Thursday, August 25, 2005

A tragic report

News reported in my church newsletter, received today. Background information -- my church has had periodic Taize services over the past few years. Taize services are entered into in silence and consist of cooperative corporate worship. Leadership is shared among all the participants. There is a printed order of worship with the prayers and music. Whoever is led to read the prayers, for instance, does so without direction or prompting. The music is similar to Gregorian chants -- simple melodies which are repeated as prayers. In the Taize service, the songs are repeated until. Until the congregation feels a sense of completion and the song ends because the prayer is completed.
The services are held in candlelight -- there is an overwhelming sense of peace in a Taize service, unlike any "normal" worship service I've been in. Because silence is urged on entry into the sanctuary, people remain focused on God rather than on catching up on the latest gossip with someone down the pew. It is a very monastic sort of worship.

Here is more about Taize, along with the tragedy:

(Article by Associate Pastor Debbie Ingraham)

Tragedy in Taizé: During the evening
prayer on Tuesday 16 August, in the midst
of the crowd surrounding the community in
the Church of Reconciliation, a woman -
probably mentally disturbed - struck Brother
Roger violently with knife blows. He died a
few moments later.
When I read the email that delivered the
above message, I was dumbstruck. How
could such violence erupt in such a place of
peace and against such a man of peace?
Brother Roger was the founder of the Taizé
community that began in France and is now
an international community.
In 1940, at the age of 25, Brother Roger
went to France in response to a long-felt
calling to begin a community where reconciliation
between Christians would be lived
out in daily life: a community where “kindness
of heart would be a matter of practical
experience, and where love would be at the
heart of all things.” He wanted this community
to be present in the midst of the suffering
of the time, so he made his home in
the small village of Taizé, just a few miles
from the demarcation line which cut France
in two during the first years of the war.
There he was able to hide refugees (Jews
in particular), who had fled the occupied
zone in the knowledge that they could find
refuge in his house. Today, throughout the
world, Taizé’s name evokes peace, reconciliation,
communion and the ardent expectation
of a springtime of the Church: “When
the Church listens, heals, reconciles, then
she becomes what she is in her most radiant
aspect: a crystal-clear reflection of a
love.” (Brother Roger)
This past summer, between graduation
and coming here to Grace UMC, I
went on a pilgrimage to Taizé. I went with
the expectation of spiritual renewal, but what
I received was a clarification of my call—
and my responsibility. This can best be expressed
by describing a few minutes of one
hot summer evening. In Taizé, all work is
shared. This particular evening, another
visitor from the States and I were assigned
to do dinner dishes with another
team. As usual, work was always done
to the accompaniment of singing. We
mostly sang songs from the Taizé
songbook, but the leader of this work
group turned to us, and in his broken English
asked us to sing an “American”
song. We looked at each other, trying to
decide what to sing. Well, the group decided
for us. They started singing—in
English, with harmony—“God Bless
America.” What made this so startlingly
poignant was that this particular work
group was made up of one German, two
French and five Russians. They knew my
song in my language. We then sang “This
Land is Your Land” and concluded with
John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country
That evening exemplified
Brother Roger’s purpose and became my
mission. There, at Taizé, former enemies
sang together in peace and harmony, with
gusto and love. In the chapel, where
Brother Roger was so brutally murdered,
I had sat and prayed with French, Germans,
Russians, British, and Japanese.
There were no boundaries; there were
no divisions. Here, at home, we too need
to find a way to erase the boundaries that
divide us from the community and world
in which we live. Here, as in Taizé, we
can work toward making the church “a
crystal-clear reflection” of God’s love.
So let it be.

And now, may I ask for your prayers that the Taize community continue, and for Brother Roger. And for the woman at the root of this.

No comments: