One fall Sunday, when the students had first returned to campus, I said, "Welcome. This is your chapel. I want you to feel . . ."
What was it I wanted them to feel? I almost said, "I want you to feel at home." But I didn't. It's hard to feel that way in Duke Chapel-Gothic, massive, and dark. It makes you feel small. The organ thunders. The space overwhelms you.
When I climb into the pulpit, I bolster my courage by telling myself I've only got to hang on there about twenty minutes, and that this really isn't that big a deal.
It doesn't work. I still get the shakes. I keep stomach medicine in my Gothic washroom. The place is threatening.
Some Sundays, even though we've got everything planned and the order of worship all nailed down, the Almighty still manages to reach in here, grab us by the neck, and shake us.
It doesn't happen often. But it does happen. Knowing it can happen keeps me reaching for the Maalox.
So I tell the students, "Back home, in Sunday school, they tell you about the Good Samaritan ...1