The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, the first Black head of the Episcopal Church, gave a powerful sermon during the royal wedding on Saturday.
The Black Chicago-based preacher also gave us one of the Blackest moments of the wedding ceremony between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. His sermon was a deep dive on the transformational power of love—he even quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here is the transcript:
“And now in the name of our loving liberating and life-giving God, father, son, and holy spirit, amen. From the song of Solomon in the Bible, set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passion, fears as its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods. Drown it out.
The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said and I quote, ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.’
Love is the only way. There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved. Well, there’s power, power in love, not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love.
There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right. There’s something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love and our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here. Ultimately the source of love is God himself. The source of all of our lives.
There’s an old medieval poem that says, where true love is found, god himself is there. The new testament says it this way, beloved, let us love one another because love is of god and those who love are born of God and know God, those who do not love do not know God, why? For God is love. There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love, to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. Set me as a seal on your heart. A seal on your arm. For love, it is strong.
But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here. Two young people fell in love and we all showed up. 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 neighbor as yourself. And then in Matthews’ version, he added, he said on these two, love of God and love of neighbor, 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 neighbors. And while you’re at it, love yourself.
Someone once said that Jesus began most revolutionary movement in all of human history, a movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world. And a movement mandating people to live that love. And in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I’m talking about some power, real power, power to change the world.
If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s antebellum south who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power, they explained it this way, they sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity, something that can make things right, to make the wounded whole.
“There is a balm in Gilead to heal the soul. They said if you cannot preach like Peter and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus how he died to save us all. Oh, that’s the balm in Gilead.”
He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t—he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life. He sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well-being of the world, for us.
That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish sacrificial redemptive love, changes lives and it can change this world.
If you don’t believe me, just stop and think and imagine, think and imagine, well, think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. 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.
When love is the way, unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive, when love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the Earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more. When love is the way, there’s plenty good room, plenty good room, for all of God’s children because when love is the way, we actually treat each other well, like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all and we are brothers and sisters, children of God. My brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new Earth, a new world, a new human family.
And let me tell you something, old Solomon was right in the Old Testament, there’s fire. With this I will sit down. We got to get you all married. The French Jesuit was one of the great minds and spirits of the 20th century, a Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a mystic, in some of his writings he said from his scientific background as well as his theological one, some of his writings, he said, as others have, that the discovery or invention or harnessing of fire was one of the great, one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history.
Fire, to a great extent, made human civilization possible. Fire, made it possible to cook food and to provide sanitary ways of eating, which reduced the spread of disease in its time. Fire made it possible to heat warm environments and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates. Fire made it possible—there is no—there was no Bronze Age without fire. No Iron Age without fire. No Industrial Revolution without fire. The advances of science and technology are greatly dependent on the human ability and capacity to take fire and use it for human good.
Anybody get here in a car today? An automobile? Nod your heads if you did. I’m guessing—I know there were some carriages. But those of us who came in cars, fire, the controlled harnessed fire, made that possible. Now that the Bible says and I believe that Jesus walked on the water, but I have to tell you, I didn’t walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here. Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and e-mail and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other. Fire makes all of that possible.
And he said, fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. He then went on to say, if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.
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.”