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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

chapelblog

It just slipped out. I did not really intend to say it; nevertheless, I said it. I really don't know it was on my mind until after I said it. And when I said it I could'nt believe I had actually said it. What I said was, "oh how cute!" The words just . . . fell out! Honest!

What drew me was the open door when all the others were closed, locked perhaps. Nothing was pink or fuzzy nor did it have frills or any sort of dainty intricate design. It was just small. Perhaps no more than 10 people could have fit in at any one time. Light spilled in through three panels of color on one end of the room, a small padded bench underneath. The lectern stood sentinel in the corner. The piano waited patiently on the opposite wall. It was quiet, the lights low.

All I could think of was ''cute." This bothered me because that was really not what I wanted to say. I really wanted to say, “Woe is me, I am undone.” But it did not come out that way. Here was a place set apart for worship of Almighty God and I squeeze out a ''cute!" I hate the flesh.

Besides:
When God created, He did not say, ''cute!"
When Moses built the tabernacle and the glory of the Lord descended in a cloud, He did not confirm completion of the heavenly pattern as ''cute!" The temple was not ''cute!"

What is “chapel” anyway?

a. A place of worship that is smaller than and subordinate to a church;
b. A place of worship in an institution, such as a prison, college, or hospital;
c. A recess or room in a church set apart for special or small services;
d. A place of worship for those not belonging to an established church;
e. The services held at a chapel: Students attend chapel each morning.

A Chapel is a special place--a place sanctified for the purpose of worship and the effective ministry of the word of God.

The University in which I work has no campus church. We have a Chapel. We have no campus church because each person associated with the University needs to be plugged into the community through the local church [and since I’m heading this direction, I might as well complete the journey—it’s my blog world, after all]. This is fine and I have no problem with that . . . but I am just a bit disturbed when I attend chapel on campus.

Quite reverence is hard to find, a sense of worship needs to be “drummed up”. Most often our times in chapel begin with things more akin to a riot: loud conversation, screaming and applauding, entertainment with this or that skit or film clip, many of which toe the line on all things worldly. I like to get there early so I can get prayed up and read the scripture for a while and pray that God’s Word will be effectual to the hearers.

The music is fine, but expositional preaching is rarely heard from our pulpit—the President’s messages are good, but exposition? Hardly. Our future pulpiteers have very few examples here. Issues and trends are addressed and the occasional guest speaker. Now we have small groups that meet regularly in which (it is suggested) that the chapel message or messages of the previous weeks be discussed.

Do we need to go on a tour of the number of universities started here in America as Christian institutions that are now secular? I need not give one, but I will say this: each one lost its chapel emphasis first. Check out the history of the University of Illinois at Urbana! Urbana in our circles is synonymous with “Missions Conference” and all things pertaining thereunto. But look closely at their history and note how distinctly their step worldly has been marked by the decline and ultimate absence of chapel!

Check out the chapels at some of our Southern Baptist Seminaries—if you’ve been paying attention, you know the denomination went through a liberal slump. I just dare you to Google on up and listen to the messages now. Those chapel services once sparsely attended are now packed to the gills and the Word of God is being preached!

I have a confession (yes, Baptists can be a confessional people—that’s a joke, by the way): when I was a student here in the Seminary, I hated chapel. Know why? Because I was here to LEARN . . . in the CLASSROOM! I felt I was being robbed because I paid all that good tuition money to sit under influential professors to be trained! I was being robbed because I had to take about an hour of every day (except Mondays) to go to CHAPEL. I could hear preaching at church, for crying out loud—who goes to school to hear preaching? And then to suspend classes for one week in the Spring and another in the Fall to participate in week-long all-day chapel activities . . . Robbery, I tell you! I was in a shin-kickin’ mood then.

But that was when 1) the Word was preached; and, 2) I needed to hear it. Boy, how God has changed me.

Chapel is not “cute”. Fundamentally, all Chapels are the same—a place set apart. For what? For Worship. For Teaching. For Rebuke. For Correction. For Training in righteousness toward the completeness for every good work. If these things are not being done, the Bible is not being opened. God Himself is represented in Chapel. Not agenda, not methodology, not technique, not a platform or forum for dialogue.

Chapel is the place of open Bible. Prayer. Worship. I will fight for chapel because it is a place of spiritual formation. A place of preparation for those who will be going out into the world to preach the gospel to those who need to hear it and tell people there is a Jesus to believe in! If they don’t get used to hearing about it in Chapel, my confidence is not so high they will be effective “out there.” But then, I have seen God do other miracles . . .

If people in the hospital go there expecting to find God, why should it be different any where else?

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