Nevertheless, There is Reason to Hope

One of the commencement traditions at Harvard University is 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, minister at Harvard. In his gentle ringing tones, Dr. 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,"—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," Dr. 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! . . ."

That is the message of Easter!

The honest truth is that when we are honest with ourselves, we all recognize the fact that we fall short of God’s glory, that we all are sinners, and that we all are "toast". There are no exceptions.

But the message of the resurrection of Jesus is, "Nevertheless, there is reason to hope!" Not in ourselves, but in Jesus Christ, the King. The one who conquered death, and offered God’s forgiveness and opened the way of salvation for each of us.

First and foremost, we are Easter people. As Easter people we have an Easter gospel, a gospel which means good news every day of the week and every day of the year.

In this edition of "First Word" we are focusing on the resurrection. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that the resurrection is "of first importance." And so during this month of April we are going to come back to the message again and again, "Nevertheless, there is reason to hope!"