Contemplative Services

On the first Friday of each month, I lead a service of contemplative song and prayer in the side chapel of a local Episcopal church. The style of these services is based on the worship of the Taizé community. As I prepare each monthly service, I will post to this blog the readings, prayers, and bulletin (outline of the service) for the benefit of any congregation that would like to use or adapt these materials.

Each service consists of song, scripture reading, and prayer, separated by short or long periods of silence. Through the singing and prayers, worshipers speak to God; through the readings and the periods of silence, worshipers listen to God.

Singing: The songs are short and simple and are sung over and over, so that worshipers can meditate on the words.

Reading: There are three biblical readings: a hymn from the scriptures (usually a selection from the Psalms), a reading from the apostles (an epistle or Acts), and a reading from one of the Gospels. I consult a range of translations to create my own re-renderings of the biblical texts.

Praying: Two kinds of prayers are used: prayers of intercession (which take the form of petitions to God) and a concluding prayer of affirmation (an act of praise, essentially, declaring what God does for us).

The Long Silence: Between the last scriptural reading and the prayers of intercession, a long silence is observed as a time for individual reflection and prayer. The silence lasts as long as the worship leader feels prompted by the Spirit (but the expectation is that it will be around 10 minutes).

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