Happy Pentecost! In today’s worship service at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George in Grahamstown, South Africa, the preacher, the Rev. Canon Dr. Claire Nye Hunter (Senior Assistant Priest and Cathedral Chancellor, and, how fun, part of a clergy couple) reminded us that Pentecost is a celebration of love.
She said it’s been a weekend of love, with many of us watching the royal wedding, and that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Michael Curry, gave a wonderful sermon about the power of love to transform us and the world. Yes!
It’s been wonderful thinking about Episcopalians, Anglicans, and other people of faith all over the globe cheering on Bishop Curry as he delivered Good News at this wedding. We’re also appropriately proud–he’s one of us!–not because he got to preach at a royal wedding (why would this wedding be more important than any other couple’s wedding?), but because he used this opportunity to offer to a world-wide audience a witness to the power of God’s love and to urge us to believe in this love, to trust it, to participate in it, to use it.
I’m sure lots of people missed the message. During the sermon, the line at the bottom of the screen on the television station we were watching said, Harry and Meghan have just exchanged vows. Wrong on two counts–they hadn’t yet exchanged vows. They had declared their consent. The vows come later, after the sermon. And, shouldn’t the caption really have read something like, The Gospel proclaims the power of love to transform the world ? (One of the reasons I dislike watching royal weddings and state funerals–the commentary often misses the point. At the beginning of the service, the caption read, First look at Meghan Markle’s dress. Okay, fine, it’s lovely. How about, Love conquers all! Couple becomes icon of God’s redeeming love! ?)
I’m also confident lots of people got the message and I’m filled with hope. We can hope that people listening around the world–people of faith cheering on the preacher and loving the reminder of something they know or want to believe is true, and people who don’t identify themselves as followers of Jesus who want to believe in something bigger than themselves, like that love is real and worth celebrating and worth sacrificing for–will let the message dwell with us, take root in us, even set us on fire, inspiring us to follow the Spirit who turned scared disciples into articulate witnesses who took the message of God’s love all over the world.