Radical Witness through Music & Community by Jacob Sensenig
Radical Witness through Music & Community
In March of 2016, I made a pilgrimage to the Taizé Community in Burgundy, France with three friends from Canada and Germany. We had been drawn together by a mutual love of traveling, the contemplative tradition of worship, and a love for cross-cultural engagement with Scripture. The Taizé Community is an ecumenical monastic community where over 100,000 young people (18-35 years old) annually come to spend a week in communal prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work. Jason Brian Santos writes about the counter-cultural nature of Taizé, especially in light of his context in North America.
“North Americans practically bribe young people to come to our churches. We lower the bar of expectations in hopes that our young people will grace us with their mere bodily presence in our dank basements and remodeled youth rooms. The brothers give them jobs like cleaning toilets and cooking meals and we give them foosball tables, ping pong, and second-hand sofas. The brothers invite them to join in three prayer times (Daily), a Bible Introduction, and sharing groups for almost five hours of direct spiritual engagement, whereas we oen just hope they won’t leave early…the whole thing seems counterintuitive.”
For our Maundy Thursday service this year we will be worshiping together in the style of Taizé. It won’t be like what you experience at Crossings or in the Sanctuary! You won’t experience a concert with choir and orchestra. There won’t be a praise band. The music of Taizé focuses upon the congregation as the primary choir and the leaders of each act of worship. The songs that we sing together will be entirely scripturally based and highly repetitive so that everyone can grasp the music and lyrics. The idea is that we quickly get past the simple music and can meditate upon the qualities of God and how he is calling us to respond. The service will include significant Scripture reading and an intentional moment of silence, which is the high point of the entire experience.
How foreign is silence to our culture? How many of you became uncomfortable just reading the word silence? Yet, we recognize that God so often spoke to biblical characters through silence and that God often seems most present to us in moments of silence. This Holy Week, let us fully embrace the beauty created in community and silence!