Last week something beautiful occurred. On Thursday, it was a cool, almost rainy day at Metro Christian Academy. Almost rainy. But the rain had not yet come, and we had been aching to take our weekly chapel outdoors this spring.
So, our high school chaplain and student musicians moved all the instruments out to the front courtyard of the school and set up in a corner of the grass. When all 400ish 9th-12th graders filed outside, they weren’t sure what to do at first. It was almost as if they didn’t know what to do without the dark, interior constraints of our windowless auditorium. But, it did not take them long to relax and sit on blankets, or huddle in the cool air with friends as the music began.
The breeze was strong, but not overwhelming—just enough to hear it rush through the trees and watch it bend strong limbs as we sang:
He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane.
I am a tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am an unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful you are
and how great your affections are for me
And oh, how he loves us so…oh how he loves us…how he loves us so…
(John Mark McMillan)
After about 15 minutes of worship, our chaplain, Brian, invited students to spread out. He gave them permission to keep singing, or to talk quietly with friends. He encouraged them to walk and pray if they needed to, or to even play hacky sack if they wanted. The look on students’ faces when he gave the invitation for hacky sack was priceless. Was he actually telling them to go and enjoy the outdoors with their friends as an act of worship? Yes, he was.
What I love is that with no prior knowledge to this idea, so many students had a hacky sack handy! It did not take but sixty seconds for about 6 hacky sack circles to form—one included the high school principal! And, for the next 15 minutes, the musicians led worship, while some sang, others prayed, some visited quietly and some played.
Our student leaders have been asking for a “recess” worship experience this spring. They wanted their friends to experience all that worship can be, and see that it does not have to be a formula of neatly lined rows of people in an auditorium, all facing forward and singing. They wanted their friends to see that enjoying God and his creation is worship.
So, thanks to some high school students with a beautiful dream of what worship could be, and a chaplain who courageously let God’s spirit lead in an unplanned moment, we dove a little deeper into the truth of those lyrics last week: Oh, how he loves us—enough to join us in the circle and play hacky sack.