Two billion people were glued to their televisions, computers, or mobile devices to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday, May 19. Social media was abuzz with Facebook updates, tweets, and Instagram posts of the event. On the days following the wedding, the discussion turned to favorite celebrities, dresses, or hats. Surprisingly, one of the highlights of the ceremony was the sermon, a 13 minute homiletic masterpiece delivered by Bishop Michael Curry, the leader of the Episcopal Church (watch the sermon).
Culturally Relevant Evangelism
Bishop Curry’s well-crafted and passionately delivered sermon was an example of seizing a unique opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. The message was also a good model of cultural relevance, in a setting where evangelization may have been the last thing on the audience's mind. Consider these unique aspects of the sermon:
Solid Biblical Foundation, but No References. The sermon was full of references to the Bible, but when speaking to a secular audience, he chose to omit chapter, verse, even books of the Bible, mentioning only authors. This made the message easier to understand and down to earth.
The Gospel Personalized. Check the 1:30 mark in the video. “Think about a time when you first fell in love…” Nearly every person in that cathedral, no, in the world, immediately connected with him.
From Our Story to God’s History. At the 5:10 mark, Bishop Curry makes the fundamental switch from our personal call to love one another to the Gospel. This is so important, it deserves a full quote...
"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.”
Preaching with Authority. In the best tradition of African-American preaching, he spoke passionately and poignantly, with an authority that could only have come from the Holy Spirit.
It is a message worth watching over and over again. It is the Gospel of hope in God’s love. Towards the end, it is as if Bishop Curry reframes Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” for a 21st century audience (starting around marker 7:40 in the video). In so doing, he draws us (all two billion of us) into the hope of the Gospel,
That the Kingdom of God may be established on Earth as it is in Heaven.
There was no altar call or “sinner’s prayer,” but I hope and pray the celebrities gathered at the chapel, and those watching around the world, would consider being part of building the world Bishop Curry imagined, one built with the unquenchable fire of the love of God.