Rector's Chronicle

Pentecost 2018

What a glorious Royal Wedding that was! The sun shone, the crowds rejoiced, and Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel provided a timeless setting.

As a British subject now living and working in America, it was particularly moving for me to see how both countries were able to be represented and to rejoice in the same event.

Bishop Curry’s address was characteristically simple, direct, and emotional. One secular politician in Britain, well known for his atheism, tweeted that it “almost made him a believer”.

It was wonderful to see African Americans so much a part of this historic event in this and so many other ways. It also touches exiles like me to see the profound ceremonial of the Anglican Church and the British Crown done, as only the British can, in that beautiful historical setting. After serving many years in the Army as a chaplain myself, and having met Captain Wales a few times on and off operations (Lorraine even danced with him once!), it particularly warmed my heart to see the solders he and I have served with, mounted in all their finery. I know it takes about 15 hours of cleaning, man and horse, to prepare that finery for every occasion they are on parade.

Love was, of course, the theme of it all: The love of the couple, love of God, and love of country - not one, but two inextricably linked countries. First in origin and colonization, then in Revolution and conflict, and, most profoundly in recent generations, in alliance through World War and many challenging conflicts since.

Patriotism was much on show and in all our hearts I suspect. British proud to be British, Americans proud to be American, and also African Americans proud to be African American, and to see another milestone on their already very long road to equal standing in the world.

As Bishop Michael words described, love reaches outward, but it begins in the particular. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex love each other more than anyone else this day and that is only right and proper. God given in fact. British and Americans are reminded of our love for our countries and all that they stand for and that too is only right and proper. We all love our own first and our obligation to love begins with our partners, our communities and our countries.

The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote in two American newspapers in 1892,  “One can only reach out to the universe with a gloved hand - that glove is one’s nation. The only thing one knows even a little of.” (Letters to the New Island)

If it begins there though, it does not stop there. The intensity of our love for our nearest and dearest is what makes us able to reach out to the universe. Those who do not love their families and their own are unlikely to love those that they do not know, but those who know the intensity of love in a marriage or in a particular community, especially one of faith, reach out in love as a natural extension of their experience.  As the wedding service prays for the couple; 

“Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others.” 

So today we give thanks for the love that this young couple has found and, in their representative capacity, we give thanks for our own countries and communities. The love of God emanates outwards like the ripples on the water after the stone strikes it. The Duchess of Sussex had all the emblems of the countries that belong to the Commonwealth of Nations embroidered on her wedding dress. May all the people and nations represented in this couple and in the service today know that love and turn with kindly eyes on the rest of the world. Sentiment alone will not create a better world. Love does not mean avoiding the harsh realities. Indeed the love expressed in the wedding service, however moving, is much more than sentiment. It is the love that Christ shows in opening his arms to humanity on the cross and that says “I am prepared to do this for you”. Today this young couple promise to be prepared to do the same and today we recognize that promise in ourselves - for our loved ones, our communities, our countries and our world.

God bless the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and may God bless the United States of America.

The Reverend Timothy A. R. Cole