The Colgate Scene
July 2004

"The future... has its own waters"

The Reverend Dr. John S. Mbiti, left, is welcomed by Harvey Sindima, associate professor of philosophy and religion, to Memorial Chapel, where Mbiti delivered the baccalaureate sermon. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Stephen Burke '80, president of Comcast Cable, delivered the commencement address
President Chopp's remarks to the Class of 2004
A list of those who received honorary degrees at Colgate's 183rd commencement

The following was excerpted from the 2004 baccalaureate sermon "So Peter Got Out of The Boat and Walked" delivered by the Anglican theologian, teacher, and author John Samuel Mbiti.

In a limited way we may compare Colgate University to such a boat in which the disciples sailed across the lake. Like Peter, those who are graduating today are getting out of the boat and walking into the future. It was perfectly healthy and normal to dream and make plans about it. That future, too, has its own waters, perhaps troubled waters, and perhaps deep waters. It has its own darkness -- the unknown, the uncertainties that lie ahead. At times in life, it becomes necessary to leave the boat, even at the fourth watch of the night, and take a plunge into the direction that you want to go. You get out because something or someone beyond the boat beckons to you. Perhaps it is a voice that invites you, "Come!"

This university boat has been a haven of learning, a paradise of academic exercise, an inspiring and motivating milestone in your life so far. Indeed, in this boat you have been acquiring the skills to be qualified disciples of your particular academic disciplines. But that boat is neither your permanent residence nor the end station on the life's journey. Now the time has come and the time is ripe for you, Judith, David, Kathy, and Peter, to get out of the boat and walk on your own. Through the commencement events, we are celebrating the beginning of your new enterprise into the future, for which you have been preparing yourselves.

Do you have the night vision to peer through the darkness of the fourth watch and catch a glimpse of where you are going? Do you have the stamina to walk on water after you get out? Do you have the courage to brave the waves and winds of change? Yes, question after question. Do you have the grain of faith to sustain you, so that you can fully participate in constructing the local and global community in the world that is full of paradoxes?

Thousands of other women and men have graduated from Colgate University before us. Many have done and are doing great things for themselves, for the nation, and for the world at large. Let their achievements, both big and small, be a pledge and an inspiration to us. Let them be a reminder that we, too, can also get out and walk on any and every kind of water.

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