A Taizé-Filled Pentecost

Pentecost is one of the high church holidays we cherish especially well at First Reformed Church. Why is that? It is, because we have declared it a bracket in time and space, where we can do things that we would normally do differently. For Pentecost, this includes many features that bear the mark of Taizé, the ecumenical community in France that draws thousands each year to pray, sing, and find direction in life.

Naturally, this included a lot of singing for us: as Pastor Susan pointed out in her introduction (see accompanying article), if you had not been in church in a while and didn’t like singing, this was the wrong Sunday to pick! Thanks to organist Viktoriya’s enthusiasm, we were able to turn much of the liturgy into a responsory between the choir, the congregation, and us pastors.

Other elements of our service included the use of an altar, votive candles, and a Pentecost painting by Maria Owens that she had kindly lend us for the occasion. Following the customs of Taizé, we used it as an icon during the “Prayer Around the Cross”. This was a special prayer time during which we were invited, in small groups or alone, to come to the altar table and to offer a special prayer for someone else.

All in all, our worship offered a different way of being in the presence of God. It provided a good supplement to what we normally do, and it helped us appreciate the diversity of ways in which people praise God.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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