When Preaching at the Royal Wedding – Go Hard or Go Home

When Preaching at the Royal Wedding – Go Hard or Go Home May 23, 2018

On the 19th of May 2018, the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan was broadcast and watched around the world. Yet it was not the dress that I saw spoken about so much, nor the new look of the royal wedding service. Instead it was the sermon of Rev. Michael Curry. Upon hearing the sermon that afternoon I posted a status to my personal Facebook page saying,

‘Man, that sermon.

So close and yet so far.

#NearlyTheGospel

Talented guy though.

#RoyalWedding

My status, surprisingly to me, garnered a mass of controversy and even to this moment as I write, it is still being commented on by various, professing Christians. I have replied to many on there, and now after much thought and reflection in the last few days since the royal wedding sermon, here are my lasting thoughts.

I’m shocked this sermon has been discussed so much and so fervently by Christians. I honestly believe it shows where we are as a Western church when we would be so celebratory of a self-proclaimed Christian preacher not preaching the Christian message.

Don’t get me mistaken, I want love preached. Love is the essence of the Gospel, God is love. Yet without Christ, his person and work, and the reason and purpose of that work, there can be no true understanding of real love, especially real soul-saving, life-transforming love.

Many Christians shy away from speaking about sin and repentance, and even hell, but if we just look to Christ as our example – he never shied away from these things. Without these he had no message to preach. Just take, for example, his first sermon on earth as recorded in Mark 1:14-15, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”’

Without a clear proclamation and understanding of the bad news, such as the darkness of sin and evil in our world that mankind is reveling in, there is no good news of love. There is no need for Christ and the salvation he offers, if there is no preaching of the light of the world who stepped down into darkness so that we may see and no longer be blinded by our own rebellion to God. If this is absent from your preaching, then you’re not loving your neighbour. You’re telling them what you think they want to hear; you are allowing your neighbour to live a life that leads to eternal death without ever hearing of the hope found in Jesus. In the preaching of the Gospel, we cannot preach God’s love without proclaiming his wrath, nor should we preach God’s wrath without shining forth his love. John 3:16, the much loved yet little understood, verse of scripture is a perfect example of this.

The Royal Wedding preacher, preached a universal, ambiguous, human-centric love founded in the love of Meghan and Harry, not Christ. And that, people, is not true love as made clear in the Christian scriptures.

The Royal Wedding preacher, preached a love that we may, in return, experience and know from the rest of the world. People, that is not the love the Christian is called to preach.

Christ preached perfect love and for this he was hated by the world. We do not preach love for love in return; we preach love because we are already loved with an unconditional, perfect love found in the Triune God of heaven and earth.

The Royal Wedding preacher, preached that the love we have for each other, as seen in the royal couple, will change the world. But, people, this is just plainly not true.

No unsaved person can have the love that Christ has for the world and for creator of this world. Instead what will change the world is Christ. We pray that his will be done and his kingdom come. What this prayer means is that we are calling for that final day to come when the whole cosmos will be under the rule and reign of Christ – now and forever. No maverick molecule will be in existence; no wandering hearts; no wild minds. But all will bow the knee to Jesus and live according to Christ’s commands and example, to the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is the rule and reign of Christ we must call people to, for then we will not have to tell people to love but instead they will want to do nothing else, for they will want to be like their saviour, their saviour who is love.

A preacher’s job is not to preach a sermon that invites people to a Sunday service, or an alpha course. Neither is it to preach a sermon that calls them to church and makes Christianity look like any other self-help, purpose driven, and motivational talk found in countless religions and community centres around the world.

A preacher’s job is to call people to Christ, invite them unto the saviour, who alone has the words of everlasting life. It is for him to echo Christ as he points to the cross and say, “Come, come all who are weary, come unto Jesus and he shall give you rest.”

He does not preach sermons to make the atheist smile and the Buddhist nod his head in agreement. He doesn’t preach sermons for tickling ears and for what he thinks people want to hear. He preaches the sermons Christ preached. He preaches the sermons people need to hear. If he is thrown out of the wedding for this and tied to the stake, so be it.  The most loving, most passionate, and most brilliant preacher in the world was crucified for the sermons he preached. So too were the many imperfect preachers with names such as Peter, Paul and John, who, through Christ, laid the foundation for the Church we now call home.

The preacher should not back down under government officials or the BBC’s cameras. But instead the preacher should stand up tall, and if this is to be the last sermon he preaches may he preach it as a dying man to dying men – for it is that great work which will echo in the new earth for eternity.

I am no perfect preacher. None of us are – and I am not a great preacher; many are greater than me. But as has been said before and must be said again, no other preacher can preach a greater gospel than me.

It is nothing new that we should bring to the people. No, it is a reminder, a heralding, of the unchanging truths of scripture – the actual word of God – that needs to be brought to the people.

And it is that which we as the church must live and die for: the gospel. It is not the man I am attacking here; I know nothing of him. But I am indeed aiming at his message, for as I said before: a self-proclaimed Christian preacher did not preach the Christian message. It is that message, that gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. Anything less, is to not love your neighbour, but to hate them. Anything less is not to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Instead, it is to call him a liar, and to not trust that the word of God, through the Spirit of God, is enough to do the work of God.

As Steve Lawson said, “We are in the world, but not of the world. We are to have our boat in the water, but no water in the boat.”

What these last few days since the wedding have shown is that the evangelical church in the West is sinking under the water of the world and many of us are enjoying to paddle in it. When what we really need as the Church of God in this present moment is to cast ourselves on Christ and call on him to calm the storm. May he hear and answer this prayer.

 

This is a guest post from our dear friend from beyond the pond, Will Bassett

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Iain Lovejoy

    You seem to be under the deluded impression that Bishop Curry did not believe what he preached. He didn’t preach your version of the Gospel not because of some desire to people-please or because he was told not to, but because he like probably the majority of Christians and certainly his own church, think your version of the Gospel is wrong.
    He preached the Christian message: it’s just that your message isn’t it.

  • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

    My opinion of the wedding homily is even lower than that of the author. #NearlyTheGospel? No: the Gospel was simply absent. I would not criticize if the Gospel were not central to the wedding homily–although, arguably, it should be central to every homily. At the least, though, it should have been clearly present–especially considering the fact that its audience included many millions of people around the world who do not know the Gospel.

    A wedding homily is an excellent opportunity for a Christian preacher to preach about Christ being a bridegroom and the Church being His bride, and about His returning to this world for His bride. The “Royal Wedding Preacher” did not take this opportunity.

    Furthermore, he thwarted his main point by confusing different meanings of the word “love”. He spoke as if the love that can change the world is feelings of affection such as the bride and groom have for each other. He did not distinguish this from the type of love which does not depend on feelings of affection. This is the type which is commonly lacking in marriage. Every bride and groom should know about it, and be prepared to exercise it. The lack of it is one reason why so many marriages end in divorce. (Whether the new princess’ first marriage ended in divorce in less than two years for this reason, I do not know.)

    It is the type of love the world needs: unconditional love. It is best exemplified in the Gospel, which, as I said before, the preacher did not preach.

    I am not surprised that so many professing Christians like this wedding homily. It sounded good–if one didn’t think about it. For most people, that’s all that matters. They do not want to make the effort required to analyze its content. That’s something else we should be concerned about.

    • RobPlested

      You, Sir, would also would be a misery as a wedding preacher.

    • Pilgrim

      A wedding is a great opportunity where a diverse group of people are gathered at a unique time, not to be repeated again. What a moment to give a transforming inspiring message for the bride and groom with wisdom from God’s word about covenantal love, how mysteries of the past are revealed through the prophets which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory and the mystery of the ages, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. This would segue into what that glorious gospel is. No silly themes required. I kept thinking Huey Lewis and the News might jump out and sing, ‘That’s The Power of Love’.

      • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

        Also, one could–and should–preach about the need for forgiveness within marriage–which of course provides a fitting opportunity to talk about the forgiveness of God through Christ.

        I have noticed two comments here which seem to say that if a wedding homily contains the Gospel, it must mention “fire and brimstone”. That’s not so. None of the sermons recorded in the Book of Acts mentions either fire or brimstone. They do exalt and magnify Christ, though, as Lord and Savior.

        Alas, not so the wedding homily. It does say “he died to save us all”–but in what sense the preacher believes He did this, I cannot tell.

  • RobPlested

    Dear guest contributor Will Bassett. Your comment, “Instead it was the sermon of Rev. Michael Curry…” should not have referred to Michael Curry as Rev. Michael Curry. You, at least, could have more properly referred to him as the Rev. Michael Curry. However, you gave away how little you know about Michael Curry by not referring to him by his professional title, The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. I had already heard him referred to as Meghan Markle’s pastor, which he is not, and as a Baptist preacher which, despite his obvious skills as a messenger, he is not. Furthermore, your critical comments are out of place. You establish your own standards for what preachers should say every time they preach, regardless of the event and circumstances, and then criticize them for not saying what you would say. Michael was not preaching to unchurched people. They were not ignorant of the Gospel. Hell fire and brimstone need not be the message emphasized at such an occasion, though it would have been your focus. What a misery you would be if invited to preach at such a happy time.

  • Paperboy_73

    I know that what I want at my wedding is a speech that tells so many of my nearest and dearest family and friends that they’re sinners who are condemned. It hits precisely the tone I’d be looking for to fit the occasion.

    Or, as a potential alternative hot take, weddings aren’t the place for fire and brimstone preaching. Bishop Curry found a way to include reference to Jesus’ sacrificing his life for the forgiveness of sins, which some might just controversially regard as being central to the gospel. But, unlike what this author apparently wanted, he did it in a way that didn’t damage the tone of the event. And if the author can’t see why that’s a fair concern, I bet they don’t get invited to many parties anymore.

  • Tianzhu

    The pale Brits got to signal their virtue for inviting him- multiculti, inclusive, etc.

    Curry is head of a shrinking denomination that condones sexual perversion but claims that “homophobia” is a cardinal sin. The chances of him ever preaching a Christian sermon are just about zero. They drove the Christians away years ago. The typical sermon in an Epis church – or any mainline church – don’t bear the slightest resemblance to the apostles’ sermons in Acts.

    • Treyarnon

      ..

  • Laquetta Anderson l

    Why would anyone preach at a wedding. The one that winnth souls is wise. This was not a camp meeting, or eulogy. When Christ attended a wedding in the NT. There is no recorded preaching that took place. I just think it was the wrong venue. There wouldn’t even be this controversy,;
    This is definitely the season in the world to evangelize but as stated not the venue.

  • “‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”’

    What did John mean by “gospel” here, though? Was it the traditional Evangelical Gospel?
    “Believe that God cursed you with a sinful nature that merits an eternal stay in God’s torture chamber but that you can avoid it by believing that Jesus died in your stead”?

    I doubt it. Those thoughts are a later theological development.