Monday, February 19, 2007


    I'm becoming increasingly convinced of the need for less noise and activity in youth ministry gatherings and more opportunities for quiet contemplation -- something our youth have very little of in their hectic lives. Below I share a short reflection of an "aha!" or "opening" moment that I had not too long ago while attending a Taize worship service. Though it may seem a simple moment of awareness, the experience I share was a profound one, and would not likely have happened in a typical worship service where there is hardly a moment of silence between all the music, talking, and movement:

    I recently attended a quiet, meditative service at church. Sitting by myself in solitude and silence, my attention became focused on one of the many votive candles sitting about the room. This particular votive seemed to have two flames coming out of it, and they seemed to bob and weave about each other, as if fighting. “This is like our relationship to God,” I thought. “We are always moving away and resisting God’s attempt to connect with us.” But then, as I stared longer, I realized what I had originally thought was two flames was actually one flame and its reflection on the side of the glass encircling the votive. What I saw was not two flames in conflict, but rather a dance between the flame and its reflection. “That is what we are like,” I thought. “At our best, we are reflections of God’s love and nature, in a wonderful, intimate, and dynamic dance with the source of all life, love, and being.”


    James Hilden-Minton said...

    Taizé restored my faith and Christian identity. I grew up a spirit filled youth, but lost my faith in early adulthood. The anti-intellectual stance of my church background was at odds with my growing intellectual awareness. Honest questions were construed as doubts, doubts as rejection faith, rejection of faith as sin. In the end I had to choose between faith and honesty, even sanity.

    This was a choice that no sincere Christian youth should have to make. And ministers within my denomination were not competent to help me see other alternatives.

    So I had become a reluctant atheist. I wanted to believe, but I could not. I experienced this loss of faith as bereavement and lasting grief. It took me about a decade to work through this crisis.

    The close of this decade came as my wife and I decided to start a twice-monthly Taizé prayer service at our "do-it-yourself" Unitarian Universalist congregation. Music had always remained a way for me to connect with some vestiges of faith. There was enough that we ventured into exploring Taizé music and prayer. The experience of leading these services for three years had stripped away years of confusion and pain. I began to reconnect with the simplicity of the gospel. I came as a child and found rest sitting in God's presence with Christ.

    It was not about resolving academic debates, eliminating doubts, finding new twists on doctrine, cleaning up my own life, or any such contortion or effort on my part.

    Rather the answer is simply in the presence of God. Christ makes an opening in our hearts and the Spirit enables us to trust.

    After a few years of leading this little Taizé group, my prayer life became more contemplative. I used to watch single votive candles as they melted night after night. Through their ebbing away they were becoming entirely transformed into light. There emerged within me new songs, new little contemplative songs.

    In time I began sharing these songs with my Taizé group. "All that's green" reflected my awakening and was one of the first I shared.

    All that's green will sing for you, alleluia!
    And my heart will echo true, alleluia!

    Alleluia, alleluia!
    Alleluia, alleluia!

    For sheet music,

    I continue to write and share these songs as the Spirit. My latest venture is to share them in my blog, My hope is that these songs will be a welcomed--and free--resource to small groups, churches and individuals.

    Blessings to all youth ministers who are learning how to share the presence of Christ with young people who really are intelligent and spiritually sensitive.