Daily Scripture & Prayer Guide
2003 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Day 1, Hope: We have this treasure in clay jars (2 Cor 4:7).

Scripture
Genesis 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.

Meditation
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.

Prayer
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.

Day 2, Faith: We are afflicted in every way but not crushed (2 Cor 4:8).

Scripture
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 to Egypt.

Meditation
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.

Prayer
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.

Day 3, In the Image of Christ: So that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies (2 Cor 4:10).

Scripture
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.

Meditation
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.

Prayer
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.

Day 4, Dignity of Human Life: That the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:11).

Scripture
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 of all.

Meditation
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.

Prayer
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.

Day 5, Courage: I believed and so I spoke (2 Cor 4:13).

Scripture
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.

Meditation
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.

Prayer
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.

Day 6, The Justice of God’s Grace: ...grace as it extends to more and more people...
(2 Cor 4:15).

Scripture
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.

Meditation
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.

Prayer
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.

Day 7, Perseverance: So we do not lose heart (2 Cor. 4:16).

Scripture
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...

Meditation
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.

Prayer
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.

Day 8, Called to Unity on the Path to Glory: Preparing for us an eternal weight of glory... (2 Cor 4:17).

Scripture
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...

Meditation
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.

Prayer
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 Institute
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