This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Rev. Amanda Golbek,
FPCE minister of children and youth.
It was early August and I had taken an overnight bus from London, which, to say the least, was anything but restful. After having checked in, and shuffled my backpack among three full tents before finding a bed, I was hot, tired, and hungry, and it was time to sit down. I walked into the church to see 3,000 fellow pilgrims seated, not in pews, not in chairs, but on the floor. So, there I hoped to sit.
The hum of voices speaking in numerous languages rolled through the Sanctuary. There were no bulletins to guide me, just a few tattered and torn song books. In the midst of all this, I found barely enough room to sit crisscross on the floor. Toward the front of the Sanctuary was a delicate wall of hollow rectangular terracotta vessels with glowing tea lights inside, behind which a curtain of orange, yellow, and red drapes flowed down from the ceiling above.
As I sat on the hard floor, hot and tired, I began regretting my decision to make the journey all the way here. So far nothing had felt particularly spiritual or peaceful, and suddenly being with 3,000 complete strangers felt like a grand joke from God being played on this alien introvert.
Then the soft murmur of voices slowly stilled, and the singing began. The Holy Spirit took hold of the space — of all of us there – and, little by little, the song “Jesus, Remember Me When You Come into Your Kingdom” gently rose through the Sanctuary as everyone’s voices joined together.
That was only the beginning of a beautiful evening of worship, an evening where one song and prayer rolled into another, an evening where worship and life blended together as the singing and worship didn’t have an ending but continued on late into the night.
This was my first night among the Taizé community in France. It was truly a gift to experience the beauty of worship that is inherently welcoming, contemplative, and accessible to all who join. The prayers and music are simple. Through their repetition, it is easy to find yourself being enveloped in the deep truths of faith as the Holy Spirit washes through and over you and those around you.
In a world where life moves faster than we can sometimes breathe, Taizé worship reclaims time and space for ourselves and our connection with the transcendent. If you haven’t had a chance to experience our Lenten Wednesday evening Taizé service, I invite you to come along and try a different way of engaging in worship, with God and with one another.
Our final Lenten Taizé service of 2023 will be March 29 at 7 p.m.
In His peace,
Rev. Amanda Golbek