Thursday through Sunday Nov 15-17 my family and I traveled to Boston and Cambridge, MA to visit my undergraduate Alma Mater Harvard University. While there we visited many sites and attended the 135th playing of “The Game” between Harvard and Yale (I lettered in football at Harvard, playing from from 1995-1998).
We also toured the campus including the Harvard Yard and the Memorial Church. I wanted my kids to see this place as it, along with our ELCA Lutheran Campus ministry at UniLu, was critical to my formation as a pastor and leader in the church. When I was a student the Rev. Prof. Peter Gomes occupied the pulpit of the church. A Baptist, his combination of wisdom and wit, love for the church and its traditions, commitment to justice, ecumenical emphasis and inclusion for all in the church impacted me greatly.
The church also stands as a reminder of the cost of war upon all our communities. Built to honor the dead from “the great war” it bears the names of those students, faculty, and staff in the crypt (see photo from Harvard’s Instagram this past Veterans Day). However we know the war to end all wars did not accomplish that goal and now the walls of the church bear plaques of names from the many wars and conflicts since.
This week we celebrate our national Thanksgiving day. This is not a liturgical holiday although many congregations do have worship services to commemorate this day. As we give thanks I pray our communities will reflect on the abundance of our nation, be grateful for those who have led us and sacrificed for our nation, and also on the many ways our nation has and continues to fall short.
In a time of deep division it is appropriate that we Lutherans, people of Law and Gospel, speak truth about the reality of injustice in our world. Reflect on the costs of our lifestyle on the world, environment, and people of all nations. Honestly assess that in a land of abundance people go hungry. That many are denied dignity because of their race, gender, sexuality, immigration status, or other way we separate ourselves from on another. To confront these realities with the gospel of Jesus Christ, God giving God’s very self for the world is part of what I learned from Peter Gomes.
I am thankful for this time with my family and friends this weekend. For mentors and leaders who have gone before me and have and continue to form leaders for the church. Disciples of Jesus Christ who give thanks always and in so doing remember our call to serve our neighbor. Have a blessed Thanksgiving week NT-NL Synod, ELCA. #NTNL #InMissionTogether