With a new fall semester at Taylor University well on its way, some things certainly look different this year. One of those things being chapel.
This year, chapel is not just exclusively in Rediger, but it is currently being experienced in a variety of new settings. Locations such as Odle Arena, Turner Field or the loft of one’s own residence hall are just a few other alternatives where students are gathering and participating. One might even watch chapel swaddled in blankets in the comfort of their own bed.
Yet even though chapel may look a little different, it hasn’t diminished the opportunity for students at Taylor University to be seeking God.
At the chapel service on Friday Aug. 28, Campus Pastor the Rev. Jon Cavanagh announced the theme for chapel this year: “Seeking Thee God.”
“It’s a plea and it’s personal,” he said, “and it’s also something that we will do together.”
Cavanagh addressed that there is a personal aspect to this theme, but also a process and a level of urgency at this time. Seeking God incorporates both pursuing God and knowing Him.
“It’s communicating a level of pleading and desire and proper acknowledgment of the greatness of God.”
Although having a theme for chapel is beneficial; it’s not everything.
“Picking a theme is good, but it only gives a little foothold,” Cavanagh said.
This year’s theme is just a small window of what chapel at Taylor University is all about. Cavanagh doesn’t want chapel to be boxed in by a theme; he wants it to be something that speaks louder than a logo.
And now chapel can be spoken loudly through multiple platforms.
“Everybody has the chance to access and participate in chapel in a way that is most beneficial for them,” Cavanagh said.
Of course, there are challenges that come with all the new adjustments, and Cavanagh acknowledges that.
“I’m sad when we have what I would perceive to be a really good chapel and I realize there’s not 1,200 people in Rediger,” he said.
He addressed that it is a unique semester and poses students to maybe use this time to do some self-introspection. Now that communal worship is limited, students must ask themselves if that’s the only way that they feel spiritually encouraged.
“The process of spiritual formation is not just about chapel,” Cavanagh said.
He wants to remind students that they have responsibility in their own spiritual growth and that chapel isn’t the only way they can learn and grow in relationship with the Lord.
Students are encouraged to delve into scripture on their own or look for outlets where they can serve. Service doesn’t have to be through a Lighthouse trip to Southeast Asia — one can serve their fellow peers.
“That’s no less significance of service,” Cavanagh said. “It just won’t get you as many likes on social media.”
There is beauty in communal worship in Rediger, but there is also beauty in the faithful and mundane habits. Cavanagh encourages students to cultivate those during this time.
“Be frustrated and grieve things,” he said, “Sort through challenges and be sad about it, but try to be hopeful and grateful.”
Cavanagh emphasizes the importance of pointing out blessings and being thankful that we are in fact, all here together.
Cavanagh’s hope for students this semester is that they use this time to seek God like the theme states and also to make the most of the experience at hand.
He encourages students to ask themselves two questions: “How do I do the best I can with what’s in front of me?” and “How do I honor God?”
“Look for what God is trying to teach you in the middle of these circumstances,” Cavanagh said.“And that’s a life lesson for forever, not just for here at Taylor."