THURSDAY THE SIXTEENTH OF AUGUST, 2018
* Brother Roger of Taizé *
Christ Jesus, today we give you thanks for the life of Brother Roger. The fire of your love burned in him, the love which gathers all people into one communion. Like him, we want to surrender ourselves to you with a trusting heart and to become women and men who are a leaven of peace. Amen.
( Brother Alois, b. 1954 )
Hear us, O Lord, as we your servants meet from many regions underneath the skies,
to lay our love and tribute at your feet and yield ourselves, a living sacrifice;
for you, O Jesus, are our hope alone and one in you we bow before your throne.
The word you gave us in the days of yore has been proclaimed far over land and sea;
the gospel message rings from shore to shore and hymns of praise ascend unceasingly,
from rising until setting of the sun, proclaiming that the church in you is one.
O Christ, the living and eternal Word, unchanging still through all the changing years,
no sweeter name on earth was ever heard, no other voice has power to calm our fears.
Then speak once more to set your people free and make us one in love and one in you.
Now make us one in serving you, O Lord: one in the hope of glories yet to be,
one in the proclamation of the word, one in the sacred gift of charity,
one in the faith the fathers held of yore, one in the love that lives forevermore.
( John Shirley Anderson, 1895-1970 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Brother Roger of Taizé: ecumenical pilgrim
From 1937 to 1940, Brother Roger studied Reformed theology in Strasbourg and Lausanne, where he was a leader in the Swiss Student Christian Movement, part of the World Student Christian Federation. He also struggled with tuberculosis during this time. At the onset of World War II, he felt called to serve those suffering from the war, so he came to Taizé, a small town in unoccupied France and bought an empty house, from which he and his sister ministered to any and all who would come. He helped many Jews as well as Christians to flee from the Nazis. He kept this up for over two years before receiving word that his life was in danger from the Gestapo.
In 1944, he returned to Taizé to found the “Community,” initially a small semi-monastic community of men living together in poverty and obedience, open to all Christians. As their unique approach to spirituality and worship began to spread, they began to attract young people from all over Europe who were searching for meaning in the post-war, and post-nuclear weapon era. They would come to participate in the life of the Community, to listen and to worship. In the 1960’s and onward, members of the Community were often sent out to lead meetings all over the world.
Brother Roger always kept a low profile while the Community was gaining fame. His goal remained the reconciliation of all churches into Christ. His focus was on Christian youth. During a Taizé gathering in Paris in 1995, he spoke to more than one hundred thousand young people who were sitting on the floor of an exhibition hall.
“We have come here to search,” he said, “ or to go on searching through silence and prayer, to get in touch with our inner life. Christ always said, Do not worry, give yourself.”
Brother Roger was stabbed to death during the evening prayer service in Taizé on the sixteenth of August, 2005, by a young Romanian woman who was later deemed mentally ill. In a highly unusual move, the funeral of this Protestant monk was presided over by a Roman Catholic cardinal, Walter Kasper, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who celebrated the Mass with four priest-brothers of Taizé concelebrating.
In his homily, he said, “Yes, the springtime of ecumenism has flowered on the hill of Taizé.”
Scripture. In “The Letter to the Romans,” chapter twelve, verses one and two we read:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
… for peace in the world.
… for members of the Taizé Community and for the continuing success of their ministry.
… for young Christians.
… that all the churches may be in communion with each other.
… for the mentally ill.
… for young people receiving exam results at this time.
… for people suffering from diseases of the liver.
… for the forty-eight people who were killed and sixty-seven who were injured in a bomb explosion at an education centre in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul DETAILS; for all victims of terrorism.
… for Carnatic musicians in the southern Indian city of Chennai who are being threatened by right-wing extremists for performing music from different faith traditions. DETAILS
… for the safety and success of firefighters battling the hundreds of wildfires in British Columbia, Canada, and elsewhere in the world. DETAILS
… for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
… for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
… for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
… for ourselves.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From “Make the Unity of Christ’s Body Your Passionate Concern” by Brother Alois of Taizé:
Today’s youth, with their great thirst for authenticity, make us attentive to this reality: if the commitment of Christians to foster reconciliation in the world is to be credible, it is essential that they seek visible unity among themselves.
Do we know that we have a specific gift, as Christians, to prepare paths of peace and trust on earth? We are the Body of Christ, and a deep communion among those who follow Christ can become an irreplaceable leaven of peace in the one human family. All the baptised are involved, concerned. Altogether, by our unity, we can be a credible sign of reconciliation among human beings.
Even with our limitations, even where circumstances are not favourable, God makes us creators of reconciliation with him. Going towards others, sometimes empty-handed, listening, trying to understand, and already a paralysed situation can be transformed. Person-to-person encounters are irreplaceable. Christ sends us out to heal the wounds of division and violence around us.
Our time needs courageous women and men who express the Gospel call to reconciliation by their whole lives. There do not necessarily have to be many of these men and women. Does not the Gospel compare the kingdom of God to a little yeast that leavens all the dough?
There were periods in history when, in the name of the truth of the Gospel, Christians became divided. Today, on behalf of the truth of the Gospel, we would like to do everything possible to become reconciled. We cannot pass on Christ’s message to those around us unless we are together. When Christians are separated, their message becomes inaudible. The communion between us Christians may allow God’s Word to speak to people today.
So let us dare to head towards visible unity! Will each Church have the courage not to act without taking the others into account?
Almighty God, we praise you for Brother Roger of Taizé, whom you called to renew the life of your church. Inspired by his example and guided by your Spirit, may we call the church to its tasks in our own day, and proclaim your reign of love; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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