Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 18th -25th Jan. 2017
Reconciliation –The Love of Christ compels us (2 Cor. 5: 14-20)
It is Churches from Germany who came together to prepare the worship materials for is year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18th – 25th January 2017 – though the ‘Octave’, as we used to call it, is sometimes celebrated later in churches of the Southern hemisphere – typically around the Feast of Pentecost.
It is historically and symbolically apt that it is the German Churches who together prepared the worship resources, since it was 500 years ago, in 1517, that Martin Luther effectively ‘declared’ a Reformation of the Church in Germany that spread much further afield in subsequent centuries, not without bitter suffering and bloodshed on ‘”both sides” of the chasm that opened up. All the more fitting now that following four centuries of division and after one century of ecumenical spring, the divided churches are calling one another to reflect on the meaning of reformation and renewal in the light of Christ’s call to the Church to live reconciliation and unity, in witness to his mission.
The 2017 theme is, The Love of Christ compels us!, taken from 2 Cor. 5, that Pauline text which, along with Jn 17, and Eph 2, has been a wellspring of inspiration and life for the ecumenical movement and for the churches’ call to prayer and conversion towards the healing of wounded relations, and sustained action for reconciliation as mission in church and society.
Just click on the link https://ctbi.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2017/ to access resources for the Service of Worship. We hope that many will find in it an encouragement to pray for the healing of broken communion in the Church, and to look out for opportunities to participate in an ecumenical service during the week ahead, or even to host an ecumenical encounter at home between 17th January and the close of the special week of prayer on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, on 25th.
For the love of Christ urges us, because we are convinced that one has died for all… So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us (2.Cor 5: 14-20).
May we not remain complacent in our divisions, in order that the scandal of Church disunity may never cease to provoke us into praying and working for reformation, healing and transformation of the Church, in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Churches Together Britain and Ireland also invite Christians to explore the URL link to a range of suggestions for other actions appropriate to our ecumenical mission. Ideas extend not only to Ireland and Britain, but to the whole world, our parish, the wider Oikoumene – the world which is God’s home and ours – that in its brokenness is crying out for signs of hope and gestures of healing and peace. Significantly, it comes under the heading “Go and Do”, for we are called both to prayer and to action – to be “the ministry of reconciliation: that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself”. May we be both hearers and do-ers of this word www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo
For reflection on the Gospel for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time cf. Kieran O’Mahony OSA, Biblical Resources 22 Jan. Biblical Resources
Sr. Geraldine Marie Smyth OP