WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 2013

“In order to unite with one another, we must love one another;

in order to love one another, we must know one another;

in order to know one another, we must go and meet one another.”

 

 These words, known as the “Testament of Cardinal Mercier,” are the impetus for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that has been celebrated continuously since 1894. However, since the early years of the 19th century, the Week was a dream of many Christian leaders who recognize the central importance of prayer together in Jesus’ name.

The dates of the Week of Prayer (actually an octave, eight days) are normally from Ja
nuary 18 to 25 all around the world. These dates were chosen because they represent the feasts of two saints significant to our understanding of Christian unity. January 18 is the feast of the confession of St. Peter and January 25 is the feast of the conversion of St. Paul. Peter and Paul can be understood as representing two competing experiences of Christianity which are reconciled in the gathering at Jerusalem (Acts 15). In a similar way, it is understood that Christianity today experiences a multitude of differing expressions which are nevertheless ultimately reconcilable.

 The theme chosen for this year is:  What does God require of us? (cf. Micah 6: 6-8)

 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  (Micah 6: 6-8)

 Throughout the Week of Prayer, this year as well, Christians all over the world are invited to explore in ecumenical fellowship what it means to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God. This year‘s worship has been prepared by the Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) and the theme has been developed over the eight days by the metaphor of walking.

Christians in India should reject caste divisions, just as Christians worldwide should not accept the divisions among them: ?Is Christ divided? (1Cor 1:13). In fact, Christians gather in worship to pray for that unity which Christ wills for his Church, and we are called to break down such walls of divisions among and between us.

The prayer material takes into account the Dalit reality and offers an opportunity to share in their spirituality. Particular elements of the service come from the Indian Dalit context, which include the use of drums, and the bhajan, which is a local way of singing the lyrics affirming their faith in God. The sharing of the faith testimony illustrates the Dalit spirituality of striving for justice, loving kindness and walking in dignity with God (cf. Micah 6:6-8). For Dalit communities, the walk towards liberation is inseparable from the walk towards unity. And so our walk with Dalits this week, and with all who yearn for justice, is an integral part of prayer for Christian unity.

 More information and the .pdf format with the resources for the week of prayer can be found at:

http://www.oikoumene.org/

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