Fashion designers (and their supporting media), of course, want the focus of The Wedding to be on the dress. But, those watching The Wedding went from the dress to the preacher… and (I don’t think it is simply because I’m a priest) there continues to be a high focus on THAT sermon. And the preacher. It was the most-tweeted about moment of the wedding.
The media (as usual when it comes to churchy things?) couldn’t quite get a handle on who the preacher was – “African American Reverend” was quite a common description. And so most people who talk to me have no real idea that Michael Curry is the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, and the Primate, essentially holding the same position in USA as Archbishop Justin Welby holds in England – and overseeing a similarly sized church.
“It just blew the place open!” – Passionate preacher Bishop Michael Curry and Archbishop Justin Welby talk about THAT sermon, and about speaking to the newly weds after the #RoyalWedding pic.twitter.com/ieZtiwoCsJ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 19, 2018
Some commented on the length: too long. The service was an hour – the sermon was 13 minutes. I don’t think that is disproportionate. I think for Michael Curry – it would have been one of his shorter sermons.
Many commented on the style. I too often attend services where a sermon is read from a text word for word in a rather dreary style. It’s time for preachers to learn from Michael Curry. Get a drama teacher. You cannot overexaggerate too much – the same goes for readers from the Bible. This was Michael Curry at his most restrained – he didn’t even leave the lectern! And to those who thought the Royals were shocked, embarrassed, or whatever – the Royals would have known what they were in for… Discussing style over content, to me feels like we are back at the level of the wedding dress over the relationship.
Many commented he was repetitive. It was a sermon – not a chapter in a book. Again, many may have become used to sermons basically being tiresomely like reading a chapter from a book six feet above contradiction. Also: he included the Song of Songs 1 John, Martin Luther King, Jesus, a Spiritual, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Here was the Presiding Bishop, well known internationally for his inclusive approach to marriage, speaking about the heart of the Gospel, the heart of God being Love – to a congregation of over 2 Billion people.
Let’s just conclude this post with Teilhard de Chardin – a Jesuit famous for working to integrate Christian theology with Science – especially evolution; someone who was forbidden from publishing in his own lifetime. For those who had ears to hear: the Presiding Bishop was inclusive in his expression of marriage, and proclaiming the connection between thinking Christianity and Science. And – it surely cannot be lost on people who know anything about England and the Reformation: here was the Presiding Bishop quoting a Jesuit in one of the most public occasions of the Church of England and in the presence of the Church’s Supreme Governor!