Annually, Christians everywhere gather together throughout the world in prayerful communion with Jesus Christ in his prayer, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21). This annual celebration unites Churches in the common quest for Christian unity. This special week was first observed in 1908 and continues to be celebrated annually in January.
This year our scriptural theme comes from the Gospel of John where Jesus says to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Give me a drink.” In our quest for Christian unity Jesus will give us the living water we need for our journey. Please join us once again as we pray and work for the communion of all, joining our prayer to that of the Lord Jesus Christ, “that all may be one” (John 17:21).
- Genesis 24:10-33, Abraham and Rebekah at the well
- Psalm 42, The deer that longs for running streams
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, The generosity of the churches of Macedonia
- John 4:1-4, He had to go through Samaria
Jesus and his disciples traveled from Judea to Galilee. There was a certain prejudice against Samaria and the Samaritans. The negative reputation of Samaria came from its mix of races and religions. What does the Gospel of John mean, when saying, “it is necessary to go through Samaria”? For Jesus, it is a choice. Going through Samaria means that it is necessary to meet the other, the different, the one who is often seen as a threat.
The conflict between Jews and Samaritans was old. For Jews, Samaritans became a people “mixed and impure.” Samaritans in their turn, also had difficulty accepting Jews (John 4:8). So resistance to dialogue came from the two sides.
John makes it clear that “going through Samaria” is a choice Jesus is making; he is reaching beyond his own people. In this he is showing us that isolating ourselves from those who are different and relating only to people like ourselves is a self-inflicted impoverishment. It is the dialogue with those who are different that makes us grow.
God of all peoples; teach us to go through Samaria to meet our brothers and sisters from other churches! Allow us to go there with an open heart so we may learn from every church and culture! We confess that you are the source of unity. Grant us the unity that Christ wills for us.