Monday, February 08, 2021

From the Dean: Falling into Grace

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A message from the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel, for the Spring 2021 issue of Chapel View magazine:

On the last Saturday of January, I fell. What should have been a simple misstep took my breath away as I slipped on ice, resulting in broken bones in my right leg and ankle. The fall frightened my wife (and me) and sent us to an unfamiliar hospital for surgery. We were worried, we were cared for, and we were grateful. With the help of doctors, nurses, prayers, and grace, my bones will heal.  

We are always at risk of falling. To stand up is to risk falling. To be alive is to risk falling. Falling is universally human. Our children fall. Our parents and grandparents fall. Perhaps it is safe to say that every human being falls.  

Though we may have heard theologians speak of ‘the Fall,’ ‘falling away,’ or ‘falling from grace” as things with negative consequences, I am not speaking of falling from grace, but rather, falling into grace.  

Over the past few days (and even before my recent fall), I have thought deeply about the times in which we are living. A global pandemic is a kind of fall, a reminder of our frailty. Financial hardships can send us to our knees. The terrible loss of so many people worldwide is blinding. But all of these things—personal and global; individual and collective—prompt us to look and see again the grace of God into which we fall every day.   

In this issue of Chapel View magazine, I hope you will see the grace of God demonstrated in the hard work of this staff and the entire Chapel community. Despite the challenges, we have seen God’s grace in the lives of students like Chapel Scholar Tatayana Richardson, who regularly writes about her faith for the (Duke) Chronicle. We have sought and found grace in the Chapel’s online worship services that unite a distanced community in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving every week. We have heard grace in the voices of the Chapel Choir, Evensong Singers, and the Vespers Ensemble who, though recording their voices alone, are joined together by the wonders of a composer’s notation, a director’s vision, and a technician’s editing. We have also received God’s grace through your financial support.   

Even in difficult times, even in seemingly impossible situations, we fall into grace.

As you read through this virtual edition of Chapel View, please know that we are actually here. We remember you. We are grateful for you. We pray for you. And we continue to work every day to discover the grace into which we fall, a grace that will eventually lead us home.  

May you find grace in every moment of your lives.  

In peace,

The Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery
Dean of Duke University Chapel