NEW ORLEANS (BP)–“In times like these we need Jesus. In our darkest hour His light shines through.”
The refrain of a song written by NOBTS assistant professor of worship ministries Gary Hallquist in response to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, set the tone of a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary chapel observance on the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
NOBTS professor of church history Dan Holcomb carried forth the song’s theme of great hope found in Christ during the sermon, calling Christians to a renewed level of commitment.
“Greater than altruism … there is a ministry that God has given those who name the name of Jesus Christ that moves the solution to the problem to a much deeper level,” Holcomb said. “Get ready to tell the precious story of Jesus and his love, and do it with insight and verve and creativity.”
Holcomb cited two different visions of the future in his message. The first was the poem “Locksley Hall” that Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote about his dreams of human advancement and achievement.
“It is a profoundly optimistic vision of a time when the drumbeat and devastation of war would be no more,” Holcomb explained. Tennyson’s hope was that through human creativity, through the advance of science and industry and through discipline and the essential goodness of humankind, the kingdom would come on earth.
Writing in the Victorian times, Tennyson had no idea of the horrors to come in the 20th and 21st centuries. World wars, conflicts, genocide, widespread terrorism and, now, Sept. 11.
By contrast, Holcomb pointed to Revelation 1:9-19. This vision of the future from the Christian source of authority does not promise the ease of human progress. It warns those who follow Jesus of struggles, involvement in ministry and endurance. However, it is far more encouraging than Tennyson’s dream because it is a vision of the victorious Lord in his kingdom.
Holcomb called the second vision a “counter-cultural” one because many people still are looking for the utopia of Tennyson’s poem. They are pinning their hopes on human achievement.
Lamenting the prevailing selfishness exhibited in the world today, he said, “Preoccupation with self at any level is suicide.”
He noted that “hate and misguided zeal” led to the events a year earlier. It should cause Christians to take notice, he said.
“Isn’t this (9/11) a signal for those who claim to know Jesus Christ … to say … that the holy redeeming love of Jesus is the most urgent need of humankind today?” Holcomb proclaimed.
“Basic to any rational effort … to make sense of the sights and sounds and scenes of turmoil of Sept. 11, we need a renewed vision of the Lord in all his glory,” he said. “He will give you a sense of his glory to equip you for living in this world.”
NOBTS President Chuck Kelley called on students to pray for the families who had lost loved ones in the tragedy, for missionaries in Islamic countries and especially for those who have not experienced salvation through Jesus Christ.
“This day is our reminder of how fragile life is and how quickly life can change,” Kelley said. “For the believer it is not a moment of threat, it is a moment of great joy for our lives, our destiny, everything about us is the hands of an almighty, sovereign God who loves us.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: A GODLY VISION FOR THE FUTURE.