our whole trust in his grace and love. “(BCP pg. 301)
I wonder what Presiding Bishop Curry really means when he talks about the Jesus Movement. It’s too early to know, but here’s what I’m hoping for:
· A re-focusing on living our lives with the teachings of Jesus as the center point
· Support for the actions that flow from a sharpened focus
· A letting go of structures- institutional, physical, and hierarchical- that do not serve us as we follow Christ. A release of the need to perpetuate systems for systems’ sake.
· The freedom to deviate from the norm for the sake of justice, joy, progress
· The holding up of community as a necessary component for action. (A “movement’ requires group participation)
· The exercise of that community in prayer, worship, fellowship, sharing time at table and hearth together.
· The exploration of new ways of “being church” that dissolves boundaries and reaches into our neighborhoods… our local contexts.
That’s just a beginning… I wonder how you imagine the Jesus Movement to look as it shapes up.
The truth is we’ve been at this Jesus Movement for a couple of thousand years. It was kindled by a Jewish rabbi who gathered some fisherman, a tax collector, a few prostitutes and sinners and taught them God’s way of justice and peace and love. It was catapulted into a scary, electric, compelling, risky venture at dawn on the first Easter morning when the stone was found rolled away and the tomb empty. Since that moment, the power of Jesus the Christ, the resurrected One, has been pulling us forward, gathering steam and working to make justice, peace and love part of our common experience. We’ve added some layers, as humans are wont to do: layers of ritual, tradition, thought and argument, buildings, corporate structure… and now…it’s time to get back- to the movement.
How will you join the Jesus Movement? How are you already at work as one of its followers? One of his followers? And where do you think we’ll go, next?