Final Chapel of year hits high notes of emotion
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Gillian Rea
GCU News Bureau
To be fully appreciated, the last Chapel service of the 2018-19 academic year at Grand Canyon University needs to be experienced by watching this video. Even students and staff who were there should view it again.
It was that moving.
The seniors leading the Worship team, backed by a large group that included the students who will begin performing those duties in August, put every ounce of their being into making the music special. The emotion was palpable throughout, especially as lead singer Katie Brown sang “How Great Thou Art” at the end of the first set and later fell to her knees in worship during the closing songs.
The music bookended an equally passionate talk by Dr. Tim Griffin, Pastor and Dean of Students. After he thanked all the people who make Chapel what it is, including the thousands of students who show up voluntarily every week, he emphasized the positive comments he hears from campus visitors and said it is a feeling that starts at Chapel:
“That all stems from your commitment to each other, your commitment to support and love one another like Jesus would. And that is all fostered in places like this where we come together and we look at each other face to face and we pray for one another and we encourage and smile and hug and whatever we need to do to help one another move on to the next day.”
Griffin drew the biggest laugh of the morning when he said, while discussing things that typically happen to students over the course of a year, “Some of you met the love of your life here. Some of you did about three or four times.”
But then, moments later, he had to stop to compose himself for a few seconds after he said this:
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful time in life. I know it’s tough. I know it’s hard and it’s painful and it’s agonizing, but, man, you are at the some of the greatest years of your life right now. And I’m so thrilled that God saw …”
The reason for his emotion: Brown’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art.”
“That last song messed me up,” he said.
Yes, it was that powerful.
Griffin’s Bible reference was the story of Jesus joining two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:36-49) and then appearing for all the disciples and eating with them.
He said he finds it “hilarious” that Jesus would want to eat with them when He had just come back from the dead but said that’s why students should value their opportunities to eat together. As he sees them socialize, he knows that those “are moments that are precious in God’s sight because He is melding your hearts together in relationship and finding opportunity to invade your life.”
Griffin drew loud applause from the crowd when he emphasized the importance of focusing on God rather than worldly events:
“People are grasping for all kinds of things to make a difference in this world. People are stressed out about what’s going on in politics and government. People are stressed about what’s going on in education, and sometimes we put our hope in business and making money and all kinds of things that we think will transform culture. And, my friend, I’m here to tell you, the one thing that will transform a heart is Jesus.”
He urged students to spread the Good News wherever they go, whether they’re graduating this month or returning in the fall, and then the Worship team gave them some music to further inspire them to continue the Great Commission.
As beautiful scenes in nature scrolled on the screen behind the stage, the crowd clapped and stomped and sang along. It felt as if they could have kept singing and clapping and stomping all day, but when the music finally had to end, Brown said in the final prayer, “We serve the almighty and eternal King. So as we go into finals and summer and whatever else happens after that, let us keep His faithfulness in the forefront of our minds and hearts and believe in what He has spoken and let everything else fade away.”
But the memory of this Chapel won’t fade. It was the perfect ending for the members of the Class of 2019 and the ideal motivation for their successors to continue that spirit – how great it was.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.