American Bishop Quotes Martin Luther King Jr. in Impassioned Royal Wedding Address: 'Love Is the Only Way'
The emotion at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s wedding was palpable Saturday as Bishop Michael Bruce Curry delivered an impassioned and moving address to the couple and guests at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Reading “The Power of Love,” which the American wrote for the royal wedding, Bishop Curry began, “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.”
Paying homage to Markle’s American heritage, the bishop quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.”
The bishop — who wrote the bestselling book Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus — made the address relatable for the hundreds of guests in attendance and millions watching live across the globe.
“There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over sentimentalize it,” he said, going on to add that the “source of love is God himself.”
“For love, it is strong as death,” he said. “But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we are all here. Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up. But it’s not just for and about a young couple who we rejoice with. It’s more than that.”
Bishop Curry also evoked the words of Jesus Christ, saying, “Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in all of human history: a movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world and a movement mandating people to live that love, and in so doing, to change not only their lives, but the very life of the world itself.”
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“I’m talking about some power. Real power,” he continued. “Power to change the world. If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way: They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It’s one that says there is a balm in Gilead, a healing balm — something that can make things right. There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.”
For Harry and Meghan — who earlier in the day received their new titles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, from Queen Elizabeth — Bishop Curry explained what love is and isn’t, quoting 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 from the New Testament of the Christian Bible: “Love is not jealous, rude, or boastful. Love does not insist on its own way. Love is unselfish, sacrificial, kind and just. Love seeks the good and the wellbeing of the other. Love makes room and space for the other to be.”
Bishop Curry — who hails from Chicago — touched on his travels and modern technology in his address, giving context to the royal wedding for everyone listening.
“Anybody get here in a car today, an automobile? Nod your heads if you did; I know there were some carriages. For those of us who came in cars, fire made that possible,” he explained. “I know that the Bible says — and I believe that Jesus walked on water. But I have to tell you I didn’t walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here. Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and e-mail and Instagram and Facebook, and otherwise socially be dysfunctional with each other.”
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He soon concluded with more words from King: “We, my brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you. My brothers, my sisters, God love you, God bless you. And may God hold us all. In those almighty hands of love. Amen.”
The participation of The 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, who is also Chief Pastor and serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and chair of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, was announced May 12 — one week before the highly anticipated royal wedding.
“The love that has brought and will bind Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle together has its source and origin in God, and is the key to life and happiness,” he said in a statement. “And so we celebrate and pray for them today.”
A royal source told PEOPLE the couple and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury — who will lead Harry and Meghan’s vows after “Stand by Me” — discussed a number of possibilities for a preacher.
Bishop Curry is not personally known to Harry and Meghan, but they felt that given the fact that he is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (Anglican Church in the US) as well as being “a wonderful speaker and preacher, it would be highly appropriate for him to be invited to speak,” the insider said.