Living with an openness to God and to each other

This year I was fortunate to visit the Taize community in Burgundy, France. The photo attached to this article is one of the stained glass windows in the Church of Reconciliation. It shows the Angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will have a child. Mary is being invited to take a leap of faith, to be open to the possibility of God.

I went for one week with Juliette and my youngest daughter. You join the brothers of the community in their rhythm of prayer (which meant I went to the church 20 times in one week!). One of the brothers also provides a daily insight into a bible passage that is then discussed with people from across Europe and the world. The theme of the week was “Creating Unity in Diversity”. You are also given some work to do each day. Our group had to wash up after the evening meal which was certainly the toughest job (after toilet cleaning) but made great fun as we sang songs, splashed water and shared in conversation with each other.

“The Church of Reconciliation” was built by young Germans in the 1950’s in companionship and solidarity with other young people from across Europe. It is a symbol of overcoming our differences and our hatred in order to discover our shared humanity and our rootedness in God. Today the brothers continue to welcome young people, including refugees, from across the world including Syria and Ukraine.

What struck me during my time with the community was that unity does not come about through sameness. What a boring world that would be! Unity comes about through a desire to be open to each other, to listen to each other’s stories and to value the God-givenness of each other. Unity comes about through a willingness to be open to God and to what God is saying to us through each other. This brings us back to Mary. She demonstrates what is possible when we can be radically open to the invitation of God to live fully and to love deeply. The word of God became incarnate through her humility, her simplicity and her openness. I hope that I can follow the example of Mary in my own life, showing an openness to God and to love others as God loves me.

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Communion during this time

In these unprecedented times, we are working hard to find imaginative solutions in a landscape that has been rapidly changing. Sometimes we get things right, and sometimes we miss the mark. I apologise that this has been the case regarding communion.

For those of you who have received wafers in a parcel, we would ask that you either consume them, or put them somewhere safe to bring back once we are able to be together again.

We are going to be sending out a new order of service for use during this time as either a simple service of the word or, on occasion, to help us to share an Agape meal together.

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