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A Tale of Two Sermons – The Wedding One and the Funeral One

Remember that Royal Wedding sermon  Right Royal Preaching   

Well now we have a new one.   Another African-American preacher has been in the headlines this week because of a sermon given at a great public occasion.  Rev. Jasper W. Williams has found himself in hot water because of his eulogy at the funeral of Aretha Franklin.  Given the reports about it, I thought I would listen to it…and what a surprise – it was nothing like it was reported in the mainstream media.


This as a six-hour service so a 40 minute sermon was probably not too excessive.  The complaints were that it was basically not a eulogy and the controversial things he said about the Black community.  Not every one was offended and many thought it was an appropriate and challenging word.

download-3I will say this – it was certainly different and an insight into a culture that I don’t really know – being neither American or Black.

Personally I thought it was great.  Aretha knew him well and when she asked him to preach her funeral sermon I suspect she knew what she would be getting.  He did after all preach at her fathers funeral.  I got the impression he knew the family well and his praise of her as the Queen of Soul and civil rights activist was fitting.

I suspect it was the other stuff that got some people riled.  He spoke theology.  He spoke of creation, God and asked questions such as “What about your relationship with God?”.  He declared that what matters is whether or not your soul has been saved.   It was vastly different from Bishop Curry’s meaningless  ‘love, love, love’ froth.

His challenge to Black America was powerful.

Black America has lost its soul…the one thing that black America needs is to come back to God.   Something must be done…done…done…

We lost our soul when we integrated….as I look at your house there are no fathers in the home.   A black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.   Black man where is your soul?   The KKK killed over 3000 people over an 86 year span – but black people kill that number every six months.

Do black lives matter?  No – they do not matter.  They will not matter.  Should not matter.  Must not matter.  Until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing black people.

Whacked up high, drunk, crack…where is your soul?  Divorce…the scars on our children.  Where is your God?   What will the Queens legacy be?

As a race we don’t need better houses….we need homes….we don’t need better houses given to us we need to make for ourselves better homes.

The school teacher, pastor, police can’t handle our children. Whatever way the home goes thats the way the world goes….

Give a little respect..

It was powerful and challenging stuff…and I loved it.  It was revolutionary and counter cultural.   It was a million times better than Curry’s meaningless pseudo spiritual waffle, the sermon that pandered to the shibboleths of our culture and yet was regarded as a great evangelical sermon by some evangelicals.

And yet…Jasper Williams sermon was not a Gospel sermon.  It was moralistic and political. As an address to the Black community in honour of Aretha it was excellent. But there was something missing. Perhaps it did lack in personal eulogy -but given there was much of that in the rest of the six-hour service that is understandable and forgivable. There was however little of Christ and his Word and that is what was needed most of all.  There is a balm in Gilead.  A great opportunity was missed to point not only the Black community, but all of us, to the one who can save not only our souls but also our bodies.



Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon – A Distorted Gospel Divides the Church



  1. Having spent recent spare time being lazy, clearing the garden, or putting furniture together, I am glad you took time out to listen and passed it on to us. Far, far better, but still not the hope of Christ clearly presented, it seems.

  2. The family have said that Aretha Franklin had not talked about what was wanted at her funeral. Her family asked him to give a eulogy but have released a statement disagreeing with what he said.

    The problem is that, for many many black people his words contained the same aspects of racisim, sexism and white supremacy seen in very white, very right conservative thinking.

    “We lost our soul when we integrated”

    Which is a challenge to the civil rights movement that Franklin was a part of. But there is the question of just how integrated the US actually is. Colin Kaepernick was protesting the fact that children like Tamir Rice are shot by white policemen for carrying a toy gun. Yet Christians like Janet Parshall us their profile to be critical of that protest yet have nothing in any of their social media about the police killing innocent black children. Where is the integration?

    “A black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.”

    Pretty sure Franklin did exactly that. Also discards the readily available information that shows that teenage birth rates correlate to poverty and income inequality.

    “The KKK killed over 3000 people over an 86 year span – but black people kill that number every six months.”

    Which is a line straight from the lips of racists. Its the argument used to defend white police officers when they shoot innocent, unarmed black people. As such, its intellectually and morally reprehensible. It ignores the fact that violent crime is a socio-economic phenomenon and not a problem of simple black savages running wild in the concrete jungles. Black students get less qualified teachers, less funding and fewer resources. They don’t just choose to ignore education in favor of dope-dealing and shooting hoops.

    “Do black lives matter? No – they do not matter. They will not matter. Should not matter. Must not matter. Until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing black people.”

    May as well wear a MAGA hat. If you look at any city in America; community organizations, nonprofits and church groups dedicated to curbing violence, supplementing education and helping young people with various issues exponentially outnumber the groups dedicated to police brutality. But the white people are nervous about the black people being angry that police are killing them for no reason….

    Because Fox News doesn’t cover “Stop the Violence” rallies, gun exchanges, school supply drives, teen pregnancy centers, youth sports leagues, mentoring groups, after-school programs, scholarship drives or tutoring sessions. Black people are helping other black people across the US but this preacher doesnt seem to know or care. He is just parroting lines about respectability. White respectability. Which is hard to achieve in the US because white people dont want to spend money in black neighbourhoods.

    It was a bad and disrespectful speech. Disrespectful to black people. And certainly disrespectful to Aretha Franklin.

    1. Wow – for chutzpah your comment is superb! You are accusing an African American who has been a civil rights leader for decades, of being racist against black people! You, as a white man, have the gall and the nerve to do that! And you accuse me of not knowing or caring about his own people. You have some nerve! Your white supremacy is shining through!

      1. Actually all I am doing in reflecting the thoughts of black people and I know and love. But you do you. And if listening, agreeing with and supporting black people is white supremacy then I dont know what planet you are on. And I repeat that which you ignore. The woman whos family are bereaved are very upset at what this man has said.

      2. This is a tough one…should I listen to a African American veteran of the civil rights campaign, or a white middle class social justice warrior who calls him a racist and justifies that call by unsubstantiated anecdote of ‘black people I know and love’?! What patronising pompous nonsense!

    2. I think this black preacher probably knows plenty about his community.

      “The KKK killed over 3000 people over an 86 year span – but black people kill that number every six months.”

      Which is a line straight from the lips of racists.”

      Um, and black people like the preacher. Not to mention it is a fact.

  3. I hadn’t even heard about this controversy, so thank you David for highlighting it . It sounds like a sermon from someone who actually cares about his own race and suffers at what he observes nowadays. He wants his people to do better, so I don’t think that fits into a racist stereotype.

  4. White men in this country are not doing well either. Read Murray’s “Coming Apart”, though illegitimacy is about double in the black community. White preachers such as Matt Chandler and moralists in the southern Baptist congestion are increasingly trying to shame white men into behaving better. Black preachers have been using shame for quite awhile, or blaming whites.

    There is a Third Way, of course, and He was raised on the Third Day. Give men some Good News and they might again start filling the pews.

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