Monday felt eternal, Tuesday was full of worry about Wednesday, Wednesday carried the hope of Friday, and now Thursday just feels like a slow elevator taking us to this weekend’s penthouse. I’m stressed, homesick and in need of food and a good night’s rest.
But something kind of crazy happens every Thursday. At around 10:30 in the morning hundreds of students flock to the cathedral for chapel. Together, we struggle to find seating, sing, listen and hopefully receive daily bread from our Father. The speaker may not be the best, the worship may seem repetitive and the pews may feel like they were carved sometime in the early 1300s, but for some reason it’s usually almost exactly what I need in my week.
So, should chapel be optional? I say nay!
Even though it seems like we’re filling out just another requirement of being students at JBU, chapel is still a beautiful thing. Three times a week we get to all come together as one in a community. Even though it may be mandatory for us, when God’s people come together and worship, God does not hesitate to attend. And any time spent with God I think we can see as a pretty good time.
Mandatory chapel opens doors of conversation with those who usually wouldn’t go. Not everyone here is a Jesus follower, and many of us aren’t very good Jesus followers. Sometimes the conversations we have after chapel with people who are avidly curious (or even apathetic) toward Christianity are incredibly reflective and deep, and they can often be used as magnificent opportunities to let the Good News out. I can’t imagine that those conversations happen all the time, but when they do, I’m sure God delights in them.
In the crazy frenzy that is college life, worship is often exactly what I need. Sometimes I don’t even really realize I need it. But a verse from Psalm 34 taken out of Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” really sticks out to me: “Worship God if you want the best; Worship opens doors to all His goodness.”
And that’s exactly what it feels like. Whenever I walk out of chapel from a few minutes of worship and quiet, my whole being feels refreshed and restored. It’s like my soul is a grimy car going through a fancy car wash. I feel washed, massaged, pampered and perhaps even a little bit shiny. And if I didn’t have to scan in and stay in chapel, there would definitely be days I would miss out on His goodness.
Maybe we do homework during chapel. (I know that I sometimes take a pretty righteous 30-minute nap.) We’re preoccupied with other things, whether it be a test next class or the “oh no she didn’t” scandals of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We frequently have other things on our minds. However, if even for five to 10 minutes we legitimately worship God, I think that’s worth something.
We’re sleepy and hungry. But without chapel, we’d be hungrier and sleepier.