Scripture & Prayer Guide
2003 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Hope: We have this treasure in clay jars (2 Cor 4:7).
15:1-7, Do not be afraid, Abram...
Psalm 16, You are my Lord...
Hebrews 9:8-12, Christ, high priest of good things to come.
Luke 24:13-35, We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.
Abraham puts his trust in God. He leaves the security of homeland, en
route to the Promised Land. With his family he becomes a foreigner,
called to make a painful but fruitful and liberating change in the land
of Canaan. The Emmaus pilgrims are compelled to return to their old
dwelling place in order to find again that initial impulse which had
led them to follow Jesus. Recounting the stories of Moses and the prophets
stirs up the confidence and love, and restores the divine treasure within,
the foundation of hope in their anxious hearts. Every Christian shares
this hope. To leave one’s homeland, to reach out towards the other
can lead to growing together so that one offers to God a bountiful heart
capable of holding the treasure which God wishes to place in each and
every one of us. This heart is the earthen vessel of our humanity, itself
fragile, made from dust. Christians are called to make known together
this treasure shining in glory on the face of the resurrected one. We
do this when we show ourselves to be a reconciling community.
Our Father, despite our weakness, you have made us witnesses to hope,
faithful disciples of your Son, who desires to show his victory in a
broken world. We hold this treasure in earthen vessels. We fear that
we shall bend in the face of suffering and evil. Sometimes we even doubt
the power of Jesus’ prayer ‘that all may be one’.
Restore in us the hope of that glory which shines on the face of Jesus
so that our words and actions may proclaim his presence in the world. Amen.
Faith: We are afflicted in every way but not crushed (2 Cor
Exodus 5:6-17, Let heavier work be laid upon them.
Psalm 128, You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands.
Hebrews 11:13-27, They desire a better country.
Matthew 2:14-15, Joseph took the child and his mother by night and went
Our time is marked by political, social, cultural and economic persecution
and oppression. This often causes peoples to leave their homelands in
search of a better life. When they arrive in foreign lands, people often
suffer exploitation similar to that suffered by the Jews in Egypt. Emigration
can also be experienced as an act of faith, as Abraham left for the
Promised Land or Moses led his people to freedom. Mary and Joseph with
Jesus escaped from Egypt to save their lives from Herod. Today, God
shows us the way leading to life in the midst of dangers. Persecuted
but not discouraged, many people draw from their faith in God the strength
to stand firm in the face of discrimination on the grounds of race,
skin color, gender, culture, language or purchasing power. Emigration
has consequences for ecumenical life. It brings members of different
churches together and gives them a fresh start in the search for unity.
Mobility reminds us that we are all migrants upon this earth. We are
all pilgrims on the way towards the Father’s house. We are thus
are invited to advance together along the path towards unity, that path
which our Lord has opened.
God our Father, whose prophets were sojourners and whose Son knew exile
in foreign lands they knew not, accompany the migrants of our times
and walk with the pilgrims on today’s journeys. May the barriers
that separate us fall, suspicion founder, hatred cease. May your Spirit
touch each human heart and breathe new life into your churches in the
pilgrimage towards unity. Help us overcome our divisions and go forward
in justice and in peace. Amen.
In the Image of Christ: So that the life of Jesus may also
be made visible in our bodies (2 Cor 4:10).
Genesis 1:26-27, In the image of God he created them.
Psalm 45, Your God has anointed you.
1 Timothy 6:11-16, Keep the commandment.
Matthew 5:14-15, You are the light of the world.
The human person bears the image of God. This is the sign of an integrity
which nothing can destroy. This mysterious truth constitutes a
lasting call to spiritual growth in order to reach the measure of Christ.
Christ himself lives within the Christian. Christians must make plain
the life of Christ which is within them. They are called to stand firm
in obedience to the demands of the gospel until the Lord’s coming
again. This witness involves the believer’s whole being. Over
the ages Christian have suffered martyrdom in witness and obedience
to Christ. Often the cause of martyrdom is found in the origins of exile.
The Christian is thus called to be transformed in likeness to Christ,
revealing Christ in one’s own life. “I am the light of the
world”... “You are the light of the world”. This light
must shine forth through works of justice, charity and compassion and
so reveal the saving work of God. The church has a special calling to
uphold human rights and change practices which do not respect and foster
human dignity. We cannot authentically live, pray and minister for the
unity of the church without a faith, life and witness which promotes
the renewal of the human community.
God of love, Creator of all life, encourage us to discern in ourselves
and in our brothers and sisters your image. Give us the strength necessary
to obey the imperative of your all-embracing love. Guide us so that
our witness may lead to the unity of the churches and that with one
voice we may call upon all humankind to be responsible for each other
and for all creation. Amen.
Dignity of Human Life: That the life of Jesus may be made visible
in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:11).
Ezra 1:1-4, Any of those among you who are of his people – may
their God go with them!
Psalm 50, The heavens declare his righteousness.
Romans 6:6-14, Dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Mark 9:33-37, Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant
Many aspects of life are hard. Degrading living conditions, despair
and terror are part of too many peoples’ lives. This is contrary
to Christ’s invitation to live in a way that meets the demands
of his kingdom. The power of his resurrection delivers us from all death-dealing
temptation. Because he is present among us – risen, but bearing
the traces of the despised, rejected and excluded – dignity belongs
to all of us. We must challenge societies which exclude people and neglect
their material and spiritual needs. We may be tempted to give up, believing
we are alone. But we must not lose courage, for others among us also
work for the dignity of human life, thus making visible the life of
Jesus in our lives. The church is called to reveal this light shining
in the darkness. In a world so divided, our quest for unity is vital.
Our common calling is to show the power of the resurrection so that
the world might believe. Faced with war and with distress of all kinds,
surrounded by struggles for temporal power and by discord, but guided
by Christ, we must commit ourselves to help the world change its course.
O God, we commit ourselves to you who are our strength. Quiet our minds
and bodies. Come into our hearts. Help us to know the power of renewal
which you offer us each day. Open up for us the road to unity. Lead
us along the way of your kingdom to be witnesses of hope. May we not
succumb to despair but live in hope through Christ whose resurrection
has overcome death. Give us your Spirit as guide and comforter as we
seek to manifest the unity of your church. Amen.
Courage: I believed and so I spoke (2 Cor 4:13).
Joshua 1:1-9, Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed.
Psalm 113, He raises the poor from the dust.
Ephesians 2:11-22, So then you are no longer strangers and aliens.
Mark 7:24-30, For saying that, you may go.
At a time of uncertainty and fear, Joshua spoke out boldly in God’s
name and urged the people of Israel to cross the Jordan and occupy the
land promised to their ancestors. He urged them to be strong and brave
and act in accordance with God’s law. Generations later, a Canaanite
woman came to Jesus and courageously asked him to heal her daughter.
A Gentile and a woman, by her care for the daughter she broke down barriers
of culture, tradition and gender. Her plea was somewhat contrary to
Jesus’ plan of action and urgency in carrying it out. He believed
that he must go first to the house of Israel. But he was moved by the
courage and the response of the woman. He too then reached out across
these same barriers and said, “For saying that, you may go –
the demon has left your daughter”. In Ephesians, the Gentile Christians
are reminded that they were once aliens of Israel and strangers to the
covenants of promise. But now in Christ Jesus those once far off are
near. He breaks down the dividing wall and the hostility between Gentile
and Jew and reconciled the two to God in one body through the cross.
Today Christians are compelled by Christ’s example to reach out
across barriers of culture and race, to welcome and minister to refugees
and strangers. In turn, we learn from the deep faith of immigrants who
have crossed boundaries to come to our land. We Christians must witness
with courage to the truth of the gospel. We must seek to live out and
to show the world that unity which Jesus desires, for divided churches
weaken the mission of Christ. We should ask God to heal us from our
lack of unity and enable us to speak out with faith and courage.
O God you inspired your servant Joshua to speak out in a time of need
and to lead your people to the Promised Land. Your Son Jesus Christ
reached out across barriers of culture, class and gender giving healing
and hope to those in need. He is our peace. He has broken down dividing
walls and created in himself one new humanity. We pray for Christ’s
body, the church, in the world today. Help us advance your kingdom here
on earth. Move us to overcome our divisions and live according to your
law of love. May we meet all with your blessing, especially the stranger
in our midst. May we form together the one body of Christ in whose name
and through whose Spirit we pray. Amen.
The Justice of God’s Grace: ...grace as it extends to
more and more people...
(2 Cor 4:15).
Deuteronomy 10:17-22, ...who executes
justice for the orphan and the widow...
Psalm 103:1-13, The Lord is merciful and gracious.
Romans 3:21-31, They are now justified by his grace as a gift.
Matthew 5:1-12, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Sin is the source of injustice in the world. By rejecting God’s
righteousness we deprive people of their dignity and of their existential
rights. God has justified us in Christ, out of unconditional love for
us. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are destined to
eternal communion with God. Christians are sent to proclaim together
the righteousness of God and the power of his grace. Our mandate is
to spread the justice of God by our witness. We are called to become
instruments of God’s kingdom, as just men and women who live for
God and seek to reveal his love and justice to all. We see many faces
of injustice in our times. Societies which are economically unjust expel
their members by driving them into hunger and poverty, denying them
human living conditions, and blocking their access to health and education.
War and religious oppression are in all lands. Such is the world in
which we must cry out for a long-awaited justice. God identifies himself
with the poor, the weak, the sick, the foreigner, the child, the elderly,
the widow. In the Beatitudes we are invited to be promoters of a justice
which transforms discriminating structures into instruments of peace.
Our unity and mission are a sign of our hope. Our communion in Christ
is a visible expression of the new humankind. A spiritual vision of
the life we have in Christ is the essence of all justice and the basis
of human rights. Our active solidarity with powerless people makes the
power of God’s righteousness visible.
God our Father, we thank you for your grace, which makes us your daughters
and sons in Christ. You call us as your children to be advocates of
your justice in the world. Grant us grace to work, without fear, for
the justice that brings peace for a human society. Strengthen the bonds
which unite us. Call us to a life where the unity of believers is reflected
in every community of faith. Draw us once again nearer to each other
and so nearer to you, so that your will may be done in our lives. Amen.
Perseverance: So we do not lose heart (2 Cor. 4:16).
Nehemiah 7:73-8:3, 9-10, ...do not mourn or weep.
Psalm 118:5-9, 19-24, Open to me the gates of righteousness.
Acts 7:54-8:5, ...those who were scattered... went proclaiming the word.
Mark 10:28-30, ...a hundredfold now in this age... with persecutions...
Life takes its toll on us. We all know pain and struggle. Life particularly
leaves its scars on the bodies of refugees, displaced peoples, the homeless.
Days come and go, each bringing their troubles: a woman must abandon
her land; children find themselves in a strange country; a man must
leave aside the trade learned from his father, which is of no use any
longer; a family is forced to exchange its maternal language for foreign
one, its native customs for a stranger’s. The first Christians
also knew about hardship and struggle. How the dealt with their situation
gives insights into the faith foundations of perseverance and solidarity.
When Stephen was put to death and the church of Jerusalem was beset
by persecution, its scattered members found inner strength to continue
proclaiming the word, instead of being paralyzed by fear. Paul encouraged
the Corinthians not to lose heart despite being afflicted and struck
down, but to understand these experiences as a way of carrying in their
bodies the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus could be made visible.
This connection between personal struggles and the death and resurrection
of Jesus reflects how the power of the resurrection can change our understanding
of suffering and death. In every act of compassion we encounter Christ
himself, and we are reminded that the mission which all Christians are
invited to share in is God’s own. Moreover, those who suffer reveal
to us in their tired bodies that gratitude is still possible, that there
is still hope, that not all is lost if we trust in the One who makes
all things new. Paradoxically, in the context of suffering and woundedness,
the gospel is shown forth as a restorer of that which is broken.
Almighty God, make us your instruments of hope and compassion in the
face of physical and spiritual need. Direct our hands to touch all in
need. Open our eyes and hearts to see and heal their pain. May they
find in us your tender presence. Amen.
Called to Unity on the Path to Glory: Preparing for us an eternal
weight of glory... (2 Cor 4:17).
Isaiah 33:17-22, The Lord is our King, he will save us.
Psalm 42, Hope in God; for I shall again praise him.
Eph 4:1-6, One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Jn 17:20-26, ...to see my glory...
When Jerusalem was threatened with invasion, the prophet Isaiah looked
forward to the day when God would reign and Jerusalem would be a peaceful
dwelling. We are a pilgrim people, strangers in this world, journeying
in faith towards the heavenly Jerusalem, yearning to see the face of
God. Often the pilgrim people of God share something of the longing
of refugees for stability and peace and the coming of God’s kingdom
in this world. While Christianity understands all human existence as
marked by the insecurity of the pilgrim state, it sees the church as
having the prophetic vocation of setting forth a vision of what God
is preparing for us, an eternal weight of glory which casts our present
struggles into a larger framework of hope and promise. This future is
characterized by a unity in which the human race is caught up in the
oneness which Jesus shares with the Father through their Spirit. This
unity is already a gift in the Spirit here and now: There is one body
and one Spirit, ... one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one
baptism, one God and Father of all... The church is to live as a sign
in the present of that unity which in its fullness we hold only as the
promise of God. But Christians appear to the world as divided and broken.
Our ecumenical calling is to rediscover and make visible the unity which
always comes as a gift of the Holy Spirit. At times we seem to give
up on this task. We must lay hold of the hope and certainty that we
shall be made one in Christ as we shall see the glory which God gave
to Christ before the foundation of the world.
Lord, show us your mercy. By the power of your Spirit remove the divisions
which separate Christians so that your church may be a visible sign
of unity in a fragmented world. Grant us a renewed love, a true wisdom
and a new impulse for that unity so that the eternal message of your
Son may be received as good news for all. Rekindle our faith and our
hope so that we may journey with joy towards your heavenly kingdom,
trusting in your promise of eternal glory. Amen.
Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious
PO Box 300, Garrison, New York 10524-0300