One of the commencement traditions at Harvard University is in the Senior Class Chapel. On the morning of their graduation, seniors gather in Memorial Church to hear the minister offer words of solace and encouragement as they leave “the Yard” to take their places in the world.
The 1998 senior class heard the unvarnished truth from the Rev. Peter Gomes, the minister at Harvard and the author of several books on the Bible, including The Good Book and Sermons.
In his gentle ringing tones, that call to mind a cross between a Shakespearean actor and the TV sitcom character Frasier, the inimitable Doctor Gomes took no prisoners as he began:
“You are going to be sent out of here for good, and most of you aren’t ready to go. The president is about to bid you into the fellowship of educated men and women and,” (here he paused and spoke each word slowly for emphasis) “you know just – how – dumb – you – really – are.”
The senior class cheered in agreement.
“And worse than that,” Doctor Gomes continued, “the world – and your parents in particular – are going to expect that you will be among the brightest and best. But you know that you can no longer fool all the people even some of the time.
“By noontime today, you will be out of here. By tomorrow you will be history. By Saturday, you will be toast. That’s a fact – no exceptions, no extensions.
“Nevertheless, there is reason to hope,” Doctor Gomes promised. “The future is God’s gift to you. God will not let you stumble or fall. God has not brought you this far to this place to abandon you or leave you here alone and afraid.
“The God of Israel never stumbles, never sleeps, never goes on sabbatical. Thus, my beloved and bewildered young friends, do not be afraid.”
Thanks to Brett Blair for sharing this story. Thanks to Helena Lopes for the photo.
How idealistic were YOU when YOU graduated? Did YOU think that YOU could help change the world? Have YOU? What can YOU do today to reclaim YOUR idealism? God never sleeps! Do not be afraid!
GOD SAYS….I MADE ALL OF THIS OUT OF NOTHING. TRUST ME. I CAN TAKE CARE OF YOU!