Sermon Archives

Sunday, November 5, 2017
The All Souls' Requiem
The Reverend Andrew Van Culin, Rector
Grief and Love

In the Name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Oh, how great was there love!

Just last Wednesday night, on All Saints Day itself, in fact, millions of Americans showed the depth of their love.  With each pitch that was thrown, and with each out that was made, the intensity of love on display grew, until the final, fateful out was made and all of Los Angeles let loose their love.  Yes, I know, Houston won the game, and never was there greater joy in Houston than on Wednesday, especially given the tragedy that residence of Houston have faced in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

But the great love on display that night wasn’t in Houston, but in Los Angeles. 

You see, it’s easy to share in the joy of a winner.  I didn’t see him, but that committed Marlins fan was probably right there, behind home plate savoring the celebration all around him.  But participating in the joy is not quite same as grieving the loss.

As Corey Seager grounded out to second and all hope for a final comeback was lost, passionate Dodger fans the world over began to grieve.  Of course, they all grieved in their own way – some wept, literally, while others raised a toast to what almost was, while still others sat in numb silence as a flood of emotions washed over them. 

Now, of course, there is no way to equate the grief one encounters with a World Series loss, nor the love we have for our home town teams, the grief we feel at the loss of love one and friend, but we can begin to see in that fevered moment as hats are thrown skyward in joy while others crumple to their knees in heartbreaking agony, what love is. 

You see, it’s there, in that moment, as grief takes hold that we begin to see the depth of our love.  It’s easy to get caught up in the fever of winning and the celebration that ensues; one doesn’t have to be great fan for that.  But only those who truly and whole-heartedly love grieve; for we can only grieve those whom we love. 

And so we find ourselves here today, gathered together to show forth our great love, first by grieving again for those whom we love but see no longer.  We remember mothers and fathers, dear and old friends, sister and brothers, and many more besides, and as remember, no doubt we will grieve again as the heartbreak of their death returns. 

But that is the very nature of love, we grieve for those we love.

But there is another element to love, Christian love at least.  In addition to the grief we experience for those we love who have died, there is also the grief we share with those who suffer.  Life can be difficult even in the best of times, and nearly overwhelming in times of heartache and loss, and it’s in those times that we most need one another.  And so we come together, on a night such as this, when the grief is not ours in quite the same way as it may be for others, to sidle up beside one another in order that we shoulder a bit of the loss together; to say if you will, your loss is my loss, your grief is my grief. 

This, of course, is what Jesus does in Bethany at the death of Lazarus.  Yes, he had loved Lazarus, and it was his dear friendship that brings him back to Bethany, but it was the suffering of Mary and of all those who had come like him on account of love for Lazarus and his sisters that finally brings Jesus himself to tears.  You see, to grieve with another is equally a sign of our love, to allow our hearts to break not only when it is we who suffer, but when another suffers is a testament to the love we share.

And that is what we are called to do – to love one another as Christ first loved us. Today friends, such love is on display.  Love is on display as we grieve again the deaths of those so dear to our hearts, but not only there.  Love is on display as we stand beside one another so that no one grieves alone. 

Friends, thank you for your great love.