Last week I talked about Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding. His sermon on the transformative power of love created shock waves – one, because most people weren’t expecting such a powerful sermon on a royal wedding day; but two, because his words resonated so deeply with people. He created a spark of hope, a sense of clarity of purpose, and a renewed passion for justice and compassion. The message was not new: he simply preached the gospel of Jesus, a two-thousand-year old message. And yet, the gospel, like it does for every generation, spoke a word of truth.
But after appearances on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The View, and countless other programs, it would be easy to soften Bishop Curry’s message, to say, “Yes! Love is the answer!” and walk away with a warm fuzzy feeling. The trouble is, Bishop Curry’s sermon was not just about the easy parts of love. Bishop Curry preached about the action of love. If we find the message of love compelling, then we have to start living lives of love. And that is where his powerful message starts getting uncomfortable.
Less than a week after his historic sermon, Bishop Curry joined prominent faith leaders from all over the country in a movement called, “Reclaiming Jesus.” A video explaining the movement can be found here. Now if you have spent any time with me, you know that I am very hesitant to talk politics in the pulpit or even publicly. I have always served in churches that were a wonderfully complicated mixture of political opinions. The Eucharistic Table is the thing that brings us together, kneeling before God, shoulder to shoulder with fellow church members whose bumper stickers promote the exact opposite opinion of our own.
But just because I do not believe Jesus was a Democrat or a Republican, does not mean that I do no think Jesus and the Gospel are not political. In fact, Jesus’ very life was ended because he was too “political” – because his message of love made people uncomfortable. That is what the Reclaiming Jesus movement is about – reminding us that the Church still has a message of love – and that message is not passive or polite but is quite active and alarming.
This week, I am taking the warm, encouraging feelings I had from Bishop Curry’s sermon and listening once again to his words about what love in the world means. I invite you to join me. Join me in hearing what in the Reclaiming Jesus message makes you uncomfortable. Join me in pondering how both political parties get it a little bit wrong and a little bit right. Join me in remembering that Jesus’ message of love is not the same as an invitation to “avoid politics.” The question is how we can do politics better. How can we be an example of what it means to don different bumper stickers and work together for justice, peace, and love? What Bishop Curry preached at the Royal Wedding sounded beautiful – just like Jesus’ own words. But what Bishop Curry and Jesus called for was not just beautiful. It is hard, confusing, challenging work – and even harder to do when we disagree so deeply. Thank God for the Eucharistic Table! It is the only promise to me that we can do this – that we can be political agents of love together. I hope you will join me!