By Dennis Coday
The Taize Prayer Service post today to our website (see below) and Facebook page was recorded several days before the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent demonstrations and protests enveloped the nation. Already under stress from the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, this was much to endure.
Despite predating the horrific events of the last week, as I put the final touches on the Taize Prayer Service video, I was awestruck at the themes that permeate its readings and prayers.
We read in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians that “The whole law is fulfilled in one statement: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The word “law” jumped out at me as I heard the echoes of calls for greater justice in the law enforcement communities, as I saw on the TV news images of “the law” confronting demonstrators in the street.
What is “the law”? Paul tells us: Love your neighbor. And I have to wonder, how is that law enforced in our streets today?
As we ponder our complicity in the racist strands that are interwoven in the fabric of our society, Sr. Joyce Zimmerman speaks directly to our hearts, writing about right relationships.
“The ‘course of our world’ certainly seems off course!” Zimmerman writes. “Finding some oasis of peace in all of this is a challenge.” How true is that statement?
Zimmerman speaks directly to our political and community leaders, giving them badly needed instruction on how to act. She tells them and us:
God’s peaceful rule is not oppressive.
It does not seek to dominate. (Where have we heard that word used in recent days?)
God’s rule cares for all with equal dignity and respect.
Zimmerman speaks directly to our times when she writes: “God’s rule is brought about when our relationships with each other bear the marks of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.” That is a sermon in a sentence.
Our prayer for peace must be fervent. And matched with demands for justice.
Our self-surrender must be bold. And place the needs of the oppressed before our own.
Our loving relationships must be unbreakable. And we must love those with whom we disagree.
Our desire for just living must be emphatic. And we must turn desire into action.
These ideas and emotions swirled around me as I chanted with our group, the simple prayers: “Lord of all goodness, Son of the Father, may your peace surround us” and “Give to us your peace, O Jesus Christ.”
In his introduction, to the service, Fr. Ron Will reminds us that Br. Roger founded the Taize movement in France in 1940 to create a community of healing and refuge in a war-torn world. “The Taize community was born out of a vision to create a space for people to find God in the midst of brokenness.”
Many among us, perhaps most, feel torn, disrupted and disturbed. We also need a safe space for people to find God’s peaceful rule amidst this brokenness. We need a safe place, not to hide from these disturbing events, but to recharge ourselves and renew ourselves to work for justice.
May this prayer provide such a space for those who need it today.
[Dennis Coday is director of engagement at Precious Blood Renewal Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]