By the Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
St. Patrick of Ireland
The late Verna Dozier gave her book, The Dream of God, a suggestive subtitle: A Call to Return. The witness of the Hebrew prophets in the Bible was a call to the people of God to return to the Lord, to return to their roots as the people of God (see Joel 2:13 for example). In the Bible, that call to return was actually an invitation to become who they truly were: the people of God.
The invitation to become more fully the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement is just such an opportunity. This isn’t a new program, or a catchy new slogan, or even a new idea. Rather, this is a call to claim or reclaim the deepest origins of who we are as baptized disciples and followers of Jesus in the Anglican Episcopal way. This is an invitation to place Christ at the very center of our lives individually and together as the Episcopal Church. And that is a game changer.
In the first century, Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. It was a movement whose goal was to change the world from the nightmare it often is into something closer to God’s dream and deep, passionate desire for it—what the Bible often calls the Kingdom, the Reign of God.
It was a movement composed of very ordinary people of extraordinary diversity. They were, as St. Paul said, Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, male and female (Galatians 3:29). They were poor people and wealthy people. They were differing ethnicities and political ideologies.
What bound them together? What gave them purpose?
As the martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer once observed, Christ was at the center of their lives individually and their life together. This was a movement, a community of people who committed and centered their very lives, their fortunes, and their eternal destinies to following the teachings, walking the way, and living in the Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen from the dead!
It was a movement of people for whom Christ was the center of their lives, such that his life breathed through their lives. And though mortal and sinful and fallible, they found themselves
Loving like Jesus,
Giving like Jesus,
Forgiving like Jesus,
Just like Jesus.
They became the Jesus Movement, the Body of Christ, the hands, the feet, the heart of Jesus in the world in their time. And therein is our origin and our identity as baptized disciples of Jesus of Nazareth today, in the Episcopal way of following him.
My deep prayer for our time together as the 79th General Convention and beyond is that Jesus will be at the center of every moment of worship, in every discussion and debate, in our times of study, moments of discernment, times of refreshment — May Christ be the center. And as that happens we are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement.
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of In Conversation, the semi-annual magazine from the Diocese of Oregon. Click here to read more stories from In Conversation online.