Monday, January 18, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Just a small blurb for the sake of shameless advertising, which I normally don't do on this blog, and I promise not to begin with any frequency: today begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that happens every year January 18 through 25. Fittingly, this year it happens to begin on Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in the United States, where our racial history shows the tragic scandal of Church division most poignantly. If you are unfamiliar with this week of prayer or with the ecumenism movement as a whole, feel free to read up on it on the website for the World Council of Churches. In addition to the history of the WCC, you can find a brochure with daily readings to take you through this year's theme: "You are witnesses of these things."
During the 2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we are invited to follow the whole of chapter 24 of Luke's gospel. Whether it be the terrified women at the tomb, the two discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus or the eleven disciples overtaken by doubt and fear, all who together encounter the Risen Christ are sent on mission: “You are witness of these things”. This mission of the Church is given by Christ and cannot be appropriated by anyone. It is the community of those who have been reconciled with God and in God, and who can witness to the truth of the power of salvation in Jesus Christ.

We sense that Mary Magdalene, Peter or the two Emmaus disciples will not witness in the same way. Yet it will be the victory of Jesus over death that all will place at the heart of their witness. The personal encounter with the risen One has radically changed their lives and in its uniqueness for each one of them one thing becomes imperative: “You are witnesses of these things.” Their story will accentuate different things, sometimes dissent may arise between them about what faithfulness to Christ requires, and yet all will work to announce the Good News.
Whether or not you can get take the time to follow all the readings, consider yourself invited to spend the next week praying with Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic Churches around the world for Church unity.

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