Conversations are still ongoing about the preaching of Bishop Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding on Saturday. These conversations and debates cover the length of the message, the awkwardness of the message, the reactions of attendees to the message and the Blackness of the message! Normally at Royal weddings the Bride’s dress among other things always appears to be the topic of public conversation, but not this time as Bishop Curry’s message appears to be competing with Meghan’s simple yet stylish, elegant dress. So what is all the fuss about?
Firstly is the fact that white British people are not used to an African-American style of preaching with emotions involved, gestures and pacing. A second point is that people somehow were expecting a five minute sermon ( although we have not been informed by the planners and organisers that this was supposed to be the case). Lastly and most importantly are the content of the message which I think made people uncomfortable. Here was a descendant of slaves speaking passionately about love in the symbol of fire among descendants of slave owners, using illustrations from slave narratives. Here is a very powerful and punchy articulation of Black Theology in exemplifying God’s love through redemptive history. But in addition, I also think Bishop Curry used the slave narrative possibly as a reminder of some of the racial injustices that black people still face today. He also quoted the Civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King, on several occasions, again possibly as a reminder that we commemorate his 50 years since he was murdered for the cause of racial justice. These are pointers to stir people’s conscience.
Bishop Curry’s message will be analysed for years to come by theologians, Bible scholars, social commentators, media, journalists, political editors and many more because it was historical, biblical, relevant, unique and bold. It is also a message relevant for the Church at a time when some aspect of the Church think we need to move away from sermons to conversations. Bishop Curry’s message reminds us the power of preaching and how inspiring and creative it can be if in the hands of the right vessel who is willing to be led by God’s Spirit to proclaim the Gospel and confront power with an uncomfortable truth.
I celebrate this message and how it has brought public debates and conversations about God and racial justice. This message comes on the back of the Windrush scandal and the youth violence plaguing the capital and other parts of the UK. All of these events cause me to reflect that God is bringing into the public consciousness issues that have been swept under the carpet. Now they have the public’s attention and can no longer be ignored.