Over the past few years, President Thomforde has made a tradition of choosing a verse from the Bible for the college community to ponder. This year, it was simply one of the 10 Commandments from the Book of Exodus: Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
After reading the passage and praying with the student body, Thomforde challenged his audience to view the commandment not as a burden, but as a gentle reminder to take it easy once in a while.
Thomforde hoped that those present would be able to reference the verse through the year and let it "instruct us, help us, and challenge us as the academic year unfolds."
Thomforde explained why he chose this verse. "In the midst of all the activities, change and turbulence going on around us, nationally and internationally here at St. Olaf, in the church I thought it would be important to find some words that would sustain us, carry us through the year," Thomforde said. "I can think of no better than this reminder from God that directs us to take a break and stop being so anxious."
Thomforde stressed that the verse is a commandment and should be remembered, but should not be read as just another thing to add to hectic schedules. "You have enough burdens, enough demands put upon you," he told those present. "I don't want to put one more burden on you."
This does not mean, however, that responsibilities should be forgotten. As Thomforde explained with an anecdote from his days as a young athlete, rest should be similar to a time out during a basketball game or the quiet in the locker room before a game. Like basketball players, each knows the expectations to perform well, but it's beneficial to stop once in a while in order to regroup and "start again on the right foot."
Remembering the Sabbath, Thomforde said, is not so much remembering in the sense of calling it to mind, it is remembering "becoming part of the body of Christ again."
In his speech, Thomforde stressed three things. First, the knowledge of God as a loving God, and therefore, there is nothing to prove by being busy.
Secondly, the recollection that as a college community, we are a family. In order to reach out to strangers and those who are "out on the periphery," we need to "break the cycle" of our own activity.
Finally, the celebration of our own identity and freedom. In remembering these things, we can bring about or "reattachment to things of the spirit."