Brother Roger, of the Taizé Community in the French Burgundian countryside, has had an enormous impact on my priesthood. I remember the day I met him in April 2005, only months before he was killed. He was over ninety years old then, very frail but with deep, bright blue eyes that sparkled like a thousand stars. When he held my hand, I saw in his eyes that…he knew. You’ll hear more about Taizé in the next few months, and you can explore the community’s rich chants at The Evening Circle beginning February 22.
Here is one of Brother Roger’s prayers:
Jesus our joy, when we realize that you love us, something in us is
soothed and even transformed. We ask you: what do you want from me?
And by the Holy Spirit you reply: let nothing trouble you,
I am praying in you, dare to give your life.
(Brother Roger of Taizé: Essential Writings, 112)
During these last three months, our worship and music have been grounded in the Incarnation. What does it mean to you that God chose to come among us? What does it mean that the strict separation between the Creator and the creation broke down-and continues to break down-in the reality of Jesus of Nazareth?
A spiritual reality as radical as the Incarnation calls for an equally radical spiritual practice-for a practice of embodiment whose roots stretch deep into the love of God which then nurtures lives of compassion and giftedness. So often we live our lives with a posture of “what should I do?” We become task-oriented, success-driven, product-focused. And then we listen to Brother Roger’s prayer with the Spirit calling out to us: “let nothing trouble you, I am praying in you, dare to give your life.”
Our new vestry class of 2015 has been seated, and you’ll see a few new spaces associated with these people. Each of these new ways of “being” vestry is a response to the Spirit which Brother Roger invites us to explore. The entire way we seek to remain grounded and reflect on what it means to be a mindful church calls us to trust in the Spirit who continues to invite us to “dare to give our life.”
In this new vestry class, you will see a space to reflect on Evangelism. While we may initially grimace with the dreaded “E-word,” what if we pause and wonder together as a community, “how is the Spirit calling us to speak a word of life, nurture, encouragement, and hope to the world around us?”
You’ll also see a space for Parish Life and Worship. We invite you to consider that we are always being called to participate in God’s mission. Our common life runs the gamut from fellowship to liturgy and worship. We live together, we pray together, we grow together. And, we always find ways to encourage one another to share in the richness of music and worship, of prayer and reflection, of laughter and bingo.
You will also see a new space called Creative Expression. Building on the Listening Circles from last year, we wonder what it would be like to see our embodiments of art, poetry, drama, music, writing, quilting, etc., as expressions of God’s grace within us? How can the Grace Community nurture these spiritual expressions as a parish, seeking to celebrate God’s love and presence within each person? How can our own creative expression be ways that we “dare to give our lives?” I believe it can be…
It has been said that the only prayer we truly have, deep down within our hearts, is “thank you.” The only true prayer, some have argued, is one of gratitude. We are grateful to God for the opportunity to live, to experience life, to share the beauty of love. I think an equivalent prayer is to see our whole lives as an expression of God’s love, to see ourselves as an embodiment of grace whose purpose is to share…
As one of my favorite Jazz artists, Abbey Lincoln, says, “Throw it away, throw it away. Give your life, give your love, each and every day.” Maybe take a minute and spend some time with Abbey.