Day 6: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 6, Listen to this Dream

Scripture

  • Genesis 37:5-8, Listen to this dream that I dreamed.
  • Psalm 126, We were like those who dream.
  • Romans 12: 9-13, Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
  • John 21:25, The world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Meditation

Joseph has a dream, which is a message from God. However, when Joseph shares his dream with his brothers they react with anger and violence because the dream implies that they must bow down before him. Ultimately famine drives the brothers to Egypt and they do bow before Joseph, but rather than the abasement and dishonor they fear, it is a moment of reconciliation and grace.

Jesus, like Joseph, unfolds to us a vision, a message about the life of his Father’s kingdom. It is a vision of unity. But like Joseph’s brothers, we are often upset, angered and fearful of the vision and what it seems to imply. It demands that we submit and bow to the will of God. We fear it because we fear what we might lose. But the vision is not about loss. Rather, it is about regaining brothers and sisters we had lost, the reuniting of a family.

We have written many ecumenical texts, but the vision of Christian unity is not captured in agreed statements alone, important though these are. The unity God desires for us, the vision he puts before us, far exceeds anything we can express in words or contain in books. The vision must take flesh in our lives and in the prayer and mission that we share with our brothers and sisters. Most of all it is realized in the love we show for one another.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, grant us humility to hear your voice, to receive your call, and to share your dream for the unity of the Church. Help us to be awake to the pain of disunity. Where division has left us with hearts of stone, may the fire of your Holy Spirit inflame our hearts and inspire us with the vision of being one in Christ, as he is one with you, so that the world may believe that you have sent him. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • What does it mean to place our own dreams for Christian unity at the feet of Christ?
  • In what ways does the Lord’s vision of unity call the churches to renewal and change today?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Day 5: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 5, The Fellowship of the Apostles

Scripture

  • Isaiah 56:6-8, For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
  • Psalm 24, Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
  • Acts 2:37-42, They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
  • John 13:34-35, I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Meditation

Jesus’ commandment to love one another is not theoretical. Our communion of love with one another becomes concrete when we gather together intentionally as Christ’s disciples, to share fellowship and prayer in the power of the Spirit.

The more that Christians, especially their leaders, encounter Christ together in humility and patience, the more prejudice diminishes, the more we discover Christ in one another, and the more we become authentic witnesses to the Kingdom of God.

At times ecumenism can seem very complicated. Yet joyful fellowship, a shared meal and common prayer and praise are ways of apostolic simplicity. In these we obey the commandment to love one another, and proclaim our Amen to Christ’s prayer for unity.

Prayer:

God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may you give to all Christians, and especially to those entrusted with leadership in your Church, the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that with the eyes of our hearts we may see the hope to which you have called us: one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above and through all and in all. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • What is our experience of encountering one another as brothers and sisters in Christ through Christian fellowship, shared meals and common prayer?
  • What are our expectations of bishops and other church leaders on the path towards the visible unity of the Church?
  • How can we support and encourage them?

We encourage you to share your personal reflections in the comments section.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Day 4: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 4, A Priestly People Called to Proclaim the Gospel

Scripture

  • Genesis 17:1-8, Your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.
  • Psalm 145:8-12, The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
  • Romans 10:14-15, And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard?
  • Matthew 13:3-9, Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Meditation 

In today’s world more than ever, words flood into our homes: no longer just from our conversations, but from television, radio and now from social media. These words have the power to build up and to knock down. Much of this ocean of words seems meaningless; diversion rather than nourishment.

One could drown in such an ocean where there is no meaning to grasp. But we have heard a saving Word; it has been thrown to us as a lifeline. It calls us into communion, and draws us into unity with others who have heard it too. Once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people.

More than this, we are a priestly people. United with others who have received his Word, our words are no longer mere drops lost in the ocean. Now we have a powerful Word to speak. United we can speak it powerfully; Yeshua—God saves.

Prayer 

Lord Jesus, you said that everyone will know that we are your disciples if there is love among us. Strengthened by your grace, may we work tirelessly for the visible unity of your Church, so that the Good News that we are called to proclaim will be seen in all our words and deeds. Amen.

For  Reflection:

  • What personal ambitions, competitive spirits, false assumptions about other Christians, and resentments obscure our proclamation of the Gospel?
  • Who hears a life-giving word from us?

We encourage you to share your personal reflections in the comments section.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

 

 

Day 3: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 3, The Witness of Fellowship

Scripture

  • Jeremiah 31:10-13, They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion.
  • Psalm 122, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.
  • 1 John 4:16b-21, Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars.
  • John 17:20-23, That they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me.

Meditation

Division among Christians is an obstacle to evangelization. The world cannot believe that we are Jesus’ disciples while our love for one other is incomplete. We feel the pain of this division when we cannot receive together the body and blood of Christ at the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity.

The source of our joy is our common life in Christ. To live our life of fellowship every day is to welcome, love, serve, pray and witness with Christians from diverse traditions. It is the pearl of great value given to us by the Holy Spirit.

The night before his death, Jesus prayed for unity and love among us. Today we raise our hands and pray with Jesus for Christian unity. We pray for the bishops, ministers and members of all churches. We pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us all on this path of unity.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might all be one, we pray to you for the unity of Christians according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see our sin and to hope beyond all hope. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • How do we regard Christians of other churches and are we prepared to ask forgiveness for prejudice towards them?
  • What can each of us do to decrease division among Christians?

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 8 (Final) Prayer and Reflection

Day 8: United in the Reign of Christ.
Scripture

I Chronicles 29:10-13, It is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all.
Psalm 21:1-7, You set a crown of fine gold on his head.
Revelations 3:19b-22, To the one who conquers I will give a place with Me on My throne.
John 12:23-26, Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Meditation
Jesus Christ has humbled Himself and been exalted and shares His reign and exaltation with all people.
David’s hymn expresses the truth that everything happens by grace. Christian tradition gives it a Messianic sense; Christ is the true King, full of blessing and life, the perfect presence of God among people.
The Book of Revelations constitutes a message to the Church in all times and places. Those who admit Christ into their homes will all be invited to share with him in the banquet of eternal life. The promise regarding sitting on thrones, previously announced to the “twelve”, is now extended to all who are victorious.
Christians are aware that unity among them is above all a gift of God. It is a share in Christ’s victory over sin, death and the evil which causes division. Our participation in Christ’s victory reaches its fullness in heaven. Our common witness to the Gospel shows the world a God who does not limit or overpower us. We announce to the people of our day and age, that Christ’s victory overcomes all that keeps us from sharing fullness of life with Him and with each other.

For Your Reflection

On this last day of our week of prayer for Christian Unity we celebrate the Reign of Christ. Christ’s victory enables us to look into the future with hope. This victory overcomes all that keeps us from sharing fullness of life with him and with each other. Christians know that unity among us is above all a gift of God. It is a share in Christ’s glorious victory over all that divides.

  1. In what ways do false humility and a desire for earthly glory manifest themselves in our lives?
  2. How do we express together our faith in the Reign of Christ?
  3. How do we live out our hope in the coming Kingdom of God?

Prayer
Almighty God, Ruler of All, teach us to contemplate the mystery of your glory. Grant that we may accept your gifts with humility and respect each person’s dignity. May Your Holy Spirit strengthen us for the spiritual battles which lie ahead, so that united in Christ we may reign with Him in glory. Grant this through Christ who humbled himself and was exalted, who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 7 Prayer and Reflection

Day 7: Changed by the Good Shepherd.
Scripture

1 Samuel 2:1-10, Not by might does one prevail.
Psalm 23, You are there with your rod and your staff.
Ephesians 6:10-20, Be strong in the Lord.
John 21:15-19, Feed my sheep.
Meditation
Hannah’s realized that some things happen only with the help of God. It was through His will that Hannah and her husband became parents. In what would seem to be a hopeless situation this text is an example of victory.
The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 guides his sheep even through the darkest places, comforting them with his presence. Those who place their trust in the Lord have no need to fear even the shadows of disunity, as their shepherd will lead them to dwell together in the Lord’s own house.
St. Paul urges us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power” by putting on spiritual armor: truth, righteousness, proclaiming the Good News, faith, salvation, the word of God, prayer and supplication.
The Risen Lord urges Peter and each disciple to discover in himself a love of Him who alone is the One True Shepherd.
The witness to Christ that has been confirmed in us obliges us to act jointly for the sake of unity. We have the ability and the knowledge to bear such witness! But are we willing? He invites us to cooperate with Him unconditionally thus we will be able to help one another on the road to unity.

For Your Reflection

On this day the Bible texts show us the Lord strengthening His flock. Following the Good Shepherd, we are called to strengthen each other in the Lord, and to support and fortify the weak and the lost. There is one Shepherd, and we are his people.

  1. How does the Good Shepherd inspire us to comfort, revive, and restore the confidence of those who are lost?
  2. In what ways can Christians of various traditions strengthen each other in confessing and bearing witness to Jesus Christ?
  3. For us today, what can be the meaning of St Paul’s exhortation: “Be strong in the Lord…. put on the whole armour of God”?

Prayer
Father of all, you call us to be one flock in your Son, Jesus Christ. He is our Good Shepherd who invites us to lie down in green pastures, leads us beside still waters, and restores our souls. In following him, may we so care for others that all see in us the love of the one true shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 5 Prayer and Reflection

Day 5: Changed by the peace of the Risen Lord.
Scripture

Malachi 4:5-6, He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents.
Psalm 133, How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
Ephesians 2:14-20, To reconcile both groups to God in one body, putting to death hostility.
John 20:19-23, Jesus stood among them and said: Peace be with you!
Meditation
Malachi’s words convey God’s promise of sending God’s chosen one to establish harmony and respect in all households. He draws attention to one of the most difficult conflicts — the heartbreak in relations between parents and their offspring. This restoration of unity is not possible without God’s help. It is God’s emissary who performs the miracle of transformation in people’s hearts and relationships.
The psalm shows what great joy such unity among people can bring. Happiness consists in living in a human community in harmony, peace, trust and understanding. Living together in unity is not restricted to family members only – this is rather a declaration of the closeness between people who accept the peace of God.
The epistle tells us of Him whom the prophet Malachi announced. Jesus brings unity, because in His own body He has demolished the “wall of hostility” between people. Jesus puts an end to alienation. He transforms, heals and unites all that they may become “members of God’s household.”
“Peace be with you” is Christ’s greeting and also his gift. It is an invitation to seek peace with God and establish new, lasting relationships within the human family and all of creation. Jesus has trampled down death and sin. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Risen Lord invites his disciples into his mission of bringing peace, healing and forgiveness. As long as Christians remain divided, the world will not be convinced of the full truth of the Gospel. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of this transformation. The Churches need to appropriate and witness to these gifts as members of the one household of God built upon the sure foundation of Jesus as the cornerstone.

For Your Reflection

Today we celebrate the peace of the Risen Lord. The Risen One is the great Victor over death and the world of darkness. He unites His disciples, who were paralysed with fear. He opens up before us new prospects of life and of acting for His coming kingdom. The Risen Lord unites and strengthens all believers. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of our transformation in the resurrection.

  1. What forms of violence in our community can we as Christians confront together?
  2. How do we experience hidden hostilities that affect our relationship to each other as Christian communities?
  3. How can we learn to welcome each other as Christ welcomes us?

Prayer
Loving and merciful God, teach us the joy of sharing in your peace. Fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we may tear down the walls of hostility separating us. May the risen Christ, who is our peace, help us to overcome all division and unite us as members of his household. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 4 Prayer and Reflection

Day 4: Changed by the Lord’s victory over evil.
Scripture

Exodus 23:1-9, Do not follow the majority in wrongdoing.
Psalm 1, Happy are those whose delight is in the law of the Lord.
Romans 12:17-2, Overcome evil with good.
Matthew 4:1-11, Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.
Meditation
In Jesus we learn what “victory” really means, that is, happiness with one another in God’s love through His overcoming of all that keeps us apart. In Jesus we can share in a new life which calls us to struggle against what is wrong in our world with renewed confidence and with a delight in what is good.
The words from Exodus give a categorical warning against engaging in wrongdoing and injustice. The attitude of the majority must not in any way provide an excuse. Nothing entitles a person to do wrong.
Psalm 1 draws attention not only to the need to observe the commandments, but especially to the joyful fruits of doing so. A person who loves the law of the Lord above all else is called happy and blessed.
In Paul’s admonitions we find encouragement to “overcome evil with good.” Only good can interrupt the endless spiral of hatred and the desire for revenge. He calls peace with others and understands our continuous struggle against our instincts to harm those who hurt us.
Matthew describes the Son of God’s struggle against Satan. Jesus’ victory over the temptations in the desert are fulfilled in His obedience to the Father, which leads Him to the Cross. His resurrection confirms that God’s goodness ultimately wins: love overcomes death. His presence calls Christians to act together in the cause of goodness. The scandal is that because of our divisions we cannot be strong enough to fight against the evils of our time. United in Christ, we are called to share in His mission of bringing hope to the places of injustice, hatred, and despair.

This day takes us deeper into the struggles against evil. Victory in Christ is an overcoming of all that damages God’s creation, and keeps us apart from one another. In Jesus we are called to share in this new life, struggling with him against what is wrong in our world, with renewed confidence and with a delight in what is good. In our divisions we cannot be strong enough to overcome evil in our times.

For Your Reflection

  1. Where do we see evil in our own lives?
  2. In what way can our faith in Christ help us to overcome evil and the Evil One?
  3. What can we learn from situations in our community where division has given way to reconciliation?

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for your victory over evil and division. We praise you for your sacrifice and your resurrection that conquer death. Help us in our everyday struggle against all adversity. May the Holy Spirit give us strength and wisdom so that, following you, we may overcome evil with good, and division with reconciliation. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 3 Prayer and Reflection

Day 3: Changed by the Suffering Servant.

Scripture
Isaiah 53:3-11, The man of sorrows accustomed to suffering.
Psalm 22:12-24, He did not despise the affliction of the afflicted.
1Peter 2:21-25, Christ suffered for us.
Luke 24:25-27, Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things?
Meditation
The divine paradox is that God can change tragedy and disaster into victory. He transforms the enormity of history’s pain into a resurrection that encompasses the whole world. While appearing to be defeated, He is the true Victory whom no one and nothing can overcome.
Isaiah’s prophecy was completely fulfilled in Christ. After suffering enormous agony, the Man of Sorrows shall see His offspring. We are that offspring, born from the Savior’s suffering. In this way we are made one family in Him.
Psalm 22 is not only about Jesus. The Savior Himself prayed this psalm on the cross. In the second part of the psalm the lamentation changes into praise of God for God’s works.
Peter presents to us as an example: Jesus did not curse God, but submitted to the one who judges righteously. His wounds have healed us, and returned us all to the one Shepherd.
As with the disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus is our constant companion on the stony road of life, stirring our hearts and opening our eyes to the mysterious plan of salvation. The power of the cross draws us into unity. Here we encounter Christ’s suffering as the source of compassion for and solidarity with the entire human family. In our shared solidarity with all who suffer we learn from the crucified suffering servant the lessons of self-emptying, letting go and self-sacrifice. These are the gifts we need from His Spirit on our way to unity in Him.

For Your Reflection

This day calls us to reflect on the suffering of Christ. Following Christ the Suffering Servant, Christians are called to solidarity with all who suffer. The closer we come to the cross of Christ the closer we come to one another.

  1. How can our faith help us in our response to long-lasting suffering?
  2. What areas of human suffering are unnoticed and belittled today?
  3. How can Christians bear witness together to the power of the cross?

Prayer
God of consolation, you have transformed the shame of the cross into a sign of victory. Grant that we may be united around the Cross of your Son to worship Him for the mercy offered through his suffering. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes and our hearts, so that we may help those who suffer to experience your closeness; You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 2 Prayer and Reflections

Day 2: Changed through patient waiting for the Lord.
Scripture

1 Samue1:1-20, Hannah’s trust and patient waiting.
Psalm 40, Patient waiting for the Lord.
Hebrews 11:32-34, Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice.
Matthew 3:13-17, Let it be so now, for it is proper to fulfill all righteousness.
Meditation
From a Christian perspective victory is a long-term process of transformation. Transformative victory teaches us that it occurs in God’s time, not ours, calling for our patient trust and deep hope in God. Hannah witnessed to such patient trust and hope. After many years of waiting to be pregnant, she prayed to God for a child. When Eli assured her that God would grant her prayer, she simply trusted, waited, and was sad no longer. Hannah’s trust and hope results not only in her own transformation, but that of her people.
The psalmist echoes Hannah’s patient waiting. He gives thanks that God has transformed his shame and confusion, and continues to trust in God’s steadfast love.
The Letter to the Hebrews recalls the patience of people who were able to be victorious through their faith and trust in God. God’s intervention into human history eliminates the temptation to be triumphant in human terms.
Jesus, does not succumb to the temptation to usher in the Kingdom of God without delay, but patiently reveals what life in the Kingdom means through his own life and ministry which leads to his death on the Cross. While the Kingdom of God breaks through in a decisive way in the resurrection, it is not yet fully realized. The ultimate victory will come about only with the second coming of our Lord.
Our longing for the visible unity of the Church likewise requires patient and trustful waiting. Our prayer for Christian unity is like the prayer of Hannah and the psalmist. Our work for Christian unity is like the deeds recorded in the Letter to the Hebrews. Our attitude of patient waiting is not one of helplessness or passivity, but a deep trust that the unity of the Church is God’s gift, not our achievement. Such patient waiting, praying and trust transforms us and prepares us for the visible unity of the Church not as we plan it, but as God gives it.

For Your Reflection

On this day we concentrate on patient waiting for the Lord. To achieve any change, perseverance and patience are needed. Prayer to God for any kind of transformation is also an act of faith and trust in his promises. Such waiting for the Lord is essential for all who pray for the visible unity of the church this week. All ecumenical activities require time, mutual attention and joint action. We are all called to co-operate with the work of the Spirit in uniting Christians.

  1. In what situations in our life should we have a greater trust in God’s promises?
  2. What areas of church life are particularly at risk from the temptation to act hastily?
  3. In what situations should Christians wait, and when should they act together?

Prayer
Faithful God, you are true to your word in every age. May we, like Jesus, have patience and trust in your steadfast love. Enlighten us by your Holy Spirit that we may not obstruct the fullness of your justice by our own hasty judgments, but rather discern your wisdom and love in all things. For You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute