Monday, May 21, 2018

That Time I Was Right

When it was announced that the preacher for the Meghan Markle/Prince Harry wedding would be our own Presiding Bishop Michael Curry I wrote that this was (and I quote:)
"... a moment of evangelism and an opportunity to proclaim the Good News of an inclusive church and the expansive love of God to a world in desperate need of it. And there is nobody better for the job that Michael Bruce Curry — child of God, preacher of the Gospel and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church."
The piece -- "Reflections on Evangelism, Inclusion & the Royal Wedding" -- drew the attention of the Religion News Service and garnered this quote in their May 17th post on the upcoming wedding:
Episcopalians are hopeful they can capitalize on all the attention paid this weekend to Anglican ritual and spirituality. If all goes well, Curry might be their ticket to framing the church in a fresh light. “For those who know enough about Christians not to want to be one,” Russell said, the wedding brings a chance “to hear someone who gives a message of justice and compassion.”
And boy howdy was I right about this one!

Knowing Bishop Curry as I have for these many years ... before he became a bishop in our work for peace and justice, when he was Bishop of North Carolina and a leading voice supporting the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments and since he's been our Presiding Bishop (elected by an overwhelming majority on the first ballot in 2015, I might add) ... I had not a shadow of a doubt he would bring the powerful message of God's love available to absolutely everybody to his wedding address. And bring it he did!

In case you missed it ... and my FB and Twitter feeds suggest not too many people did ... here are links to both the video and to the text. And here's a stand out quote that arguably summarizes not only this wedding homily but Bishop Curry's lifelong work and witness:
“Imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families, neighborhoods and communities, governments and nations, business and commerce where love is the way....When love is the way then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like a ever-flowing brook, poverty will become history, the earth will be a sanctuary, 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 for all of God's children."
I think it bears repeating that exactly ten years ago we were sweating out the beginning of Lambeth 2008 — the every ten year gathering of bishops from all around the global Anglican Communion — under the cloud of threats that the American Episcopal Church would be voted off the Anglican Island because of our commitment to full inclusion for LGBTQ people.

But instead of caving to the blackmail, the American Episcopal Church stayed the course, continued to expand the circle and in 2015 we not only changed our canons to make the sacrament of marriage equally available to all couples seeking God’s blessing on their lives and on their love, we elected a prophetic, outspoken champion of inclusion as our Presiding Bishop. I think it is fair to say that those of us who survived Lambeth 2008 could not have imagined — in even our wildest dreams — that we would be where we are today … and yet, here we are.

And where we are is a moment where national and international attention is shining on the Episcopal Church -- inarguably for a brief moment because that's how this works -- so let's seize it.

Here are just a few of what we've seen in the last 48 hours:

Headlines like this from Reuters:
US Bishop Wows Royal Wedding With Impassioned Sermon On Love

And this from the UK Guardian:
Michael Curry's Royal Wedding Sermon Will Go Down in History

And then there was this from Esquire: Bishop Curry's Royal Wedding Sermon Was Wholly Un-British, Amazing, and Necessary ... a feature that ended with these words: "We really did not expect to get inspired by a Royal Wedding, but there you are. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to join the Episcopal Church."

Seriously. Does it get better than that?

Yes. I actually did.

There was this SkyNews interview with both Presiding Bishop Curry and Archbishop Welby ...

... which included these words from Justin Welby: "What we saw was 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 ... it was fantastic!"

And what we heard was the ABofC putting to rest once-and-for all (one can hope) the fantasy that differences have to become divisions and reminding us that as members of the Anglican Communion what unites us is far stronger than whatever may be leveraged to try to divide us. (Of particular to anyone heading to Austin in July for our 79th General Convention ... just sayin'.)

But wait ... there's more! Who thought they'd live long enough to see an Episcopal Presiding Bishop parodied on SNL?

And ... to have said PB applauding the performance on Instagram? Yes ... that just happened.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg of a moment where what is happening is that a whole boatload of people have a new sense of the energy, passion and love-driven spirit of this Jesus Movement we are part of.

They have a glimpse of a Christianity that is not about judgment, condemnation and exclusion but justice, compassion and inclusion. Michael Curry preached -- as Justin Welby noted in the video clip above -- about a Christianity that is "profoundly unconventional' ... "putting God at the center and blowing open a revolution that gives energy and life to the world."

And in response the world sat up and said ... as Prince Harry mouthed to Meghan Markle at the end of the sermon ... "Wow!"

What happened is that we have been handed a moment for proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus to a sin-sick world weary of division and polarization and hatred, bigotry and violence ... and it was handed to us on a silver platter.

What happened is that the seeds have been sown. And what happens now is that we get to work turning the moment into a movement. Ready. Set. Go.

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