The Episcopal Chaplaincy at Harvard
25 October 2018
The Episcopal Chaplaincy at Harvard

Running on Faith

( SourceThe New Yorker, 22 January 2015)

If you thought the Book of Job's questions were unsettling, wait until you see the answers. Or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Job never learns the reason behind his suffering. No apologies, no grand reveal. Just uncertainty. And t ruthfully, I'd be more satisfied if it ended there instead of what actually follows: Job's fortunes are restored. For a book that seems to prize disinterested faith, this epilogue seems to confirm that there isn't. The right words of piety, apparently, can turn misery around.  Our Gospel text for the week seems like it goes in the same direction. "Your faith has made you well," Jesus says to Bartimaeus in giving him sight Believing, in this case, is a prerequisite for seeing. 

This understanding is everywhere in our culture, even if we're skeptical of so-called 'faith healing.' How often do you hear people celebrate a new job, a new baby, or the end of a struggle by thanking God, and sharing the faith they had that God would come through for them? How many cancer survivors do you know who have talked about the certainty that God was looking out for them, or whose loved ones attribute their recovery to prayer? The corollary, though, is harder. If our faith can make us well, then what does it mean when we are anything but?  We count our blessings. Everything else requires some creative accounting.  

I don't know of a bigger question than this, though that won't stop us from trying (somehow...) to scratch the surface of it on Sunday evening. But I encourage you in the next couple of days to read, and pray, with these texts again. What exactly is the faith that Bartimaeus has in such abundance? What does Job's relationship with God look like in the years covered by that brief epilogue?  Is this instructive? Troubling? Why?

In Christ,

An evening to remember!
A Heading Readers Will Notice
Many thanks to William Stoneman, curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at Houghton Library, for hosting the Episcopal Chaplaincy at a fascinating evening spent looking at and actually turning pages of manuscripts as old as a copy of the Gospel of John from the 11 th century. We saw several elaborately decorated devotional books and a magnificent illustrated Bible. We examined the pages of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer .  We learned about the "five o'clock shadow" on the fur side of vellum that makes the task of the scribe more difficult. It was a unique opportunity to interact with our rich liturgical past and to understand in new ways some of the implications of the English Reformation.

If you are interested in finding out more, The Harvard Libraries have a fascinating website on the topic of devotional books from the medieval period that is beautiful as well as thought provoking. 

This Week at the Chaplaincy

Thursday, 10/25--Chaplaincy Office Hours at 2 Garden Street, 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Friday, 10/26 --Bible Study and pizza at the Law School, noon. Meet in Lewis Rm. 202. No RSVP is required, and you don't have to be a law student to join.

Sunday, 10/28--Eucharist, followed by supper. 5:30 p.m. at Christ Church. Hal will be preaching.

Tuesday, 10/30--Compline, 8 p.m. at 2 Garden Street. Hal is typically around from 7 or so, so drop by and hang out!

Interfaith Meal Packing: Sunday, Nov. 11

Harvard Chaplains and faith groups are honoring Thanksgiving by teaming up to prepare meals for those in our community grappling with food and housing insecurity. The goal is to prepare 40,000 meals in 6 hours. 

There are volunteer shifts between 12:00 and 6:00 p.m. in one-hour blocks. Sign up for one--or more than one!--at this link. Let Hal know if you're interested, too!

Montgomery Planning --**Date Change**

We learned that our original date of October 30th wasn't ideal considering folks' schedules, so we're hosting the dinner on Thursday, November 1st, at 6:30 instead! 

We'll discuss our proposed itinerary, the financial and logistical aspects of this journey, and how we hope it will enrich and inform our ministry here at Harvard. All are welcome! 

So that we can order enough food, your RSVPs to Hal by October 28th would be most appreciated. If you cannot attend, but have insights you would like to share, please feel free to reach out as well. 

Friday Pizza and Bible Study

The Law School Bible Study continues this Friday. Folks will gather at noon in Lewis 202, and pizza will be served. Note that you do not have to be a law student to take part! 

The topic for the fall will be transformative encounters with Jesus in the Gospel of John. Let Hal ( know if you have any questions!

All Saints Remembrances

On Sunday, November 4th, we'll be observing All Saints Day at our evening Eucharist with a special liturgy. In the All Saints liturgy, specific persons who have died in the past year are remembered with the lighting of individual candles at the beginning of the service, as well as by name in the prayers. If you have someone who you would like to be included, please let Hal know their name (just a first name will do, if you'd prefer) by next Tuesday, October 31st. 

Prayer Requests
If you have particular prayer requests, please reach out to us by email, or feel free to submit your prayer requests anonymously through  this google form