June 2018 From The Minister’s High Registers
We don’t do many weddings at Sidmouth and since the law changed on registered venues, the church has done less of the weddings which do take place. If you have registry or a venue ceremony it doesn’t come with an address where as the Church has generally given an address with a service. It’s one of the things they don’t really teach at college and most of us learned by the horrifying attempts made by others to come up with something reasonable on the day. Royal weddings have previously been done by the bishops or an arch bishop. They come with the added strain of being on live feed to the international broadcasters, so no pressure. They have not generally remained in people’s memories. Rev Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church obviously didn’t know this when he boarded a plane for London.
Michael Curry’s address to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle certainly spoke to a wide congregation around the world and came in for much praise even from BBC’s Today programme on the Monday. All the papers have found positive things to say about the fourteen minute Sermon. And it has got people talking in all walks of life. I must admit when he started we joked that apart from the reference to his plane journey it could have been his standard wedding address to all couples as it didn’t mention this couple by name or mention Royalty or the acting profession. Perhaps it should be the address given to all couples and their captive congregations. Bishop Michael spoke passionately about the love of God and the difference this could bring to the world let alone two people joining in marriage.
Bishop Curry said ‘ But it's not just for and about a young couple who we rejoice with. It's more than that. Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer the sum of the essence of the teachings of Moses and he went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures and Jesus said, ‘you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength'. This is the first and great commandment.’
And the second is like it. Love your neighbour as yourself. And then in Matthew’s version, he said on these two, “love of God and love of neighbour, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world, love God. Love your neighbours. And while you're at it, love yourself.”
He talked about the benefits of love “When love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually a family” A comment hugely significant for a land where race still has issues, where exiting Europe fills our media and London has had over 60 murders since the start of the year.
The Bishop spoke of the invention of fire quoting from French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin “ if humanity ever captures the energy of love it would be the second time in history that we have discovered fire”. He went on to say how fire has been the game changer for human life and has touched every single one of us down the ages. He also made the point that fire’s role in making electricity had lately spoiled relationships because twitter and social media had ruined our ability to connect in personal conversation. “Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other. Fire makes all of that possible.” Those on twitter and social media perhaps didn’t hear that bit as they were too busy going mad celebrating this powerful and refreshing message. Ed Milliband tweeted “Rev Michael Curry could almost make me a believer”. Frazer Nelson (political journalist) “If Pippa was the unexpected star of Kate’s wedding, Michael Curry is the star of this one. Wonderful, wonderful sermon.”
Bishop Michael finished by saying “Dr. King was right. We must discover love. The redemptive power of love and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world. My brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you, and my God hold us all in those all mighty hands of love.”
Later in an interview for Sky News Arch Bishop Justin Welby said “I think what we saw is that preaching is not a past art, that the use of language to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ just blew the place open,” Welby said. “It was fantastic. And you could see people just caught up in it, and excited by it. ...............This was raw God, and that’s the business.”.
He also shared that a couple at the reception asked to renew their wedding vows. On the eve of Pentecost I think there was very real proof that the Holy Spirit has just opened a door to a lot of people we need to engage with and them. The Spirit can help us with all of that. I, in the meantime, will be thinking what I am going to say to the next few weddings that come here.
Love one another.