“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” —John 20:22.
We are now into the season of Pentecost: remembering, celebrating that the Spirit was given to us on the Day of Pentecost. If you want to see what happened that day when the Spirit moved through a large room of people who did not have a clue what was happening, watch the video of Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the morning of Pentecost Eve.
Usually the minister’s words at a wedding are called a homily, a short sermon; but as one of the British commentators puts it, Curry’s message is a true sermon—and it is all about love. He first reminds us that when two people fall in love, nearly the whole world shows up, as it did on that Saturday morning. That is how important love is.
Bishop Curry reminds us that love has the energy of fire; and his enthusiastic, passionate words are indeed comparable to the Pentecost flames running through St. George’s Chapel on that day. It appears as though Bishop Curry is so filled with the Spirit, he has to keep holding on to his lectern to stay in place.
His body language signals that he wants to move out and reach more directly toward the young couple and his congregation. As you watch people’s faces, you can tell they have no idea what to do with him or his barnstorming message. They look mystified, amused, indignant, comical, questioning. Some look down at their program so others cannot see what they are thinking. Others glance at their neighbors to seek a clue from them about what is happening. Some almost fall out of their chairs! Some look at Curry as if they are mesmerized.
Perhaps the ones who seem to understand his message best are indeed the royal wedding couple themselves—especially Meghan, who beams a radiant smile with an occasional twinkle through the whole sermon.
Bishop Curry’s presentation and delivery are not given in the British style; but his message of love is true to his Anglican and African roots. He speaks out of his African American tradition, drawing from his ancestors in slavery and out of his training in an Episcopal style that Americans modified from the Anglican form. Curry speaks his truth, which comes from deep inside of him—as all these traditions mesh and kindle tongues of fire from the power of love that flames around the world.
Curry is a wonderful role model of what it is like to be filled with the Spirit. With Pentecost fire, have no choice but to speak the truth. Many people will not have a clue what we are saying; but everyone who receives us will be changed in some way.
Bishop Curry also reminds us that the truth from God should always be about love: loving God, loving ourselves, and loving our neighbor. Period.
I have so enjoyed our journey together through Lent and Easter.
Happy Pentecost Season.