Once a month we share an evening service in a style which we refer to as ‘Taize’ – a quiet, reflective service with some simple songs, a poem or two, something nice to look at and think about, and a bit of silence. If ever you find yourself struggling, in a ‘normal’ service with all its ‘sangs an’ clatter’, to find a calm space within to enjoy a sense of God’s presence, you might like to try it.
Taize is a small town in Burgundy, France, where a group of Roman Catholic brothers set up a community in 1940, to support people in their wartime sufferings. Taize was close to the line where France had been divided in two, and they were able to rescue and shelter a number of refugees. Check their website – http://www.taize.fr/en_article6526.html
– for further information about their history and current mission. Their worship is based very much around long periods of silence punctuated by repetitive singing of short, simple songs. It may not sound like a barrel of laughs! But in an otherwise busy life, it can offer a quiet, meaningful pause; and often unexpected moments of joy. On their website, the singing is described thus:
‘… one of the most essential elements of worship. Short songs, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words they express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God. It allows everyone to take part in a time of prayer together and to remain together in attentive waiting on God, without having to fix the length of time …’
The Newburgh-Abdie-Dunbog way of doing Taize has evolved a bit and generally we have 15-20 people in the church hall, sitting in a circle, with an arrangement of some kind in the middle of the floor, and candles lit in the dimmer months. The ‘arrangement’ is usually created mostly by Kirsty, who often arrives at the church hall looking like Birnam Wood en route for Dunsinane; it’s intended to reflect whatever theme has been set for the evening. The songs, poems and reflection are similarly chosen, and Valerie collars (sorry, invites!) people to read out certain pieces. I’m usually one of the readers, being overly fond of the sound of my own voice! The aim isn’t to impart tricky and profound theological insights – although you never know what might pop into your head, given a bit of space and a quiet tune! Rather, it’s about focusing on small-great godly truths and taking time to let them sink in and become part of you.
Our music is led by an intrepid little band of instrumentalists, at least one of whom is a proclaimed atheist! And yet he keeps on strumming. I know I slide up and down a scale of belief/scepticism, with precious few moments of clarity about what I believe in. The Taize service, with its gentle meditative music, allows me to sit quietly and find my place in ‘the family of things’, as expressed in one of the poems we have used in the past – ‘Wild Geese’ by Mary Oliver – http://rjgeib.com/thoughts/geese/geese.html
If any of this appeals to you, do please come along and join us some night. It’s currently held on the last Sunday of the month, at 6pm.
Taize for church website 01.08.17
By Helen Welsh