So why are you here? That is the question I have been asking the adults that I meet. This morning I ate breakfast with a group of Germans from Berlin. They know that Taize is the one place in France where you do not come for the good food. (In fact they brought some extra breakfast items and kindly shared their pate and cheese with me.) There are 12 of them and they all sing in an ecumenical choir, some are Catholic and others Protestant, they came together to sing and learn.
As is my custom, I rarely sit with the same people and never sit in the same spot. (No, I do not have “my pew.”) This way I can meet more folks and learn from them. There are about 200 adults here and at least three or four times as many young people. To speak to someone you test out a language until it works. (My German vocabulary is very limited.) Until today I was the only American. Today a small group of college students from Cincinnati University arrived accompanied by two adults.
Most of the pastors that I have met, one from England (Anglican), one from Holland (Reformed), and my roommate from Sweden,(Lutheran) have come for a time of retreat. Today I also met a British pastor also on sabbatical who is going to walk the Camino next, just like me. He will begin about three days before I begin. He too began here on retreat. I have come for retreat too, but I have also come to spend significant time in prayer.
Every afternoon I spend in intercession. I go to the main church, usually they are having choir practice (which adds lovely background music, and is open to all), and I pray. Two years ago I had just learned that I had been reappointed. I came to pray for the church I was leaving and the church to which I was appointed. This time, once again armed with directories of both churches, I came to pray for the people I have served and the ones I am currently serving by name. The difference is that this time I know the names and faces at MUMC, last time they were names that God knew, and I had not yet met.
I have also spent significant time praying for the staff at MUMC, praying for family, friends, country, world, France’s upcoming elections, and the greater United Methodist Church that has significant obstacles before it.
There is something powerful about praying in community, even if you are raising petitions on your own in the midst of community. There is power in prayer. Oswald Chambers wrote that, “prayer is the greater work.” Our prayers do not go unheard, but they are honored by God in ways that we can never fully understand. So here, in this holy site, my prayers are released and the Holy Spirit groans on our behalf when our words are not enough (Romans 8)
While I have been spending much time in prayer petition, I have also spent time in repentance, praising God and thanking God. (I have witnessed many miracles this past year to include the miracle of my sister’s recovery, our office administrator’s life spared, our praise team leader’s life spared, and grand babies born, to name a few.) So, this has also been a time of praise and listening to whatever God might want to say. (That is always a dangerous thing.) it is sacred space and sacred time.
Where do you find sacred space in which to lift up concerns and thanks and praise to God? Do you spend significant time in prayer, even in the midst of the chaos of life? What habits might you like to develop in order to spend more time listening and talking to God in prayer?
(P.S. I like to add links in the blog, but it is too hard as I am writing all of this from my phone. Hopefully I can add links and correct spelling upon my return. Thanks for the grace.)