Editor’s Note: Another major event happened this last weekend and the sermon given seems apropos in this
time of tragedy, mourning, and loss. Here is the full sermon given by The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry at
the marriage of Megan Markel and Prince Harry. May you find some comfort here.
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, fierce as the grave. 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. For love,
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 lies.
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 is as strong as death.
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 for whom we rejoice with. It’s more than that.
Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings
of Moses. And he went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures to Deuteronomy and
Leviticus, 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 Matthew’s 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 the 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 was some old slaves in America’s antebellum
South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform.
They explained it this way, they sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity.
It’s one that says: ‘There is a balm in Gilead.’ A healing balm, something
that can make things right. ‘There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded
whole. There is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sin-sick soul.’ And one of the stanzas
actually explains why. 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.
That’s the balm in Gilead.’ This way of love, it is the way of life. They got it.
He died to save us all. He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus
did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. 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 or 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 everflowing 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. Brothers and sisters;
that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family. And let
me tell you something, ole Solomon was right in the Old Testament; that’s fire.
Teilhard de Chardin — and with this, I will sit down. We got to get you all married. French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of
the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century. A Jesuit, 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 — in some of his writings, he said, as others have, that the discovery or
invention or harnessing of fire was 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 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
Anyone 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. I know that the Bible says, and I believe it, 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 email and Instagram and Facebook, and socially be dysfunctional with each other. Fire
makes all of that possible, and Teilhard de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went
on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the 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.’