African-American preacher Michael Curry invoked the image of Martin Luther King Jr as he brought a flavour of the bride’s homeland to the royal wedding.
The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, the first black presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, gave an address titled the Power of Love at the service in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
The Chicago native opened his energetic speech with the words of Dr King, a devout Christian whose faith shaped his struggle against racial injustice in the US, hailing his views on love as “right”.
“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way,” Bishop Curry quoted.
He then said: “There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalise. There is power, power in love.”
He added: Love can help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.”
Such power could be seen in the service, he continued, saying: “Two young people fell in love and we all showed up.”
The Episcopal bishop’s role in the service was seen as a nod to the actress’s US roots as she married into the British royal family.
Meghan was born in Los Angeles, California, to an African-American mother and was baptised into the Anglican Church ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry.
There’s power in love. Love can help and heal when nothing else can. Love can lift up and liberate for living when nothing else willBishop Michael Curry
The Episcopal Church is the US offshoot of the Church of England and forms part of the broader Anglican Communion.
Wondering about the Episcopal-Queen Connection? The Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion, churches that have an origin in and are connected by bonds of affection to the @churchofengland, whose supreme governor is the Queen. #anglican #episcopal #jesusmovement— Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (@PB_Curry) May 19, 2018
The bishop’s words rose in a passionate crescendo as he spoke of the link between love and the divine, his style a stark contrast to the sober delivery of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was officiating.
For the royal family, the animated performance would be a departure from the type of sermons they normally see at church services. At times several of the congregation could be seen smiling and exchanging glances.
The wide-ranging address cited love as the key to curing global problems such as poverty.
In a moment of light self-deprecation, Bishop Curry noted he had to soon sit down, gesturing to the couple and adding “we need to get y’all married”.
GOD the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love, defend you on every side, and guide you in truth and peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.#RoyalWedding #Episcopal #Anglican— Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (@PB_Curry) May 19, 2018
The ideas of French thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin were called upon as the bishop brought his address to a powerful conclusion.
The Roman catholic theologian, described as “one of the great minds and spirits of the 20th century”, recognised the role fire had played in advancing human history.
“Anybody get here in a car today? An automobile? Nod your head if you did, I know there were some carriages. Those of us who came in cars, controlled, harnessed fire. Fire made that possible,” the preacher said.
“I know the Bible said – and I believe it – that Jesus walked on the water, but I have to tell you I didn’t walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here – controlled fire in that plane got me here.”
To laughter, he then quipped: “Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and email and Facebook and be dysfunctional to each other.”
Drawing the threads of his address together, he concluded: “If humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.”
Dr King, he said, was “right” in his belief that we must discover the redemptive power of love.
The address finished: “My brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you.
“And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury had previously described Bishop Curry as “a brilliant pastor, stunning preacher and someone with a great gift for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ”.
He was asked by the couple to perform the address despite not being personally known to them.