By Kirk Petersen
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry preached on March 15 as part of the Washington National Cathedral’s first Sunday service after in-person worship was suspended in the Diocese of Washington and in many dioceses around the church. The entire service was streamed live from the cathedral, where about a dozen vested, well-spaced clergy and laity led worship without a congregation in the cavernous nave where presidential funerals are held.
Curry broadcast his sermon from his home in North Carolina, in keeping with the Church’s guidance to avoid unnecessary travel and in-person gatherings. Anyone who has ever heard the presiding bishop preach will be unsurprised to know that his message was about love.
“When I was a little boy, I learned a song in Sunday school that many of you probably learned as well. It said, quite simply,
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, yes. Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.
Sometimes the most profound and important things come in the simplest of packages, not simplistic, not necessarily easy to do, but simple.
He quoted from the most well-known verse in the Bible, then connected that to the virus among us:
John 3:16 says it so well. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that all who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Later at that last supper, Jesus said to his disciples, no one has greater love than his, but that they give up their life for their friends. That kind of love must be contagious, and that kind of contagious love can change the world.
We will fight this particular contagion and all of our preexisting social contagions and divisions by the disciplined labor of love. Love working through medical folk, love working through leaders, love working through each one of us who can help and heal maybe in small ways but add them up and they make a profound difference. Maybe even something as small as voluntarily worshiping God online instead of in person, especially if that will help somebody else. Jesus loves me. This I know.
Video of the entire 15-minute sermon is available on the Washington National Cathedral YouTube channel.