Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lay Your Burdens Down

We're now in the Easter Season. I hope that all of you took time to linger on Easter weekend and notice God's work in the world. I saw no Easter lilies here in North Carolina, but the thick sprays of dogwood visible down every street, pristine white against the bark brown and pine green, symbolize for me Easter's message of renewal, hope and revival.

One way to renew the spirit at the UUCF Revival was to participate in the Taizé Worship Service on Friday morning, led by Rev. Felicia Urbanski. The service was fashioned on the structure of the Taizé Community in France--Singing, Silence, Prayer, Scripture. At the front of the chapel stood a foot-high Celtic cross and a tall Christ candle, surrounded by small jar candles, all white.

The songs provide the framework of the worship. One or two phrases of English, Latin, French, or Spanish (other languages can be used) are repeated over and over to a simple, but interesting tune. In our service each song would begin quietly, hesitantly as the piano started and people learned the tune and words. More people joined in. The song grew in confidence. Someone added a harmony. A flute floated in, then out again. More harmony. The piano's chords rose. The violin soared above with a counterpoint. Without planning, all the instruments and people sang their prayers with full hearts and voices. After a few more repetitions, the energy began to recede into the quiet until the tune and words were merely a whisper.

Between each song, there were Bible readings, long minutes of silence, intercessions spoken from the congregation, the Lord's Prayer. For the final song, someone recessed carrying the Christ candle. Others followed with the smaller candles, all singing the phrases of Ubi Caritas, Where There Is Charity.

To me, the most moving ritual within the service was what the Taizé Community calls the Prayer of Intention, the prayers around the Cross. I have heard this symbolic action described in many ways: "Let Go and Let God", "Lay Your Burdens Down.", "Cast Your Troubles Onto the Lord", "Let it be." In one ceremony I attended several years ago, we even wrote our troubles on slips of paper, took a nail and hammer and literally "nailed it to the Cross".

In the Taizé prayer, with song in the background, each person is invited to come forward, kneel by the Cross, touch it, pray by it, symbolically entrusting to God and to Jesus, our brother, all of the burdens and difficulties endured by our friends, family and the oppressed peoples of the world. The physical movement coupled with spiritual intention helps us to allow God shoulder what we cannot.

Take a moment to think about the difficulties you or others close to you are facing. What troubles do you need to give up to God? What do you need to "nail to the Cross"? Do it now and know that you are not alone.

And after you have given your burden up, experience the joy that God can bestow when we least expect it. If you have not seen it, please turn your speakers up and watch the YouTube video of Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent.

Our God is an awesome God!

1 comment:

  1. I can appreciate the power felt through a Taize Community experience. I've found spirituality can be suffocated in dogma, doctrines and right practice. Taize provides a "freeing" to share with community the here and now while learning from the past. In the absent of a Taize Community close by I have relied on the use of a "mantra" (Be still, know that I am) to tap into a inner silence to reground myself, offer my situation up to God and build the strength to move forward again. Thanks LaVerne for the great web site. It offers another alternative for pray.