Tag Archives: Church Unity Week

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

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 7 Agency

Matthew 5:1–8 
Job 5:1-16

Commentary

Matthew’s account of the Beatitudes begins with Jesus seeing the crowds. In that crowd he must have seen those who were peacemakers, the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, men and women who mourned, and those who hungered for justice. In the Beatitudes Jesus not only names people’s struggles, he names what they will be: the children of God and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Howard Thurman, African American theologian and spiritual advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believed, “the religion that Jesus lived produced the kind of life for Him that identifies with the downtrodden, outcast, broken, and disinherited of the world.” Yet, Thurman also believed that, “It cannot be denied that too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful and against the weak and oppressed – this, despite the gospel.”

If we listen hard enough, we will hear a diversity of voices crying out under the weight of oppression. Action is needed today to bring love, hope, justice and liberation for us and others in the future. Oppression of any kind demands that each of us chooses to engage in order to eradicate the injustice(s) that break our hearts open.

In prayer we align our hearts with the heart of God, to love what God loves and to love as God loves. Prayer with integrity therefore aligns and unites us – beyond our divisions – to love what, whom and how God loves, and to express this love in our actions.

Let us all work together with God in our hope and commitment to shut injustice’s mouth and eradicate oppression in all areas of our society.

Reflection

I see you there,
You – blessed ones,
You – poor in spirit,
You – mourners, meek ones and merciful ones.
I hear your stomachs rumble with hunger. 
Is righteousness enough to satisfy your thirst,
like rain upon the earth?
You have had your fill of the schemes of crafty ones,
been force fed so-called wisdom by the wily.
With pure and undivided hearts
you train your eyes upon God’s cause – 
to lift high the perceived lowly,
to bring to safety any who are in danger of being trampled by pride-filled footsteps of trespassers,
or stabbed by weaponised words hell-bent on cutting down and dehumanising.
Shut the mouth of injustice, God,
tear down the strongholds of the power-hungry
and give us the desire and the strength
to rebuild a realm
where all who are wounded are brought comfort,
where the inheritance is shared by all,
where swords and shields are beaten
into tools for sowing peace and reconciliation,
where healing abounds
and mouths open to sing stories of shared blessing and hope.

Prayer

God of justice,
Empower us to be agents of your grace and mercy.
Bless us with the courage to relinquish our power.
Bless us with the humility to stand with the oppressed.
Bless us with the integrity to love our neighbours 
as we ourselves would seek to be loved.

Questions

Can you think of a time when you felt powerless? How would you have liked others to respond?

Think about the ways you might have influence in your local community? How might you use that influence to help those who feel powerless?

Around the world whole communities find themselves powerless as a result of corruption and exploitation. How might the choices we make in our daily lives impact these situations?

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Mission

23 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, VI.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 6 Walking humbly in the way

Micah 6:6-8
Philippians 2:5-11

Commentary

Scripture reminds us that we cannot separate our love for God from our love for others. We love God when we feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the prisoner. When we care for and serve “one of the least of these,” we are caring for and serving Christ himself.

But we are called to go beyond giving or serving from a position of power, where we maintain our status above the person to whom we are ministering. How are we to emulate Jesus who, though he was Lord of all, became truly the servant of all? What is power, and how are we to use it and to share it in the work of God?

God calls us to honour the sacredness and dignity of each member of God’s family. Caring for, serving and loving others reveals not who they are, but who we are. As Christians, we must be unified in our responsibility to love and care for others, as we are cared for and loved by God. In so doing, we live out our shared faith through our actions in service to the world and we find our true calling as servants of the Servant King.

Reflection

Yours are the power and the glory. 
Yet we see your greatest greatness when you stoop to serve. 
Creator, give us the power to be powerless 
and bestow on us the dignity
of the servant rich in love.

Prayer

Lord of the power and the glory, 
you became for us the servant of all. 
Show us the power and the glory of servanthood
and enable us to minister to your world
according to its needs and our abilities.

Questions

Where in your personal life could you bring blessing by yielding power?

How could the churches in your community share power to become more effective in service?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si'

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

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 3 Difference

Luke 5:27-29 
Amos 5

Commentary

The identity of the Minnesota Working Group is immersed in the rich and haunting harmonies that tell the history of many peoples. “Our bodies can be in tune with the ancestral, while acknowledging all of the pain, joy, brilliance, fatigue, connection and more wrapped up in one. We centre ourselves in the stories of the place we call home. We are men, women, mothers, fathers, storytellers and healers.”

We can recognise the diversity within our communities if we take time to look. Even within our gatherings there is a beautiful tapestry of worship experience and spiritual expression, woven together from the indigenous population, from those who have immigrated, or those who are displaced and who now call this place home.

We are blessed and we are to bless others. We are loved and we are to love others. We are to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God, together. We. Not Me. Our kinship and God’s teachings guide us into community together as we learn and act as We. Not Me. So our gatherings, prayers, hymns, art and culture should reflect this, and be infused with the beauty of difference, all the while reaching toward the unity of God’s divine justice.

A tapestry is a beautiful work of art, but if you look at the back, you see the messy edges, and frayed ends, the knots and snags – how do we celebrate the beauty of the tapestry while acknowledging the work that is necessary to maintain the beauty, not as a façade, but as a result of recognising and celebrating difference?

Reflection

What is this noise? 
These meaningless festivals of falsehood, 
litanies of lip service and diatribes of doxologies, 
that seek to drown out the reality of poisonous polity, 
that hope to mask the clanging cymbals of fear and frailty. 
We do not seem to understand that disharmony is our downfall.

But in the midst of our din, 
God calls forth from each corner of this earth, 
songs of justice that roll down like waters 
– interwoven melody and haunting harmony 
deep enough to hold our dissonance 
and the unresolved tension of our journeys to this place.

Prayer

Gracious and loving God, 
expand our vision that it may be wide enough to recognise the beautiful complexity
 of the tapestry you chose to weave with each and every one of us. 
Gather our frayed edges, our loose ends 
and bind us together for your glory.

Questions

How often do we think and act as ‘We. Not me’?

How much of the necessary work are we doing to make a beautiful tapestry in our communities?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission, PLaces

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

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 2 That they may be one

Isaiah 1:12-18
John 17:13-26

Commentary

Jesus prays that we will be “completely one”, praying for an authentic and selfless unity, one with no half measures, reflected in the person of God, in the unity of the Trinity. Such unity is challenging, it requires self-reflection, humility, a release of power and control, and an openness to change. Is this the unity that you are praying for this week?

Isaiah reminds us of the hypocrisy that can still exist in our churches, claiming a love for others, but really only extending a full welcome to those who are like us. Many have experienced pain, rejection, abuse, and exclusion within the Church. A Christian expression of unity must include everyone and offer healing and justice. This is rarely done in isolation, but more often together.

Instead of offering empty worship Isaiah calls us to “learn to do good; seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Learning to do good also requires an openness to change. This is the perfect season for Christians to reflect not just on unity but on the role we can all play together in promoting racial justice in a world all too often unmoved by suffering.

And yet, there is joy in affirming that “Black Lives Matter” in the pursuit of justice for God’s oppressed, dominated, and exploited beloved. There is power in giving in to wisdom’s call for justice, and in doing it as a church together.

Reflection

Trample my courts no more, says the Lord, 
cease your offerings to me. 
I cannot endure your worship, 
it is too heavy to bear.
Put down your burden, 
release the load of others. 
Rescue, defend, and plead as one,
in my name, seek justice together.

Prayer

God of Unity, 
forgive us when we are self-serving
and help us to grow in unity and understanding
as we extend your love and justice to all.

Questions

Where can you speak out together with other Christians against racial injustice?

Where do you need God’s help in recognising, understanding and overcoming your own prejudice?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission

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

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Made in the image of God

Genesis 1:26-28

Revelation 7:9-12

Commentary

In the first book of the Bible, we are told that we are made in the image of God, not just individually but corporately. All of humanity, people of all ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions, together represent the image of the Creator. This means that to deny that image in any one race, indeed in any one person, is to reject God’s presence in the whole of humanity.

As society becomes more indifferent to the needs of others, we, as the children of God, must learn to take up the cause of our oppressed brothers and sisters by speaking truth to power and if necessary, plead their case so that they may live in peace with justice. In doing this we will always do the right thing, will always be recognising God’s image in all of us.

Our commitment to eradicate and to be healed of the sin of racism requires us to be prepared and willing to be in relationship with our Christian sisters and brothers. That will be a sign of unity for the whole world.

Reflection

We give them names: 
refugees, asylum seekers, 
migrants, 
economic migrants, 
some more welcome than others. 
But you know their human names because they are your kin, 
stamped with your image, 
divinely human.

Prayer

You made us, God, in your own image, 
and then became one of us, 
proud of those you have made.
Make us proud of being part of that worldwide family, 
and eager to discover and celebrate your image 
in every person, every culture, every nation 
that we are privileged to encounter.

Questions

How does your church welcome those new to your community?

How can we see the image of God in people we find difficult to love?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace

17 January: Introduction to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul. However, some areas observe it at Pentecost or some other time.

Introduction

For this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we are guided by the churches of Minneapolis as we seek to explore how the work of Christian unity can contribute to the promotion of racial justice across all levels of society. Through this resource, the CTBI* writers’ group has also focussed our attention on the 30th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which we mark in 2023. The work of restoring hope through justice undertaken in Stephen’s memory continues to inspire and change lives for the better.

Welcome

The murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020 was described as a watershed moment. There was a sense that the global wave of solidarity that brought people out onto the streets during a pandemic would make it impossible to ignore the deadly consequences of institutional racism and the power imbalances that deny human dignity.

Yet with each passing year we see continued evidence that, across the world, the powerful institutions of the state continue to treat people differently based on race, ethnicity and other facets of identity that are protected in legislation. Those who live in fear are still waiting for their watershed moment.

Despite the heightened awareness of the nature and consequences of racism in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement there is a persistent resistance to dialogue about issues of power and privilege, exclusion and alienation in society. Christians bring to this dialogue a vision of reconciliation grounded in mercy and faithfulness, justice and peace, from which we draw hope for the healing of relationships.

For this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we are guided by the churches of Minneapolis as we seek to explore how the work of Christian unity can contribute to the promotion of racial justice across all levels of society. Through this resource, the CTBI writers’ group has also focussed our attention on the 30th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which we mark this year. The work of restoring hope through justice undertaken in Stephen’s memory continues to inspire and change lives for the better.

As we join with other Christians around the world for this year’s Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Dr Nicola Brady, General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

We will be observing each day of the octave here at Agnellus Mirror.

_____________________________________________________________________________

* Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. We will be using resources provided by CTBI as will groups around the British Isles.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Mission, PLaces

The Synod and Church Unity

I wish the Synod of Bishops did not use such words as Synodality or Dicastery. Bear with them! This is their latest Press Release!

ES – IT

Dear fellow travellers.
We send greetings to everyone! In this week’s newsletter, in addition to news from around the world with initiatives and celebrations related to the synodal process, we give importance to Ecumenism, in the context of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, this year with the theme: “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Mt 2:2).
Ecumenism and synodality
The aim of the synodal process is “a hugely increased participation of the whole people of God in the life, the governance and mission of the church… If the process is successful, I think there will be a different appreciation of the Catholic Church, which will be very beneficial in the search for Christian unity.”

Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in an interview to the Lutheran World Federation
Ecumenical Meeting in Austria at the end of January
At the end of 2021, the Archbishop of Salzburg (Austria), Franz Lackner OFM, informed ecumenical dialogue partners about the synodal process and asked them to join the common journey on the basis of the bond of baptism and to share synodal experiences and traditions from their own confessional tradition. To make this possible, a meeting entitled “Synodality – Ecumenical Perspectives” will be held on 31 January, with the following speeches by Serbian Orthodox Bishop Andrej Cilderzic, Protestant Evangelical Methodist pastor Mag. Dorothee Büürma, the Lutheran superintendent Mag. Olivier Dantine and the former Catholic Vicar General Mag. Martin Eisenbraun. For more information…

Northern Portugal hosted an ecumenical celebration
On the evening of January 18, in the Basilica of the Congregates of Braga, in the north of Portugal, several dozens of Christians participated in an ecumenical celebration with the theme “Following together the star that is Jesus Christ”. Archbishop Jorge Ortiga, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Braga, said: “We are here today to become aware that the world needs unity and communion, which begins by following that star. Only then will we be able to do something so that others may also follow us”. Jorge Pina Cabral, Bishop of the Lusitanian Church, said, he hopes that new paths will open up in the synodal journey, in the ecumenical movement and in the reality of Portugal, “so that the Epiphany of Jesus Christ will continue to happen in this time”. D. Sifredo Teixeira, bishop of the Methodist Church, said that “the churches need to cooperate to relieve the afflicted and burdened, to build a more just and honest society”.


Ecumenism and synodality hand in hand
From Argentina, the journalist and priest Marcelo Figueroa, has pointed out the importance of not forgetting the ecumenical and interreligious perspectives on the of the Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Assembly and the future of the Church in the continent, also taking advantage of the momentum of the synodal journey. It would be important “to be united with other Christian confessions of faith through prayer and the Word of God in a practical and not merely declaratory way. In humble listening, empathy, and acceptance of the worldviews of the native peoples of this indigenous, multicultural and multilingual continent”.

Sharing creativity
This week we suggest some audiovisual materials to deepen the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with creativity: Father Zezinho invites us to meditate with his songs “Iguais”:

“But in one thing we are the same.
We seek the same God
We love the same Father
We want the same heaven
We cry the same laments”.
 
Iguais – Pe. Zezinho (Feat. Coro Edipaul) Paulinas Comep, Brazil

PRAYER FOR THE ECUMENICAL FELLOWSHIP CAMPAIGN – 2021
 
God of life, justice and love,
we praise you for the gift of fraternity
and for granting us the grace to live communion in diversity.

Through this Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign
help us to be witnesses of the beauty of dialogue
as a commitment of love, creating bridges that unite
instead of walls that separate and generate indifference and hatred.
Make us sensible and ready to serve all humanity,
especially the poorest and most vulnerable,
that we may be witnesses of your redeeming love and share their pain and anguish,
their joys and hopes,
walking the paths of love.

Through Jesus Christ, our peace,
in the Holy Spirit, restorer of the breath of life.
Amen.
 
* The Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign is an initiative organised every five years by the National Council of Churches of Brazil, formed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Confession of Brazil, the Episcopal Anglican of Brazil, the United Presbyterian, the Syrian Orthodox of Antioch and the Alliance of Baptists of Brazil.
We also recommend the sacred Oratorio SMOTRENJE “Lo sguardo” composed by Monsignor Marco Frisina, member of the Commission on Spirituality, performed on January 20, 2019 at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Synod in the world


Politicians in the diocesan phase of the Synod in Madrid
“What would you ask of the Church?”: this is the question that the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Carlos Osoro, launched to more than twenty politicians from different parties in the chapter hall of the Cathedral of Almudena to participate in the diocesan phase of the Synod of Bishops.Before giving way to the reflections of the leaders – among them, believers, and non-believers and of all the formations (Ciudadanos, Más Madrid, Podemos, PP, PSOE, Recupera Madrid and Vox) -, the Archbishop of Madrid thanked them for their good disposition and encouraged them to “build bridges”. Several local and regional leaders have valued the figure of Pope Francis and have cited the encyclical Fratelli tutti. They stressed the urgency of ensuring “respect for human dignity” and the centrality of the human being, while celebrating the work of the Successor of Peter for the care of creation or in defense of migrants.

Synodality: a possible solution in crisis situations
 At the end of their Plenary Assembly, the bishops of the Central African Episcopal Conference issued a message in which they attempt to outline, in the light of synodality, some ways to find solutions to some of the country’s challenges.Read the message in French


Superiors of Congregations animate in the diocesan phase
The Superior General of the Daughters of Jesus, Graciela Francovig, invited all the sisters of the congregation to participate in the synodal process in the parishes because it can be a very rich moment of ecclesial collaboration.For his part, Alberto Toutin, Superior General of the Sacred Hearts, invited his religious family to “listen to one another, so that this listening changes us, disposes us to the God who never tires of coming to meet us, through the voice of his Spirit”, within the synodal process in the different communities and works where the Congregation serves.
Listening to the voice of the poorest
The Centre Sèvres-Paris is planning a study day on 27 January on the “missionary dream of reaching out to all”. (Evangelii Gaudium 31). Can participatory processes make this dream possible? How can listening to the poorest be a promise for the whole Church?If you want to know more…
The Diocese of Aveyron (France) has launched an original proposal to celebrate a family or friends’ meal to talk about the Synod. With the participation of all the diners, each dish deals with a question related to the Church. To know more…

We go to Quebec, where three bishops invite us to have coffee. Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Bishop Marc Pelchat and Bishop Martin Laliberté discuss the Synod.To know more …

Synod is for everyone
The Society for the Latin Mass of England and Wales has developed a guide for the participation of its members.If you want to know more…
The Synod on TVEThe program Últimas Preguntas on TVE, which is broadcasted every Sunday, is continuously monitoring the Synod. On January 16, it looked at the work being done in the different Spanish dioceses, mainly in the diocese of Palencia, which has stood out for the variety of materials offered to address the synodality in all ages.
Share your story!
Are you witnessing or living a particular synodal experience? Do you think you have experienced a good practice and want to share it? Fill in the attached form and send it to media@synod.va.
If your story appears to be original or considered a good practice, we will publish it in our next newsletter and who knows… maybe even in VaticanNews!


The Synod in the Vatican: the Dicastery for Communication

Next to every diocese in the world, next to every believer and next to every other dicastery of the Roman Curia, we too, as the Dicastery for Communication, have asked ourselves how we can take up the invitation to participate in the synodal process. How can we ensure that our contribution is not simply limited to ‘amplifying the voice of the Pope’, but rather becomes an opportunity for a synodal conversion, which concerns us all? How can we rediscover ourselves as ‘members of one another’ even in a body of the Roman Curia? How can we adhere to…Continue to read…



Pray for the Synod
In order to support the synodal journey and ask for the Spirit’s assistance, together with the World Network of Prayers of the Pope and UISG, we have set up a website in 5 languages: Church on the Way. Pray for the Synod. From 2 November, you too can send your prayer. See how to do it… Copyright  2022 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops
Via della Conciliazione, 34
Vatican City 00120
Vatican City State (Holy See)
Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Synod

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Justice and Peace, Mission

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission, PLaces

15 January, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022: Introduction, I.

Bethlehem, c1850.

The week of prayer for Christian Unity 2022 will last from 18 -25 January. this year the prayers and reflections are led by the Churches of the Middle East. In these three days leading to the Week of Prayer, we offer extracts from the Introduction to this important time.

The story of the Magi visiting the Holy Family in Bethlehem is one very familiar to us. Indeed, we have recently celebrated Christmas; the Feast of Incarnation and Epiphany. The Magi have sometimes been seen as a symbol of the world’s diversity – different religions and cultures – that comes to pay homage to the Christ-child. The story might therefore represent the unity of all created that God desires. The Magi travel from far-off countries, and represent diverse cultures, yet they are driven by the same hunger to see and know the new-born king and are gathered into the little house in Bethlehem in the simple act of giving homage.

In this we can find a metaphor for Christian unity: that is, of different Christian peoples drawn together in their common search to recognise Christ, to know him and to worship him and witnessing to wider need for unity and to overcome injustice.

This text has been chosen by the churches of the Middle East, the history of which was, and still is, characterised by conflict and strife, tainted with blood and darkened by injustice and oppression. Since the Palestinian Nakba (the exodus of Palestine’s Arab population during the 1948 war) the region has seen a series of bloody wars and revolutions and the rise of Islamic extremism. The story of the Magi also contains many dark elements, most particularly Herod’s despotic orders to massacre all the children around Bethlehem who were two years old or under (Matt 2:16-18). The cruelty of these narratives resonates with the long history and difficult present of the Middle East.

It was in the Middle East that the Word of God took root and bore fruit: thirty and sixty and one hundredfold. And it was from this East that the apostles set out to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The Middle East has given thousands of Christian witnesses and thousands of Christian martyrs.

And yet now, the very existence of the small Christian community is threatened as many are driven to seek a more secure and prosperous life elsewhere. Like the light which is the child Jesus, the light of Middle Eastern Christianity is increasingly threatened in these difficult times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Easter, Justice and Peace, PLaces