With Red Letter Jesus, actor Brad Sherrill hopes his audience gets the feeling of what it would be like to meet Jesus in person today.
The performance, set for 4 p.m. Sunday at Vineville United Methodist Church, is based solely upon the words of Jesus from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
There was a version of the Bible that, I think, came out in the early 1900s that had all of the words of Jesus in red, Sherrill said. The show has no narratives; its like Jesus unplugged. It follows a linear art, with about 75 percent of his words. When you strip away the other stuff, you have Jesus words, which are beautiful, vital, comforting, healing and were truly radical in their time.
The challenge those words present to a modern audience led Sherrill to bring them to life in Red Letter Jesus, which premiered in 2011.
Jesus was overturning tables in the marketplace, but he also tried to overturn our way of thinking. I am a Christian, and I feel that a lot of Christians dont always get what Jesus preached, Sherrill said. Its important to hear what he preached rather than just about him. In the synoptic Gospels, he talks about our actions, pointing us toward a different way of living with each other: helping our neighbor, helping other people and loving our enemies.
The show also includes a multimedia presentation featuring videography taken by Sherrill and his program manager, Mark Hickman, on a helicopter tour of Israel.
We photographed the great geography and foliage along with other images to connect to the words. It forms a powerful aspect of the performance, Sherrill said.
The performance is part of Vineville United Methodist Churchs Music and the Arts at Vineville series and has been moved from the sanctuary to the Christian Life Center to accommodate the multimedia aspect, director of music Dennis McCleary said, adding that Sherrills performance of The Gospel of John was well-received by his audience at the church a few years ago.
People loved him -- that he could commit all of the Gospel to memory; they didnt want to leave. This one is a little shorter and more updated, with the multimedia and a musical score, McCleary said.
Not wanting to leave is a frequent reaction from audience members, Sherrill said.
Ive had people say the show made Jesus come alive for them, they felt like Jesus was there or that he was talking directly to them. I once had a grown man burst into tears, Sherrill said. The reaction can be very powerful. Especially in hard times, people seek direction along their journey of faith, and Jesus words are still very relevant and very powerful.
Red Letter Jesus runs about 95 minutes, with no intermission.
Red Letter Jesus
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Vineville United Methodist Church, 2045 Vineville Ave.