On the Pilgrimage Path, We Walk With You

Prof. Stephanie Paulsell

Dear friends,

This morning President Lawrence Bacow wrote to the community with more information about the university’s response to the coronavirus. Students have been asked not to return to campus after Spring Break, which begins this weekend. Courses will be taught remotely, and meetings or events of more than 25 people are being prohibited.

I’m sorry to say that this means we must cancel all events at the church at least through the end of April. And for the foreseeable future, we will no longer be able to gather for Morning Prayers. We will audiotape the talks of the week’s remaining three speakers and make them available online. If you are inclined to continue to pray at 8:30 am each morning, you can be sure that some of us will be praying with you.

We will continue to broadcast a worship service on Sundays at 11 am on Harvard’s radio station, WHRB (online or at 95.3 FM). We also hope to keep producing new content and finding ways of connecting as a community, including during Holy Week. Please stay tuned for more information.

This is not how we expected to make our Lenten pilgrimage. But as I said in the sermon last Sunday, every time we’ve passed the peace to the person next to us, or lifted our hearts in prayer, or turned an ordinary journey into a pilgrimage, we’ve practiced for this. We’ve been practicing all year long to be able to worship, as Professor Diana Eck put it in her wonderful Morning Prayers talk last week, at all the altars of this world. For there is no place where gestures of peace do not need to be passed, no encounter where the dignity of others does not need to be recognized and greeted. There is no day when we do not need to open ourselves in prayer to the lives of others and what the great theologian of the civil rights movement, Howard Thurman, called “the vast, creative energies of God.” There is no journey in which we cannot seek the presence of the sacred within us and around us or feel the claim of the journeys of others on our own. So stay on your pilgrimage path, dear friends, and we will walk with you.

Sending love from all of us at the Memorial Church,

Stephanie Paulsell signature

Stephanie Paulsell
Interim Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church
Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies, Harvard Divinity School