THE NEW Christ Chapel here on the Hillsdale College campus is incredible--a culmination of years of generosity, planning, and hard work, and the end result is at once stunning and glorious. The Chapel's enduring beauty highlights the transcendence, the sovereignty, and the grace of God. It truly illustrates how architectural design can reflect the character of God and evoke a sense of reverence for His majesty.
Everyone involved in the financing, planning, and construction of this Chapel should rightly be proud. It is a magnificent accomplishment, but we have gathered here not just to admire this gorgeous Chapel--we have gathered here to dedicate it.
The word "dedicate" in this context means "to set apart and consecrate to a deity or to a sacred purpose." To dedicate this Chapel appropriately, then, it is worthwhile to reflect on the purposes for which we are setting apart this sacred place on a college campus.
The primary purpose of a chapel is to provide a place where man can enter the presence of God. It provides a sanctuary in which man can withdraw from the chaos of our world and seek a sacred stillness. For as Elijah learned on Mount Horeb, God so often comes to us not in the storms, not in the earthquakes or fires of life, but in stillness--in a "gentle whisper."
Accordingly, men and women long have sought respite from the noise and commotion of daily life, where they can "be still, and know that [He is] God," where they can seek an inner calm and a transcendent peace. Chapels such as this one provide that sacred space for stillness, a place for an encounter with the Divine. As the architect of this Chapel has written, "When you enter a church, it is as if you are entering through a gateway from the profane toward the sacred." It is difficult to overstate the significance of the role that this Chapel will play in the life of this college.
Although a chapel is a place for many activities, it also serves as a statement about the importance of those activities. The construction of a college chapel, in particular, is a public declaration that faith and reason are mutually reinforcing--and, today, the construction of a chapel is a bold act of leadership at a crucial time in our nation's history. So, I would like to underscore briefly the broader significance of the decision that this place of learning has made in building Christ Chapel.
Beginning in the early 1900s, many elite private colleges and universities began to face questions...