Hollister church offers inspirational opportunities

Hollister church offers inspirational opportunities

For the past year, Hollister’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (720
Monterey St.) has been offering the community a unique opportunity
to deepen personal spirituality. This event, which generally occurs
the second Sunday of each month, is a Taize Worship Service, known
throughout the world as a beautiful experience of prayer, song and
scripture.
For the past year, Hollister’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (720 Monterey St.) has been offering the community a unique opportunity to deepen personal spirituality. This event, which generally occurs the second Sunday of each month, is a Taize Worship Service, known throughout the world as a beautiful experience of prayer, song and scripture.

The next service will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14. Participants will be seated in the darkened church, illuminated by abundant candles before a hand-painted icon of Christ. Prayer chants (short, simple prayers sung repeatedly to praise God) are led by a cantor and accompanied by guitarist, flutist and choir.

Those in attendance listen to God’s word and allow His message to come to them. Extended periods of silence allow them to gather their thoughts, meditate and pray.

Those wanting to bring special petitions may come forward to the cross – if they wish – kneeling down and touching the icon as they give their prayers to God. People can release their burdens as they pray for family, friends and others in the world who are suffering. It is not unusual for worshipers to report leaving the service with an overwhelming feeling of serenity and relaxation from this experience.

St. Luke’s Taize service is offered by the parish as a gift to the South Valley community, and many Christians from other local churches have participated in this unique 45-minute opportunity to find connection with God. The Rev. Amy Denny Zuniga, priest-in-charge of St. Luke, notes that, unlike other worship services, Taize participants don’t have to do anything: “They may sing along if they wish or light a prayer candle or just sit in the darkness and absorb the experience.”

Reflecting its ecumenical nature, Taize Worship can be a beautiful gift for those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” according to a recent issue of “Presbyterians Today.”

Taize worship is based on the experiences of the late Brother Roger Schultz, who left his native Switzerland some 70 years ago at the age of 25 to establish an ecumenical religious community in the village of Taize in southern France. Today there are more than 100 brothers from 30 countries who support themselves. They serve the poor while engaging in prayer three times a day, working for the reconciliation of all Christians, as well as peace and justice throughout the world.

This international ecumenical community includes members of all major Christian traditions (Protestants, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox). During the year, more than 100,000 pilgrims, the majority of them under 30 years of age, visit the community’s complex in the Burgundy region of France. Those on retreat are provided inexpensive lodging and simple meals while they enter into the communal cycle of prayer, worship and study.

St. Luke’s Church is also the site of another spiritual aid, this one available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: a labyrinth. In the Middle Ages, many churches had labyrinths – intricate maze-like designs of loops and switchbacks ending in a center (called the “illumination”). They became popular devotional devices, especially for Christians who were unable to take a real pilgrimage to the Holy Land or other historic location, providing a special place to pray and meditate. Unlike a maze, which is intended to cause people to get lost, a labyrinth is designed to help people “find their way.”

For more information about Taize worship or use of the labyrinth, call (831) 637-7570.

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