I’d like to say a few words about Taize worship before we begin. Taize is a small village in France founded over 70 years ago by a man known as Brother Roger, who felt a call to create a monastic community of prayer and reconciliation. This community of brothers still exists today and is made up of about 100 brothers from close to thirty countries.
Many people have made pilgrimages to visit them, some staying for several days or weeks to live and work with them. They gather three times a day, seven days a week for prayer and meditation. They have sought to include people from many traditions worldwide and they demonstrate this in music and prayers often sung in Latin, so that no particular language gets precedence.
Taize music consists of simple phrases, usually from the Psalms or other Scriptures. Jesus prayed these age-old prayers of his people. Christians have always found a wellspring of life in them. The psalms place us in the great communion of all believers. Our joys and sorrows, our trust in God, our thirst and even our anguish find expression in the psalms.
When we try to express communion with God in words, our minds quickly come up short. But, in the depths of our being, through the Holy Spirit, Christ is praying far more than we imagine.
In Taize a simple phrase is repeated many times in song by the worshiping community. The number of repetitions is not calculated beforehand. The idea is that the phrase and the tune is learned quickly, and then you can leave the mechanics of the song behind and sink deeply into its meaning. We have choruses today that are repetitive, but the emphasis is on joyful physical participation. Taize prayer is more like a meditative chant which allows you to sink deeper into yourself, to the place where you meet with God. Another characteristic of Taizé worship its generous use of silence. In this way it might be particularly suited to Quakers who also consider silence to be a very important dimension of worship, as opposed to filling every moment with words or music.
In our busy and noise-filled world it is often very difficult for us be still. When we are alone, many of us are connected to some kind of screen or sound; we need something to fill up space and time. Silence teaches us that prayer is not only a conversation involving words but is also an attitude of openness and listening for the voice of God. When worship becomes only words and music, it is easy for us to forget that God comes to us in silence and stillness. For Quakers, a favorite text is Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know…
It is similar to music –the rests in music are as important as the notes, and they must be honored in the same way that sounds are made. In a similar fashion, silence deepens the experience of the words, music, and actions of worship.
Although God never stops trying to communicate with us, God’s voice is often heard only in a whisper. We are not trying to create an emptiness within — rather, with a childlike trust we let Christ pray silently within us, we discover that the depths of our being are inhabited by a Presence. At times prayer becomes silent. Peaceful communion with God can do without words, maybe even without thoughts.
One psalm suggests that silence is even a form of praise. We are used to reading at the beginning of Psalm 65 “Praise is due to you, O God”. This translation follows the Greek text, but actually the Hebrew text printed in most Bibles reads: “Silence is praise to you, O God”. When words and thoughts come to an end, God is praised in silent wonder and admiration.
Let’s begin our Taize worship with praise. If we take as our guide the oldest prayer book, the biblical Psalms, we note two main forms of prayer. One is the prayer of praise and thanksgiving. So let us come before God singing our praise with Taize music. To help us, I have recorded the music this morning. The hope is that as we can learn the music quickly, then we can move away from the mechanics of the music and into God’s presence. So just join in the singing as soon as you can.
After we have acknowledged God’s presence with praise, we move to thanksgiving. This is the time that we share with each other the joys of the previous week, how we have seen God working in our own life or the lives of others. (Someone will be carrying the mike, so stand and wait for it to arrive)
(Sharing of joys)
Let us sing of our thanksgiving to God “In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful”
The other form of prayer in the Psalms is a lament and cry for help. We bring our requests to God for his blessing – not only for others, but for ourselves as well. Let us share our concerns and prayer requests with each other now.
(Sharing of Concerns)
The next Taize song is assurance that no matter what concerns we have, he does not abandon us or those we pray for. We will sing “Within our darkest night.”
Now we pray for the world beyond our personal knowledge and not in our control. We pray for our leaders, for their wisdom. We pray for the nations in what seems to be such a polarized, rude time in our political lives. We pray for peace, — for peace in our own hearts and for peace among the nations. We will sing “Da Pacem Domine,” which means give us the peace of God (which Paul says is beyond our understanding, yet is available from God.) This song has two lines, the top is the melody, the bottom line is the chant which keeps the rhythm of the song. You can sing either one (or alternate between the two).
The final song is “Jesus, Your Light is Shining Within Us”, a song that expresses our confidence and assurance that the Light of Christ has reached the hidden corners of our hearts and can teach and heal and transform us as we re-enter our world, and that Christ himself accompanies us as we do our best to follow in his footsteps.
This will be our closing hymn: ”Jesus, Your Light is Shining Within Us”
This message was given at Spokane Friends Church on November 18, 2018, by Lois Kieffaber