I entered the college’s chapel to be greeted immediately by the organ music.
Could it be the same music I heard so many years ago when I was a student?
The sun is setting and the stained glass makes the building come alive. All the colors of the rainbow bounce along the pews and the floor. The chapel seems to be saying, “Come in. You’re welcome here.”
And the organ music floats through the air. The beautiful music filling the space.
Singing. Breathing. Calling to all who enter.
This is Weaver Chapel, Wittenberg University’s sanctuary.
The same Weaver Chapel that welcomed me on a hot, August day, full of nerves and worry and anticipation, as an incoming Freshman.
The same chapel that guided me at night with its bright cross in the sky.
The same chapel where I sat with much of the school on that September morning in 2001 full of fear and confusion.
The same chapel that allowed me to preach and lead.
The same chapel that offered a quiet space for study and reflection.
The same chapel that heard my voice and the voices of classmates read through the Book of Revelation out loud.
The same chapel that heard my hopes, dreams, and doubts.
The same chapel that offered wisdom and a diversity of perspective.
The same chapel that provided space for laughter and procrastination from schoolwork.
The same chapel that stretched my perspective in providing convocations and speakers.
The same chapel that provided places for hiding during games late at night.
The same chapel that deepened friendships.
I spent a weekend at Wittenberg recently. Weaver Chapel welcomed me once again. This time rather than sitting in the pews, I was preaching. Rather than listening to a speaker, I was the one being questioned. Rather than coming forward for communion, I was the one offering the bread and wine.
It felt the same, but different.
During my time on campus I spoke a lot about the communion of saints. I reflected on the power in walking where so many had walked before. The reminder that we’re never alone. I could feel it in the chapel, too.
I knew that just as I questioned, prayed, grew, and matured while on campus, so were the students I met embarking on their own journeys of discovery. We were a part of that great cloud of witnesses who had walked and studied and prayed and questioned on the same ground that we now inhabited.
We all sat in the same pews.
We all walked forward for bread and wine.
We all heard God’s word.
We all sang.
We all dreamed of our lives making a difference.
Over and over again, I couldn’t help but see my classmates in the faces of the students now. The friendships, the shared memories, the hope of passing on our light.
This is the beauty of that space and the people who have come and gone, and those who will continue to walk through the doors.
This is the beauty of the communion of saints.
This is the beauty of God.
This is the beauty of the organ music, the Spirit, that connects us all.