Archive for the ‘This I Believe’ Category

May 10

This I Believe – Tim Kelly

By Marsh Chapel

Click here for audio of just the sermon

Good morning, my name is Tim Kelly, and I am a senior graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in psychology. As I stand before you today, I realize how many things one can fit in to four years. I have taken 33 college courses, spent over 1,200 hours in lectures, run 3 half marathons, sung more than 10 Bach Cantatas, and have given countless campus tours all since September 2005. But as I reflected on what I was to speak about today, none of these things came to mind as I considered what I now believe as a graduating senior. Actually, I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to three things.

First: God is here. What might seem like the most obvious or simple of statements suddenly becomes questioned, doubted, and sometimes forgotten in daily life. I certainly have been through my share of ups and downs, as I am sure many of you have. What it amazing, however, is that I have experienced God in all sorts of ways. Maybe you experience God through the reading of Scripture. Maybe you see God as you watch a beautiful summer sunset. Maybe you hear God in the music of a classical motet. Perhaps you experience God through people, through friends and family, or even through a loving, kind-hearted brunette in the soprano section of your choir. Maybe you give thanks today, like I do, for your mother or for someone who has played a mother-like role in your life. If you’re like me, you probably experience God through many of these lenses, but certainly I believe that God is here.

Second: we cannot do this alone. I have truly come to value the experience of community within church and Christian life. If community was not important, we’d all be listening to church services on the radio and there would be no need for pews or coffee hour or retreats or passing the peace or fellowship. While I have certainly met great people here at Marsh, I have also searched out community by finding my own separate time to worship away from singing here in the choir, and doing that has given me a wonderful, additional opportunity to grow both personally and spiritually. I truly believe that we cannot go through this adventure, this journey called Christian life by ourselves.

Thirdly: God does not always work in the ways we expect Him to. If you have ever had highs and lows, with some expectations met and some surprises encountered in your life, you, like I, have likely experienced this. I’ve learned that we can take away just as much from a seemingly negative situation as we can from a seemingly positive situation. As a freshman I came upon a quote which at the time I found interesting, and which now I find so true to my own experience:

I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me brawn and brain to work.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for patience and God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities.
I asked for everything so I could enjoy life.
Instead, He gave me life so I could enjoy everything.
I received nothing I wanted but I was given everything I needed.
My prayer has been answered.

I believe I am a pilgrim on a continuous journey through my faith that doesn’t stop next week at Commencement. I believe God is here to help me through my journey, not always in the ways expected, but through faith and community, I hope and pray that I may live out God’s will in my life.

Thanks be to God.

May 10

This I Believe- Jennifer Williams

By Marsh Chapel

Click here for audio of sermon only

Good morning! My name is Jennifer Williams and I am a graduating senior in the College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2009. I am deeply humbled today to stand where Howard Thurman, one of Martin Luther King’s mentors during his doctoral studies here at BU, sought to forge the way for common ground throughout this university and across this nation. Their legacy lives on. First and foremost, I would like to offer a sincere thank you to some special people here at Marsh Chapel who have enhanced my years at BU. To Dean Hill and Jan Hill, thank you for your guidance and mentorship over the years. I often smile to myself thinking of the times when Dean Hill and I would run into each other on Bay State Road on our way to class or chapel. We’d exchange a nod, a smile, or a quick conversation. As you know, I have served on the Marsh Chapel Usher Team since the spring semester of my freshman year, and it has been a truly rewarding experience. I’ve enjoyed greeting all of you as you enter the chapel doors on Sunday mornings. I’ll especially miss the lively conversations with my fellow ushers: George Coulter, Jay Reeg, Mark Gray, and our newest
member Andrew Lynch. Whether it was cheering on the Terriers in hockey with George, or discussing current events with Mark or Jay, I’ve learned something from all of you. Thank you for enriching my four years at BU with friendship, spirituality, and the sharing of your life experiences. I must also thank my family and friends for
their continued guidance and wisdom.

My parents and I flew up to Boston from Atlanta the spring of my senior year in high school to make that important college decision. That flight from Atlanta to Boston happened to be the first of many for me! It happened to be a rainy day, but as we walked along Bay State Road, towards the BU Beach, near Marsh Chapel and along the Charles River, the ambiance of this city and school struck me. No where else
could I have been immersed in a school environment with such a deep connection to the city. I chose a major concentration in anthropology and a minor in sociology. My coursework presented me with many opportunities to explore beyond the campus along the Freedom Trail, The Museum of Fine Arts, Chinatown, and the Government Center area. Each year, I made time to explore beyond campus, taking memorable
trips to Salem, Plymouth, Providence, New York, and this year Washington DC for President Obama’s inauguration. Traveling is a passion of mine, so whether it was touring Nathanial Hawthorne’s home or the Mayflower, visiting Plymouth Rock and Times Square, the exposure was worth it. Through notable lectures on campus such as Dr. Paul Farmer, Christine King Farris, and at the time Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, I’ve learned and I believe that we as a human race are all interconnected and share common hopes and dreams.

During the summer of my junior year, I was afforded the opportunity to study abroad in an Anthropological Field School Program in Peru. It was a life changing experience for me because I witnessed first-hand how so many people in the developing world live each day. I became even more grateful for the privileges that we in the United States take for granted like potable drinking water, basic health care, and standard
of living. The experience made me certain that I needed to make an impact on the lives of others even if in the smallest scale. The following summer, I was selected as a Fellow in the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University. The program exposed me to careers in
government service as well as graduate level coursework. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said: “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.” I believe public service will be my life’s work, as it has been my calling thus far. I feel blessed to be able to pursue a Masters in Public Policy next fall at The Gerald Ford School of Public Policy at The University of Michigan. Let us continue in Howard Thurman’s footsteps to forge the common ground that unites us all. Let us not forget to hear
the cries of the needy, those who mourn, and the oppressed. May we continue to serve in our communities because there is much to be done.

I will conclude by reading Proverbs Chapter 3 verses 5 through 6, which has
sustained and inspired me through my undergraduate studies. I hope
that you are also inspired:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own
understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct
your paths.”

May 10

This I Believe – Nellie Staley

By Marsh Chapel

Click here for audio of the sermon only.

Good morning. My name is Nellie Staley, and I’m a graduating law student.

When I moved to Boston to start law school nearly three years ago, I didn’t know anyone in Boston. No family, no friends, no acquaintances, not even some random person that I went to school with 10 years ago. I mean, NO ONE.

But let me backtrack a little. Growing up, I attended church every Sunday… until I was confirmed in 8th grade, and then (for various reasons), I stopped going to church. That’s not to say I stopped being faithful. I continued to attend “church camp” every summer, and I considered my faith to be a central part of my life. But I was not part of a religious community.

Sometime during my senior year of college, one of my – we’ll say “spiritual mentors” – told me that I needed to find a church, that being part of a community was part of being Christian. So I did. I found a church that I attended regularly, and I enjoyed the service, and I thought that I was doing what I had been told. But I wasn’t, because I still wasn’t part of the community.

Which brings me to Boston: I got here, and decided that I needed a church home, if for no other reason than comfort. I did not know a soul, and I needed to find some place in this city that felt like… relief. The only way I can describe it is that I felt like I was in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, and I was desperate to find the American Embassy.

Maybe my second week of law school, I came to Marsh Chapel. And no offense to Dean Hill, but what made me come back the next Sunday was the choir. Truly majestic. And after that next Sunday, little by little, I began to be absorbed into the Marsh community… and that has made all the difference.

I now have multiple sets of friends, and adoptive parents and grandparents, who ask me how my classes are going, let me know when they won’t be around next Sunday, and talk to me about everything from Barack Obama to Ayn Rand to the Book of John.

How moving it is to watch your brothers and sisters in Christ receive communion. How moving it is to hear them singing in the pew behind you – and how much more so when you recognize the voice. I don’t think I quite understood what Jesus really meant when he commanded us to “love one another as I have loved you” until I came to Boston.

The latest lesson in my spiritual journey – this I believe: I can sense God’s love in the flowers of the Public Garden, the water of the Boston Harbor, the laughter on the BU Beach. But all this cannot compare to the depth of God’s love that I can feel in the presence of my church community – my Marsh Chapel family.

And so I am pleased to say today, to Cecelia, Darlene, Glenice, Sandra, Barbara, Faith, Carolyn, Elizabeth, Nancy, Alice, Mel, Joanne, Bev, Jan, Victoria, Susan, and my mom who is listening in Pittsburgh: Happy Mother’s Day.

May 10

This I Believe – Jaime Pangman

By Marsh Chapel

I, like many of my fellow students, entered Boston University with many fears: fear of the future and my unknown place in it, of failure, of newly achieved independence. I expected college to placate these fears by preparing me for the world after I left the safety of campus and began my real life. As I arrived for my first day of classes, the future loomed large thanks to my indecision concerning my major. Of course, this hid the long term problem of a lack of direction in finding out what I wanted to do for a career. To my freshman self, the university symbolized the step between childhood and adulthood, and the lessons I was going to learn here would magically discern and guide my entire life. In essence, I hoped that the four years of education would uncover hidden truths that would do the work for me. However, at the fundamental base of my preoccupation with the future lay a deeper problem. I wanted to find a lasting happiness. It was this simple desire that lay behind all of my thoughts and fears. When looking to the future, I sincerely felt that it would not matter what I was doing, as long as I was happy doing it. Therefore, it was much to my chagrin that I realized soon after starting college that this dilemma, the root of all my fears, was not going to solve itself. Unsure of how to continue, I almost gave up when the answer came from what probably should have been the first place to look for it: my faith.

It was Paul who wrote, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider a loss for the sake of Christ.” This statement sums up the role that faith has played in my college life perfectly. The reconnection with faith that occurred during my time here changed my life completely and permanently. All of those answers on which I had tried to base my life, and thereby placate my fears (for example, finding a good job, searching for Truths in education, obtaining a secure future), mean very little when compared to my faith. Or more correctly, when observed through this faith, these answers seemed incomplete. Moreover, the fears which once loomed so large seem small and inconsequential. It is for this reason that during my time at college, my faith has moved from being a secondary force driving my actions to playing a very central role in my life. So, far from the fear I felt four years ago, I now face the future with excitement and tranquility.