Something new is happening in our college community.
We’ve all been remarking on it: the atmosphere – it has changed. There is an excitement, an anticipation, a joy that emanates from people as we walk through the halls, gather for conversation, worship and learn together.
We had 28 people at chapel yesterday morning (I counted because I was officiating and had to make note of it!). That may not seem like many to some, but to those of us returning to the college theological community this year, it is huge. We felt like we were doing well with a dozen last year.
And the singing! There are harmonies flying out all over the place as we sing Morning Prayer together. It is lovely to be a part of, to add a voice to the joyous songs we raise to heaven.
I never know what to say when someone comes up to me after a service and says, “Thank you.”
Thanks – couldn’t have done it without you?
It is not me who made that a thank-worthy experience, it is God and the collective expectation of a gathered community. All I do is say and sing the bits assigned to me, prompt the community to do their bit, and join in when it is something we all do together. But somehow, through the grace of God, out of that comes something beautiful and uplifting: the perfect way to start a day.
Morning Prayer is a simple service. However every time I get up to speak or sing (especially sing!) on my own in front of people, no matter how simple the service, there are always some nerves. Yesterday morning I faced them by pacing all four steps possible across the college chapel sacristy, praying before the service began. That gets to the heart of it, I think. Prayerful invitation and expectation. An instructor in Bible College once told us that we could never expect to lead a group of people gathered in worship anywhere we had not gone ourselves in private worship. That is, if I do not and cannot cultivate an active prayer and worship life, I will never be able to lead a community in prayer and worship.
So I’m still not taking credit for 28 people and glorious chapel yesterday morning. I’m not going to take credit for a new atmosphere at college. I will, however, take credit for my part in prayerfully inviting God into our midst and expecting God to do great things in, among, and through each and every one of us at the college this year.