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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo

Chapel as little Sabbaths

Take advantage of the rest offered

Josiah Peterson | TU Staff Contributor

This is not an original opinion, but it is an original opinion article. This opinion was first brought to my attention my junior year at Taylor, when Leigh (pronounced Lee) and I were dating other people, and my hair was still parted on the other side. The world was different back then. 

But there was still Yates, one of my best friends leading my wing as our DA. As a PA at the time, we were two of the people most engaged in conversation with the guys on the wing who did not attend chapel. 

To them, as they said, attending chapel lost when they put it under a cost-benefit analysis. Instead, they believed it would be a more profitable use of their time to sit in their rooms and read Scripture together. The ground was fertile for Yate’s opinion to be sown: Chapel is a form of sabbath rest.

Buchanon (2006) in Rest of God defines the Sabbath golden rule as: “Cease from what is necessary. Embrace that which gives life” (p.129). Chapel is a great time to put these “rules” into practice. 

These three-hour time slots on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are ripe opportunities to stop, slow down and enter a communal place where you can worship God. This is not church; you should be going there as well on the weekends, but that’s a side note to this opinion.

Returning our focus to chapel, we are given the gift of this time to be together, stop work, worship God and trust God that all we must accomplish in this transitory life will be accomplished. 

Buchanon (2006) also says, “Sabbath is not the break we’re allotting at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could” (p.93). 

So, cease from what is necessary (i.e. schoolwork, emails, etc.) and embrace the life that is found in community together three times a week!

The other radical thing about Sabbath is that it is not about you, it is for you! There are some chapels you won’t like: you may not like the songs sung, the speaker’s jokes or message, or how there is not a spot in row H as you would usually prefer, you may not even like all the cheering, but I think that is community. I don’t necessarily think we are supposed to love every minute we spend with others, that wouldn’t be honest.

My opinion on chapels being little Sabbaths does not substitute for the discipline and joy of a regular Sabbath day once a week. Rather, taking time to stop and go to chapel serves as a reminder of the greater time to rest coming at the end of the week, or a reminder of what joy you just experienced in taking a Sabbath a day or two ago. 

We have a great opportunity here in this community to practice this rest that we will find in virtually no other environment or community (sans working for Google and getting a Zen hour, I imagine – I do not know much about their workplace but I wouldn’t be surprised).

As my friend, who will probably have a building or tree or plaque in his honor pretty soon, says, “you should practice Sabbath in the same way you should eat a big piece of chocolate cake…because it is so good!” You should know he loves chocolate cake. So, Sabbath! 

And if you are new to it, start with beginning to think about the chapel hours as Sabbath times. Now, you need to know I am a hypocrite. As a hall director, sometimes I am working on emails or finishing a meeting or just brushing my teeth by the time 10 a.m. rolls around. My hope would be that you soaked up every chance you could to go to Chapel. I hope that for myself as well. But if you throw this away because I haven’t been to every Chapel, that’s okay; it’s just my opinion.

Josiah Peterson (‘19) is the Hall Director of Samuel Morris Hall