Friday, September 24, 2010

I Sing of Peace…

I’d imagine the central-eastern countryside of France, circa 1940, was a troubling home. I’m no expert, but what little I know doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Devastating signs of war littered the towns and hills. Enemy German troops controlled the country, plunging the people’s identity into conflict. For these rural folk, far outside the occupied Paris, perhaps there was some semblance of normalcy. But not much., I’d guess For it was there, in a desolate village named Taize (in the Bourgogne district, if you know French geography, aka three hours southeast of Paris), a Swiss monastic named Brother Roger bought a house, to shelter war refugees.

Bold move, if you ask me, especially since he also hid Jews. Which some nearby Nazis found out apparently, and Roger returned to Switzerland in late 1942 to save his skin. While there, he advertised his little house- said it wasn’t simply a refuge for the war-torn, but an emerging Christian community- and in 1944, after the Allied liberation, returned to his Taize home with some new residents and friends. Well, one thing followed another, and this quasi-monastic community kept growing. Soon there were Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, and Orthodox, all committed to living simply, poorly, and with kindness and love as their rule. The goal- Show the world that reconciliation and peace are possible, and through their ‘parable of community’ teach that God is love, and love alone. Brother Roger, by the way, was 26 when he founded the Taize Community. And from those humble, youthful days (i.e. wide-eyed and optimistic, despite the world’s nastiness and horror), Taize has become an international pilgrimage site for young adult Christians, leading weeklong retreats of prayer and peace for over 100,000 people a year. In fact, they’ve gone international; set up houses in other countries to serve the poor and teach deep spirituality. I’m a fan. A big one. In case you haven’t noticed.

Alas, I haven’t been to Taize myself, yet. Although if anyone’s desperate to buy a plane ticket to France, I’ll give you my travel agent’s number. But I’ve experienced the depth and richness of their spirituality through the musical tradition they created. You may have too, by the way. PCCC currently sings three Taize-written songs regularly. I’ve also written about their musical style in this space. So you may be wondering, “Shane, why mention these guys…again?” Good question. Here’s my answer: Jeremae, our Music Minister, said so.

Context? Given my love for this music (meditative, repetitive songs, that are so simple to grasp and sing, your singing quickly transforms into prayerful listening to God…if you’re open to it…), I wanted our church to learn it better. So I’ve asked Jeremae and the choir to help us incorporate more Taize music into our worship life. Every week through Advent, we’ll sing at least one Taize song, so that by Christmas, we’ll have 10 in our regular singing rotation. When I asked Jeremae to help lead this, she, as usual, said, “Great! I’m flexible, and we can be really creative with this! But will you, Shane, tell our church the story of this music? It’s good to accompany change with a fuller explanation…”

And she’s right. Yes, we’ve sung Taize songs now for over a year. But did you know it’s multicultural music, written in many languages? Or from a monastery dedicated to reconciliation and peace? Or that it’s inspired millions of young adults, across six decades, to encounter God through mystery, simplicity and meditative prayer, and so serve the world’s needs more deeply? Again, I think that’s incredible, even inspiring. And if it’s worked such magic for others, why not us?

So that’s the story; what remains is implementation. And who knows? Maybe y’all won’t dig it like I do. But I hope that, after this three-month experiment, we’ll know better as a church what moves us deeply. Because in the end, Brother Roger’s legacy isn’t just a songbook of pretty music. It’s the conviction that Christians in community can serve, inspire and even change the world. And it’s always a good time we let that conviction work its way deeper into our souls, again.

Grace and Peace,

No comments:

Post a Comment