Silence is golden, and silence is haunting. There may have been a time when silence was appreciated, but we live in an age where noise abounds. Our quiet spaces are filled with television, radio, iPods, CDs and other noise machines.
The drama of silence is that it is the stage where God shows up more frequently than in the bustle of our busyness. It is foolish to say that God doesn’t show up in noise – God can show up whenever anyone of the Trinity wish to do so. Yet if there is a time and place for us to hear the voice of God, it is in the midst of quiet.
During the season of Lent at the 5pm Saturday service we will be having a quiet more contemplative and slower-paced Eucharist in the Taizé tradition.
What’s this Taizé thing all about?
Taizé is simply the name of a town in France. In 1940, a man known as Brother Roger founded a small community of Christians in Taizé. During this war-torn era of France, Brother Roger sought to create a community of healing and refuge. He comments, “the defeat of France awoke powerful sympathy. If a house could be found there, of the kind I had dreamed of, it would offer a possible way of assisting some of those most discouraged, those deprived of a livelihood; and it could become a place of silence and work.” The Taizé community, then, was born out of a vision to create a space for people to find God in the midst of brokenness. Hence, the name of the church in Taizé is the “Church of Reconciliation.”
The Taizé community has had a major impact in the area of prayer and worship. They have developed a large repertoire of their own music, which is now sung around the world. Taizé music is very contemplative in nature. It usually involves a simple one or two line refrain that is repeated multiple times. As the refrain is repeated over and over, different instrumental and vocal harmonies are brought in. The purpose of this repetitive singing is to help us focus and contemplate on a single aspect of God for an extended period of time.
Brother Roger explains the purpose of a prayer service at Taizé:
From the depths of the human condition a secret aspiration rises up. Caught in the anonymous rhythms of schedules and timetables, men and women of today are implicitly thirsting for an essential reality, for an inner life. Nothing is more conducive to a communion with the living God than a meditative common prayer with, as its high point, singing that never ends and that continues in the silence of one’s heart when one is alone again.
If you are around on Saturday’s in Lent at 5:00, I’d encourage you to join us. Let’s carve out some space to encounter the living God this Lenten season!