by Margaret Antonio
This month’s Agape Latte event, sponsored by BC’s Church in the 21st Century Center and Campus Ministry, featured Campus Minister for Liturgical Arts, Meyer Chambers. Flyers posted throughout campus advertised “Agape Latte with a Merry Meyer Chambers.” For sure, Chambers brought his “merry” Christmas spirit, along with a piano and representatives of the Liturgical Arts Group (LAG), to the audience gathered at Hillside Café. However, he also brought inspiring and insightful reflections on his own life experiences.
Before a full audience of students, staff, and faculty, Chambers told the story of his journey from New Orleans, LA, to Boston College in speech, and appropriately so, in music. He shared a few of his diverse experiences as a music teacher, a parish music minister, the Director of the Office for Black Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston, and now as the Campus Minister for Liturgical Arts at Boston College. One particularly poignant story Chambers shared was selecting and conducting the music for a funeral of a woman by the name of “Helen.”
“She had out-lived all of her family and friends ...there were no music requests,” Chambers recalled. “I get to the Church and there’s nobody there...except Helen, the priest, the funeral director, two of his assistants, and myself….I could have pushed the autopilot button, sung the funeral, grabbed the check, and gone on.” He went on to relate how, despite there being hardly anyone present, “the priest preached a homily like I had never heard before...I still remember that homily today.” As Chambers relates the story, he pauses and, in his rich, resounding, Gospel-choir voice, sings:
Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose, repose, repose.
Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.
Chambers said that for the same reason it was important to that priest, singing at that funeral became something important to him. He then sang a short excerpt from a Christmas hymn about the birth of Jesus in the presence of so few:
If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing: a star in the sky, or a bird on the wing; or all of God’s angels in heaven to sing, he surely could have had it, ‘cause he was the King!
At Hillside Cafe that night, Meyer Chambers reminded BC students of the “Christmas spirit,” that seeks nothing in return, only to be present and available to help others as Christ was present in the manger. The evening of agape and lattes concluded with Christmas carols sung by members of LAG, led by “the Merry Meyer Chambers.”