In the late afternoon of Ash Wednesday, I attended a Taizé church service here in upstate New York. The congregation was welcomed by three local pastors who were involved in the service. Surrounded by candlelight, a cantor, pianist, violinist and flutist overshadowed the service with harmony and melody.
Taizé is a little village in the south of Burgundy, France. After World War II, Brother Roger founded a community dedicated to prayer and reconciliation within humanity and the church. The dynamics of what is referred to as a Taizé service includes repetition and silence oftentimes with interjections of music. Core biblical texts were added at the service I attended.
A few of the readings were from Matthew. Believe it or not, I actually do listen to what is being said at church therefore it was no surprise when a red flag sprung up after hearing this verse from Matthew repeated, “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” The red flag began waving when soon after almost everyone in the audience proceeded to receive a cross drawn on their forehead with ashes. Everyone’s face looked like they needed washing.
This is the first Ash Service I’ve ever attended in my life. I didn’t feel a need to get ashes on my forehead although I noticed the pastor was whispering something to each person when he drew the ashen cross. After getting home, I googled Ash Wednesday to find out more. Apparently the words “dust to dust” are spoken when a cross is made on the forehead with ashes. The cross signifies Christ Jesus sacrifice for our deliverance. Oddly, the ritual of Ash Wednesday took centuries to evolve and didn’t become formal until the 12th century. A Taizé rendition is personal preference.
Anyway, after the hour and half long Ash Wednesday service I left the church in silence like everyone else. A general, and palpable semblance of peace moved gracefully back into the world. Words were unnecessary. We all were aware of the circumstances. It just happen to be Ash Wednesday that brought us all together to include in our prayers for peace and love for the family who recently lost their 18 year old son.
From 21st Century Science and Health, “While respecting all that is good in the Church or out of it, one’s dedication to Christ is more on the ground of demonstration than of profession. In conscience, we can’t stay in a mindset we have outgrown. We are enabled to heal the sick and overcome sin by understanding more of the divine Principle of the deathless Christ.”