NEW ORLEANS (BP) – New Orleans Baptist Theological President Chuck Kelley reminded graduates at their Dec. 17 graduation that though trials come and the future may be uncertain, "knowing the end of the story" changes everything. Kelley compared God's promise that one day all wrongs will be set right -- the end of the story -- to finding an overlooked gift under the Christmas tree. "No one goes through life unscathed," Kelley said, noting that difficulties come to every life. "That's what makes the most overlooked gift so important."
Deep tragedy marked the life of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kelley recounted, and suffering touched Longfellow's life one Christmas during the Civil War when he learned his son, a Union soldier, had been severely wounded. Longfellow penned the poem "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" as he despaired that the message of "peace on earth" as sounded by church bells would never come, Kelley said. Kelley told graduates that Longfellow's poem didn't end on heartache but moved to confidence that God would have the final word as he penned: "The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men."
"It doesn't matter what life looks like today," Kelley said. "It doesn't matter what life looks like tomorrow … how many tears you cry or how helpless you feel, in Christ you have the end of the story." Challenging graduates to carry that message of hope to others wherever they go, Kelley reminded listeners to "unwrap" God's promise "every chance you get."
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary conferred 89 masters degrees and 23 doctoral degrees including 7 Ph.D.s, 12 D.Min., 3 D.Ed.Min., and 1 doctor of musical arts degrees. Forty-four M.Div. degrees, 18 with specializations, were conferred. New Orleans Seminary's Leavell College granted 54 bachelor degrees, including the bachelor of arts in Christian ministry degrees to 24 Louisiana State Penitentiary inmates at Angola, La. and to one inmate at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.
The Lockman Foundation presented each graduate and awardee with a copy of the New American Standard Bible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marilyn Stewart is assistant director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.