WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 2018
PRAYER / WORSHIP:
Daily Scripture & Prayer Guide
Day 1, You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt
- Leviticus 19:33-34, You shall love the alien as yourself.
- Psalm 146:9, The Lord watches over the strangers.
- Hebrews 13:1-3, Entertaining angels without realizing.
- Matthew 25:31-46, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
The Israelites’ memory of being strangers in the land of Egypt obliges God’s people to welcome the stranger in their midst. Furthermore, Jesus’ parable confronts us with the consequences of not showing hospitality.
Like Israel, our common experience of God’s saving action goes together with a common memory of being without rights: being a stranger in the sense of being estranged from God and from his kingdom. As God has restored our dignity in Christ, he calls us to uphold the dignity of all, and to give united witness to the world on behalf of our brothers and sisters who suffer discrimination.
Eternal God, You belong to no culture and land but are Lord of all. You call us to welcome the stranger in our midst. Help us by your Spirit to live as brothers and sisters welcoming all in your name and living in the justice of your kingdom. This we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Day 2, No longer as a slave but a beloved brother
- Genesis 1:26-28, God created humankind in God’s own image.
- Psalm 10:1-10, Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
- Philemon 1:16, No longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother.
- Luke 10:25-37, The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
God created humankind in God´s own image. In the Roman Empire the dignity of those enslaved was denied. Paul however, made bold in Christ, calls Onesimus a beloved brother, transgressing the norms of his society and affirming his humanity. Likewise, Jesus challenges social norms that devalued the human dignity of Samaritans.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which victims are forced or tricked into sex work, child labor and the harvesting of organs for the profit of the exploiters. It is a global, multimillion-dollar industry throughout the world. Christians must raise a united voice in boldly calling trafficked persons their beloved brothers and sisters and so work together to end modern-day slavery.
Gracious God, draw near to those who are victims of human trafficking, assuring them that you see their plight and hear their cry. May your Church be united in compassion and courage to work for that day when no one will be exploited and all will be free to live lives of dignity and peace. This we pray in the name of the Triune God who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. Amen.
Day 3, Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
- Exodus 3:4-10, God frees those who are in human bondage.
- Psalm 24:1-6, Lord, we are the people who seek your face.
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, Therefore glorify God in your body.
- Matthew 18:1-7, Woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!
The Book of Exodus demonstrates God’s concern for people in human bondage and this concern extends to modern forms of enslavement. While sexuality is a gift of God for human relationships and the expression of intimacy, human beings have a propensity to misuse this gift in ways which enslave and devalue.
As Christians we are called to give glory to God in our own bodies, and to work together for the kind of society that upholds human dignity and does not put a stumbling block before any of God’s little ones.
By your heavenly grace, O God, restore us in mind and body. Create in us a clean heart and a pure mind that we may give glory to your name. May the Churches attain unity of purpose for the sanctification of your people, through Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen!
Day 4, Hope and Healing
- Isaiah 9:2-7a, His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace.
- Psalm 34:1-14, Seek peace and pursue it.
- Revelation 7:13-17, God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
- John 14:25-27, Peace I leave with you.
The kingdom which God promised, the kingdom which Jesus proclaimed and made manifest in his ministry is a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Violence is a problem to which the churches are called to respond. There is an alarmingly high rate of murder, much of which stems from domestic abuse, gang warfare and other forms of criminality.
What does the Good News mean for those trapped in the darkness of violence? How can Christians bring the light of Jesus to those living in the darkness of domestic and gang violence? What sense of hope can Christians offer? Christians striving for unity, offer the world a sign of reconciliation. Christians who refuse to seek special status, who refuse to demean others and their communities, give witness to the peace of God’s kingdom.
God of all comfort and hope, your resurrection defeated the violence of the cross. As your people, may we be a visible sign that the violence of the world will be overcome. This we pray in the name of our risen Lord. Amen.
Day 5, Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land
- Deuteronomy 1:19-35, The Lord God goes before you and carried you.
- Psalm 145:9-20, The Lord upholds all who are falling.
- James 1:9-11, The rich will disappear like a flower in the field.
- Luke 18:35-43, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!
We can imagine the noise of the crowd as Jesus enters Jericho. Many voices shout down the cry of the blind beggar. But through all this tumult Jesus hears the blind man’s voice, just as God always hears the cries of the poor in the Hebrew Scriptures.
How do Christians today hear the voice of the poor over the voices which attempt to silence them? The disunity of churches inhibits Christianity’s ability to hear and respond. Through the efforts of churches acting together, we can help one another to hear the cry of the poor and our disunity moves closer to unity in Christ.
Loving God, You lift up the poor and distressed and restore their dignity. Hear now our cries for the poor of our world. Restore their hope and lift them up, that all your people may be one. This we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Day 6, Let us look to the interests of others
- Isaiah 25:1-9, Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
- Psalm 82:3, Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
- Philippians 2:1-4, Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
- Luke 12:13-21, Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.
According to the readings chosen for today, God takes a preferential option for the poor: the right hand of God always acts for the powerless against the powerful. And Jesus consistently warns against the dangers of greed. As Christians united in our care for the poor we are called to action in defense of the poor and vulnerable.
Following the Lord’s command, Christians are summoned to live as brothers and sisters, united across economic divisions of “North” and “South.” As Christians we are called to join hands in promoting economic justice for all.
Almighty God, give courage and strength to your Church to continually proclaim justice and righteousness in situations of domination and oppression. As we celebrate our unity in Christ, may your Holy Spirit help us to look to the needs of others. Amen.
Day 7, Building family in household and Church
- Exodus 2:1-10, The Birth of Moses.
- Psalm 127:1, Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
- 2 Timothy 1:1-8, Timothy, Paul’s beloved “child.”
- Matthew 2:13-15, Joseph got up, took the child and his mother and went to Egypt.
Families are important for the protection and nurture of children. The births of both Moses and Jesus illustrate how vulnerable children can be to external forces, and how action can be taken to protect them. Matthew offers us a model of fatherhood that is in loving fidelity to the Lord’s command, especially in turbulent times.
Jesus calls us his mother, and his brothers, and his sisters (Matthew 12:48). As Christians, we are called to live as supportive family networks, building strong communities in which children are protected and can flourish.
Gracious God, you sent your son to be born in an ordinary family with ancestors who were both faithful and sinful. We ask your blessing upon all families, within households and communities. We especially pray for the unity of the Christian family so that the world may believe, In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Day 8, He will gather the dispersed… from the four corners of the earth
- Isaiah 11:12-13, Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile towards Ephraim.
- Psalm 106:1-14 & 43-48, Gather us to give thanks to your Holy Name.
- Ephesians 2:13-19, He has broken down the dividing wall.
- John 17:1-12, I have been glorified in them.
Throughout the biblical narrative of salvation history, an unmistakable motif is the unrelenting determination of the Lord to form a people whom God could call God’s own. The formation of such a people – a united covenanted people – is integral to God’s plan of salvation and to the glorification and hallowing of God’s name.
God’s covenanted people must be a reconciled community – one which itself is an effective sign to “all the peoples of the earth.” The prophets repeatedly reminded Israel that the covenant demanded that this relationships should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy. Like Israel, the Church in its quest for unity is called to be both a sign and an active agent of reconciliation.
Lord, we humbly ask that, by your grace, the churches throughout the world may become instruments of your Peace. Through their joint action as ambassadors and agents of your healing, reconciling love among divided peoples, may your name be hallowed and glorified. Amen.