Having a church next door is good.
During our all-school Holy Eucharist service this morning, celebrated in thanksgiving for Cyril of Jerusalem, who in the 4th century stood up courageously for the orthodox faith in spite of people's lies and self-dealing, 800 students, faculty, and staff nearly raised the roof with their energy. That's the St. John's middle school choir under the direction of Lori Speciale, rehearsing my favorite hymn ("Come Down, O Love Divine") before the service.
By 10:30, the students were back in class and the altar cleared, enabling silence to gather again. Our church is less than six years old. While that's a lot of praying, proclaiming, and singing so far, the space still feels new. During the week on this busy campus, when morning chapels are over, it calls out to be visited and used. The candles and prie-diex, recently installed in the Chrysostom Chapel by our Altar Guild, are a considerable blessing. It's easier being in an empty church when there's something to do -- light a candle, kneel, say a prayer, or read a little scripture, such as this bit from Isaiah, appointed by the church for use at midday, when the sun is high and unblinking, the tensions of the day perhaps at their greatest:
O God, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you; for in returning and rest we shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be our strength. [26:3; 30:15]