June 2010: visits and prayers

One of the brothers made a series of visits in Germany in June 2010. Here he shares some of his impressions.
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Berlin is sparkling with life, one meets people there with the most diverse origins. Some have lived there for a long time, others have just arrived. This multiplicity was also reflected in the meeting that the young people had prepared for Sunday afternoon. For some years, a regular prayer has been held on Friday evenings in the Prenzlauer Berg district. Young and less young from all the town meet there. For some this has been a real reference point for many years. There it is “like being at home”, a place where they can talk to others about their experiences.

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Young people from Berlin and the surrounding area have, for a long time, been meeting together one or two times a year for an afternoon of reflection. This year the “Heilig Geist” (Holy Spirit) parish at Berlin-Moabit welcomed us warmly in its premises. Together with the parish, we began the afternoon with a liturgical celebration that included songs from Taizé. There were many young people amongst the congregation, in an impressive building. Certain parts of the Eucharist were translated into English so that the young people from other countries could understand everything. Then we continued with a discussion, bible sharing and workshops. There was something for all tastes: some people practised the songs for evening prayer; others spent time in silence or reflected on the place of silence in everyday life. We all came together for the evening meal in the parish room, where conversations broke out in numerous languages. The following morning, pupils of the Sophie Scholl secondary school at Berlin-Schöneberg met together in the library. Many amongst them had been to Taizé as part of religious teaching at the school. Their accounts had awakened the curiosity of their friends, who had come to learn more. Some pupils told how important their experiences had been for them and how they were trying to put them into practice in their everyday lives: welcoming one another, daily times of silence, personal prayer… In the evening there was a prayer in the Protestant church at Berlin-Köpenick. During this summer, many young people from Berlin stayed at Taizé. Also, a new “Night of Light” has been announced, to be held this year on November 21st in Berlin cathedral.

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Other towns also hosted meetings: at Hildesheim, a small café run by the forum of youth, the “Kreuz-Bar”, is open to all the pupils. We met together there on Thursday for a bible sharing. Taking a passage from St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and a paragraph from the “Letter from China”, we discussed what ”sorting out our desires” could mean. The nearby garden offered a space for sharing in small groups. Everyone rejoiced at the first rays of sunshine, which helped the discussion. For the prayer that followed, the young people had decorated the Heilig Kreuz (Holy Cross) church with bricks containing numerous candles, with coloured materials and icons around the altar. It was a beautiful conclusion to the afternoon and an encouragement to take the light away oneself, and transmit it daily, through one’s life, to people living in situations of darkness.

The Lutheran and Reformed communities had organised an afternoon of reflection at Moormeerland. After a workshop and sharing in small groups at the house of the Lutheran community, the local “Johanniter” gave us hot soup. Then we set out to go to the neighbouring Reformed parish where the church had been prepared during the afternoon. The musical accompaniment included an accordion and a double bass – which are traditional instruments in this region of Germany.

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The following day, young people from Schleswig-Holstein and from Hamburg met together for an afternoon at Preetz, next to Kiel. There also, a regular prayer begun by young people has been happening for some time. Candles recalled the light of Christ, which always accompanies us, even into our darknesses. During the evening the songs lasted a long time. Near the exit, those who wished could be blessed.

All the meetings and prayers during these days created joy. We are all on a way of pilgrimage, and time spent at Taizé can continue to shine forth at home as well, in everyday life, there where we live, and in our parishes. Brother Alois wrote in the “Letter from China”: “We need to discover the right words, simple ones, to make accessible to others the faith that gives us life. (…) How can friends help each other to renew a relationship with the local community of believers?” These meetings have been a confirmation of the invitation to make these words our own and to live them.

Seeking the presence of Christ in daily life

During the month of November 2009 nearly a hundred prayers took place throughout Germany. These “Nights of light”, with songs from Taizé, are often prepared with those who care for youth ministry in the different denominations. Two of the brothers took part in over twenty of these prayers.

"We could not be everywhere, but through our visits we wanted to say to those who prepared the prayer and to all those who took part, that we share in their search for what can support our faith in day to day living. …

Many of those I met in the different cities had been to Taizé over the last year. A stay in Taizé is often a special time, outside the everyday run of things, which enables people to ask themselves the question of what can support them in their daily lives. When they get home, some of them find help in the meditative songs they have discovered in Taizé. They pray regularly in small groups in their parishes or their youth groups. The November prayers were often the occasion for different groups from one city or region to get together in a larger church, to get to know each other, and to plan another journey for next year. Others were getting ready for the European meeting in Poznan. Young people from Poland came to take part in several of these prayers.

Everywhere, there were also young people who do not know Taizé. One evening after the prayer, when everything had been put back in place, and those who had prepared the church were getting ready to close it, a young man came in, rather hesitant, and asked, “Will there be other things like this another time, or in another place?” In this way, these prayers enable some to meet up again and for other to discover something new. They are always a visible “sign”: people of all generations, backgrounds, social contexts, searching for the presence of Christ, can contribute to changing the aspect of their city.”

Last updated: 30 August 2010