Monday, August 06, 2007

Hilton College Chapel Service

Last night I preached at Hilton College. I was underdressed in my tweed jacket and green vestments. The attire of scholar and master was black as bats in robes reminiscent of years gone by. They filed in like robots programmed from burrows this way and that. The occasional hum of 'sir' was heard but little else as they turned left and right, filed up and down to their hard worn seats to sit another chapel service out. The hidden pulse propelled us forward, tradition, the clock that brought the zombies in. We raised our hymnals to chant not sing, the governmental rule. Up came one the prayer to recite, another the scriptures to announce. No telling who was next that queue invisibly pronounced. I moved in step, the high lectern to adorn with all my Methodist attire. Lets pray I said, and as if the roof fell down they collapsed on knee to pray. One small command the power was felt like turning the light switch ‘on’ then ‘off’ and ‘on’ again. There I stood suspended in hallowed air on stilts it felt before a passage of inward looking benches all squeezed with blazers black and white. My left and right two tiers on each the eyes around me bore. Round one, I thought I heard as I began to share, a message that would go out and find an ever hopeful ear. Like a green leaf I felt, blown in from somewhere else, I felt the eyes of centuries exchange. It was glorious, most glorious to stand within the futures powers and humbly blow the wind.

(Click here for the Hilton College web page)


Jenny Hillebrand said...

You describe it so well! I like your pictures, specially 25,26,27 July. Do you have a specific source?

David said...

Most of the pictures come from Google searches. I think of the topic /theme type the word in and hope for the best. By the way, put your blog as a link on mine. Hoping to link up with as many SA methodist blogs as a I can.



Arthur said...

Is it any wonder many who graduate from such prestigious schools such as Hilton leave with a fantastic sense of tradition, a great academic, sporting and cultural experience but also with a sense of God and the Church being dry and boring.

Many schools which incorporate chapel services do so with the best intentions but make the following mistakes :

1) The children are preached to like adults. They are not adults and treating them as such takes no cognisance of age-appropriateness or the stages of spiritual development in children.

2) Old liturgies are used because they always have been. The language used is old-fashioned and the liturgies long. The children make the association that God and church is for old people who understand these long, complicated words.

3) There is a strong emphasis on head knowledge. Very seldom is the relational aspect of our faith discussed or encouraged. The children continue to believe that as long as they have knowledge of Christ, they know Him.

4) While acknowledging the heritage and importance of our hymn tradition, there is little done to expose the children to new forms or styles of worship. Again the message is that Church, and therefore God, is far removed from their reality.

5) Very often those who are appointed as chaplains to school are fantastic ministers/pastors ... to adults! They have a wonderful counselling and pastoral ministry among the teachers and parents. When it comes to the children however, many are out of touch with the reality of the children's world and they are not able to communicate the truth of the Gospel in ways that challenge, educate and inform the very age-group to which they have been appointed. The reality is that children's ministry or youth ministry is a very specific calling which demands a very specific skill set.

I am passionate about this topic as I believe that the Church in her wisdom is very often shooting itself in the foot in these so-called private Christian schools. In fact, I am convinced that the mission-field of schools is often damaged by the misdirected good intentions of the Church.

Your comments would be most welcome...

David said...

Yes, your comments have great significance. I am not a graduate from such a school but the experience of being there testified to tradition above mission. I don't want to make too many aspersions to the worship at Hilton College because I am not involved in what happens behind the scenes. I know the chaplain at Hilton College is very much for the boys and their religious tuition. However the overall ethos of such a setting could easily mislead the young learner from the revolutionary walk of Jesus in favour of a religious society of moral aspirations only. The taste of Jesus and not Christendom is paramount in furthering a new generation of the faithful.