Marsh Chapel prayer service honors victims while 2014 Boston Marathon progresses

Students gathered across Boston University’s Charles River Campus Monday to celebrate the 2014 Boston Marathon while remembering the lives of those lost in light of last year’s tragedy.

About an hour after the 2014 Boston Marathon began, Marsh Chapel held a Marathon Monday Prayer Service and Brunch for members of the BU community to honor lost and injured in the 2013 Marathon bombings and to inspire hope among attendees at this year’s Marathon.

“We give thanks for the strength and support shown by those who have mourned with us in faithfulness and courage,” said Marsh Chapel Dean Robert Hill during the service.

Hill acknowledged the deaths of those killed in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, including BU graduate student Lu Lingzi, as well as more than 260 people injured by the blasts.

At the conclusion of the sermon, a small group who attended the services walked from Marsh Chapel to the last mile of the marathon route to cheer on participants.

Hill related Boston’s resilience after the terrorist attack to the city’s history of strength by including a reading of the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He also made reference to the leadership of Abraham Lincoln as an example for the Boston community to find strength in as it moves forward.

“We want to remember his courage and wisdom, with malice for none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right,” Hill said. “Let us press on.”

More than 20 people attended the service, which is typically held every Marathon Monday in Hill’s home. Hill said the service was moved to Marsh Chapel in light of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

“This week we’ve had several moments of memory and honor for those who were lost last year,” he said. “Today, as is our custom, we wanted to provide a setting for fellowship, a moment of devotion, prayer and honoring for 30 minutes.”

Hill said the service aimed to foster an atmosphere of inclusivity among the Boston community.

“Our services at Marsh Chapel are open to and are meant for all,” he said. “They are all interdenominational and increasingly even inter-religious.”

BU students who attended the sermon said it provided them with a sense of optimism for the future and allowed them to honor those lost in last year’s tragedy.

“Their names were called to mind, the events were called to mind, in a way that was very respectful,” said College of Fine Arts senior Robert Lucchesi. “This was very rooted in a loving remembrance of them.”

Lucchesi said he considered the service a good way to begin Marathon Monday by rooting him in his place in the Boston community.

“Year after year things get remembered less, which is why events like this are important — so that we do remember, so that we don’t forget the people who were affected,” he said.

Jayhee An, a Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior, said the service demonstrated the tight-knit nature of the Boston community.

“Each and every one of us was affected, even if we weren’t there personally,” she said. “It’s good to keep in mind that this did happen. We can’t reverse the past, so we just have to keep in mind these people that we did lose.”

An said the 2013 Marathon bombings reminded her of the importance of staying connected to those she cares about.

“These events can occur at any time, so we should always be strong and prepared,” she said. “We should take this sort of situation as an example to keep close with loved ones, friends and family.”

Carson Dockum attended the service with his wife, a chaplain at Marsh Chapel. Dockum, 25, of Brighton, said though the Boston community should not forget the 2013 Marathon bombings, it should allow itself to recover from the tragedy.

“It had such a huge impact on the city, on the chapel, on the families involved, on so many aspects and it’s important to recall that and move from that into a hopeful remembrance,” he said. “A season of grief is extremely important and needed, but now a year later, it’s important to reclaim it [the marathon] as a moment of hope and moving forward, with those who passed away in mind.”

Dockum said although the sermon was a powerful start to Marathon Monday, the atmosphere at the race itself was just as moving.

“The fact that we have 36,000 runners and almost a million people showing up to watch the race, coming from all over the place, is a sign that we’re coming together,” he said. “There is excitement and anxiety at the same time, a little bit of fear and a little bit of hope in the same breath.”

Service attendee and CFA freshman Hayley Miller, who will run her first marathon next month, said tying the sermon to aspects of American history was successful in highlighting the resilience of the Boston community.

“It brought a sense of national unity to the sermon and a strong aspect of Boston history,” she said

Miller said she was inspired by the perseverance shown by those running in the 2014 Boston Marathon.

“It requires motivation to run a marathon, but for runners to come back from last year and finish what they left behind shows even greater strength,” she said.

Kimberly Lund, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the city of Boston has made a strong recovery from the 2013 Marathon bombings.

“We’re showing that we could overcome what happened,” she said. “I’m seeing so many people wearing Boston Marathon jackets from 2013 that felt strong enough to come back and just overall show that we’re a strong city and we’re a strong community.”

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