Sermon Archives

Sunday, November 29, 2020
The First Sunday of Advent (Year B)
The Reverend Andrew Van Culin, Rector
The Yearnings of our Heart

Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us. Let us find our rest in thee.

Friends, when COVID-19 first upturned our lives last Lent, many of us noted that the restrictions and isolation seemed to fit the season. As time has passed, however, and the weeks turned into months, I’ve come to realize that Advent may offer a better spiritual model for the experience we are sharing.

For eight months now we have longed for a reprieve from the suffering, and a release from the fear. For eight months we have prayed with sighs too deep for words, for cures and treatments to battle the physical trauma COVID has inflicted on the lives of millions of Americans and their families. Not just across the U.S. or the globe, but here in Grosse Pointe, here in Christ Church.

For eight months we have hoped beyond hope for a change to come to free us from the grips of the devastating disease. As thousands have died and even more have been hospitalized here in Michigan, and thousands upon thousands across the U.S. and the world, these are natural longings of a world in the midst of a pandemic.

And yet we’ve also come to realize that release from COVID-19 isn’t the only longing of our collective heart. Many of us are asking, how is it that we have come to this place at all? How is it that a virus, even a virus as virulent as this novel coronavirus we are battling today, could wreak such devastation upon our nation and the world, especially among our black, and brown, and indigenous communities?

How is it that we have come to a place of such great distrust in American society? How is it that the tragedy of racism continues to plague our communities today? How is all of this still possible?

And so we long for more, not just for improved therapeutics to treat COVID-19 today, and a vaccine to prevent i’s spread tomorrow, but for a more fundamental change in the human heart, and within our collective society.

The ruptures in our society, within our community, and at times even within our homes, will require something more than a vaccine or a pharmaceutical drug to repair. These yearnings and hopes that we harbor are, in fact, the age old yearnings of Advent.

So now Advent is upon us. Advent, of course, is not Christmas, but it is so valuable. You see, Advent provides us this holy time to reflect upon the yearnings that dwell deep within us in order that we might name the profound hopes that we possess.

So I encourage you over the coming weeks to do something you may not have done for some time. I want you to make a Christmas list of sorts, but let’s call this an Advent list instead.

But this isn’t a list for gifts and baubles. This is a list for, and from our heart. Each week of Advent, I will encourage you to make an Advent list of profound longings that reside within your heart. Longings and hopes that you have for you and for your family. Longings and hopes that you have for a neighbor, or for a friend. Longings and hopes that you have for our community of Christ Church, and for our community of Grosse Pointe.

And longings and hopes that you have for the world beyond our neighborhood, for our neighbors in Jefferson Chalmers, and throughout Metro Detroit.

Friends, if we are to hear God’s promise at Christmas, and the way out of the darkness that we experience, we must first explore the great yearnings of our heart. For God indeed comes every Christmas, not with pretty baubles to play with, but with a great light that shines in the darkness of our world.

Friends, let us explore the yearnings of our hearts in order that we might see God break in yet again, this Christmas time.