On Monday, August 26, Cairn faculty, staff, and students gathered to begin the fall semester together at the 2019 convocation chapel. Incoming freshmen were welcomed to the Cairn community as they entered to the applause of their fellow students and professors.
After a Scripture reading and time of worship, Dr. Williams addressed the University for the first time this semester. As he encourages new and returning students every year to trust in God’s mysterious guidance, Dr. Williams cited the book of Job: “If you’re sitting here this morning wondering if you should be here, put it out of your mind. You are here, and we repeat with God’s servant Job, ‘nothing can thwart the purposes of God.’”
With his message, Dr. Williams engaged with a difficult passage in Mark 8 in which Jesus rebukes Peter for denying his declaration that he will be crucified. After explaining that the people will reject him and he will be killed, Peter tells Jesus it will not happen. His purposes and desires are selfish, wishing his friend was not facing death. Yet Jesus has God’s purposes in mind, and therefore knows what awaits Him.
Dr. Williams used this passage to introduce the theme of his chapel series this semester, which he calls, “Sound Judgment: Thinking Biblically about the Disciplines of Mind and Heart.” In a world that constantly seeks self-gratification, followers of Christ must learn self-denial. “The work that Jesus accomplished on the cross is a picture of what you and I must do,” he explained, “We must deny ourselves.” In the setting aside of their own desires, Christians can better align with God’s purposes for creation. “That’s exactly what the Christian life is. We lay it all down because of what has been given to us.”
Convocation ended with the University hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and a prayer for the Cairn community. Though students had been gradually arriving on campus over the past several weeks, Monday’s convocation acted as a unified start to a new school year at the University.
To hear Dr. Williams’ message or the rest of his series as he delivers it throughout the semester, visit cairn.edu/president.