On Friday, I heard a commencement address at the old place. It was a very standard address for a Southern Baptist institution, a very standard exposition of the Gospel from that point of view, but it was surprisingly hopeless. The thing I’ve heard repeatedly, after the fact, was how much it was focused on how hopeless the world was, how dangerous the days ahead were, how miserable of shape that we are in without Jesus. There was just a bad taste on the day as a result.
All of the above might be true, but it feels like an incredibly incomplete story.
Last night, I heard a baccalaureate address at the new place. It was a call to reconciliation, with the parable of the prodigal son as the text. It was a picture of God, standing before us with arms outstretched, waiting to receive us as the father was waiting without judgement for his long-lost son. It was a pitch-perfect reflection as we await today’s sending out of graduates into the world.
If we have anything to offer as Christians, it is the hope of this resurrection of Christ – the ultimate triumph of life over death – as power to “grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the living of these days”, as Harry Fosdick once wrote. The resurrection isn’t merely “fire insurance” to get Christians out of hell – or the hell they’re currently living in. It’s actual power for the here and now, through the Holy Spirit, to cast out darkness around us and allow light to shine in.
I simply can’t abide any longer people telling me a situation is hopeless – whether that situation is in my yard, in my vocation, in my country, or in the world. If Jesus Christ is who he said he was, no situation is ever hopeless. Period.
So: for Sunday morning, and for graduation.
Because greater things are yet to come,
and greater things are still to be done in this city.