Taylor's Challenge to New Students: Be 'At Home with Uncertainty'
“You are God’s providence, made flesh,” celebrated author Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor told incoming students at Candler’s 2013 Fall Convocation, August 29 in Cannon Chapel.
Taylor, Candler’s fall 2013 Alonzo L. McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and Their Impact on Culture, delivered the convocation address, “At Home with Uncertainty.” Based on Matthew 6:25-34, which concludes, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today,” her message touched on the idea of living with the unknown as reality, instead of as a problem to solve. She posed the question, “What if our cure for anxiety is learning to be comfortable with uncertainty rather than counting on God to take it away?”
In the church, just as in the world, Taylor said, change is certain. But answering the unique call to attend Candler and purposefully live in this tension is key. “Here you are—interesting, unusual, and brave—ready to serve up living water in any vessel of God’s own choosing. That you are willing to spread this word and live this life in an anxious, anxious world is the best possible news.”
Students, faculty, staff and members of the larger Candler community gathered for the official welcome of the fall semester. In her opening remarks, Dean Jan Love noted that this year’s convocation was distinct in part because it was taking place the week of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington. “Although Rev. Dr. King was an extraordinary, courageous leader, a savvy political strategist, and a brilliant orator, he was first and foremost a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He cared passionately about witnessing to the reign of God, as do we.”
The event also included the dedication of the chapel’s new renovations. Love recognized key members of the construction team, as well as the organizational staff who oversaw the project. The text of the opening hymn “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation” was the same text used at the Service of Consecration for Cannon Chapel on September 30, 1981, and the closing hymn, “Praise to the Lord the Almighty,” began with fanfare composed by John Rutter for the final service of the year-long dedication of the chapel on May 2, 1982. Don Saliers, William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship, Emeritus provided a blessing for the renovation.
Also in attendance were Emory University President James W. Wagner, Emory University Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Claire E. Sterk, Emory’s President Emeritus and former Dean of Candler James T. Laney, and former Candler Dean James L. Waits.