Tribute 2 Br. Roger of Taize

Br Roger.jpgurban-seed-church-logo[14].JPG
As part of Urban Seed church last Sunday we shaped parts of our service in memory of and tribute to Br. Roger, the founder of Taize Community who died last week at the age of 90. Full service below…

We acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the Wurundjeri people have been custodians from time immemorial. We honour this history and commit ourselves to care for the land with them. May our worship and our service be work for reconciliation with people and with our God.
(We say together…)
Jesus, light of the world, we confess that you are here. Shine your light into the hidden places of our lives, and bring warmth to the cold places of our hearts. Amen.
(silence while a candle is lit)
usc layout close small.jpg
Tonight the call to worship takes the form of a story. We will take our own cues for worship as a community from the story of the Taize Community in France. It’s part of our tribute to Brother Roger, the founder of Taize Community who died last week at the age of 90.
Everything began in great solitude. In 1940, at the age of 25, Brother Roger left his native Switzerland in order to live in France, the country of his mother. For several years he had borne within him a calling to begin a community where reconciliation between Christians would be lived out in daily life.
A community where “kindness of heart would be a matter of practical experience, and where love would be at the heart of all things”. He wanted this community to be present in the midst of the suffering of the time, and thus it was that he made his home in the small village of Taizé, in Burgundy, just a few miles from the demarcation line which cut France in two during the first years of the war. There he was able to hide refugees (Jews in particular), who had fled the occupied zone in the knowledge that they could find refuge in his house.
After the war he was joined by others, and on Easter Day, 1949, the first brothers of the community made their commitment to a life in celibacy, to community of possessions, and to simplicity of life.
From the 1950s onwards some of the brothers went to live in areas of deprivation in order to share the life of the poor.
Taize worship.jpg
At the end of 1950s the number of young people visiting Taizé started to increase noticeably. And from 1962 onwards, brothers, as well as young people sent by the community, made continual visits in Eastern European countries. They made these journeys with great discretion so as not to compromise those whom they were visiting.
Between 1962 and 1989, Brother Roger visited most of the Eastern European countries himself. Sometimes he went for youth gatherings which were authorised but under surveillance, sometimes he went for simple visits, with no permission to speak in public. “I will be silent with you”, he said to the Christians he visited in those countries.
Today the Taizé Community is made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from more than twenty-five nations. The community’s existence is in itself a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and divided nations.
The brothers accept no donations or gifts. Furthermore, if a brother inherits something from his family, it is given by the community for the very poor. The community earns its living by the brothers’ work.
Today, small groups of brothers are present in Asia, Africa and South America. As far as possible they share the living conditions of those who surround them, striving to be a presence of love among the very poor, street children, prisoners, the dying, and those who are wounded in their depths by broken relationships, by being abandoned.
Every week from early spring to late autumn, young adults from different continents arrive on the hill of Taizé. They are searching for meaning in their lives, in communion with many others. By going to the wellsprings of trust in God, they set out on an inner pilgrimage that encourages them to build relationships of trust among human beings. Some weeks in the summer months, more than 5000 young people from 75 different countries thus take part in a common adventure. Taize’s distinctive prayers take place three times a day in the Church of Reconciliation involving simple repedetive chants that can be sung simultaneously in many languages as a powerful symbol of unity.
To support young people the community has undertaken a “pilgrimage of trust on earth”. This does not mean organising a movement around the community. Each person is invited, after his or her stay at Taizé, to live out in their own situation what they have understood, with greater awareness of the inner life within them as well as of their bonds with many others who are involved in a similar search for what really matters. At the end of every year, Taizé leads a large meeting in one of the major cities of Europe, East or West. Tens of thousands of young adults take part, from all over Europe and from other continents. These meetings are stages in the “pilgrimage of trust on earth”.
Today, throughout the world, Taizé’s name evokes peace, reconciliation, communion and the ardent expectation of a springtime of the Church.
To celebrate the ministry of Taize let us worship God by singing…

Bless the Lord my Soul,
And bless God’s Holy name
Bless the Lord my Soul,
Who leads me into life.

Br Roger crowd.jpg
As part of our worship we acknowledge the reality of evil in ourselves and the world, our weakness, vulnerability, contradictions and failure.
Last week this evil visited the Taize Community, the custodians of the “Pilgrimage of trust on earth”. This trust was shattered during prayers in the Church of Reconciliation when Luminita Solcan, a mentally ill woman from Romania, violently attacked Brother Roger.
Br. Roger was rushed away quickly by the other Brothers. The announcement was made within the hour that Brother Roger had died from the wounds inflicted upon him.
Much of our confession comes from the eulogy given by Brother Alois at the funeral which was held on Tuesday. He will succeed Brother Roger as the new leader of the community.
Brother Roger opened a road and led us on that road with exceptional energy and courage. Some intimate convictions led him to go forward tirelessly on that road. Allow me to mention just two of these convictions.
Often Brother Roger repeated these words: “God is united to every human being without exception.” This confidence carried and will carry the ecumenical vocation of our little community.
As part of our confession this evening consider the ways you have failed to see God united to others and yourself.
And the other conviction: Brother Roger constantly returned to that Gospel value which is kind-heartedness. He was a kindhearted and gentle man.
Let us consider and confess the things that have prevented you from being as kindhearted as you could or should have been.
Kindheartedness is not an empty word, but a force able to transform the world, because, through it, God is at work. In the face of evil, kind-heartedness is a vulnerable reality. But the life which Brother Roger gave is a pledge that God’s peace will have the last word for each person on our earth.
Let us together declare the grace of God:
The blazing fire of God’s presence refines us,
but in mercy it does not destroy us.
God does not repay evil for evil,
but comes to deliver us and restore us to life.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton
Brother Roger once said:
“When the Church listens, heals, reconciles, then she becomes what she is in her most radiant aspect: a crystal-clear reflection of a love.”
Sisters and Brothers,
your sins are forgiven;
be at peace.
Let us sing together:

Dona Nobis Pacem: Grant us Peace

Let us pray:
God of goodness, we entrust to your forgiveness Luminita Solcan who, in an act of sickness, put an end to the life of Brother Roger. With Christ on the cross we say to you: Father, forgive her, she does not know what she did.
Holy Spirit, we pray for the Community of Taize and for the many young people who draw strength from their ministry. We pray for Lorinda Curnow.
Christ of compassion, you enable us to be in communion with those who went before us, and who can remain so close to us. We entrust into your hands our brother Roger. Already he is contemplating the invisible. In his steps, you prepare us to welcome a ray of your brightness and reconciliation.
Mark Pierson presented a reflection on the ‘reversals’ within Romans 12.
We have said much this evening of Taize and the ministry of reconciliation. The water we use for our cup this evening is a symbol of this reconciliation.
communion cups small.jpg
It is a reminder of Aboriginal peoples who directed European settlers to ancient waterholes upon which they relied to start our city. In turn these water holes were at times poisoned to remove the original custodians from the land. This water is then a reminder of the need for reconciliation between peoples in our nation.
It is also a reminder of the dryness of Melbourne’s ‘water holes’ of today. The water reminds us of our need to reconcile our lifestyle within the limits of God’s creation in which we live.
The water is a reminder of the water that flowed with blood from Jesus’ side at his death. As we mourn the violent death of Brother Roger we are reminded of the passion that is required for reconciliation between God, between others and all of creation. Reconciliation that can ultimately only be achieved through the vulnerability of suffering love offered to us in Christ.
With this reconciliation in mind, at the last meal he shared with his followers before his death, Jesus took the cup and said…..

Eat this bread, drink this cup,
Come to me and never be lonely,
Eat this bread, drink this cup,
Come to me and you will have new life.


say…Lord hear us and we will respond,
Lord hear our prayer.
we say to each other…

You are God’s servants, gifted with dreams and visions Upon you rests the grace of God like flames of fire.
Love and serve the Lord in the strength of the Spirit.
May the deep peace of Christ be with you, The strong arms of God sustain you, And the power of the Holy Spirit strengthen you in every way.
(Dianne Karray Tripp)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s