Ascension 2021 | Christ Is Our Unity

From May 13-16, in Frankfurt, Germany, the third ecumenical "Kirchentag" took place. During the ecumenical worship celebration on television, Brother Alois gave the following sermon.
Thursday 13 May 2021

Today we are celebrating the Ascension. God took Jesus to himself. That seems like a happy ending. But the disciples felt abandoned by Jesus. They were disappointed. The expectations they had of Jesus had not been fulfilled.

Only gradually do they understand: Even if they no longer see Jesus, he is really among them. This opens up a new horizon. With the resurrection of Jesus, God took the side of the humiliated. The love of God is stronger than hatred, violence and death. The poor of the earth can stand up and rejoice. An unexpected light shines.
In normal times, about two thousand young people come to Taizé in Burgundy for this feast. In our Church of Reconciliation, we sing and communicate the light of the Resurrection by means of small candles.

Dear congregation, dear sisters and brothers, even if you are sitting alone in front of the screen today, faith in the resurrection of Jesus unites us. But perhaps you are like me, at this moment I am also thinking of people for whom this faith does not come easily. Often young people in Taizé ask me questions like: "What does it mean for me that Jesus rose from the dead? Why doesn’t God intervene when people suffer and when everything that gives me security falls apart?” Such questions have become even stronger during the pandemic.

Our faith does not give us easy answers. But it invites us to trust that Christ is with us even in difficult times. This gives me hope that we will learn from the experience of the pandemic. We want to live together as brothers and sisters, to share in a new way and to care for our earth even more resolutely. The time has come for a new departure.
As churches, we want to contribute to it. But many rightly say: your message of love is untrustworthy! Abuse has destroyed much trust. And it takes courage to bring light into this darkness.

We brothers in Taizé are also facing this challenge. In conversations with survivors of abuse, it has become clear to us that healing is only possible if we admit what happened. If we take responsibility and make every effort to ensure that the voices of the victims are heard, that the victims also receive legal justice and that no one experiences such suffering again in the future. For this, a deep renewal is necessary in our churches. Structural changes are essential.

In order to make a new beginning in society and in our churches, we also need a deep spiritual renewal.

Many young people are looking for a spiritual life that will sustain them. In Taizé, they experience how important it is to pause again and again. And it is true: wherever I am, I can turn to Christ at any moment. The Risen Lord is always there.

Doubts can remain. Faith is not so much a possession of certainties; it is first and foremost a journey in hope. It makes us open to others. More sensitive to the people and events around us and in the world.

The pandemic imposes painful limits on us, but we can already prepare ourselves to be more open to others in the future. Even to people we would not approach spontaneously: for example, migrants who may live nearby. We have just heard how Alexandra, Sandra and Ambote are putting this into practice in their lives, approaching others openly. We are encouraged by this.

Recently, a pastor from our region visited us in Taizé. She told us how, in the period before the last lockdown, she had suggested to her parishioners that they meet once a week in small groups for a simple meal, talking about their lives and their faith.
There is nothing spectacular about this. Perhaps one or the other of you would also like to do something like that, as soon as it is again possible. The church is a living community. It lives in the common worship and in the sharing of our everyday lives. It is a community on the move.

We can live such a community on the move in our church congregations and in small groups. This fellowship is enhanced when Christians from different denominations join together. A spiritual renewal of our churches can only progress together. We can accept the diversity among us Christians as a gift. This does not exclude the fact that sometimes we simply have to bear with each other patiently. Under no circumstances should we resign ourselves to the scandal of our divisions! Our churches cannot yet share all the treasures of faith. But Christ is not divided. He is our unity. Only if we come together more often in common prayer can we live our unity in diversity in a credible way.

This is possible. In Taizé, people of different denominations, languages, countries and cultures come together before God day after day. When we listen together to the Scriptures, praise God and spend a long moment in silence, the Holy Spirit already makes us a living community.

We like to sing those age-old words, Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. – "Where there is love, there is God." So much of what people do for others is a living sign of God’s love. Let us open our eyes to this! Even in our sometimes difficult days, the Kingdom of God is already among us.

Printed from: - 27 September 2023
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