Why I – mostly – loved Bishop Curry’s sermon
- The restorative love of God was confidently, passionately and skillfully proclaimed.
- Hundreds of millions of people were shaken out of their seats and umpteen media outlets set alight by passionate, Christian preaching when they expected dusty, religious formalism.
- The centrality of Christ crucified (1 Cor 2:2) was declared – “If you cannot preach like Peter, and you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus, How he died to save us all.”
- People who would never dream of truly exploring the Christian faith, let alone set foot in a church, were moved, inspired, educated and provoked. However irreverent Ed Miliband may have been, he wasn’t the only one to say or think something along the lines of, ‘Rev Michael Curry could almost make me a believer!’
- In the context of privilege, elitism and wealth, a voice was given to the marginalised, oppressed and downtrodden – something Jesus did better than any.
- With very little time available (cheekily stretched out!), one clear point was introduced, illustrated, explained and applied to minds and hearts for the glory of God.
- Religious people, who like their religion expressed in a certain way, by certain people, with certain theological emphases were given a sound shaking – something Jesus did better than any.
- Common ground was built with a mostly skeptical or disbelieving audience, in a manner similar to Paul in Acts 17.
And why I would pop a note of caution into the general celebration
- The Gospel is not: Jesus died for you to demonstrate sacrificial love that you might replicate it and in so doing restore the world. (my paraphrase but that was the inference and I believe is part of Bishop Curry’s theology). The Gospel is: Jesus’ sacrificial love for you rescued you from peril and empowers you to do what you cannot otherwise do: love God and love people. A subtle but enormous difference. The former is actually not good news because it leaves Jesus as my inspiration and the responsibility on me; the latter very definitely is good news because it rescues me, heals me and allows me to live based on what He has done, not on what I can never do.
And finally …
Let’s pray for Justin Welby: an Archbishop of Canterbury who as best I can see dearly loves Jesus, longs to see people encounter Him and is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is tasked with a near impossible job – may he trust in God mightily! May he also maintain fidelity to the Scriptures and the historic doctrines of the Church as he also seeks to help brothers and sisters in Christ dwell in unity.