When it was announced last week (Saturday 12 May) that the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, had accepted an invitation to preach at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the reaction generally fell into one of two camps. Those who knew of him were generally excited – so much so that number of people accessing the article on the Anglican Communion News Service website crashed our server; but those who didn’t know him were asking “Bishop Who?” Not so today – Michael Curry’s electrifying sermon trended on social media even as he was delivering it, and it made headlines around the world on Saturday, on Sunday, and even today.
A number of newspapers in Britain splashed their front pages with words from Bishop Curry’s sermon, including The Sunday Times and The Observer, which both ran with “Two people fell in love and we all showed up”.
On its inside pages, The Sunday Times carried a cartoon by Newman of a priest in the pulpit waving his arms enthusiastically. “The vicar’s hoping to become a bishop”, one congregant tells another.
The cartoon accompanied an article by Tony Allen-Mills, in which he said: “No one does royal pageantry like the British, and no one delivers a church sermon quite like a fire-breathing American revivalist preacher. In St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle yesterday, two worlds collided to magnificent effect, and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle turned genuinely unforgettable.”
The Sunday Telegraph also used the headline “Two people fell in love and we all showed up” – this time on a double-page spread about the sermon.
In the article, Gus Kelly said that Bishop Curry’s sermon was “sure to wake royal wedding guests up”. He added: “It was quite a gear change. Curry . . . is renowned for his highly entertaining preaching style. His rambling addresses from the pulpit are by turns gloriously melodramatic, sharply political and filled with self-deprecating humour. [Archbishop Justin] Welby and [Dean of St George’s Windsor, David] Conner may wish to up their game; Curry promises to steal the show.
Writing in The Guardian newspaper’s Comment Is Free website, author Diana Evans described it as “a sermon that will go down in history as a moment when the enduring seat of colonialism was brought before the Lord, and questioned in its own house.”
She continued: “In the mention of slavery was the inherent accusation of white silver-spoon complicity, and that this union should not go forth without acknowledging it.
“‘Love is the way,’ Curry chanted, in a rolling, conversational repetition borne of the deep south. ‘When love is the way, we actually treat each other, well’ – he put his hand on his hip and his elbow on the lectern – ‘like we are actually a family’. A utopia for our time indeed, delivered with a grand humility apparently wasted on some of its listeners, who were not quite expecting such blackness from a black bride.”
Sky News described him as “the unexpected star of the wedding”, and “the passionate bishop who dazzled the wedding congregation.”
This was a trans-Atlantic wedding and union, and the sermon also made waves across the pond.
Time Magazine said that the “internet is raving over Bishop Michael Curry’s royal wedding sermon”. The magazine’s Megan McCluskey wrote: “Meghan Markle and Prince Harry may have been the stars of the royal wedding, but Bishop Michael Curry of Chicago was definitely a strong runner-up.”
And Yahoo described him as “the breakout star of the royal wedding”
NBC’s Saturday Night Live comedy programme carried an “interview” with a Michael Curry impressionist. Asked about the length of the sermon, the fake Michael Curry replied: “they told me I had five minutes, but the good Lord multiplied it into a cool 16!”
In Canada, writing in Toronto’s The Star, Margaret Lyons Anna Schaverien and Jonah Engel Bromwich wrote: “Keep your fascinators, tiaras, regalia and romance. What if the surprise biggest star . . . of this royal wedding was a sermon about love?
“The Most Revd Michael Bruce Curry, the presiding bishop of the American Episcopal Church, delivered a searing, soaring 13-minute speech, imploring Christians to put love at the centre of their spiritual and political lives. Until that moment, the ceremony had been quite staid, stuffy even, with only the mention of ‘sexual union’ to keep us on our toes.”
In Australia, The Age newspaper asked the Revd Michael Jensen, rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church in Darling Point, to write about “the sermon the shocked.” He wrote: “Who would have thought that, of all the many features of the royal wedding, the sermon would have been one of the most talked about? And yet Bishop Michael Curry certainly cut through the pomp and ceremony, to the stunned reaction of some of the congregation.”
He concluded his piece: “In the midst of all that display of wealth and power and beauty, and in front of celebrities and royalty, we heard from Bishop Curry a message that is simplicity itself: love, the love that comes from God in Christ, is the only way. If people were shocked and stunned by that, perhaps that’s not a bad thing.”
News organisations around the world have extracted Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon from the hours of video footage captured on the day, and are making it available to watch on their websites. Many more have printed the sermon in full, including the Anglican Communion News Service.
- Click here to read the full text of Bishop Curry’s sermon and watch him deliver it.