The American Bishop who memorably quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s royal wedding in May was on the international stage, once again, on Wednesday at the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, who died last Friday at age 94.
Bishop Michael Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, spoke as the casket of the father of six arrived at the Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday morning.
“With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our brother George for burial,” he began. “Let us pray with confidence to God, the giver of life, that he will raise them to perfection in the company of saints. Deliver your servant George, Sovereign Lord Christ, from all evil, and set him free from every bond that he may rest with all your saints in the eternal habitations where, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign, one God, forever and ever.”
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Later on in the ceremony, the chief pastor — who also serves as president and chief executive officer of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and chair of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church — led the congregation in reciting the Apostle’s Creed, a prayer that outlines the principles of Christianity.
Several months ago, in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, Bishop Curry read a mix of his original writing and the work of the famous civil rights activist to the elite attendees of the royal wedding.
Starting with “The Power of Love,” which the Chicago native put together for the occasion, he began, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.”
Paying homage to Meghan’s American heritage, the bishop then quoted King Jr.: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.”
The Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus author made the address relatable for the hundreds of guests in attendance and millions watching live across the globe.
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“There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it,” he said, going on to add that the “source of love is God himself.”
“For love, it is strong as death,” he said. “But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we are all here. Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up. But it’s not just for and about a young couple who we rejoice with. It’s more than that.”
“I’m talking about some power. Real power,” he continued. “Power to change the world. If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way: They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It’s one that says there is a balm in Gilead, a healing balm — something that can make things right. There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.”
He soon concluded with more words from King Jr.: “We, my brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you. My brothers, my sisters, God love you, God bless you. And may God hold us all. In those almighty hands of love. Amen.”
Curry announced over the summer that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had surgery in July to remove his prostate gland.
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On Wednesday, mourners gathered to pay their respects to Bush at the cathedral, with services that began at 11 a.m. EST.
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All five of the living Bush children — sons Marvin Bush, 62, Neil Bush, 63, Jeb Bush, 65, and George W. Bush, 72, as well as daughter Dorothy Bush Koch, 59 — and their spouses stood outside of the U.S. Capitol Building to watch as their father’s casket was removed on Wednesday morning after lying in state since Monday evening.
Members of the military carried the former president’s flag-draped casket as others lined the steps of the building and saluted. Canons were fired in his honor and a military band played as Bush’s casket was loaded into the presidential hearse.
His granddaughters, including Today host Jenna Bush Hager, spoke during the cathedral service, as did his son and fellow former President George W., who eulogized him.