A Resolution for Chapel
We are still in the month of January, so hopefully your new year’s resolutions are still going strong. This year I made two (in the hope that I would be successful with one of them).
My first resolution is to eat healthier by not eating fried Chick-fil-A food when I am working there. I work there an average of three days a week, so the goal is to opt for a salad rather than nuggets and fries. It’s been a successful 20 days thus far. While I have a feeling that I will not be able to avoid this temptation for long, I am much more motivated to keep my second resolution.
And what is my second resolution, you may ask? To pay attention in chapel.
That is not to say that I have never paid attention in chapel in the past two and half years at Cairn. But if I am being completely honest, I have not put much effort into making sure that I do so.
Some chapels are captivating. President Williams has a way of speaking that demands my attention. He can take my prideful heart and, with a balance of gentleness and firmness, remind me that I am not as great as I like to picture myself. His message “Dead and Not Dying: The Difference Matters” from my freshman year is a chapel that I still remember and apply to my life to this day.
But some chapels lack that luster. There are multiple times throughout the semester where I find chapel to be boring. Maybe it’s the tone of the speaker’s voice, or maybe it’s the content. There are some days that are definitely more difficult to pay attention to. And anyone who knows me well KNOWS I don’t like panel chapels.
And it’s fine to have those opinions. There is nothing wrong with seeing some chapels or speakers better than others. It is better to keep it honest than to fabricate feelings. But in saying that, there is definitely a point that I have come to learn:
We do not need to be entertained to grow in our knowledge of God.
I cannot blame the fact that I am scrolling through Pinterest during chapel on the fact that I find the speaker dry. I am creating my imaginary wedding instead of listening to the speaker because I am blocking my heart from listening to the Word of God.
We do not need flashing lights or a booming voice for God to reach us.
God did not say that we only need to pay attention to Him if He is spoken of in such a way that is worthy of our attention. God is bigger and better than what any singular person can captivate. Even a great speaker like our school president cannot accurately portray the glory of God.
I have seen this attitude addressed in the way that we look at worship, but it needs to be applied every bit as much to the way that we look at sermons and speakers. We say that an unpreferred worship style should not prevent you from participating in worship, but the same should be said of sermons. As a congregation we play an active role in chapel. If we do not “get” anything out of a message, that is not solely the fault of the speaker. Can it be? Sure, but you can only make such an accusation after you have first examined your own heart for an genuine desire to learn from the speaker. We need a spirit of humility and an intentionality regarding the way that we approach chapel.
So what does that look like? For me, it looks like sitting up, with a Bible in my lap and a pen in my hand. It’s humbly looking to find something to take away from each chapel, and consciously avoid my tendency to be cynical. It looks like not scrolling through Pinterest.
To have the Word of God preached to us three times a week is a blessing, as much as our sinful natures try to convince us otherwise. And while this is my personal resolution, I encourage all of you to do the same.