Category Archives: Mission

24 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day VII.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

Day 7 “Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”

Readings

Hosea 6:1-6 – (v6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice)

Matthew 6:19-21 – (v21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also)

Reflection

The prophet Hosea is known for his cry for justice and love to override religious ritual and regulations. We are called to make a treasure of our expression of love and our work for justice and to let that be the offering that we place before the manger. We know that God does not want our riches or burnt offerings, but rather that God’s power works through our poverty: “I have no silver or gold”. The Lord desires our loving hearts, filled with mercy, truly penitent and desiring change.

Let us then prepare the gift of a heart full of love. Kneeling in worship requires hearts that are contrite for the sin that divides us and obedient to the One we serve. This obedience revives, heals and reconciles everything that is broken or wounded in us, around us, and among us as Christians.

Unity is the gift offered to us by Christ. We grow in communion as we share the graces our different traditions have received, acknowledging that the source of all our gifts is the Lord.

Prayer
God,
through your prophets you have called us to do justice,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.
In Christ, you have shown us what that looks like.
Through your Holy Spirit you continually enable us to hear your words,
to follow Christ’s example, and to live as his disciples.
So, as we gather at the manger, heal our wounds,
reconcile our divisions and hold us together in your love.Amen.
Hymn Verse
Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
vainly with gifts would his favour secure
richer by far is the heart's adoration;
dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
dawn on our darkness, and lend us your aid;
star of the east, the horizon adorning,
guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
              Reginald Heber (1783-1826)

Questions

Global: Climate justice is being recognised as an expression of social justice with which churches can act together on a global scale. Why is this the case?

Local: Sometimes we talk of Christian Unity being advanced more easily when local churches work together on a specific project, often one involving an expression of social justice. How have you experienced this in your local area?

Personal: How do you consider the importance of church as a place for offering worship and as a place from which to call for social justice?

Go and Do

(see www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)

Global: Take time today to campaign for global justice. Visit the websites of CTBI agency partners (see https://ctbi.org.uk/membership/) to take part in their current campaign actions for social justice.

Local: Identify projects in your local area that need more support, and work together as churches to assist them.

Personal: Consider an issue of social justice that you’ve not been involved with previously and take time to find out more and take action.

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22 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day V.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

Day 5 “Ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising”

(Matthew 2:9)

Readings

Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?

Matthew 2:7-10 Ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising

Reflection

Again and again, the scriptures tell us how God walks with us. The path may not always be straight: sometimes we are led to retrace our steps, sometimes to return by a different route. But in all our journeying through life, we can be confident that God, who neither “sleeps nor slumbers”, is with us when we slip or fall.

Even in the greatest darkness, God’s light is with us. Most perfectly, in the fullness of time, God sends Jesus Christ, who is the guiding light for all nations, the glory of God in the world, the source of divine light and life.

The way ahead into unity with one another, into closer union with Christ, is not always clear. In our earnest attempts to build unity ourselves it is all too easy to lose sight of this fundamental message of the scriptures: that God does not abandon his people even in their failures and divisiveness. This is God’s message of hope for the whole world. As the story of the Magi reminds us, God guides people of all kinds, by the light of the star, to where Christ, the light of the world, is to be found.

Prayer

God our Guide,
you sent the star to lead the Magi to your only begotten Son.
Fill us with the confidence that you are walking with us.
Open our eyes to your Spirit, and encourage us in our faith,
so that we may confess that Jesus is Lord,
and worship him as the Magi did in Bethlehem.
Amen.

Hymn Verse

Hope of my heart, strength of my soul,
Guide Thou my footsteps and keep me whole;
My grace and fortress, Thou wilt be,
Oh, let Thy mighty hand ever lead me.
                                        Barney E Warren, 1893

Questions

Global: As a global community we continue to face many challenges. How do we seek God’s guidance in our response to those challenges?

Local: How is God guiding your Christian community at this time? Where are you being called to act?

Personal: Reflect on a time when you have felt or seen God’s guidance. What was that like?

Go and Do

(see www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)

Global: Start (or continue) a conversation around your Christian community about how you are responding to the challenges of climate justice. As churches, take part in global prayer and action for climate justice (https://www.prayandact4climate.org).

Local: Plan a Climate Sunday service between the churches in your locality. Visit climatesunday.org for resources and inspiration.

Personal: Seek out a community to be part of to support you in your action responding to global challenges. For example if you like craft you could turn your skills into activism in community with the craftivist-collective.com.

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21 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day IV.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

And you, Bethlehem… are by no means least.

Readings

Micah 5:2-5a, 7-8 From you shall come forth … one who is to rule in Israel
1 Peter 2: 21-25 Now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls
Luke 12:32-40 Do not be afraid, little flock

SpringSummerSynodwinterYear of MercyAdd New Category

Tags

Add New TagSaint Luke (1 of 11)Saint Lukefear (2 of 11)fearjustice (3 of 11)justiceKingdom (4 of 11)Kingdom

Reflection
Today we consider why God chooses to act in and through seemingly insignificant places and people, and
what God does with them. These are not new questions – in fact they are the favourite paradoxes of preachers in the Christmas and Epiphany seasons – yet they continue to challenge us. The prophet Micah speaks directly to Bethlehem and predicts its greatness as the home of the shepherd who will defend God’s people.

The First Letter of Peter tells people who have already begun to identify Jesus Christ with the Messiah that he is the shepherd who willingly suffers to save the flock. The Gospel of Luke reassures the ‘little flock’ of Christ’s followers that they need have no fear, because God has promised them the Kingdom.

We receive these messages of consolation, directed to particular people at a particular time, in the context of our own concerns and longing for consolation. They invite us to take part in God’s transformation of inequality, violence and injustice, not to wait passively for these things to happen. They call on us to be politically aware; to be locally ready to make our churches little Bethlehems where Christ can be born in generosity and hospitality; to recognise ourselves as a ‘little flock’, unimportant perhaps in the world’s eyes, but with a value and a vocation in the great mystery of salvation.


Prayer
Good Shepherd,
the fragmentation of your ‘little flock’
grieves the Holy Spirit.
Forgive our weak efforts and slowness
in the pursuit of your will.

Go and do
(see http://www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)
Global: Visit Amos Trust to find out more about how to create peace with justice in the Middle East.
Local: Plan as churches together to pray for peace in the middle east on the 24th of every month. You can use resources from Christian Aid to aid your prayers.
Personal: Bring the fears that keep you in division from other traditions before the Good Shepherd in prayer. Meditate on the words of the Good Shepherd – ‘do not be afraid, little flock.’

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Pray for Unity, Pray for the Synod 


 
For the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Kurt Koch invite all Christians to pray for unity and to continue to journey together.
 
In a joint letter sent on 28 October 2021 to all bishops responsible for ecumenism, Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of the Bishops, wrote: “Both synodality and ecumenism are processes of walking together.”
 
The 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Mt 2: 2) prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches, offers an occasion to pray with all Christians that the Synod will proceed in an ecumenical spirit.
 
Both Cardinals affirm “Like the Magi, Christians too journey together guided by the same heavenly light and encountering the same worldly darkness. They too are called to worship Jesus together and open their treasures. Conscious of our need for the accompaniment and the many gifts of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we call on them to journey with us during these two years and we sincerely pray that Christ will lead us closer to Him and so to one another.”
 
The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity are therefore pleased to offer this prayer:
 


Download the press release in PDFEcumenism and synodality For the next newsletter, let us know your initiatives on the theme of “ecumenism and synodality” by sending the material to webmaster@synodresources.org
 
Have a good unity week and a good synodal journey!

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20 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day III.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

‘We Saw His Star in the East’.

King Herod was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him

Reflection
Christ’s coming disturbs the ways of the world. He comes in humility, denouncing the evil of injustice and
oppression that accompanies the ambition for power, wealth and status. Jesus calls for a change of heart and a transformation of life, which will bring liberation from all that dehumanises. This creates disturbance precisely because he rocks the boat of those who seek only their own interests and neglect the common good. But for those who work for peace and unity, Christ’s coming brings the light of hope.

We are invited to commit ourselves to act constructively to make justice a reality, acknowledging where we have strayed from God’s ways of justice and peace. Then the answer to our prayer for Christian unity becomes visible as others recognise in us Christ’s presence in the world. We can bring the light of hope to those living in the darkness of political unrest, social poverty, and structural discrimination. The Good News is that God is faithful, always strengthening and protecting us, inspiring us to work for the good of others, especially the victims of oppression, hatred, violencand pain.

Prayer
Lord, you led us out of darkness to hope in Jesus.
Unite us in our commitment to establish your reign of love, justice and peace,
bringing light to those living in the darkness of despair and disillusionment.
Shine your light upon us and surround us with the warmth of your love.
Lift us up to you, so that our lives may glorify you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Readings

Psalm 2:1-10 Why do the nations conspire…?
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 But the Lord is faithful, he will strengthen you


Go and do
(see www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)
Global: Covid-19 turned the world upside down and provided an opportunity to reimagine how things could be. Find out more about and get involved in the campaign to crack the crises and ensure this opportunity for transformation is not lost.
Local: Consider as churches together what situations of injustice or exclusion exist in your locality. Work with others in your community to challenge and change the systems that need turning upside-down.
Personal: Take time today to sit in stillness and discern what injustice most disturbs your conscience, spend time praying, researching and planning how you can take action about it (if you are not already involved in doing so).

Verse / Poem
In the school Nativity Play
they cast the class bully as Herod.
Inspired.
No acting required.

Jesus, you ask
which role shall I play
in my world, your world, today.

And you will me to seek first
your holy inspiration
that I might be just
myself.

Questions
Global: Where have you seen the values of the Church disturbing
society’s values for the common good?
Local: Is your church or group of churches too comfortable in a
discomforting world? How could your church or group be disturbed into
real action?
Personal: When have you been disturbed into doing what was right?

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19 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day II.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?”

Reflection – True Leadership
Jeremiah denounces the bad leadership of the kings of Israel who divided and scattered the people, a leadership that destroyed nations and drove their citizens into exile. In contrast, the Lord promises a shepherd-king who will ‘execute justice and righteousness in the land’ and gather the flock as one.

Only in Christ have we seen the example of a leader truly after God’s heart. In him we encounter a loving, humble servant who does not regard equality with God as something to be exploited. He comes to serve, rather than be served, and his followers are called to do the same.

Today, the Middle East is experiencing the loss of its people to exile as
‘righteousness and justice’ are becoming scarce commodities, not only there but throughout the world. Yet leaders, both in the world and in the Church, have a responsibility to bring together rather than to scatter or divide. The more faithfully Christians emulate the servant
leadership of Christ, the more division in both the world and the Church will be overcome. As we work for righteousness, justice and peace for all, we witness humbly to the shepherd-king, and draw others into his presence.

Readings

Jeremiah 23:1-6 He shall reign as king and deal wisely
Philippians 2:5-11 Who… did not regard equality with
God as something to be exploited.

Go and do
(see http://www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)
Global: Focus on a number of examples of where you consider good leadership to be evident. Try to identify the shared principles of leadership in these examples and consider how they can be encouraged in the work of creating unity.
Local: Invite a local leader to a gathering of the churches in your area to hear more about their work and to find out how you can best support and encourage them.
Personal: Find out about or refresh your memory on the circle of concern and circle of influence and consider how you can best exercise your personal leadership this week to help the cause of unity.

Prayer:
Just and righteous God,
we confess before you that we often covet worldly models of leadership.
Help us to seek our Lord Jesus Christ
not in the palaces of the powerful
but in the humble manger.
May we emulate him in his meekness
and become servants to each other
in obedience to you.
We pray in the name of Christ,
who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns forever in glory.
Amen.
Verse / Poem
It was the day of the strong men
the day when truth retired, redundant
because lies had more glitz,
and justice disabled, mocked,
in the name of a golden god
cast from melted down lives.

And then came the pestilence.
and the day of the servant
ubiquitous, anonymous,
in nursing home and ICU,
and the temple profligate with treasure
in cylinders of breath.


Questions
Global: How have you seen the Church follow Jesus’ pattern of leading through service?
Local: What Christian leader (either local or national) do you admire for the ability to inspire unity and a concern for justice? What qualities enable that person to lead effectively?
Personal: When have you been inspired to take the lead in seeking justice or working towards unity?

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18 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day I.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

‘We Saw His Star in the East’.


In this fragile and uncertain world, we look for light. We look for the good within ourselves, but often we are so overwhelmed by our weakness that hope fails us. Our confidence rests in God, who in wisdom, enables us to hope for his mercy. We are surprised when it comes in human form: Christ is the light in our midst! God’s gift to us is a ‘spirit of power, and love’. We are drawn forward on the way to this perfect light by God’s Holy Spirit, not by relying on our own strength and ability.

In the midst of darkness, the star from the East penetrates the depths of the darkness that separates us from one another. The star’s light continues to shine and to change the face of history. Throughout the ages, by the lives of Christ’s followers, the world has come to know the hope that is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

And the Risen One continues to shine, like a beacon guiding all into this perfect light and overcoming the darkness which separates us from one another. The desire to overcome the darkness that separates us compels us to pray and work for Christian unity.


Prayer

Creator of light,

illumine our path by the light of Christ 
who moves before us and leads us.
May he be a beacon for our pilgrimage.
Enlighten us and dwell within us.
Raise us up and draw us to your perfect light.
Guide us to discover a manger in our hearts 
where a great light still shines.
We thank you for the gift of that unfading Star, 
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
Heal our divisions and draw us together.
AMEN


Readings


Psalm 139:1-10 Your right hand shall hold me fast
2 Timothy 1:7-10 This grace… has now been revealed through the appearing of our
Saviour Christ Jesus



Reflection: Go and do


(see http://www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)
Global: Visit the website of Embrace the Middle East and see what actions you can take to be in solidarity with Christians of the Middle East.
Local: Organise a candle lit vigil with the churches in your area as an act of unity. It doesn’t have to be in person but each church could encourage members to put a candle in their window at an agreed day and time.
Personal: Take time this week to star gaze. Let your eyes settle on an unfading star and pause in reverence and prayer before the Creator of light. You don’t have to go outside you can search for and visit an online planetarium.

Hymn Verse
How brightly beams the Morning Star!
What sudden radiance from afar
Doth glad us with its shining,
Brightness of God that breaks our night
And fills the darken’d souls with light
Who long for truth were pining!
Thy Word, Jesu, only feeds us,
Rightly leads us,
Life bestowing;
Praise, oh praise such love o’erflowing.
Johann Schlegel, tr. Catherine Winkworth

Questions Reflecting on the past year:
Global: What could the role of the Church be in proclaiming the good news of the Gospel in a world where
there is so much injustice?
Local: Where have you seen signs of hope in your community, especially during a time of pandemic?
Personal: How have you sought ‘the light’ in the midst of darkness?

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17 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Introduction III.

Brede Valley.

The Covid-19 global pandemic; the economic crisis that has followed and the failure of political, economic and social structures to protect the weakest and most vulnerable; and the racism that blights our communities have underlined the global need for a light to shine in the darkness. The star that shone in the East, (the Middle East), two thousand years ago still leads us to the manger, to where Christ was born. It draws us to where the Spirit of God is alive and active.

After encountering the Saviour and worshipping him together, the Magi return to their countries by a different way, having been warned in a dream. The communion we share in our prayer together must inspire us to return to ourselves, our churches and our world by new ways. But what does this mean
in practice?

Serving the Gospel today requires a commitment to humankind, especially the poorest, the weakest and those marginalised. It requires from the churches transparency and accountability in dealing with the world, and with each other. This means churches need to cooperate to provide relief to the afflicted, to welcome the displaced, to relieve the burdened, and to build a just and honest society.

This is a call for churches to work together so that we can all build a good future according to God’s heart, a future in which all human beings can experience life, peace, justice, and love.

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16 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022. Introduction, II.

smart

Jerusalem is a powerful symbol for Christians because it is “The City of Peace”, where all humanity was saved and redeemed. But today peace is missing from the city. Even prayer in Jerusalem has become subject to political and military measures. Various parties stake their claim to it and disregard others. Jerusalem was the city of kings, indeed the city that Jesus will enter triumphantly, acclaimed as king (Luke 19:28-44). Naturally the Magi expected to find the newborn king revealed by the star in this royal city.

However, the narrative tells us that, rather than being blessed by the birth of the Saviour king, the whole of
Jerusalem was in tumult, much as it is today. Today, more than ever, the Middle East needs a heavenly light to accompany the people.

In this context Christians are called to seek the new-born king, the king of gentleness, peace and love. But where is the star that leads the way to him? It is the mission of the Church to be the star that lights the way to Christ who is the light of the world. By word and through action the Christian people are called to light the way so that Christ might be revealed, once again, to the nations. Yet divisions dim the light of Christian witness and obscure the way, preventing others from finding their way to Christ. Conversely, Christians united in their worship of Christ, and opening their treasures in an exchange of gifts, become a
sign of the unity that God desires for all of creation.

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9 January: The Baptism of Our Lord.

Photograph by CD

John was baptising in the desert of Judea, not in a town centre park, but it was a public event. Crowds of people had come along, some to repent, and to mark their change of direction by approaching the Baptist for immersion in the river, others to enjoy the spectacle of serious fellow citizens emerging from the water out of breath, dripping wet and undignified.

Having attended a few baptisms in my lifetime, I’d say that some things have changed, but the curious observers are still around, often wielding the cameras on their phones. I can’t help feeling that had those devices been around 2000 years ago, many people would have been too busy peering into them to notice the voice from Heaven – or was it a rumble of thunder? My son just showed me a picture of football spectators so busy looking through their phones that they missed the ball going into the corner of the net. Just one teenager is jumping up, arms outstretched, sheer joy on his face.

Last time we were at an event in our local park was the Lady Mayoress’s Carol Service, on the terrace just above the river. Smiles on many faces as far as we could see in the dark. There was even a terrier who tried to join in the singing; he certainly put a smile on Santa’s face! People soon stopped snapping on their phones and joined in the singing.

In the following days, Santa’s two year old grandson kept asking, Grandad, Santa Claus AGAIN! He kept a couple of appointments with the Saint before Christmas, then told the family on Boxing Day, Grandad Santa Claus no more. Santa was not a lasting name for Grandad, but Grandad was a new and lasting name for Will Turnstone.

John the Baptist announced a new name for Jesus, one we still use day by day in the liturgy: the Lamb of God. It is a powerful name: ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’

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