For two or three days during the past two weeks, not a sound was uttered during Chapel — a feat that most assumed was near impossible happened. The topic: homosexuality and same-sex attraction in dealing with God’s will and our pasts.
Why would a topic that makes some uncomfortable, some consider a taboo topic in the body of Christian believers and that some find impossible to fathom, captivate several thousands of college students in the middle of the day?
Because the presentation meant something to the crowd, and because the two seemingly different presenters, Dennis Jernigan and Dr. Sally Gary, were real, honest and gave the audience something they felt they themselves didn’t have while in college: hope.
We affirm the two presenters for being willing to share a part of their life that once brought them shame to an unlikely crowd, known for its rudeness and disdain for those that take the Chapel stage. And we affirm the Chapel planning committee for allowing the opportunity for the topic to be discussed.
Preparation for Chapel themes and topics begins well before the school year, and leaders such as Dr. Wayne Barnard, dean of Spiritual Life, and his group of students, faculty and staff seek Chapel presenters that have authority to speak on the various topics dealing with God’s will, the them this year, to bless the lives of those that hear them.
But we’d like others to learn from this experience, too. The often unruly group of students that attend Chapel can be tamed and learn something from the 30 minute time spent in Moody Coliseum.
As a generation that is growing up in a media and technology saturated world whose goal is to entertain, we often may appear to need to be just that — entertained. Although the other times in Chapel that seem to gather the interest of all in attendance often happen to be when a DVD is shown, when a group leads singing or a dramatic presentation is given — we too can appreciate the beauty of testimony. Just be honest with us and willing to step out on a limb.
While we’re not advocating that all Chapel speakers from here on out must be willing to bare their souls to the campus each day, we are saying that as students we appreciate the “realness” of Chapel, when Chapel doesn’t seem as it sometimes can — trite and like Sunday school all over again.
If you are going to speak in Chapel or want to present in Chapel, know that a little bit of honesty goes a long way.
No need for a three-ring circus to pull off a presentation worth hearing. Just continue to be real. We’ll listen.