Belly down, Jake craned his neck and asked, "Which chapel was the best?" His simple question reverberated around the campus during the chapel period as upperclassmen led Hillcrest's first huddle time.
Shifting a gaze from Jake, across the gym Amy sat on a chair as her group looked deep into their Bibles. For some, the Bible was foreign before joining Hillcrest a month ago. Now the book is propped readily in their backpack. It is growing into a reference for understanding reality.
Amy started her group into the planned study. Conversation was sparse in her group. Students were internalizing the Scripture that was read aloud. On the other side of the gym Sam's group was a bustle of laughter and conversation. Their time in the Scripture was affirming. The prayers from this group centered on friends who were working out their faith across the gym floor.
Leaving the gym felt awkward. There was something unique that drew people to sit and rest in the midst of the groups. A few faculty sat on the bleachers praying and sharing their encouragement from seeing students leading other students into the Bible.
Down the hall was another hoard of students gathering in the Hillcrest chapel. Elbows on knees is a sign of attention. As students leaned forward there was mutual respect. One of the questions they worked through was, "Based on the choices you've been making, what do you expect your outcome from your year to be?"
Students shifted from their plans to God's, reading Galatians 5:13-26. Reading aloud in most groups, there was a slight pause in the first stanza. "Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly." The simple phrase bookended the heart of the passage, closing with, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let's not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." Students saw that freedom is not license. In a group quiet time, students were led to think on how their actions, versus their plans, align with God's word. The quiet reflection recalibrated many.
In their closing, the students gently bowed their heads and prayed together. In some groups, each student prayed aloud. In others, silent prayers were evidence of closed eyes, bowed heads, and folded hands. Students were prompted to pray for clarity in their role in the school and discernment in freedom in Christ. The time in prayer is a gentle climb students are taking to the all-school prayer day, Wednesday, November 9.