One of the greatest obstacles to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the division between Christians. History has left us with various Christian communities, very often burdened with issues that belong to another time. For over a hundred years the historical Christian denominations and churches have set aside a week every year, called a “Week of Prayer For Christian Unity” to help resolve this discord.
In the northern hemisphere, this week runs from January 18th to 25th ending with the feast of St Paul. The date differs in other areas. The official purpose is “to express the degree of communion which the churches have already reached, and to pray together for the full unity which is Christ’s will”. Every year the resource material for this week is prepared by an ecumenical group from different geographical areas. It usually reflects the particular experience of the Christian life in that location. It is worthwhile to remember that this particular initiative concerns Christians only.
This year the material for prayer has been prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches, based in Beirut. Their proposed theme is We saw the star in the east and we have come to worship Him. This is a well-known line from the Christmas story, Chapter 2, Verse 2, of Matthew’s Gospel. The first twelve verses of that same chapter form the basis for the week’s prayer.
Our duty and calling as Christians today is to be like that star – to lead peoples of all nations, with their particular unique gifts to come to Jesus and go away as His followers. However, our divisions dim that star, it is not a clear guide to the ‘Magi’ of today. The star still shines over that manger – this week of prayer will hopefully lessen one obstacle that prevents it from being clearly seen by ‘all people of good will’.
There are reflections and prayers for each day. For the complete text for the week go to the Resources section of www.oikoumene.org
DAY 1: We observed his star in the East. (Mt 2:2)
Raise us up and draw us to your perfect light.
Lord God, illumine our path by the light of Christ who moves before us and leads us. Enlighten us and dwell within us. Guide us to discover a small manger in our hearts where a great light still sleeps. Creator of light, we thank you for the gift of that unfading Star, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. May he be a beacon for our pilgrimage. Heal our divisions and draw us closer to the Light that we may find our unity in him. Amen.
Click on the following link for Reflections for the week: