Sunday, February 19, 2012

church on Sunday

It's a big change from being "up front" to being part of a worshipping congregation. It is an even bigger change when the congregation is a lot younger than you are, the service is in French and the liturgy is Roman Catholic....
We are beginning to learn that to worship it is not aleays necessary to understand the words - the chants in Taize ( are rarely these days in English, and this week have featured more French chants as the majority of visitors are French at the moment. I think they must be from French catholic high schools and they come for a few days with the catholic chaplain. Many have not been before but as the chants are repeated 3 times a day in the different services they soon get to know them. What always strikes me is the way in which they respond to the silence - 10 minutes of it in the middle of each service. There is no giggling, no messing, they usually respect the time in silence  -sometimes they write in a notebook, but they are well behaved, respective, prayerful. It is only right at the back of the church that sometimes the young people are clearly there under pressure and they disappear as soon as they can when Brother Alois leads the brothers out of the building. But who can tell what impression is being made, who knows truly what is going on in the hearts of these young people? In the silence we stop, and we give God a few moments of complete attention, of mind and heart tuned in to him. And it is in the silence that the liturgy and the chants are made real. For me today, the Old Testament reading, in French first and then in English, resonated loudly  - so loudly that I was thankful for the silence in which to turn it over in my mind and meditate on it... It was about letting the past go and the Lord doing a new thing...
Then it was joining a queue to receive communion and the final chants before leaving and hoping that the contents of the silence will take root inside all who were there.

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