In Acts 17, the apostle Paul tells the seeking and spiritually hungry Athenians, "From one man God made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and would perhaps find him, though he is not far from any one of us." We believe that God has arranged a very special divine appointment for you in bringing you to Trinity Western University to study and seek out your personal life calling. Where else could you integrate learning and the development of your potential with the greater story that God is telling in history, as he draws all people to himself, for His glory and their joy? We believe that as you encounter truth and discover deeper realities, God will not only shape your mind, but will capture your heart so that you embrace his mission to bring healing, reconciliation, and eternal hope to the places of the world's deepest needs.
We believe that chapel has a significant role in shaping the community in which you'll have this experience, as well as in shaping your own mind, heart and will toward God's intentions for you. There are at least 4 ways that chapel contributes to the greater formational purpose of Trinity Western University:
One thing an academic community can be very good at is critique. We learn to critique everything - literature, culture, scientific research, and our own lifestyles. The challenge in a community of critique is to find the common ground - the place where we're all safe to be, to speak, to belong. In addition, the unique realities of living and studying in community can bring our humanity, and the humanity of the people around us, into sharp relief. Corporate worship - the gathered community expressing its common faith, hope and joy in God as he has revealed himself in the gospel, and seeking to love one another with grace and truth as a response to that good news - is a great place to find the common ground beyond critique and conflict. When all is said and done, and all the critique and confusion and dispute is on the table, we need a place where we're reminded that, though today we see and know only in part, yet we are together seeking to know the Truth, that Truth is Jesus, and the Truth is lived most faithfully in love for one another, by God's Spirit. Together, we renew our submission to the Lordship of Christ. Together, we stand accountable to the searching Word of God as it is preached in the power of the Spirit. Together, we are commissioned to live out our missional convictions in our corporate and individual vocations. Together, we learn how to "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:18). "From him and through him and to him are all things" (Romans 11:36).
In worship, we encounter personally the story of God's character and purposes in history. This reminds us of our true motivation for scholarship, personal development, , and all forms of creational stewardship and incarnational service in the world. If not for the Will and Word of the Father, there would be no universe to discover, and no humanity to discover it. If not for God's ongoing sustaining of creation, there would be no order to study, and no breath with which to speak of it. If not for the grace of God, all of humanity would be lost in its depravity, wherein the creation is revered as god, and the worshiper becomes spiritually insane. If not for the cross and the empty tomb; if not for the reign of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father, who even now is bringing ‘all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ'' (Eph 1:10); if not for the hope of Christ's return and the renewal of all creation, all scholarship and moral transformation would be ultimately impossible and meaningless. If not for the revealing power of the Holy Spirit in common grace and revelation, there would be no insight into what is true, only conjecture (1 Cor 2:6-16). Even more, without the Spirit, there would be no mission at all, scholarly or otherwise. Lesslie Newbigin's words about the church could apply equally to Christian scholarship:
"a Christian congregation is thus a body of people with gratitude to spare, a gratitude that can spill over into care for the neighbour [the goal, hopefully, of all faithful scholarship and personal development]. And it is of the essence of the matter that this concern for the neighbour is the overflow of a great gift of grace and not, primarily, the expression of a commitment to a moral crusade" (from The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society, p 228)."
Chapel, where this great gift of grace is the centre of all our thoughts and affections, can help to inspire scholarship and personal development that is an overflow of gratitude.
More than we realize, our thinking and actions are formed by our environments - by the habits and spiritual/intellectual diet that we experience in our lives, such as how we structure our day, what we read, watch and listen to, and the company we keep. Depending on the choices we make with regard to these habits and diets, we can place ourselves in the position of being shaped to be more like Jesus, or to be formed according to the world's goals of self-sufficiency and self-absorption. Chapel is one corporate practice that helps to cultivate habits and feed the soul with messages that make us more available to the Holy Spirit, to be "renewed in knowledge in the image of our Creator" (Col 3:10). Christian worship helps us give names to our experience through a unique Christian vocabulary for the life of faith; it models the postures that communicate an attitude before God that is submissive and dependent; it connects us with what John Henry Newman called "the living voice of the church" as it has pursued the knowledge of God throughout history; it sets our formational activity within the larger context of the cosmic reign of Christ over all things; and it gives us a particular language, not for escaping from our formational endeavors, but of submitting our formational endeavors to the greater purposes of God. As we gather as a formational community in worship, we need to be asking: "What choices for life or death are before us as a community? What tensions can be addressed by the reconciling message of the gospel? What attitudes do we need to adopt in order to faithfully participate in God's calling for us as a community? How can we come alongside one another in our formational journey with the message of the gospel? What present opportunities will the gospel help to prioritize? What idolatries are creeping into our work, our relationships, even our recreation that must come under the searchlight of the gospel? In other words, what does "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" mean for us today?
Chapel is a climactic adoring response to God's self-revelation. Brad Green has said, "Since the whole created order reveals the triune God, we are forced to say that ultimately, all objects of our knowledge are pervaded with the self-revelation of God." All of our realms of investigation - science, history, literature, the arts, business and economics, philosophy and ethics, theology, and all their intersections - are ultimately spheres of God's personal giving of himself. And where there is revelation, we must respond! C.S. Lewis observed, "I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation." Of course, that response must be lived out in the whole of life, in acts of obedience and stewardship. But there is real value in simply being able to offer "the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess his name" (Hebrews 13:15) as the consummation of our faith and joy in God as well. This response can come out in many ways. When we are moved to awe by the beauty of creation, by the mystery of God's sovereignty, by victory of the gospel, the appropriate response is praise and celebration. When we are touched by the gracious provision of God for all our needs - physical, emotional, communal, spiritual - the appropriate response is gratitude. As a counterpart to these, when we are grieved by the spiritual, physical, environmental, relational and political brokenness of the world, the appropriate response is lament: the honest, but trusting cry of "How long, O Lord?" When we are convicted by the reality of our own sin and its contribution to the community's and the world's brokenness, the correct response is repentance: "Lord, have mercy." And when we are overwhelmed by our own inadequacy to make a difference in our own, and the world's greatest needs and complexities, what else can we do but intercede through trusting prayer and petition with the God who holds all things.
For the Glory of God
The opportunity for corporate worship that we can experience at Trinity Western University is an incredible gift. It is the gift of security, for in worship remember God's unfathomable, unrelenting, unconditional, reconciling Father-love. It is the gift of significance, for in worship we recall that God, through the gospel, has joyfully invited us into communion with Him and into participation with His incredible redemptive and creative work in the world. Worship is the inheritance of God's children, an invitation into delight and joy, dependence and cleansing, friendship and partnership with God! As God works true spiritual renewal among his people - even in the Christian university - we pray that a new "mission movement" will be birthed, not only to the remote tribes of the earth, but to the governments, corporations, film and music studios, oil fields, lumber mills, families, and every other realm of creational activity - fueled not just by insightful Christian perspectives or purposeful commitments to make a difference, but by the Holy Spirit's work of exalting Jesus Christ as the first love of all who profess Him as Lord. May TWU's chapel be one place where the Holy Spirit is free to fuel that first love, for the glory of God.back to top