By Mason Mattox
“Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion.” This simple verse found in the book of Nehemiah has influenced the rich,Christian architecture that can be found around the world, and even at school. Platforms for speaking are virtually in every religious place of gathering, regardless of their function. From towering, octagonal pulpits, to small, simple lecterns, a small piece of our personal Sunday worship life is now visible to all in Christ Covenant’s upper school cafeteria.
Verses flowing from scripture in hushed tones being read in vigil give an air of sacredness to the previously overwhelming crowd which gathers within the cafeteria everyday, and on Wednesday mornings for school-wide worship. It is precisely this air of sacredness that draws students, such as eighth grader Abbie Keesler, to reading from the platform. “At first, I was kind of scared to do it. I figured that if I can do chapel, I can read a couple words from a platform,” Keesler said after following in her grandfather’s footsteps.
The placement of a richly decorated podium in the cafeteria by upper school teacher Jon Alder has helped turn the school’s worship space into a more permanent, established chapel.
On the 16th of August, students starting their first day of school after Summer break were greeted with a reading of a very different beginning: the story of creation found in Genesis. With remarkable parallels to our own personal new beginnings, and the creation of beautiful things, the reading shared by humanities teacher Jon Alder left dozens of students attentively absorbing the many words of wisdom and comfort, along with many prayers to calm arising first-day nerves and anxiety. All thanks to the simple metal platform standing quietly near the west wall of the school’s main corridor.
So next time you pass by, perhaps thank Mr. Alder for his simple, yet powerful gift to us all—the gift of sharing scripture—because it’s the little things that make our cafeteria a chapel, too.