Prince Harry and Meghan Markle invited American Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry to deliver the sermon at their wedding on Saturday, May 19, 2018. With as many as 2 billion people watching worldwide, Bishop Curry delivered a powerful sermon on the impact love could have on the world if and when people choose to embrace it.
“Imagine our world when love is the way. No child would go to bed hungry in such a world as that. Poverty would become history in such a world as that. The earth would be as a sanctuary in such a world as that.” Curry said.
Curry went on to describe a world in which people would “treat one another as children of God, regardless of differences.” We would “study war no more,” there would be “a new heaven, a new earth, a new world.” In short, with Curry’s references such as these to Scripture, he is essentially saying once the world learns to love, we will experience heaven. While he didn’t make this connection directly, the implication is that when people learn to love, every tear would be wiped away, there would be no more war, no more striving—only peace. These are images straight from Revelation and Isaiah where the writers are describing some future time we think of as heaven.
Of course, this is not a concept new to Curry’s sermon. Quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Curry repeated this idea in King’s words: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.”
Curry also referred to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit who, Curry says pointedly, was a scientist, a Catholic priest and theologian, and “a true mystic.” Chardin suggested the discovery of fire was one of the most monumental human technological discoveries. Acknowledging the fact that he was able to travel from the U.S. to England and the fact that 2 billion people were viewing the wedding from various locations around the world at that moment, Curry attributed these advances to humans’ ability to harness the power of fire. But Chardin claimed that if humans could harness the power of love, “then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire,” Curry explained.
What Does Jesus Have to Do With Love?
Curry did mention Jesus a few times in his 14-minute message. Early in his sermon, he mentioned the love that can bring two people together in matrimony and keep them there, through the ups and downs of marital life. Moving on to describe where we learn to love, Curry says:
Jesus of Nazareth taught us that the way of love is the way to a real relationship with the God who created all of us, and the way to true relationship with each other as children of that one God, as brothers and sisters in God’s human family.
One scholar said it this way: “Jesus had founded the most revolutionary movement in human history: a movement built on the unconditional love of God for the world and the mandate to live that love.” (Charles Marsh’s The Beloved Community)…
…He didn’t sacrifice his life for himself, or anything he could get out of it, He did it for others, for the other, for the good and well being of others. That’s love.
Next Curry quoted the quintessential passage most Christians refer to when the topic of love comes up: 1 Corinthians 13. After quoting verses 4-7, Curry explains the way of love more succinctly by telling those that may not know that although this is Paul’s description of love, this is in fact “the way of Jesus. And it’s a game changer.”
Bishop Michael Curry’s Message Was Controversial to Some
Many have commented on the high-challenge and potentially controversial nature of Curry’s sermon. Controversial because he was giving a sermon among some of the wealthiest, most famous and most powerful people in the world, and he was asking them to consider the self-effacing love Jesus showed the world when he died for them. He asked them to think about poverty and war—two things that don’t immediately come to mind when one thinks about appropriate topics for wedding sermons. Reading between the lines, one doesn’t have to think too hard to realize Curry is challenging the audience to embrace and seek to exemplify Jesus’ model of sacrificial love.