After a full year of work, hurry up and wait, maybe yes, maybe no, our efforts were finally rewarded. A large project was coming our way. Certainly a “red letter day” in the life of our company.
It got me thinking about the origin of the phrase. The dictionary says a “red letter day” is “a day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable.” It is thought to have originated in medieval manuscripts where the first letter of a document was large, ornate, and in red ink. Churches in the same time period required Holy Days be noted in red in their calendars. Either way, it was meant to highlight something of great significance.
In “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorn, the main character was forced to wear a red “A” for the rest of her life as punishment for her adultery. And while this book was fiction, it could have been influenced by similar stories where adulterous women were branded by the letter “A”. It was meant as a permanent symbol of shame.
In the year 1899, a publisher in New York was inspired by the symbolism of Jesus’ shed blood and envisioned a bible where the words of Jesus were presented in the color of His blood. The first red letter bible was born and it was an instantly popular and continues to be today. Historic theologians argue that the actual written words were passed down orally and the writings may have been paraphrased. But while they may not be the actual words of Jesus, they represent the “voice” of Jesus.
Red letters can highlight an exceptional day, be a symbol of shame, or be the greatest words ever spoken.
“This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28
We all deserve to wear the “scarlet letter” of shame. But the “Red Letter” words of Jesus tell us that we are forgiven. And that makes every day a “red letter” day.
Grateful for the “Red Letters” that erase my “scarlet letters”.
And Blessed in Great Measure