With 鶹Ƶ’s Commencement marking both an ending and a beginning for the Class of 2024, featured speaker the Rev. Shomari Tate reflected on four lessons revealed by Christ’s life, sacrificial death and the transformational beginning that Jesus made possible.

More than 680 graduating seniors from throughout the United States and 14 foreign countries participated in this year’s Commencement, held on Sunday, May 5, at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium. The ceremony also featured the presentation of the 2024 Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award to Dr. Chad Carlson, who is a professor of kinesiology and the director of general education at Hope, by the graduating class.

Tate, chaplain of discipleship at Hope, titled his address “It is Finished,” Jesus’ final words on the cross (John 19:30).

Read the full Commencement Address 

“My brothers, sisters and siblings, never in the history of humankind have more important words ever been spoken,” Tate said. “These words teach us everything that we need to know about our existence.”

First, he noted, “Life is built on adversity.”

“You all have experienced those bitter times where there was uncertainty and you did not know what the future holds. You have all been at that place where you did not know if you were going to get to this moment. And you all have had to sit in the midst of pain, and disappointment and heartbreak,” Tate said. “I pray that all of you, at some point in your lives if not today, will come to understand that if love and integrity are going to be central themes of your character, you are going to be faced with adversity.”

“Somewhere in the world right now and throughout history, someone has had to pay the cost for you and for I to exist,” he said. “The origin of all human existence is this: that a perfect Palestinian Jewish man by the name of Jesus Christ reached down into the shadow of death so that you and I could have life again. Without the shedding of blood, there is no redemption of the world, and there is no hope for you and I.”

Check out the 2024 Baccalaureate and Commencement Photo Gallery 

Next, Tate said, “Life is about duty.”

“It is about obligation; it is about our morals; it is about our responsibilities,” he said.  The centrality of duty is especially clear, Tate said, “when we creep into the corridors at the height of Jesus’s life at the height of His adversity, where He’s in the garden of Gethsemane and He says, “My Father, if this cup of suffering could pass; But, nevertheless, Thy will be done.”

Read the full Baccalaureate Address 

“And when it becomes your time to drink from your cup, whatever that cup may be, Class of 2024, will you say these same words?” Tate said.

Third, Tate said, “Life is about God’s Purpose”

“When Jesus says [‘It is finished’], He speaks of the fulfillment of some great consummation of this crimson thread that has hung over the shadow of His entire life. It is this crimson red thread that runs through the entirety of history,” Tate said. “What was holy in Jesus and tender in Him made demands upon His purpose, and what was sensitive in Him and made Him say that He loves each and every one of us with an everlasting love also made demands on His purpose.”

“God has a plan for each and every one of your lives here today,” Tate said. “And that plan was not thought out of nowhere. It did not come up at the last minute, but was etched into eternity.”

And last, Tate said, “Life is about God, because the consequences of sin still live today.”

“These consequences live in the world that you are commencing into,” he said.  “[A]nd it is up to you — the next generation of leaders — to step into this world of adversity with duty and with purpose.”

The ceremony was preceded by the college’s Baccalaureate services, which were held in Dimnent Memorial Chapel and featured the sermon “I’ve got this! … No you don’t,” by Dr. Vicki-Lynn Holmes, who is an associate professor of mathematics and education, and is retiring from Hope at the end of the school year after teaching at the college since 2008.

She based her text on Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”; and John 15:5b, “for without me you can do nothing.”  The passages, she explained, provide a crucial reminder of both the limits of human capability and the boundlessness of God’s support.

not think: I’ve got this. Do not be smug. Pride goes before a fall,” she said. “No matter how smart, rich, pretty, etcetera you are, you WILL come to the end of your rope. You will come to the end of your talent and skills. You will face obstacles that you cannot throw enough money at or wish away. But God has no such limitations. YOU do not have it. But God has it in you and for you. He sees solutions you cannot. He makes ways for you out of no ways.”

In recognizing the centrality of God’s role in their lives, she said, the graduates can also find strength and confidence.

“God has plans for YOU,” Holmes said. “He wants/desires to shine through you. He wants/desires to shine through you. He wants you to be a success. He wants you to make your mark on this world. He gave you your bent and calling. Follow it.”

“And He clearly tells you that: Without me, You. Can. Do Nothing. But with me, the sky is the limit.”