For Harry and Meghan, it was the morning after the night before. For the rest of Britain, it was a day to reflect on an electrifying wedding that’s being hailed as a transformative moment for the British monarchy. After a ceremony that shook up royal t…
Here is a look at the life of Britain’s Prince Harry.
Personal: Birth date: Sept. 15, 1984
Birthplace: London, England at St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington
Birth name: Henry Charles Albert David
Father: Charles, the Prince of Wales
Mother: Diana, the Princess of Wales
Education: Eton College, 1998-2003; Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, 2005
Military: British Army, 2011-present, Captain
Other Facts: Military name is Captain Harry Wales.
Full title is His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.
Founder of the Invictus Games, an international sporting competition for injured servicemen and women. The first games were held in London in 2014.
Timeline: Dec. 21, 1984 – Is christened Prince Henry Charles Albert David at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Sept. 6, 1997 – Attends his mother’s funeral.
November 1997 – Accompanies his father to South Africa, where he meets President Nelson Mandela, goes on a safari, and meets the pop group the Spice Girls.
January 2002 – A confession of heavy drinking and marijuana use when he was 16, prompts his father to send him to the drug rehab center, Phoenix House UK, for a day.
Sept. 15, 2002 – For his 18th birthday, Harry receives his official coat of arms as a birthday present from his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II.
May 18, 2003 – Is promoted to cadet officer, the highest rank in the Combined Cadet Corps.
January 2005 – Pictures surface of him wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party. He apologizes days later.
May 2005 – Begins military training at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy.
Sept. 15, 2005 – Replaces his uncle Edward, the Earl of Wessex, as a Counselor of State. As a counselor, Prince Philip and four adult members of the royal family in the line of succession, are to carry out the duties of the Queen in her absence.
Dec. 12, 2006 – Prince William and Harry announce their plans for a concert and memorial service to mark the tenth anniversary of their mother’s death. The Concert for Diana is held on July 1, 2007, and features Elton John and Duran Duran. The memorial service takes place on Aug. 31.
April 12, 2006 – Graduates from Sandhurst as a 2nd lieutenant.
April 2006 – Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho co-found a charity to help Lesotho’s AIDS orphans. The organization is named Sentebale, which means “forget me not” in the language of Lesotho.
February 2007 – The British Ministry of Defense announces that Harry will be deployed to Iraq with his army unit.
May 16, 2007 – Sir Richard Dannatt, the chief of the general staff, announces that Harry will not deploy to Iraq because of a number of threats against him.
Feb. 28, 2008 – The British Ministry of Defense announces that Harry has secretly been serving in Afghanistan with his Army unit on a four-month mission since December 2007. The next day, he is withdrawn from Afghanistan for security reasons.
May 5, 2008 – Princess Anne presents Harry and his unit, the Household Cavalry Regiment, with the Operational Service Medal for their time in Afghanistan.
May 2009 – During his first official visit to the United States, Harry visits Ground Zero and leaves a wreath of flowers with a signed note.
May 7, 2010 – Completes the Army Pilots Course and receives his provisional “wings.”
July 2010 – Begins Apache helicopter training with the Army Air Corps.
March 29-April 5, 2011 – Accompanies the Walking with the Wounded Expedition to the North Pole.
April 14, 2011 – Is promoted to captain and qualifies as an Apache helicopter pilot.
October 2011 – Trains in the California and Arizona deserts with Apache helicopters during Exercise Crimson Eagle.
Aug. 21 2012 – TMZ posts photos of the prince partying nude in a Las Vegas hotel. A few days later, British tabloid The Sun publishes the photos.
Sept. 7, 2012 – Harry arrives in Afghanistan to begin serving a 20 week deployment as an Apache helicopter pilot. He returns home in January 2013.
May 9-16, 2013 – A week-long official visit to the United States begins in Washington, D.C., and ends in Greenwich, Conn. During his stay the prince meets with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House, plays volleyball in Colorado Springs with wounded veterans and tours areas stricken by Hurricane Sandy with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Dec. 13, 2013 – Harry and a trekking team made up of servicemen and women reach the South Pole as part of a charity event.
January 2014 – Begins a new Army position as a Staff Officer (SO3). He also remains with the Household Cavalry Regiment based in London as a commissioned officer.
September 2014 – Tuns 30. The terms of Princess Diana’s will state that her 1981 wedding gown is to be given to Prince William and Prince Harry on this date.
June 19, 2015 – Kensington Palace announces that Harry has ended his career with the Army.
August 22, 2015 – Harry joins the inaugural “Walk of Britain” to raise awareness for wounded warriors. The Walk begins in Aberdeen, Scotland and ends at Buckingham Palace, a trek of 1,000 miles.
April 16, 2017 – In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper, Harry reveals that he sought mental health counseling in 2013 to help him cope with ongoing emotional issues rooted in the sudden death of his mother.
Nov.27, 2017 – Engagement to American actress Meghan Markle is announced.
May 19, 2018 – The Queen confers Dukedom on Prince Harry of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.
May 19, 2018 – Marries Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
What a wedding!
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle became husband and wife, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the new reigning king and queen of romance on Saturday. Is that an official title? It should be, because the royal wedding, so hotly anticipated and debated, was full of sweet, inspiring, groundbreaking moments that spoke to the couple’s unique character.
Where to begin? Is it with the heavenly music selections that perfectly melded British and American traditions? The fresh array of blush pink and gentle green hats and outfits that lit up St. George’s Chapel?
Or how about when Prince Harry raised his bride-to-be’s veil, and for one brief moment, even the most hardened of cynics swooned a little inside?
Before the ceremony, a rainbow of color and celebrity
While Meghan, Prince Harry and their closest family and attendants waited out the final hours before their big moment, Britain and America’s finest put on a characteristically colorful display. Among the best dressed was Amal Clooney, an international human rights lawyer and the wife of George Clooney, who wore a stunning deep yellow outfit that CNN’s fashion expert Caryn Franklin called a “masterclass” and “a wonderful tonal choice for her complexion.”
Of course, the Stars and Stripes were represented almost as much as the Union Jack, and tennis star Serena Williams made one of the strongest showings from the other side of the pond. Her asymmetrical look played up two of the biggest trends of the day: blush pink and architectural headpieces.
READ MORE: Royal wedding guests, in pictures
Of course, all eyes were on the Queen and the mother of the bride, Doria Ragland. They probably didn’t coordinate their outfits beforehand, but they could have: Both were sporting shades of light green, with the Queen adding pops of yellow and purple to her outfit. (Why does the Queen love bright colors so much? CNN’s cadre of royal correspondents on the scene surmised that, since she stands at a diminutive 5 feet, 4 inches, bright colors help her stand out.)
Meaningful moments from the royal family
There were also some meaningful appearances that had nothing to do with fashion: Prince Harry’s aunt, Sarah Ferguson, was in attendance, smiling and waving as she walked into the chapel. The Duchess of York is divorced from her husband, Prince Andrew, and has been somewhat of a pariah in the royal family. She wasn’t invited to Prince William and Catherine’s wedding, and her presence was one indication of Prince Harry’s reputation as a peacemaker in the family.
And, in case you needed more evidence that the royals are a hardy bunch, Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip arrived and walked to his place at the front of the chapel unassisted, despite having hip surgery just a month ago.
It is reported that the Queen loves a wedding, and as CNN’s royal correspondents pointed out, this is likely her last royal union. The Queen is 92 years old, and the next person in her direct line to get married would be one of Prince William’s children, who are all under five.
Harry and William arrive; as princes, brothers and friends
Of course, everyone is always waiting for what the bride is going to wear, but Prince Harry and Prince William, acting as his best man, cut quite a figure in their black Household Cavalry Uniforms. There was some playful speculation over whether Harry would keep his jaunty beard, and it turns out he did! It’s not exactly a huge break with tradition, but a little scruff on the Prince on his wedding day was certainly a modern touch.
It was an emotional moment to watch the two brothers, bonded not only by blood but the tragic loss of their mother when they were both children, walk through the nave together. The memory of Princess Diana was strongly felt throughout the day. Diana’s brother, Earl Charles Spencer, was in attendance, and her sister Lady Jane Fellowes gave a reading. One of the many hymns played before the ceremony was “Guide Me, Oh Thou Great Redeemer,” which was not only played at Diana’s funeral, but at William and Catherine’s wedding seven years ago.
READ MORE: Princess Diana’s presence felt at Meghan and Harry’s wedding
The dress is revealed
Is there ever a dress more anticipated than that of a royal bride-to-be?
From the second Meghan set off from her hotel in a royal Rolls-Royce, people were squinting and screen-shotting, trying to get a glimpse of her outfit.
No surprise, it turned out to be a stunner: A simple boat-neck, all-white number that was conservative, yet bold in its simplicity. It was designed by acclaimed British designer, Clare Waight Keller, who last year became became the first female Artistic Director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy. Another feminist choice from the unconventional royal bride? Perhaps. Walking yourself partway down the aisle and wearing the creation of a groundbreaking female designer certainly makes a statement.
READ MORE: Details of Meghan’s Givenchy dress
In case you were wondering whether the Queen approves of her new granddaughter-in-law, she reportedly invited Meghan to choose her tiara from a selection of historic pieces. She ended up wearing a low-profile diamond bandeau tiara owned by Queen Mary.
Harry and Meghan prove love is real
With the guests in order, the mystery of the dress solved and the screaming crowds of wedding watchers quieting down (a little), Meghan began the long walk to the altar, over the iconic black-and-white tiles of St. George’s Chapel. It was the first observed time that a royal bride-to-be in the UK walked herself down the aisle.
About halfway through, Prince Harry’s father Prince Charles joined her (Meghan’s father Thomas was supposed to do the honors, but could not attend due to health issues). Once she came to stand next to her future husband, the romance factor rocketed up and stayed there at an almost unbearable level throughout the ceremony. The nuptial couple couldn’t stop being sweet to each other. When he saw Meghan, the first thing Harry said to her was, “You look amazing.” When he lifted her veil, she gave him a radiant smile that will live on in GIFs and photos from now until the end of time. They held hands almost the entire service. Stiff upper lip? This royal couple would never.
The ceremony inspires and unites
From the outset, we knew the ceremony was going to be something different — a union of British royal traditions and American spirituality. The officiant was David Conner, Dean of Windsor, who did the usual honors.
But one of the highlights of the ceremony was an address given by Michael Curry, an American preacher who is also the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
During his engaging (and lengthy!) speech, Curry repeatedly quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., and mentioned slavery and the healing power of love.
“Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up,” he quipped, one of the many laughs that was drawn from the typically buttoned-up crowd.
READ MORE: The full text of Bishop Curry’s speech
Other than Meghan’s dress, and Harry’s smile, the real star of the ceremony was the MUSIC.
An array of gorgeous, traditional hymns and instrumental pieces by British composers was complemented by a truly majestic version of “Stand By Me” performed by the Kingdom Choir, a Christian gospel group based in southeast England. (Oh, and the choir members carried on that blush-pink trend, singing in coordinated shades of rose gold, pink, and blue.) Will the addition of a gospel choir be a big talking point over the next few days? Definitely. Did they sound great? Also definitely.
After Harry and Meghan said “I do,” (or rather, “I will,”) the crowd was treated to a performance by Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a 19-year-old cellist who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award in 2016 and, with his royal appearance, instantly became social media’s new favorite musician.
The music continued even as the newly-married Harry and Meghan emerged into the sunlight under an arch of white roses and peonies. They climbed into the royal carriage as the strains of “This Little Light of Mine” rung in the air. It was an emotional end to an emotional service, and a joyous beginning for a joyous new royal couple.
Attempts by Facebook and Google to tackle “dark ads” and foreign interference in the run-up to Ireland’s referendum on abortion haven’t been entirely successful, data from a transparency group seen by CNN has shown.
The Transparent Referendum Initiative (TRI), a volunteer organization set up to monitor social-media posts about the referendum has collected ads from 180 Facebook groups targeting Irish voters.
Facebook announced it would ban all ads from foreign groups on May 8, writing, “We understand the sensitivity of this campaign and will be working hard to ensure neutrality at all stages. We are an open platform for people to express ideas and views on both sides of a debate. Our goal is simple: to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue.”
But TRI data shows that out of around 200 new ads related to the vote since that announcement, at least 31 percent have been administered at least in part by page managers outside Ireland.
Google also announced it would not accept any political ads on any side of the campaign last week. “Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have decided to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment,” a statement read.
Yet screenshots sent to TRI from voters in Ireland after that announcement showed ads continuing to appear on Google’s platform.
Irish law bans foreign citizens and groups from making donations to campaign groups and prohibits political ads on television or radio broadcasts during campaigns. The ad bans do not extend online or on social, meaning anyone is open to buying an ad on platforms like Facebook or Google.
Ireland’s abortion laws — some of the most restrictive in the developed world — are enshrined in the eighth amendment to the country’s constitution, which places an unborn child’s right to life on equal footing with that of the mother. On May 25, Ireland will vote to repeal or retain the amendment.
A global campaign
Transparency campaigners and a group of journalists, including CNN, worked with TRI data to identify Facebook pages related to the referendum managed by people outside Ireland. The most common locations were the U.S. and the UK.
Those locations were revealed last Friday after Facebook accidentally rolled out a live tool still in the testing phase called “Page History.” It showed the location of a Facebook page’s manager or managers and how many people were administering it.
Preliminary analysis of that data by social media intelligence and news agency Storyful found that 81 percent of pro-repeal ads were managed solely in Ireland, compared to 37 percent of anti-repeal posts.
Savethe8th, a national anti-abortion group, are a staunch No campaign group. Data showed group managers in locations in Hungary, the UK and two other countries, according to the data.
Savethe8th has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.
Another page belonging to the White Flag Movement, with managers in the U.S. and Ireland, has posted a video by American anti-abortion activist Dr. Anthony Levatino featuring graphic depictions of first-trimester abortions.
According to the TRI data, at least 40 percent of anti-repeal posts have come from pages that aren’t registered with Ireland’s ethics watchdog, the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO), compared to 17 percent of pro-repeal posts.
Under current Irish law, Facebook pages related to the referendum do not need to be registered with SIPO, however ones that are demonstrate they are in Ireland with campaigns financed by Irish funds.
Anonymous accounts with no contact information accounted for 13 percent of anti-repeal posts and 3 percent of pro-repeal posts.
In a statement on May 11, Facebook said the “early test” of the “Page History” feature was “mistakenly launched” to users in Ireland and Canada.
Facebook told CNN they would not be able provide further information on the location data seen in the Page History tool.
The “Page History” feature has since been deactivated.
When CNN showed Google an ad related to the referendum that had continued to appear on their platform this week, Google said they had taken action to remove them.
TRI co-founder Liz Carolan says Google’s decision leaves many questions unanswered.
“I think that our institutions and voters should have access to the information that prompted this private company to take such a drastic step so close to polling day,” she told CNN.
“What did they see that made them act so promptly to protect our “electoral integrity?”
‘Anyone can spread any message’
The data captured while the Facebook tool was active has raised concerns about the spread of foreign influence and misinformation.
“We cannot as a sovereign nation allow tech giants to decide who gets to campaign on the Irish constitution and run the Irish government,” James Lawless, Irish lawmaker and technology spokesman for the opposition Fianna Fail party, told CNN.
“Those decisions should be made on the Irish Cabinet.”
Lawless first put forward his Social Media Transparency Bill in December 2017, with the aim to reduce the risk of foreign actors influencing upcoming campaigns.
Ireland’s current campaign finance restrictions make sure that the richest campaigners don’t dominate the campaign, Lawless explained. But if such regulations aren’t imposed on social media, “all those rules go out the window, and anyone can spread any message that could change the Irish constitution.”
The bill was rejected last year, but in the face of the work by TRI, public outcry and cross-party support, the government has now agreed to work with Lawless on bringing it forward.
Although he welcomes the government’s support, Lawless says the “reactionary, 11th-hour move” would have been far preferable months before the campaign began.
And with loopholes in ads across Facebook and Google seen after their self-imposed bans, the social media sphere remains an open playing field. In Google’s absence, a range of digital advertising platforms have stepped in to fill the void. This means that any foreign actors wishing to continue advertising on the referendum can still buy ads — just not on Google.
“Democracy is not for sale to the highest bidder,” said Lawless, who voted to hold the referendum and is undecided on the vote.
“If we don’t take action now we are exposing ourselves to that risk.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated James Lawless’ voting intentions.
The masses roared, as they always do on such occasions, and under a cloudless English sky in the historic town of Windsor, there was a new beginning.
It was a royal wedding like no other; a gospel choir sang, Dr. Martin Luther King was quoted in a rousing address and a young couple was united in a marriage that will change a venerable institution forever.
Greeted by cheering crowds, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex emerged from St. George’s Chapel and kissed on the steps as the sun shone down.
The marriage of the sixth in line to the throne to Meghan Markle, a biracial American, saw the British monarchy transform into something more representative of its people than it has been before.
On the cobbled streets of Windsor, among the snaking river of people who turned out to celebrate, there was a sense from many that the newest member of the royal family had reinvigorated “The Firm.”
“It’s good there’s diversity in the royal family, it means a lot,” said Abha Trivedi, a Californian who had relocated to London two weeks ago and slept overnight on a chair for a prime spot of the royal procession.
Daljit Sidhu, of South Asian heritage but from Langley near Windsor, echoed such sentiments.
“As Asians it’s important,” the 41-year-old said. “I was born and bred here, but you were always different. Ten years ago you wouldn’t have thought this would happen.”
Pageantry with majesty
Much has been spoken and written about of the newest member of royal family shaking up the establishment.
But for all that was different about this royal wedding there was still the pomp and circumstance of old royalty.
It was an impeccably choreographed wedding. A marching band paraded through the streets, aristocrats arrived and departed in supersized hats. Overseeing the service was the Archbishop of Canterbury.
No one does pageantry with the majesty of the British. It comes by virtue of hundreds of years of practice.
An estimated 100,000 had descended on this picturesque town 20 miles west of London on a glorious spring day to witness a wedding that has charmed not only the inhabitants of the UK but millions around the world.
From Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to Ghana, the United States, Switzerland and Australia, thousands were captivated by tradition and glamour.
They lined the cobbled streets, snacked on sandwiches drank Pimm’s and waited and waited — and waited — for a chance to say “I was there.”
There was joy, giddiness and much affection for the couple, now one of the world’s most powerful and influential pairings. In this part of England, for Saturday at least, everyone was a royalist and romantic.
Seventy-three-year-old Australian Carleen Quirk had been sleeping on the streets of Windsor for two nights to ensure she was in prime position to witness her eighth royal wedding.
Why does the British monarchy seduce and enchant so many? “Having a royal family as head of a country is stabilizing,” explained Quirk. “And Meghan is a breath of fresh air.”
For Histria Soler, from the Dominican Republic but in London visiting friends, it was an opportunity to experience something usually seen in Disney movies. “It’s not often that you see a prince get married,” she said. “She was just a normal girl.”
Love and Britishness
Prince Harry and William are also, of course, the sons of Princess Diana and much interest in them stems from memories of her, a woman loved by the people, but whose own fairytale wedding ended in divorce.
Though living extraordinary unusual and privileged lives, it is the brothers’ ability to appear as regular men which has helped the family overcome the tumultuous final decades of the last century.
Images of the young princes walking solemnly behind their mother’s coffin remain strongly etched in the memory, so there has always been much goodwill for the boys who have now found love and married women considered unthinkable as prospective royal brides only a generation ago.
“My mum was a big fan of Diana and we got raised on that. Harry has his mother-like ways with the public. He’s a people’s person,” said Daljit Sidhu.
For all the ostentation, for all the millions spent, this was a day for all generations and all people. Windsor was filled with the sound of ecstatic cheers and jubilation in a celebration of love and Britishness.
Along the treelined Long Walk in front of the Castle, where the majority of the wedding watchers congregated, families and friends gathered to eat, drink and party. Even at 9 a.m. an orderly line had formed for chicken and french fries from one of the many food trucks.
Some wore dresses inspired by the UK flag, others donned paper crowns on their heads and simply waved flags towards the azure sky.
Polish-born Angelica Kasperska had brought a ladder and binoculars for the occasion, a wise move when necks had to be craned for a glimpse of the great and good.
Children played football and chased balloons, while bellowing traders peddled Harry and Meghan scarves and flags to a crowd thirsty for commemorative paraphernalia.
The sight of homeless men, some sleeping, some sitting on the streets, was a reminder of the problems still facing this society, as it was eight years ago when the public mood before Prince William’s wedding was weighed down by recession, unemployment and austerity.
Prince Harry has married in the age of Brexit and he and his new bride have offered respite to the division that that has created.
Gasps of delight
Ahead of the ceremony, there was applause from the throng on the Long Walk as big screens broadcast the first glimpse of Prince Harry arriving with his brother and best man Prince William. Both wore the frock coat uniform of the Blues and Royals regiment, made especially on London’s Savile Row. It was showtime.
Every familiar face was greeted warmly, with as much affection reserved for the mother of the bride, Doria Ragland, as the future king, and father of the groom, Prince Charles.
Wedding watchers gasped on first sight of the bride’s dress and there was an audible intake of breath when the train emerged. The crowd cooed as the cameras flicked to a nervous-looking Harry and clapped as Prince Charles took Meghan by the arm before presenting her to his son.
There was the glitz associated with any great royal wedding; the bride arrived in a Rolls-Royce and departed in a gilded carriage. She wore a Givenchy dress and Cartier earrings.
But it was the zeal of the Most Rev. Michael Curry’s stirring address which ensured that those watching were left in no doubt that this was now not the British monarchy as they knew it only yesterday. It felt different. It was different.
The African-American bishop began and ended with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, he talked of discovering the “redemptive power of love,” he compared the power of love to the power of fire, mentioned Instagram and caused a chuckle when he promised to wrap up his lengthy oration so “we can get you two married.”
There was a sense that the crowd on the Long Walk did not know what to make of the groundbreaking moment, but they reserved some of their loudest cheers for the Curry upon the conclusion of his sermon.
‘This is history’
“Thank God the world is watching this,” tweeted black British TV presenter Ore Oduba. “Never seen or heard a ceremony like it. This is history.”
As the gospel choir sang “Stand By Me” the hordes lining the Long Walk sang along to the chorus of the 1961 classic. It was another unexpected moment. British royal weddings are usually packed full of hymns. Never before have they been a multicultural celebration.
Sleep-deprived and jaded, the crowd’s energy understandably abated until returning to full voice and renewed vigor when Prince Harry walked out of the chapel arm-in-arm with Meghan and embarked on a procession through Windsor’s streets and park.
The sound of clapping rippled through the town as a captivated public was given its opportunity to see husband and wife in the flesh.
“That was so cool,” said a young American as the couple passed in a horse-drawn Ascot Landau carriage, flanked by the household cavalry soldiers, Prince Harry’s former regiment.
The new Duchess perhaps needs to practice her royal wave. It must be from the wrist, always from the wrist. But scorn cannot be poured on an occasion such as this. As the Most Rev. Curry said in his sermon: “Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up.”
And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen. From the Song of Solomon in the Bible, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, a seal upon your arm. For love is as 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 out.”
The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this whole world a new world. But love, love is the only way.” There is power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even oversentimentalize it. There is power, power in love.
If you don’t believe me, think of a tie when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved. Oh, there’s power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it. When you love and you show it. It actually feels right. There’s something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love. And our lives are meant to be lived in that love — that’s why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself. The source of all our lives.
There’s an old medieval poem that says where true love is found, God himself is there. The New Testament says it this way. Beloved, let us love one another. Because love is of God and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God. Why? Because God is love. There is power in love.
There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. Set me as a seal on your heart, a seal on your arm. For love, it is strong as death.
But love is not only about a young couple. Now, the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re 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. Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses, and he went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures to Deuteronomy and Leviticus and Jesus said you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.
And then in Matthew’s version he added, he said, on these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law. All the prophets. Everything that Moses wrote. Everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures. Everything that God has been trying to tell the world: Love God. Love your neighbors. And while your at it, love yourself.
Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history. A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world. And a movement mandating people to live and love ad in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I’m talking about some power — real power. Power to change the world.
If you don’t believe me, well, there was more 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. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul. And one of the stanzas actually explains why. They said if you cannot preach like Peter and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus how he died to save of all. Oh that’s the balm in Gilead: his way of love it is the way of life.
They got it. He died to save us all. He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t — He wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life for others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world. For us. That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial.
And in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives. And it can change this world. If you don’t believe me, just stop and think and imagine. Think and imagine, well? Think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired old world when love is the way.
When love is the way — unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive, when love is the way. Then no child would go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way. We will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever flowing brook. Wen love is the way poverty will become history. When love is the way the earth will become a sanctuary. When love is the way we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more. When love is the way there’s plenty good room, plenty good room for all of God’s children.
Cause when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually family. When love is the way we know that God is the source of us all. And we are brother and sisters, children of God. Brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family. And let me tell you something, old Solomon was right in the Old Testament. That’s fire.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin — and with this I will sit down. We got to get you all married.
French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century, a Jesuit Roman Catholic priest. A scientist, a scholar, a mystic. In some of his writings he said from his scientific background as well as his theological one, in some of his writings he said, as others have, that the discovery or invention or harnessing of fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history. Fire to a great extent made all of human civilization possible. Fire made it possible to cook food and to provide sanitary ways of eating, which reduced the spread of disease in its time. Fire made it possible to heat warm environments and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates. Fire made it possible, there was no Bronze Age without fire, no Iron Age without fire, no Industrial Revolution without fire. The advance of science and technology are greatly dependent on the ability to take fire and use it for human good.
Anybody get here in a car today? An automobile? Nod your head if you did — I know there were some carriages. But those of us who came in cars, fire, the controlled, harnessed fire made that possible. I know that the Bible says, and I believe it, that Jesus walked on water. But I have to tell you that I didn’t walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here. Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other. Fire makes all of that possible.
And de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harness the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.
Dr. King was right. We must discover love the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world. My brother, my sister, God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.