Chapel is You

chapel talk by Robert J. Young

Chapel is you. In that statement I am saying, chapel is about you--the you that is deep down, inside, unseen, unheard, invisible to all except you. Deep down--where God may be dead, church may be a hangover, devotion a mental aberration and escape mechanism of a less enlightened generation.
Chapel is you--to you, for you, in you, about you.
Chapel is the declaration that no eternal kingdom work ever comes without a bulldozer that refashions the landscape. Chapel is your bulldozer if you want it to be, but the choice is yours.
If you are stuck, in a rut, confident, secure, proud, unchanging, your chapel will reflect that haughtiness. If you are soft, moldable, pliable, your chapel will reflect God's working in your life. Chapel is you.

We have to go back 27 centuries to find a real parallel to the present state of Christian worship. For the lost people of God, Jeremiah mourns, "Do not pray for this people."
It had been different once. Relation with God was at its finest. But it is all gone in the 7th c. B.C. Dependence is upon other gods.
When it was different, there had been a tent, pitched apart, where Moseh alone, with all Israel standing in their tent doors to watch, had gone to intercede. Later, after the intercession, those who genuinely sought YHWH would go stand before Moseh, and YHWH was face to face, as a man with his friend.
YHWH had said, I will go with you myself. Chapel reminds me. God is with me. God goes beside me.
And Moseh had answered, if you do not go, do not send us, for it is not worth the trip alone-- and besides, we are cut off to you alone.
Here is what our world today, Christians today, all people today so desperately need: THE TENT OF MEETING.

Five chapters of Exodus detail its decoration, but at the tent of meeting, YHWH said, "I will be your God--you will be my people," and Moseh said, "You will be our God--this will be your people." This is the fundament of it all--this is chapel. Chapel is you-us-our God--we are his. He is ours, but only if you wish it to be.

In every century, God's flaming prophets declare his tsedeq, his righteousness, and even today whether you and I can have any relation with YHWH at all is in question. Not, does chapel matter? but, is chapel possible? When we continue, firm, stedfast, we see that tsedeq is chen--justice is grace. And as Von Rad notes, this is no accident. God keeps his appointment with apostate people. The hesedh and rahmin of YHWH meet in berith--God's loving-kindness and tender-mercy meet in Covenant, for us, in Christ, at the cross.
Chapel is us. Poor us, always caught in the middle. Never quite knowing what to do. Unable to decide what chapel is, because someone on our left is laughing and someone on our right is talking, and someone behind us is singing, and we want to look right to everyone and be accepted by everyone--and somewhere, somehow, someplace, some time, God got lost.
Today at the tent of meeting we are reminded, this tent will not blow away. God is here. Grace is available. This is the fundamental notion of chapel: you have an appointment at the tent of meeting where grace can be met even by an unclean, stained, unholy, undesirable person. God's promised presence, God's definite declaration, God's finest forgiveness--here. Daily.
Chapel is you--your choice. I may not be able always to choose God or not God, but today, at this point in my life, I can choose. I can and do choose, you do choose--because chapel is you. Chapel is not mine, chapel does not belong to the campus minister, chapel does not belong to the dean of students. Chapel is not OVC's. Chapel is not God's. Chapel is yours, and God extends himself, his presence, his grace, his forgiveness, daily at this tent of meeting. Chapel is yours, ultimately, because you decide whether you will meet the God who will accept you just as you are, or whether you will ignore him yet another day.
Because chapel is you--your chapel is what you choose it to be. My chapel is me. Daily I choose to meet a gracious God. I accept his promise to go with me. I renew covenant that binds us to walk together. I leave relieved if not refreshed. I leave inspirited if not inspired. I leave imago Dei (in the image of God) if not enthused.
I invite you to join me, in the hope, yea faith, that at this tent of meeting we can renew the promise that God will go with us, walk with us, bless us, accept us and save us eternally. I invite you because chapel is you.

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Last updated March 1, 2002.