Chapel is not mandatory. No one compels students to attend. And yet, most weeks 600-800 people (or more) gather at 11:00 a.m. to spend time together in song, in the Word, in reflection, in worship. No classes are scheduled for this time. All the offices on campus close. The Library closes. And so we gather.
Our institution is not a church, and we do not seek to replicate churchiness, really. Chapel is not intended to be a church service either. But, as members of the Church, Christ's Body here on earth, students, faculty, staff, and even friends from off campus come together to focus on the Author and Perfecter of our faith in a communal-yet-personal way.
It's Advent season as I write this, the season of the liturgical year when we consider the lead up to Christ's first coming, and experience the longing for Christ's second coming. It's an appropriate time for reflection on just who Jesus is. Today's chapel time was an excellent example of this, and perhaps best exemplified through one of the songs that was part of the worship time today: "Is He Worthy?" by Andrew Peterson. The worship team was joined by members of the chamber orchestra and the choir to lead us into God's presence today as they played and sang this song.
If you're unfamiliar with the song, or with Peterson's music in general, I urge you to take five minutes to listen to it, to reflect, and--I hope--to worship.
True confessions: this is one of my favorite songs anyway (the whole album Resurrection Songs is fantastic, in my humble opinion) but hearing it played and sung live today got me all choked up, and literally brought tears to my eyes. And I've continued humming it throughout the rest of my day ever since chapel.
And that's the gift that chapel at Dordt is to me: the opportunity to pause to worship, to refocus, to get re-centered in the midst of the busyness of a work week, and to carry that on throughout my day. Pausing to worship shapes the rest of my work as well.