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 TaizÃ©, 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 didnâ€™t like singing, this was the wrong Sunday to pick! Thanks to organist Viktoriyaâ€™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 TaizÃ©, we used it as an icon during the â€œPrayer Around the Crossâ€. 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.