• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

Second Thoughts about That Royal Wedding Sermon

When Nadia Comaneci scored perfect 10’s in gymnastics during the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, the world took notice. That, we all plainly saw, is how it’s done.

When Bishop Michael Curry preached at Windsor Castle during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the world took notice. That, we have been told, is how it’s done.

Except, pray God, it isn’t. And it is important that preachers not take Bishop Curry’s sermon as anything like the standard for their own sermons as gymnasts all over the globe indeed went on to emulate Ms. Comaneci.

To be fair, Bishop Curry’s assignment was a challenge: to give enough religious content without becoming unintelligible and to speak in a way appropriate to the most formal of occasions without boring the audience in the chapel . . . and around the world. He certainly charmed many, both near and far, as the resulting complimentary commotion has evidenced.

But now that that happy storm has calmed, it’s worth a sober second look. What, exactly, did Curry say that was worthy of such effusive praise?

I can’t tell.

He seemed to be saying that love is important, that it can be powerful, that it comes ultimately from God, and that the world would be better off if everyone loved each other. Indeed, quoting both Martin Luther King, Jr. (to be expected) and Teilhard de Chardin (who hasn’t been quoted for a generation), he averred that love would revolutionize the world and bring in the Kingdom of God.

So far, so good. Who could disagree? Indeed, as the candid shots of distracted audience members demonstrated, who would even find this particularly interesting?

One wonders about the point of the sermon. To remind us that love is a good thing? to say so seems rather redundant at a gigantic wedding. To assert that love is powerful? Well, sure, it is—except when it isn’t. Love wasn’t powerful enough to keep together the parents of either the bride or the groom, as the poignant shots of Ms Markle’s single mother and Prince Harry’s father and second wife drove painfully home.

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