We arrived in the chapel 15 minutes before the service was to begin. Less than 20 people were sitting quietly throughout the chapel. 'Where are the crowds?', I wondered. We had been told that hundreds of students came. We sat in silence, focused on the flicker of the candles. At 9:59 the crowds swarmed in. It really felt like that. Most came as individuals but then slipped into a pew and we became community. And for the next 60 minutes we followed the cues of those around us- stand up, sit down, kneel, sing, pray, shake hands, clap, laugh, sing more, move, pray. And then it was over. And everyone left.
On the way home we talked about our experience. It was fun to hear how one person loved the dark, meditative atmosphere, while another said with disapproval, "It was like a cave!" It was interesting to note that the sermon was on death, a topic appreciated by the students. As much as I wish the topic would have been irrelevant to them, it's not. Family members die, friends die, even they will die. And we never know when. So it was good to talk about it and find comfort in Paul's promise that what God has in store for us is better than we can even imagine.
So what does this mean for Wesley? I was reminded how important worship is as a regular practice. We won't have a Catholic mass, but we will provide a way to be in touch with God through ritual, beauty, prayer, song, Word.
P.S. Our worship experience was sandwiched by food- Zachary's Spinach and Mushroom Pizza and Starbucks Mochas. Both were heavenly.