It seems as if the Presiding Bishop has been more busy than usual this week. Following his return from preaching at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, he’s become an overnight sensation. His media appearances have included interviews with TMZ, and appearances on the Today Show (where he did the weather forecast with Al Roker), Good Morning America, and The View. Many of these interviewers asked him about how he’d gotten the invitation to preach at the wedding in the first place, as well as how he went about preparing for such a huge occasion. He most fully described his process in a piece which appeared on TIME’s website:
“I realized they had preached the sermon before even got to it. Up until that point in the chapter of Song of Solomon, the story is a series of love poems between a man and a woman. But when you get to the eighth chapter, the woman stops talking about their love for each other and starts connecting it to what she sees as a greater love, to God, who is the source of all love. I took my cue from that and was then able to develop the sermon through that perspective. There’s enormous power in love, to heal and help. The people who matter in your life or my life, they’ve been people who loved us. There’s enormous power, both motivational and transformational power in love. I picked up that cue and took that to the next step. Everything that matters to God, everything the bible is trying to tell us, it comes down to love of God or love of neighbor. They gave me the sermon. They gave me the text.”
On Thursday, Bishop Curry visited Capitol Hill, where he participated in Morning Prayer with several members of the House and Senate (his video statement is available from Episcopal News Service here). Thursday night, he joined other leaders from across the Christian tradition in a prayer service and candlelight procession to the White House with the theme of “Reclaiming Jesus.” Curry was among the original signers of the statement outlining the core beliefs of this effort back in March. At the service, he was the first in an all-star lineup of preachers who included Jim Wallis, Walter Brueggemann, Barbara Williams Skinner, Mariann Budde (Bishop of Washington), Richard Rohr, Tony Campolo, and Sharon Watkins. All of them urged the congregation to remember what it means to confess that Jesus is Lord – and then to peacefully take that faith to the streets of downtown D.C. in a candlelight procession to the White House. Social media reports on Thursday evening largely showed a peaceful group of a few thousand gathered at Lafayette Park, with their candles twinkling in the darkness.
Reporting on the procession at press time mostly seems to be going in the direction of asking how Bishop Curry might capitalize on the moment while avoiding a direct attack on political leaders. Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post writes that,
“The events Thursday spun out of the work of a group of top progressive Christian clergy, including Curry.
“Rev. James Perra, an Episcopal priest outside Baltimore who has seen Curry preach in person and is now watching his trajectory from afar, said Thursday that it’s clear the bishop is going to, ‘unabashedly capitalize on the moment.’ Perra knows, he said, because the bishop is an evangelist.
“While Curry has been known through his career for speaking up on issues from voting rights to gun control, people said he has been focused, since becoming presiding bishop over the Episcopal denomination, on evangelizing — for the end goal of having us all, ‘reconciled with our Creator at the end of whatever this is,’ Perra said.”