Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Christian Diversity and Taize

Traveling the world is a special privilege. I'm so blessed to be able to do a little travel now and then. This summer has been especially blessed -- 6 weeks in Europe and 2 weeks in Singapore. One of the greatest blessings is seeing Christian faith in people so diverse!

Do you know about Taize? Read their email bulletin I'm pasting below. This is a world-wide youth movement that has a powerful witness. I love reading this, and maybe a few others will as well. Their URL is near the bottom of the bulletin.

News from Taizé by email
Taizé, Monday 21 July 2008
* The summer meetings in Taizé
* Sydney: prayers at Saint James'
* From Dar-es-Salaam to Nairobi
* The brothers in Bangladesh
* Prayer

The summer meetings in Taizé
At mid July the meetings are at their height. For the brothers, the
summer means being astonished again every year: why do so many young
adults keep coming back to the hill? This week, those from Europe have
come from over thirty different countries, from the Atlantic to the
Urals. Others, less numerous, have travelled much further, from thirty
countries of America, Africa and Asia.

This week, among those who have travelled farthest are volunteers who
will stay for three months, from India, Guatemala, and Uganda and from
Indonesia, Laos and Colombia.

What brings everyone together, brothers and young people from all over
is certainly the prayer. The multiple facets of the summer meetings give
a place more and more central to these times together, morning, noon and
evening, in the Church of Reconciliation. In the great diversity of
languages and cultures, in the very broad denominational palette that
brings together Christians of many backgrounds, in the variety of the
themes proposed each day for reflection, the one who gathers all
together is the Risen Christ.

He brings us together, and he calls as well: during the Saturday evening
prayer, a young man from the Netherlands responded to that call when he
received from Brother Alois the prayer garment of the brothers. It was a
beautiful witness, for everyone present, of a practical commitment in
the footsteps of Christ.

* "Remaining faithful to the end"
During the summer, some of the young people choose as their daily Bible
introduction a deeper study of the first three chapters of Revelation
(Theme: "Remaining faithful to the end"). Amandine, from Geneva, chose
this group. She underlines the importance of the times of sharing that
follow the explanation of the day's passage by one of the brothers. "In
the discussion groups, we tried to respond to the - sometimes complex -
questions with the help of our Bibles and our personal experience. Even
if our knowledge was limited, as the week progressed we were able to
acquire new knowledge and to familiarise ourselves with the text." This
Bible introduction enables many people to discover a book that at first
sight seems difficult to approach, but which in fact gives a profound
witness to the love of God.

* "The silk road"
The young people from Asia arriving in Taizé at the beginning of the
summer quickly began their experience of prayer and meeting with young
people from other countries and continents. With some other Asians,
Ajeng, a theology student from Singapore, was asked to prepare two
workshops which they entitled "The Silk Road". She writes:
"All the Asian volunteers were very excited, knowing that we had to
present our countries and cultures. In fact, this has been a means of
bonding for us, for we have got to know each another better, personally
as well as culturally. The theme proposed made us do some "small
preliminary research" and trace back our backgrounds. It is surprising
to discover that Asian people share many things now because of the Silk
Road period! Just as the traders travelled a long distance to exchange
something precious like silk, we too have travelled all the way here to
Taizé, to seek God, who is so precious for us. Yet we realize that we
can not become mere "consumers" of faith. We were invited to tell our
stories and to listen to other people's stories as well. With
discernment, this exchange can be a positive way of building up our faith."

* "Difficult to say goodbye!"
Two young people from Madagascar, Ravaka and Victorien, arrived to be
volunteers in Taizé a few weeks ago. They have just finished leading a
week at Olinda, the house for young families. For the young adults from
other continents who come to spend several months in Taizé, this is a
quite new experience, which Ravaka sums up like this: "The real
challenge is to create a good atmosphere in the group. For not only do
you have a group of thirty children to care for, but in addition they
speak several languages and their cultures are sometimes very different
from ours!" Every week the children are split up into different groups
according to age. For example, for the oldest – between 12 and 14 – two
activities are proposed: sharing on a Bible text and discovering the
different countries represented in the group. Victorien adds, "In the
afternoons, it was the leaders' turn to present a play. The last day, we
received a card expressing the thanks of the parents... it was difficult
for the children and the leaders to say goodbye!"
"Echoes of the young adults meetings":

Sydney: prayers at Saint James's
For a whole week Sydney's streets and railways stations echoed to the
sounds of animated young people from all the continents of the world.
World Youth Day had attracted a quarter of a million pilgrims who came
together to celebrate their faith and their hopes. Where the massive
buildings of the commercial district meet the large park opposite St
Mary's Cathedral is the lovely, warm sand stone church building of the
Anglican Church of St James. And it was in this church that people came
to join some of the brothers of Taizé in prayer each day. As the week
progressed, more and more young people began crowding into the church
until by the end of the week not everyone who wanted to get in were able
to – even with up to four prayers in an afternoon and evening...
There were always people of different denominations present. Young
people read the Scriptures in up to six different languages. They also
helped lead the intercessions. On three of the evenings, Brother Alois
spoke to the young pilgrims.
At the close of the final evening prayer each day the cross was laid on
the floor and people waited patiently in a long line for an opportunity
to entrust to Christ some of their anxieties and fears and hopes. At the
final prayer, the Prime Minister of Australia who had earlier in the
week spoken to the young pilgrims at the opening event, attended with
his family, staying for two hours to pray with the young people.

From Dar-es-Salaam to Nairobi
I am a Tanzanian aged 25 years old. I am from Dar es Salaam, and I am a
laboratory technician by profession. I was in Taizé, France during the
summer months of 2006. Currently I am on my annual leave so I decided to
spend some days as a volunteer, to help with the preparation of the
meeting in Nairobi.... The way I see the preparation for the November
meeting is that things are moving at quite a good pace. It seems to be
well organised. This meeting will be a golden opportunity for the youth
to discover themselves and spend quality time for their spiritual life
and growth in the Church and stop, listen and reflect to what our rapid
changing societies are offering us today. On a very personal note, I
thank God for giving us this opportunity to be part of this pilgrimage
of trust in East Africa and Africa as a Continent. It will be a time for
us to discover and learn something from other youth coming from several
African countries. And for the youth coming from outside Africa it will
be a memorable time to know more about our peoples, lives, culture and
give Africa a new face. ... Keep the spirit high up "Kwa pamoja tutafuta
njia ya matumaini" Together seeking paths of Hope. Karibuni Sana!!
Kwenye mkutano wa vijana tarehe 26-30 Novemba 2008. Ahsante! Makolo
Christopher Ludosha.

The meeting in Nairobi will take place from 26 to 30 November 2008:
Practical information and registration:
To Nairobi from South Africa:

The brothers in Bangladesh
I have just come back from visiting some families in the region of
Dinajpur. There were marriages in the families of young people we know
and who work with us in Mymensingh. It was raining and everything took
place in the mud.... But it was really good to see many people again.
Dipok, who is in Taizé at present, comes from this region.
After many attempts that did not succeed, we finally had a pilgrimage of
trust with disabled people in Khulna. There were 200 disabled
Christians, with their families, a large group of young volunteers (many
of whom took part in the meeting in Kolkata) and on the Saturday over
fifty disabled Muslims and their families came as well. There was a big
gathering for the inter-religious prayer at noon: beautiful Muslim songs
sung by a young blind man and some very poor mothers – of families where
there is no father – shared their stories. Mgr Theo was present, and the
local bishop came for the end. I went with several young people to help
– the journey lasted ten hours by bus! Much gratitude on all sides. The
prayer with the candles on the Saturday evening was a feast! ...

God of peace, your presence is often a mystery for us; to welcome you we
need a heart that is simple, and filled with trust.


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