On Thursday, the Festival of Beginnings was held in the Beutow Auditorium. This ceremony welcomed the new students along with student leaders and new staff. The ceremony began with a song as the professors paraded in. Dr. Carter led the prayer while Liz Bartels and Jordan Voges had the privilege of reading a short passage. This passage led into the meaning behind this year's ceremony: "Our Refuge and Strength." As President Ries stood behind the podium, he discussed the deeper meaning of our refuge and strength. He utilized different translations of the Bible to illustrate how other cultures view these words. Every culture views refuge and strength to be dissimilar but they all still have a certain likeness. The homily delve deeper into the meanings of these words and also exemplified the different ethnicities and beliefs we have on campus. Concordia is very diverse and President Ries takes pride in this diversity. After the President was finished with his brief speech, Jason Rahn, Mary Arnold, and Lonn Maly introduced the new students, leaders, and staff. The ceremony then ended with a recessional hymn as the professors processed out of the auditorium.
The ceremony brought up a simple axiom from the Bible: "Our Strength and Refuge." This could be simply taken as God is everyone's refuge and strength or one could dive deeper into the meanings of these two words. In the dictionary, refuge is a place of shelter from danger. While strength has many more definitions including the quality and state of being strong, mental force, vigor, moral power, courage, and authority. All of these definitions comply with the power of God and his love. The homily was translatable to all audience members for this reason. Not only is God every person's strength and refuge, he is also the authority, courage, and moral power for every person. Overall, the ceremony and the meaning behind it brought everyone together to begin the year by expressing faithfulness and love towards God.
I did not know what to expect coming into this ceremony. Actually, I wasn't planning on going because I thought I had to work but a few of the people I work with decided to attend and so I tagged along. I don't remember there being a Festival of Beginnings last year, but maybe I just didn't attend. It's hard enough to keep track of everything now, let alone when I was a freshman. I appreciate how President Ries utilized many translations to exemplify the various views of refuge and strength in different cultures. It reminds us all that our English translation is not always perfect. Also other cultures have words, phrases, and ideas that prove to be very diverse from the interpretation of the English language Bibles. The Bible is a constant reminder that we're not alone in this world. God is always with us being our refuge and strength. I really valued the use of those two words. Finally, the ceremony was also a very ritualistic way to introduce and welcome all of the new people and ideas at Concordia this school season.