by Mandy Tibbey, St Luke's Church, Enmore
If you appreciate music in worship, meditation and a simple lifestyle, then you will find Taizé, France, a place of refreshment and inspiration.
Founded during World War 11 in a spirit of reconciliation, this Ecumenical Community of Brothers offer renewal to the world and the church. A recent visit to Taizé was for me, a revelation: to experience the joy of the beautiful candlelit services during the day and evening, bible studies with others from around the world, workshops, bunking with others from Innesbruck, Austria, Italy and Germany was a wonderful experience.
Although there were 4,000 of us there at Taizé in mid-July, the small groups meant that we all had community. The under 25's have their own program. I met a Spanish couple who had met there thirty years ago, had returned and now brought their children and three friends.
Many of us have sung the simple, repetitive prayers associated with the Taizé community over the years without knowing the breadth of the Taizé story.
Whilst I was there we prayed for the forthcoming Morocco Workshop. I spoke with a young woman who would participate and she confirmed that it would be difficult and possibly dangerous, but that it was something she wished to do. The Taizé group has visited many countries which have been hostile to the Gospel. Brother Roger, the founder, went to the USSR shortly after World War 11 and Taizé did a considerable amount of work there.
A workshop I attended was entitled 'Building Muslim-Christian friendship' and included a young pastor from Indonesia sharing stories. I also shared a story, about the NSW initiative at the beginning of the Law Term for judges, barristers and solicitors to visit the Gallipoli Mosque—at their invitation.
Whilst, here in Sydney, it has been traditional for Christian and Jewish services to be held, it is new to visit the mosque, so the legal profession has made real efforts to respond positively and to attend the mosque. (There is no actual service, but rather a talk; guided tour of the mosque and a delicious meal).
At Taizé, in addition to the large services of worship, there are services taken by the different individual denominations, and I attended an Anglican service held 'in the under croft', taken by an English priest. Since the former Archbishop of Canterbury took pilgrims to Taizé in 1994, there has been a steady stream of Anglicans from the UK. However at the service I attended we came from all over the world including parts of Africa and Asia, New Zealand and Canada. Other workshops included ones by the youth of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. They put together presentations of skits and stories about building love in communities, brick by brick, flower by flower. That is really what Taizé is about.
Two hours on a train from Paris, then a short bus ride takes you there. The expected donation is small. My only advice would be to take a cushion to sit on. This would be a great adventure and pilgrimage, alone or with friends.
Visit the Taizé website.