There were so many mis-steps in Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding that it’s difficult to know where to start. Despite the fact that a billion people saw it, major media around the world are sharing it, and Episcopalians took pride and found joy in seeing one of our own bring the word there are ways he could have avoided a number of serious blunders.
Let’s just start at the beginning.
1. He opened with the egregiously outdated Trinitarian formula, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” There are far more creative ways that he could have talked about the various workplace roles of the Godhead and the sustaining work of the Redeemer. It just seemed unwelcoming.
2. Way too much Jesus. Really. Do a billion people need to be reminded of who Jesus is and the ways we are called to follow? Did they need the reminder to love God and love neighbor given by Jesus? People know more than enough about Jesus and really didn’t need a sermon that spent so much time on him. Besides this was a room full of people of all backgrounds and it seems like Bishop Curry could have chosen selections from world wisdom – these are not all followers of Christ after all and it’s not like we have some commission or the like to “evangelize.”
3. Too much love. Really. I think people have plenty of evidence these days that religion is about love. He could have spent time on any number of other topics without resorting to telling people that God is Love. Again, like with the Jesus thing, people can see everyday in our culture and news that Christianity is, at its heart, a movement of love.
4. Too personal. It’s weird when preachers show us how faith has reached them at a deep level. People need more information about God and these kinds of shows of deep devotion and conviction are confusing. It’s almost as if he was trying to say that Jesus (there he is again) can change who we are and how we see the world and not just tweak how we think about it.
5. Too political. I found it off putting that Bishop Curry wanted to bring uncomfortable things like slavery or Dr King into all of this. Why mix politics and faith? Jesus (oops, too much) rarely if ever mentioned these kinds of issues. If politics is about working out issues in community then it’s a little frightening to have someone say that Jesus (there he is again) has anything to do with the way we treat other people. Shaking hands at the Peace is about as political as we should get.
6. Too long. Really, if you are only preaching the Gospel to all nations then that could be creditably accomplished in four or five minutes.
7. Too predictable. It’s annoying that we can expect the Presiding Bishop to hammer, day in and day out, on Jesus and love. I wish he’d get more creative.
I’m sure that when time passs and the heady rush of the day wears off then people will be more appropriately critical of this personally convicted, Trinitarian, Jesus-proclaiming, socially conscious, and predictable sermon on the power of Love.