This month, the Anglican Commentary is written by the Rev. Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a 2018 CACS Fellow in Public Theology, and Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen.
It was about a month ago that I had a call inviting me to take part in the royal wedding. It was a very surreal moment. I remember thinking that perhaps they had made a mistake. Since the wedding was announced, many who knew that I was one of Her Majesty’s Chaplains, would ask if I was going to be involved. I would explain that there is a resident staff at Windsor and they would be the ones who would automatically be present at services being held in that venue. I actually continued to think that it was an error so only mentioned it to my immediate family. About a week later, the Dean contacted me. Later, someone from Windsor Castle got in touch about the service. A day later someone else from Buckingham Palace was also in touch regarding travel arrangements. I was to travel in convoy with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Episcopal Presiding Bishop who was preaching, the Orthodox Archbishop, an artist commissioned by Prince Charles and the Cellist, supported by 5 police outriders! I finally believed it was real.
As we approached Windsor Castle on the day of the wedding, the sun shining, the crowds already in their positions; the place awash with security, the media and the arrival of the celebrity guests mingled with people representing various charities, one could almost forget the very sacramental nature of the marriage we were gathering to witness. By clockwork, the groom and his brother, the junior members of the royal family, the bride’s mother and then the senior royals followed by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived and were escorted to their places. The clergy took their place in the procession behind the choir and no sooner were we in place, than the bride arrived with her little bridesmaids and pageboys.
The rest is now history. That service in that moment, became a great advertisement for the Anglican Church. It reflected a rich tradition and modernity in words and music; the officiants and the congregation were diverse. The 1.9 billion people who watched around the world could recognise someone who looked like them in attendance at that service. And then there was the sermon. Wow. The sermon delivered by the Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was unapologetically all about the Good News of the love of God in Christ Jesus; the sacrificial love that set the standards for the love that we should pattern in marriage and in all our relationships.
The sermon was delivered with great passion and joy. The chapel at Windsor and its regular attendees would have never seen or heard anything like this before! At the reception numerous people approached me to say how much they were stirred by the sermon. They also said that if the churches where they lived reflected this kind of service and this kind of passionate sermon, they would be there. As I write this, some 5 days later, I am still being approached by people on the streets and those here in parliament where I work, all commenting on the sermon. Would it not be amazing if when we gather for worship, those who attend, go out and tell others about what they have heard? This was unashamedly gospel. This is what I believe the church should be about.