Welcome to the beginning of the new year! This new academic year has started at different times for many of the students on campus; however, Thursday marked the first day of classes for Concordia university. Even so, the first year students had already begun going to freshman classes. To celebrate the mostly-first-day-of-school chapel on Thursday was the annual "Festival of Beginnings." It was held in the Beutow Auditorium and had participation from the campus student leaders, as well as administrators and CSP ministry staff. There were a few traditional hymns, one which featured a Koto, traditional Japanese stringed instrument, and a solo from a second year music performance major. President Ries gave a homily entitled "Our Refuge and Strength," which is also the school's theme for the year.
Thursday was the first day of classes for the Zeta class and the first class on the first day was the honors class. The theme for the class for this term is "Perspectives, Approaches, and the Gospel." The festival of beginnings and the school year theme that it stood for both incorporate the idea of the class. Going into this new year, it's important for each and every person to have a focus, or an idea of depending on God as one's refuge and strength - both a safe place to flee to, and a mighty defender. This approach and perspective are good models for the way the student body, faculty, and staff should go about their year. This is only the beginning. The assignments have just begin to pile up, procrastination has already begun to set in, and a feeling of fatigue will quickly set in as all struggle with balancing commitments, responsibilities, relationships, personal time, and everything else that will come during the semester. Approach, and perceive the year (see what I did there?) with the slant of totally and depending on God to be a place of peace, comfort, and fortitude will be key to success this semester.
I am constantly needing to be reminded to slow down - to "let go, and let God." Many times I fall into a rut of thinking that I can handle things and that I don't need His help. I am time and time again proven incorrect. I greatly appreciate the theme for this year, and the fact that it was presented as one of the first things on the first day for the year. During the service I was feeling already overwhelmed with everything that was going on and that would soon come to be. I needed to hear that God is my refuge and my strength. Reis made this intresting juxtaposition that I'd never chosen to think about previously. "Refuge" and "strength" can often have opposing connotations - the first being soft, peaceful, and calm, and the other being one that can overpower and destroy. God is both. Through all of the blogs, book reports, service learning hours, new instruments, concerts, readings, and exams, God is the stronghold and the protective fortress where we can and should turn to for all that we need.