Sunday, May 20, 2018

Could ++Michael Curry turn the tide for Christianity against secularism?

Last night (NZ time) Teresa and I tuned into the Royal Wedding telecast and, as usual, it was all colour and pageantry such as, arguably, only the Brits can do. While I do not want to buy into obsession with celebrity culture and all that, I am happy to view a liturgy to see how it is done and review what is good and what might be learned, so why not watch the service.

You may have done so and like me, been reasonably lacking in any experience of the preaching style of ++Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of TEC. Not only did he impress me with his enthusiasm and panache in delivery, he impressed heaps of people on Twitter. And I do not mean just clergy/preachers.

Here is Ed Miliband, British politician and non-Christian:

++Curry's content was pretty good to and packed a lot in, from Song of Songs to 1 John, from Martin Luther King through Jesus Christ to Teilhard de Chardin and back to MLK, all on the theme of the power of redemptive love. (Full sermon here and here).

There was a lovely one liner or two:

Sure, there was some Tweeted criticism, re length and, well, too much enthusiasm for Brits, as well as some humour:



But enough of the humour. Curry's sermon was as powerful reminder of the potential of preaching to connect with people, to display the gospel in a gripping and attractive manner, and to use the medium of television to communicate to a large number of people (albeit viewing for reasons other than watching a preacher). What is there not to like and not to learn?

Which is an appropriate moment to draw attention to this sobering survey of secularism versus Christianity/church life in Kiwiland: here.


(This will be my only post this week.
I am engaged in our annual Clergy Conference.
I will try to post any comments but am unlikely to engage with any comments after today, Sunday.)


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Peter,

I was familiar with Michael Curry's style - and those who invited him would have been also. I was hoping he would be himself - he started slowly, and I was pleased to see he soon warm up. One of the noticeable things is that, even amongst non-churchgoers, there was a shift (which continues) from people focusing on the dress to focusing on the message - not a bad shift IMO!

There was a lot of speculation about Meghan Markle bringing American elements to the service - writing their own vows; producing the service. I would have been very surprised. There was a big announcement that she wouldn't "obey" (something that's been out of the vows for at least 90 years now!) In the event (let NZ Anglicans take note!) it was a word-for-word following of the authorised CofE marriage rite - not even the prayers were different to what is "in the book".

Pentecost Day Blessings


Father Ron Smith said...

For me, Peter, the fact that the TEC's Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was invited to preach - endorsed by the ABC - was a sign of the C. of E.'s acceptance of TEC as a sully cooperating Anglican Communion partner - despite the fact of the ACC ban on TEC's participation in Communion-wide ecumenical participation in decision-making because of its acceptance of 'You Know What', GAFCON would probably neither have endorsed nor been pleased with this invitation!

However, Bishop Michael's overtly charismatic preaching - in Which the word LOVE was predominent (and in the setting of quite a few divorcees in the C.ofE. Establishment congregation, including the royal bride) provided a splendid characterisation of what the Gospel is all about - God's love for sinners (like you and me). One did notice a few puckered brows, so the message may have gotten through to some notables present.

I thought the whole TV broadcast was well-presented, powerful, and redounded well to the inclusivity of the Mother Church of England.

There is a picture extant on the internet of a certain Australian churchman of my acquaintance, Dr. Andrew McGowan, President of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale - whose father was the Dean of Darwin in my days there, sitting with Bishop Michael in the U.S. before his arrival in the U.K., and they were discussing the subject of Bishop Michael's Royal Wedding sermon. Needless to say, my friend Andrew is one of Australia's few 'Inclusive Church' divines. He approved of the theme of 'Love' as the basic message for this royal occasion.

"Come, Holy Spirit, fill us with the fire of your Love"

David Wilson said...

Hi Bosco,

In England, the proposed 1928 Prayer Book was not authorized, and so the 1662 BCP remained the only authorized marriage service in the Church of England until the 1980 ASB (preceded by the three series of propsed revisions). The ASB had a choice of vows, such that the bride could promise to "love, cherish and obey", but the groom had, correspondingly, to "love, cherish and worship."

Some friends of mine married when this was new. The bride promised to obey. When challenged on this, she said that if she promised to obey, he had to promise to worship so she reckoned she had the better of the deal.

Common Worship (2000) does not provide in the modern language service the opportunity for the bride to promise to obey. The 1662 service is still authorized.

Paul Powers said...

Slight correction, Fr. Ron: it was the Primates, not the ACC, that purported to put TEC on the naughty step.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Paul. Sadly, though, 'The Primates' - for many Anglicans - still means 'The ACC'. Although, when faced with two sets of 'Primates' and the intimation of power attaching thereunto; one needs to remember that there are now two sets of 'Primates'; one attached to the worldwide Anglican Communion (ACC) and the other; to a conservative group in the Global South calling themselves the GAFCON Primates, with their very own 'Jerusalem Statement of Faith' - which differs from the Inclusive Church faith of the rest of us.
It is the negativity of these latter 'Primates' that seems to have been overruled by the presence of the TEC Presiding Bishop at the Royal Wedding.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful with the Fire of your Love

Glen Young said...

Curry's "fire of love" was the love of Cupid and Eros enthroned as a false god, not the LOVE OF CHRIST.It is love as espoused by the Jesus Movement and Progressive Christianity.Is it, the "...which differs from the Inclusive Church faith of the rest of us" Ron @ May 21- 1.12 PM.; that shows to the world that you are His Disciples, by spending million of dollars suing your "brothers and sisters in Christ, because the read Christ's words conservatively.Ron,may I ask who are the rest of us and when you were appointed to speak on their behalf?

The day when Christ's love, rules supreme and the "new heaven and earth" appear, will certainly come; but there just happens to be a JUDGEMENT which we all face,[that Curry did not mention]. "Many will say to me in that day,Lord,Lord,have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me,ye that work iniquity". Matt 7/22 & 23.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Glen, it seems to me that the 'casting out of demons' seems to be the major ministry of GAFCON, whereas, the Gospel efforts of TEC and the non-GAFCON Provinces is the encouragement of building up a community of people who love one another - the sign by which Jesus said his disciples would be known.

Your dismissal of Bishop Curry's exposition of the Love of God as being cupidic and erotic is symptomatic of those who deny the place of God-given eros as somehow being out of place in God's creation - while God's love includes every aspect of loving - including love and respect for other people's view of God.

Bishop Curry was preaching the Love of God which covers every aspect of our common human life. Remember Jesus' words; "A NEW Commandment I give to you; that you love (not judge) one another as I have loved you. In the case of Jesus, it was with his own life - with which he has redeemed sinners - like you and me.

Andrei said...

A celebrity wedding of liberals requires a celebrity preacher I guess

At the same time in Grozny this was happening.

Did you hear about it? And if so what?

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Cranmer got it right--


Anonymous said...

How real people actually change--


Jean said...

I have to confess I didn’t watch the wedding out of an interest in the service liturgy Peter : ) , however, the sermon (homily) was a definite bonus. By the time I watched rumours of the out of order, “very long speech” by Bishop Curry had reached my ears and so I was prepared for 40 minutes of tedium. Now I question peoples evaluation.

I enjoyed the homily. It engaged and used some of my loved bible passages, “for love is as strong as death” and “bind me as a seal upon your heart” and “righteousness will roll down like a river and justice like a never-ending stream”. Not to mention the mention of Martin Luther King’s book of sermons ‘Strength to Love’ some of the most powerful sermons I have read. It went deeper than many a sermon done at a formal occassion bringing in Jesus as the source of love and talking about the transforming power of redemptive and sacrificial love. And to top it all off I was surprised as the very long sermon ended at just 13 minutes, surpassing the 7 minute royal rule but unqualified to even gain an entry into my list of long sermons listened to. Well done +Welby for inviting him to preach.

Some in the audience looked amused at the presentation albeit pretty tame for many an American preacher but I also sensed the uncomfortableness, the nervous twitches of others, truth was was in it and one could hardly leave right?

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Dear Bowman - for your link to this excellent commentary. The final paragraph says it all:

"But don’t read this Royal Wedding sermon, as the Archbishop of Canterbury exhorted: it needs to be watched and heard, for the medium is the inspirational message. And those who have ears to hear will do so, and they will understand the essence of the mission. Others will carp and carve it up, and then they’ll condemn and criticise it because it doesn’t quite conform to every jot and tittle of their own theology or soteriology.

It is all about faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is not expository dogmatism."

God's Holy Name be praised!

Anonymous said...

David Wilson’s comment needs some nuancing, or its bald reading might give many readers here a false understanding.

The 1928 BCP revision was approved by wide margins by both the Church of England Convocations and the Church Assembly. It was voted down by Parliament. The bishops then issued a unanimous statement, asserting the Church of England's right to order its forms of worship. In 1929, the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury resolved that bishops might approve the use of the 1928 book, notwithstanding the lack of parliamentary authority. This was an assertion of jus liturgicum – an individual bishop’s right to authorise a service – that had no legal authority. But effectively it meant that, should clergy use a 1928 rite, the bishop would not pursue discipline against this person. The 1928 marriage rite (with its lack of “obey” in the vows) has been used and popular since then.

This CofE model of allowance (agreeing to non-discipline even when it disagrees with official church regulations) appears to be the paradigm followed in NZ to allow marrying those who are divorced. And it is made explicit in the process for blessing a committed same-sex couple.



Michael Reddell said...

That Faith and Belief survey report is worth reading in full, but for anyone interested in a post picking out some of the more interesting charts/results, I commented on it here.

Anonymous said...