Evening Prayer Around the Cross services

Since 2002, the Calvary community has practiced a contemplative form of evening prayer (now used regularly on Advent and Lenten Wendesdays) called  Prayer Around the Cross. These 30-minute liturgies, held in our darkened sanctuary, include scripture and poetry, simple sung chants and songs, the lighting of candles and opportunities for quiet reflection and healing actions. 

Prayer Around the Cross is a style of worship that borrows from the communities of Taize, France, Iona, Scotland, and Holden Village retreat center. Read more about the Prayer Around the Cross resources that we use.

During this time, we gather in a circle (usually about 20-40 of us) around a large cross that is laid flat on the floor or on a platform. At one point during the service, individuals are invited, if they wish to, to come forward to light a taper candle as a sign of hope and place it in a sand container (which is either next to the cross or a part of the cross).

At times, we also pray for the healing of the nations and the healing of creation, using a large 10ft-round floor map of the world that was created by our congregation with the help of Chuck and Peg Hoffman from Genesis Art Studio. During these services, individuals place a lighted candle on a part of the world that needs our prayers.

During 2012 Calvary focused on deepening and expanding this form of worship. Here are a few of our reflections from that year: 

Embracing the darkness. There is a deep hunger among our members for space and time that allows them to get in touch with the “sorrow part of life”…for opportunities to gather with others in darkness and silence, to acknowledge our tears, our wounds, our grievings, and our deep longings.

Corporate silence – even if it’s mixed in with crying babies, hacking coughs and wiggling children – is a powerful contributor to Christian community and a deeper prayer life.

Experiential prayer – in our case, the simple opportunity to come forward to light a candle and kneel at the cross or a map of our wounded world – invites both young and old equally into deeper connection with God through a physical action.

The way in which we gather for ritual is important. Gathering silently in the round, facing one another, with the cross in the middle, creates a greater sense of trust within our community; we lay down our burdens in the middle of a circle with a supportive community surrounding us. We also commune at the Eucharist Table in this same way — in the round — looking across at each other as the bread and wine are shared.