Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)
I did NOT watch the Royal Wedding played live early Saturday morning, May 19th. There were other things going on: kids, breakfast, and a school fair. But later that morning I heard about it. As you would expect, I heard about the Duchess’ beautifully simple dress. I heard about the informality of some of the service as it contrasted with the very formal nature of our English neighbors. I heard about the extraordinary cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason.
But more than any of this I heard about the sermon, preached by The extraordinary Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Maybe friends and acquaintances were just bringing up the sermon with me because, as a minister, they figured that’s what I would have appreciated, but in every instance it felt like more. Folks were inspired by what Rev. Curry had to say about the Power of love as redemptive (that means it can save us from ourselves and evil things like hate and judgment!) They felt hope, something many haven’t felt in some time, by his words to “make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.” connected with his and the Song of Solomon’s use of unquenchable fire as a metaphor for the power of love.
In short, all of those who commented on The Rev. Curry’s sermon felt that feeling of transformation and were ultimately inspired.
The interesting piece of this is that nearly all of those who commented did not attend a church.
Interesting because, is this not what we do every single Sunday? Especially since Easter, we at Allin Church have focused on the importance of Jesus the Christ’s message of love present in our scriptures: as it is offered by his birth, through the stories and miracles of his ministry, by his death, and then the promise of both his resurrection and ascension.
We have considered some of the hard truths of this world, its tragic events and priorities that show a lack of appreciation for Divine creation, and searched scripture for meaning. Again and again we have held ourselves and our communities up against the standard of God’s love working together with our faith and God’s faith in us to believe that it is exactly the gift – the tool – needed to bring differing minds together and to build a peaceful world. Sunday mornings we gather to practice this peace, this love, and to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ as human manifestation of this love. We sing out our hope and we find renewed inspiration for being in this world that often does not value this gift as we profess to do.
The scripture printed above, quoted in The Rev. Curry’s sermon, speaks of a love that is as strong as death; a raging flame which cannot be quenched by any amount of water. This is no sentimental love, he claims. THIS is divine love. This is the only thing powerful enough to change the hardened heart of this world. This is Jesus.
And THIS is what we celebrate, praise, study, and grow into as people of the resurrection. this is what we do at church.
I wonder who wouldn’t want to get behind such a message with so much hope, lifted up with so much joy? this is what we do in church, why aren’t all those people who found inspiration in The Rev. Curry’s sermon for the royal couple flooding our pews on Sundays and committing themselves in faith for love?
I can tell you: they don’t realize that this is church. So let’s tell them! Don’t tell them about nice people (though we have so many!) Don’t tell them about good community (though ours is the best!) Don’t tell your friends and neighbors about our great music and even better fellowship (though both of these are top notch!) Tell them and all of Dedham about love. Tell them it’s what this world needs and it’s what we’re cultivating every Sunday. Tell them that hope is on the way because we at Allin Church and so many others are busy building our arsenals with faith in the power of love through justice and mercy. Tell them about love.
Tell them to go to church.