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The Chapel Guy

I once served a church that had its own preschool and the members operated it as such: the Director reported to the church board and once a week, I would meet the children in the sanctuary for chapel services. 

That made me the Chapel Guy.

Would that I could have abdicated! After all, we live in a world filled with a seemingly inexhaustible wellspring of troubles and woes and what to say to their their elders is challenge enough. What to say—and how to say it—to preschool children is … well, a disquieting responsibility. The number of their elders in recovery from their own early church experience suggests we do not always rise to the challenge.

Still, once a week, there it was … what to say to preschool children? They like to sing and they like their teachers and they like the sandbox, but on this particular day, I thought I had a winner, and as I walked across the lawn to the chapel (where else would the “Chapel Guy” be found?), a little girl took my hand. She had blond hair and bare feet and apparently she thought I was lost (little did she know). When I asked her where we were going, she said it was time for chapel and when I asked the way, she pointed out our destination.

An uncertain world, anxious times, so many problems, so much shouting … would that someone with tiny hands and bare feet would point out the obvious, that in the midst of everything sits the chapel. And inside the chapel? Maybe some answers, someday, but in the meantime, on this day, maybe a feeling will suffice, that it is good to be in this space, the chapel.

That’s what Peter said one day, that it was good to be there, on the mountain to which Jesus had brought three of his disciples, Peter and James and John. Given that Moses and Elijah showed up as well, this was not exactly your everyday chapel experience, but still, high on the mountain of the Transfiguration or in a humble plantation chapel on Maui, do we not find the same essential ingredients that make us glad to be there, the gathered Community, the hint of Mystery, the gift of a divine Presence. Call it a sense of the sacred and the holy.

The chapel in the midst of the world with its inexhaustible wellspring of troubles and woes and the simple affirmation, it is good to be here (Matthew 17.1-8 for the whole story): my young companion said it was time for chapel. Surely the Chapel Guy knew as well.


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