The royal family need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the King of kings, because they need the Gospel as much as any of us.
It is probable that some of the royal family do not know what the Gospel is, which may explain their reaction to the sermon at today’s royal marriage between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor Castle.
The world’s media was present to witness what was described as the largest broadcast in world history, with the first American divorcee marrying into the ancient British royal family, in the brilliant sunshine at an historic castle, as if it was a fairytale romance scripted in Holywood.
However, much of that media noted that Michael Curry, a bishop of the episcopalian church in the USA, stole the show with his Royal Wedding address in St George’s Chapel. It seems that his ‘impassioned’ speech about love and its proper expression stunned some of the hearers. After all, he had been described as a ‘stunning preacher’ by Justin Welby ahead of the ceremony.
His message “electrified the occasion”, possibly because the audience on such a choreographed occasion was not used to his style, but more probably because of the message.
The message was not simply about love but how it needs to be contained within proper bounds. His biblical text from Song of Solomon 8:6 compares love to fire, and Curry explained that the power of fire needs to be harnessed and thereby suggested that love needs to be a “controlled, harnessed fire”. It is likely that he was referring to marital love being contained within the marriage bond.
He traced the origin of love to the God of love and illustrated its nature from the sacrificial, redemptive love of Jesus Christ.
This seems to have been new to some of his hearers. The headline in The Mirror said that “bishop Michael Curry’s wedding address made Harry go ‘wow’ – but pushed some of the Royal family right out of their comfort zone”, and named Zara Tindall, Camilla and the York sisters as some among the congregation who looked stunned.
The BBC ‘Highlights of the Day’ at 7 p.m. played the first part of Curry’s address about love, but omitted the second part about harnessing and controlling it, in much the same way as letters to newspapers are edited to remove the cutting edge of the Gospel message. The BBC considered the sermon to be long, or “too long” as was said in some of the commentary at the time, presumably by those who were uncomfortable with the message. The video of the 14-minute sermon is available on the BBC website and the full text (not quite accurate) is here.
The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland was the first church in the British Isles to have a black Moderator of its supreme court, the Rev. Petros Mazmo in 1963, ignored at the time by the British press. Its founding father, the Rev. Donald Macfarlane, suggested that the black man may yet bring the Gospel back to the British Isles. Now that the national churches have failed the nations of Scotland and England by abandoning the Gospel in public life, this public breech with the sanitised protocol of public Christianity may yet explain to a British audience why America has more publicly expressed Christianity than Britain, although the UK is constitutionally Christian while America is not.
The black churches are growing in Britain and black speakers were prominent in this celebration today. Not all of them are yet compromised by the British Establishment and many of them are not yet ready to bow to the semi-pelagian Christless Christianity portrayed and presented on mainline public occasions in the UK. This is not to say that the black pentecostal Churches are theologically correct, nor even that Michael Curry’s sermon was theologically correct. But he did quote the Bible: “Love is of God and those who love are born of God and know God” 1Jn 4:7, and he warned his audience: “Those who do not love do not know God. Why? Because God is love.” He pointed out that “Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history”, hinting that if Jesus was preaching, He would astonish them with His teaching. At least, he impressed the atheist former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband who said that the bishop could “almost make me a believer”, echoing king Agrippa’s words to the apostle Paul who almost persuaded him ‘to be a Christian’ Act 26:28. Almost, but not quite.
The BBC royal correspondent asks: Who will change first – Meghan or the Royal Family? He highlights Meghan’s mother being African American and Meghan’s own busy prior life and her active feminism in particular. The suggestion is that Meghan has and will change the royals. He says: “Ms Markle is certainly dragging them into the Instagram age, but just how much she can change it we will have to wait and see.” Rather, quite apart from the fact that royal association seems to have worked the other way round, resulting in Meghan dropping her Facebook and other social media accounts, it looks as if the royals have changed first and they have certainly changed her. In 1936 King Edward VIII abdicated because he wanted to marry a white American divorcee – today Prince Harry married a black American divorcee who describes herself as biracial and he and the royal family listened to an address by a black American cleric who drew lessons for the 21st century royal family from the Christian faith of antebellum American slaves.
The BBC royal correspondent suggests that the growing global audience for such royal occasions is an opportunity to illustrate change for the better. Another commentator conveyed the hope that ‘this wedding will change the world’.
We could begin by taking today’s lesson to heart, and Meghan, the new Duchess of Sussex and Countess of Dumbarton, could lead the way. Blacks and whites are not different races. There is only one human race. There is no mixed race and there are no biracial people in the world. ‘God has made of one blood all nations of men’ Act 17:26.
Yes, even the royals need to change, as the BBC royal correspondent suggests. However, Jesus said this a long time ago, if only their royal chaplains would tell them this, as the apostle Paul told king Agrippa.
Jesus Christ: ‘Marvel not that I said, You must be born again’ John 3:7.
I hope the greatest change will be that the royals will be told and will learn the Gospel, so that each one will be born again and learn the love of God for themselves, each one personally through the Lord Jesus Christ. May the new royal couple lay the lesson to heart and lead the way, if need be. “Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.”
The Order of Service is here.
The apostle Paul’s commission included preaching the Gospel to kings Acts 9:15, in their capacity as kings, not simply as individuals. This is frequently overlooked by those who think that ‘religion and politics don’t mix’.
27 Jul 2018: Prince William was seen smirking during the sermon. Whatever this means, at least it shows that he is not used to hearing passionate preaching. He is probably even less familiar with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.