Curry Tribute: The ‘Small Chapel Wedding’ – The Living Church

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“Is this an April Fool’s joke?” I laughed at the Presiding Bishop’s initial response to my unexpected evening call in February 2018, telling him that he was to be the preacher at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Three months later, almost two billion people across the globe learned what we in the Episcopal Church already knew well: Bishop Michael Bruce Curry is an extraordinarily gifted preacher, and his consistent message of unselfish love is one that everyone desperately needs to hear.

Throughout the years I have known Bishop Michael, first as Bishop of North Carolina and then as Presiding Bishop, I have stood in awe of his giftedness as a preacher, his ability to call people to follow Jesus and take up his Way of Love in a way that they can truly hear and embrace. But even more, I have been touched to see him live the words he proclaims, sharing that love with every person he meets.

In the months and years that followed that “small chapel wedding,” as he has often described it, my colleagues and I have witnessed countless people approach him, in a restaurant or on the street or in an airport terminal, wanting to thank him for his message, and usually wanting to take a selfie as well. Every time, without exception, Bishop Michael focuses all his attention on that person, showing through his respect and care as much as through his words that the individual before him is a beloved child of God.

Like others who have known him well, I can also say that I have enjoyed the privilege of laughing with Bishop Michael. In my office, I have a framed photograph of the two of us on a boat moving along Hong King’s Victoria Harbour, laughing at who knows what. There is a joy in him that reminds me of other great faith leaders, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu. You cannot be with Bishop Michael without a smile making its way across your face.

But make no mistake: like Tutu and other heroes of his, such as Archbishop Oscar Romero and especially Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bishop Michael is earnest about the task before him, to work boldly and unapologetically for justice and peace in our world, to love and serve all God’s children. In A Case for Love, the recent documentary inspired by Bishop Michael’s teachings and witness, he says, “We were made for each other. And I believe we were also made for the God who made us. And that’s the ultimate community: all of us together and the God who made us.”

What, then, do I wish for Bishop Michael as he finishes his work as our Presiding Bishop and looks ahead toward a new phase of life and ministry? Using his own words, “God love him, God bless him, and may God hold him in those almighty hands of love.”

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