A royal wedding and a spacecraft recently reminded me

I wonder if you got up in the wee hours of the morning on April 29, to watch the royal wedding? I thought it was a brilliant example of Christian worship.

In it, the Bishop of London gave a stirring sermon. He opened with the following words: “ ‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’ So said St. Catherine of Siena, whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.”

I hope the world remembers that. Be who God meant you to be. And God doesn’t mean for you to lock yourself away for fear, or for guilt, or for shame. God intends you to go and set the world on fire with love.

The bishop went on to say, “We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.”

As I watched the royal wedding, I hoped that, if but for a little while, the joy of the day would overshadow the darkness that too often looms over this world — that the simple message of love and that spirit of celebration and hope would linger with us all, in every corner of the earth.

Call me a romantic, but that’s what I pray for.

On the same day as the wedding, I happened upon a little news release from NASA. Do you remember the spacecraft Voyager? It was launched in 1977 when Jimmy Carter was president. The news release announced that Voyager has now reached the edge of the solar system; now it peers, lonely and cold and dark, into the rest of the universe. It bore a message, contained in a record, not made of vinyl but gold. Back in 1977, there was much debate about what to include on the record, in case someday — perhaps billions of years from now — it is found by some extraterrestrial others.

According to the release, “When all was said and done, Voyager blasted off with 118 photographs; 90 minutes of music; greetings in 55 human languages and one whale language; an audio essay featuring everything from burbling mud pots to barking dogs to a roaring Saturn 5 liftoff; a remarkably poetic salutation from the Secretary General of the United Nations; and the brain waves of a young woman in love.”

The woman in the recording was Ann Druyan, a member of the recording team, who was indeed in love. She said recently, “My feelings as a 27 year old woman, madly fallen in love, they’re on that record. It’s forever. It’ll be true 100 million years from now. For me Voyager is a kind of joy so powerful, it robs you of your fear of death.”

Both the wedding and the news from NASA brought me to the same conclusion: Let the message of our times be the message of love. It’s our greatest need and highest opportunity.


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