On Saturday 4th August we held our first Reconciliation & Healing Service gathering Christians together from across the city to simply spend time with God and “to be” with Him. The feedback has been very positive and so we will offer these twice a month – on a Saturday morning when many people may want to begin the weekend aright and on a Wednesday evening, when folk particularly after work midweek, might appreciate the opportunity to rest and renew! Dates and times will be announced via our Twitter and Facebook page.
The first hour of our time is spent seeking and realising for ourselves reconciliation with God; a meditative time to reflect on our lives, on our week, on our day, check ourselves regarding our faithfulness to God and make our peace with Him where we might feel the need. Opportunity is given during this time, for those who’d like to, to pray with, share or unburden oneself to another – a minister or elder perhaps, or a friend accompanying you – who without judgement will simply listen and remind you of God’s faithfulness and love.
Ironically, when we are presented with time and space “to be” we can often become restless, uneasy with the stillness… Here is where the meditative and repetitive chants of Taizé can help, the gentle ostinato, rhythm and even different languages of these simple chants can aid us to “be still”. There is no compunction, no compelling of participants to sing these chants… one can simply let others do so, join in… or not! Words are provided and simple prayers like the “Jesus prayer” designed similarly to be repeated uniting with one’s breathing, in and out… until the prayer becomes “like breathing”. These and various other aids to prayerful meditation will be explained either by introduction or in handouts.
The hour of reconciliation begins with an introduction, an invitation “to be” and to seek peace with God by recalling our faults and failings and repenting of them. A reading from Scripture is followed by music and chants (as described above) designed to enable us to leave our worldly thoughts and anxieties behind and enter restfully into communion with God. After about thirty minutes, another reading from Scripture or a reflection on the spiritual life will be given and then a further time of silent prayer and reflection.
This second period of prayer is to lead our thoughts to our acceptance of God’s loving mercy. Often we prevent ourselves from realising God’s forgiveness, so consumed or confused are we by our feelings and emotions, it can be difficult to grasp, to realise and appreciate just how forgiving God is… especially over those things we find it difficult to forgive ourselves for. Now the music and the chants are expressive of God’s mercy, of His loving kindness and of our resolve to try to “sin no more”. Words of general absolution conclude this first part of the service, that now being at one with God, reconciled with Him and at peace with Him, we may begin our prayers of intercession and healing.