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‘Preach the Gospel’

The Way of Love
Reflections on Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry

This is one of a series of tributes to Presiding Bishop Curry, as published in the May 26 edition of The Living Church.

Presiding Bishop Curry’s winsome and wise leadership in inspiring, inviting, and authentically inclusive. In a world of cynical and sour leaders, the Holy Spirit has used Bishop Michael’s innumerable gifts to turn no into yes, can’t do into can do, will never work into let’s give it try, and I would think twice before attempting that into watch this.

For the first time in a long season, we have had a Presiding Bishop whose global appeal authentically and lovingly embraced left and right, Republican, Democrat and Independent, liturgically high and low, progressive, evangelical, revisionist, conservative, and all in-betweens. Like our Lord, when many told him “not to sup with them,” he resisted the call of whitewashed tombs who reveled in divisiveness and exclusion. He instead lived the words “Do not the sick need a doctor?” (Matt. 9:12) — placing no restrictions on defining the sick and no parameters on the circles of love that he drew around each person he encountered.

While my wife, Laura, and I have shared many special moments with our Presiding Bishop, one that stands out above all occurred during what was perhaps the most public moment in my years as a priest — officiating and preaching at the state funeral for the 41st President, lifelong Episcopalian George H.W. Bush, at Washington National Cathedral. The bishop and I were waiting in line with one another to greet the former and current Presidents and First Ladies. After all the powerful leaders had greeted us and shook our hands and moved to their seats, the Presiding Bishop said, “Come with me.”

He took me a few steps away and said, “I want to pray for you.” He made the sign of the cross on my forehead, held his hands on my head and offered an earnest prayer. He said “Amen” in that deep, rich voice, and then looked me in the eyes and said, “Now go preach the gospel, my brother.” In a sense, he freed me, in that prayer, from worrying about what others might think, and instead reminded me of the primacy of honoring our Lord and our faith. It is one of the few things I remember from that extraordinary day, and I will take it to the grave.

Bishop Michael Curry has shown us throughout his entire season of leadership how to preach the gospel — both in his powerful words, and perhaps even more in his powerful ways. For that we are all indebted to him, and we should all be grateful. May God bless Bishop Michael and the love of his life, Sharon — and all whom they love, and give them great joy in the years that unfold after his retirement.

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