NORMAN — During Lent, Thursday evenings at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church has been dedicated to offering a space of quite reflection and prayer.
For the last few weeks the church has offered a Taizé service at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Also offered on Thursday is a labyrinth from noon to 8 p.m. Both services will be offered through Lent with the last service being March 21.
Taizé services originated in a community in France around 1940 and include a sung prayer service that alternates between scripture reading and simple songs that are two lines long that are sung over and over.
“There will be small silences between each song and after a scripture and in the middle of the service, there will be five minutes of silence. There will be prayers from the people. It ends with songs and more silence,” Venita MacGorman, director of music ministries at St. Stephen’s said. “It’s interesting to watch people getting used to silence. The first time you do it, that five minutes will seem really long. The more they get into the habit of this kind of worship, then they will start thinking that this period is kind of short and they need more silence.”
One of the main characteristics of the Taizé service is there is no visible leadership at the front of the sanctuary.
“A lot of times the people who are drawn to Taizé services are people that at sometime in their life have been damaged by a church or by an individual. In this service where there is no personality, no one person is in charge. Sometimes that is very healing,” MacGorman said.
By combining the Taizé services with the labyrinth, participants are able to enjoy two Christian traditions.
“One of the things that I think is important is that both the labyrinth and Taizé service are interdenominational sorts of worship. They were both deliberately constructed to be,” MacGorman said.