I never knew how much I needed Episcopal Presiding-Bishop and Primate Michael Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding until I heard it. I can’t even begin to count the ways in which what he said to the staid fascinator-and-morning-coat crowd was an act of spiritual resistance.
Let’s face it, a royal wedding, even if it is for the sixth-in-line to the British throne, is rarely the scene of controversial speech. Bound in tradition and ceremony, these are events that don’t ruffle feathers or, heaven forbid, cause people to pause and think.
Bishop Curry, though, hopefully made us all think. And what he asked us to think about is love.
On its surface, love doesn’t seem to be a terribly controversial topic for a wedding – especially one involving a handsome prince marrying a beautiful actress. Bishop Curry, however, didn’t dwell too much on romantic love. He gave it a glancing reference, of course, but what he focused on is what I think we are sorely missing today: the love of God that we are put into this world to realize and channel.
Talking about this bigger, all-encompassing Divine love is what made Bishop Curry’s sermon an act of spiritual resistance. In fact, he started out with a quote about love from Martin Luther King, a figure who is pretty much synonymous with speaking truth to power and standing up to systemic evil.
Bishop Curry then closed his sermon with a reference to the Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin, who Bishop Curry described as “arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century.” However, as Catholic author Kaya Oakes (@kayaoakes) noted on Twitter, Teilhard’s work was suppressed by the Church until well after his death. As Oakes said, Bishop Curry “wasn’t just quoting a theologian but a very controversial one.”
In choosing to quote King and Teilhard, Bishop Curry emphasized, I think, our ongoing need for voices that speak the truths those in power need to hear for the good of us all.
And what Bishop Curry asked them to hear is this: “Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired old world when love is the way.”
I actually feel conflicted about this quote. On the one hand, I find it incredibly inspiring and uplifting. On the other, I’m saddened that it even has to be stated in the first place.
Love should be the status quo, not something we aspire to. We shouldn’t have to be reminded of the importance of loving others, and of loving and respecting the otherness in others. The gift and responsibility of Divine love is something we should wake up and joyfully acknowledge every single day.
And yet, we don’t, and we need reminders. I don’t, and I need reminders. I’m guilty of dismissing those with whom I disagree. I’m guilty of walking past homeless people on the street and trying to avoid their eye. I’m guilty of focusing on my own financial stability and independence and not seeing how my privilege may come at the expense of others.
I’m grateful that Bishop Curry took the opportunity afforded him by the Royal Wedding to remind us all of not only the power of Divine love, but also our human duty to do our very best in reflecting that love into the world.
It was a sermon I think the whole world needed right now.
Kevin Aschenbrenner is a Victoria-based writer, poet and communications professional. He holds an M.A. in Culture and Spirituality from the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif. He blogs at www.dearpopefrancis.ca
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* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, May 26 2018