Daily Scripture & Prayer Guide
2005 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Day 1, Called to Spiritual Maturity (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
Hosea 2:21-23, I will say to Lo-ammi (not my people), "you are my
Psalm 24, Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
Colossians 1:25-28, The mystery that has been hidden throughout the
John 15:1-8, I am the vine, you are the branches.
In Saint Paulís first letter to the church at Corinth, a community
for whom he had played an important role in founding, Paul was eager to
call the Corinthians to spiritual maturity. While celebrating the gifts
God had bestowed on this community, he confronts them with the divisions
that have been reported to him, as expressed in the conflicting slogans:
I am for Paul; I am for Apollos; I am for Cephas.
Paul responds with the evocative question: Has Christ been divided?
There is a Jewish tradition, found in the Old Testament, of God giving a
people a name, reflective of their spiritual state, in order to call
them to fidelity or conversion. Likewise Paul names the Corinthians as
people of the flesh, as infants in Christ, lamenting that
he can not address them as spiritual people. He indicts their
allegiances as immature and not in keeping with the mind of Christ. His
words are abrupt because this behavior is in stark contrast with the
magnitude and divine origin of their Christian calling: for they are
Godís temple, wherein Godís Spirit dwells; they belong to Christ, and
will be given all things in him. This carries with it a mission: with
Paul they are to make known the mystery that has been hidden
throughout the ages, and to be stewards of this mystery, proclaiming
the great redemptive action of God in Christ and witnessing to it in
their transformed lives. The divisions in Corinth had to do with
conflicts in their reception of the preaching of the apostles. Here we
see a foreshadowing of the divisions which historically would scar our
unity in Christ, built on the faith of the apostles. We live with Paulís
question still: Has Christ been divided? Spiritual maturity has
to do, in part, with retrieving and incarnating the unity given us in
Christ. To what extent does our disunity keep us from carrying out the
healing and reconciling mission of Christ in a broken and needy world?
Gracious God, you continue to call us to spiritual maturity. You
desire to name us as your own. Open our hearts and minds to the
greatness of your calling and help us to walk in unity Ė in communion
with Paul and Apollos and Cephas Ė as we proclaim and place ourselves at
the service of your redeeming work in the world. Amen.
Day 2, God Gives the Growth (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).
Genesis 1:26-2:9, The LORD planted a garden in Eden.
Psalm 104:24-31, You renew the face of the ground.
Romans 8:14-25, Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing
of the children of God.
Luke 8:4-15, These are the ones who, when they hear the word... bear
fruit with patient endurance.
Speaking to the people of Corinth, Paul uses an image familiar to
them, of planting and growth. It is an image taken to illustrate the
works of God, who is directly at work in their midst, calling forth
servants who will collaborate in his work. Like the Corinthians, we are
called to be instruments, faithful servants who will be judged for the
way in which we accomplish this work. It is an important task to be in
this service and to bear the responsibility of the work to be
accomplished to the glory of God. We must offer our talents to him whom
we serve; and place our competence on the unique foundation which is
Christ, in order to build an edifice in the service of love. God has
made this world good. We see this in the first chapter of Genesis.
Humankind has gone beyond the role given us in that story; we have
destroyed the perfect world of Eden. That is why we are called to a
ministry of healing in the world (Romans 8). This multi-faceted ministry
unites us. It consists of many facets, transcending confessional and
cultural barriers. The world is wounded, in the same way as the traveler
lying on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. We must not be afraid to
touch what is broken in our world. God chooses to heal through our
intervention. Creation waits with eager longing for the healing that
will come from God. Within the unity that is sought, Christians can
exchange their own experiences to show that beyond being of Paul or of
Apollos, they belong to Christ. Only Christ can help them grow in the
love of the Father, in the service of the Spirit of holiness and unity,
healing the world and its divided humanity.
God, we thank you for the confidence and blessing which you offer
to those who work for the coming of your reign in this world. Help us to
find new ways to carry out your work in the service of those around us.
May we serve, rather than seek to be served, and may your healing power
be at work among us. United as one family of your only Son, may we be
faithful stewards of your creation so that you may be known to all men
and women, great and small, by all things and all people, as the true
living savior and creator of all. Amen.
Day 3, Christ Is the Unique Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).
Isaiah 28:14-16, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested
stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.
Psalm 118:16-24, The stone that the builders rejected has become the
Ephesians 2:19-22, Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
Matthew 7:24-27, (The house) did not fall, because it had been
founded on rock.
God in Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, has laid down one
foundation for all the baptized. Christians can therefore affirm their
faith in Christ, the unique foundation on which the church of God is
built. Since nobody can lay down any other foundation, Christians
confess together that the foundation on which their faith is built is
what God in Christ has done. This conviction is a source of thankfulness
and humility. In their efforts to be rooted in the unique foundation,
many Christians have been and continue to be challenged by other voices
that contradict and tend to reject Christ. Christians in such situations
are called to be like leaven in society, trusting that they will be
supported by the grace of God. Therefore in the face of testing,
Christians must never waver. Since Jesus was rejected, his followers too
must be prepared to endure the same trials. On the foundation of Christ
and his teaching, we are able to meet the challenges of present day
society. Christians are convinced that to build on Jesus Christ as the
sure and one foundation implies the idea of working together from a
common starting point towards a common goal, namely the unity of all the
followers of Christ. The meaning of Jesus Christ for us predefines in a
unique and profound way the character of every joint activity or
whatever we do separately. The power of Christís love fills us with
great hope that whatever we create in his name has a capacity to last
and survive even in the midst of difficulties, because Christ is the
beginning and the end.
Lord our God, through the work of the Holy Spirit you have
established in Christ the unique foundation on which your church is
built. We thank you for what you have done for us in Christ. We thank
you for continually upholding your church in the midst of all attempts
to destroy it. Help us by your grace that we may build on the foundation
you have laid down in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Day 4, You Are to Build on the Unique Foundation (1 Corinthians
Nehemiah 2:17-18, Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
Psalm 127, Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor
1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same
Matthew 20:1-16, A landowner... went out... to hire laborers for his
Christ is Godís gift to the world. In him the salvation and
reconciliation of all humankind is revealed. He is the foundation and
the source of the new life that God has given us. We do not need to add
anything to complete this gift of God. This does not mean we should
remain passive and detached. Paul writes of building on the foundation.
He affirms that we have a vocation and must respond to that vocation. We
are called to be workers in Godís work of renewal and laborers in his
household. God has given us all different gifts (1 Corinthians 12). We
should make use of them for one purpose: to glorify Christ and the power
of his peace. Through our work we are to be witnesses to Godís love and
to our unity in Christ. We know that in the history of the churches, not
everything done in the name of Christ was really "Christ-like."
Sometimes Christ and his reconciliation have been overshadowed by
arrogance, divisions and the struggle for power. "Church building" is
not a matter of building confessional barriers against each other or of
building our own "monuments". In todayís world, churches must
demonstrate how to build bridges and how to cooperate as a sign of hope
and a fruit of unity in Christ. The foundation in Christ makes us
sisters and brothers. It is the basis for being the one, true Church of
Christ, filled with love for the poor and the outcast, of trust in God
and hope in the fulfillment of his kingdom. Godís reconciliation commits
us together as well as individual churches to be living stones of unity
in Christ, so that the foundation in Christ will become more and more
God, we thank you for your unique gift of life and peace in Christ.
You have given our churches many different gifts. Help us see this
diversity as an enrichment to building your house in this world. Let us
witness to what strengthens our unity and encourage all that helps us to
bring your love to the people with whom we are living. Amen.
Day 5, God Judges Our Efforts to Build (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
Genesis 4:2b-10a, Am I my brotherís keeper?
Psalm 51:1-4, 9-13, Against you, you alone, have I sinned.
Philippians 2:1-5, Regard others as better than yourselves.
Matthew 25:14-30, A man... summoned his slaves and entrusted his
property to them.
In all ages God has called human beings to work with him in what he
is doing in the world. Though the unique foundation, Jesus Christ, is
laid there is always more building to be done. Explaining this to the
Christians in Corinth, Paul insists on Godís quality control: how well
we build is to be tested. Our works do not bring about salvation, but we
are responsible for our works before God. Paul saw this in terms of the
purifying fires of the final judgement which he thought would come soon.
For us it is still a matter of urgency Ė regarding each opportunity as
if it could be the last Ė and realizing that we all bring judgement on
ourselves by how well we use the gifts God has given us for building up
the kingdom. We are all accountable both to God and to each other.
Churches too are accountable to each other in the quest for unity. Like
the servants in the parable, entrusted with their masterís property and
required to make good use of it, we have all been given treasure: the
life of a fragile planet, sisters and brothers world-wide to care for,
the precious word of the gospel to share. They are given to all Godís
people together and provide an opportunity for us to share with one
another, to learn from our successes and failures. And how well we work
and build together is even now being put to the test.
God, through your coming to us in Jesus and through using fallible
people, you have shown yourself to be a vulnerable God; we thank you
that you still trust us to offer service and work for the building of
your kingdom. Keep us alert to your will and purpose and open our eyes
that we may see the true needs of people around us. Enable us in
humility to learn from one another, that we may be united in our mutual
accountability and devoted in service for your kingdom; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.
Day 6, You Are Godís Temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
Genesis 1:26-27, God created humankind in his image.
Psalm 8, What are human beings that you are mindful of them?
1 Peter 2:9-10, Godís own people.
Matthew 16:24-27, If any want to become my followers.
The question of identity is by no means a new one. Human beings have
always asked themselves and sought to live out who they really are and
what they are meant to be. Living in a world that is characterized by
constant changes and a growing sense of pluralism, the search for
identity has become an even more crucial issue. We struggle with that
question not only as individuals but also as communities and as
churches. We try to find our own identity in what distinguishes us from
others and makes us unique. The apostle Paul Ė although addressing the
Christians of Corinth 2,000 years ago Ė reminds us even now that the
question of identity has to be approached from another perspective: we
are not "special" because we are different from others, but because we
have all received the gift of the Holy Spirit Ė a gift that is present
in every human being since we are all created in the image of God. We
are Godís temple Ė sacred and full of dignity; nobody has the right to
destroy this temple. Godís good Spirit is at home within us. God desires
fellowship with us, which includes and requires that we have fellowship
with each other. Since this call to fellowship extends beyond the
borders of our Christian communities, the scandal of our divisions as
Christian churches is heightened, making it imperative to overcome them.
Differences are also part of our Christian identity since we live in
different situations and cultures, we live as women and men, we are
shaped by personal experiences and by the history of the communities in
which we live. Wherever we live, whatever the challenges we face or the
talents we are given, we are united nonetheless by the Holy Spirit who
enables us to live as God means us to live, and has been made manifest
in Jesus Christ: a fellowship of love.
Eternal God, you created heaven and earth, you created human beings
in your divine image, giving each of us identity and dignity. We thank
you for your gift of life Ė life that binds us to you and to your
creation. Help us Ė as Christians and as churches Ė to receive your gift
in all its fullness so that we may be able to overcome whatever limits
or reduces your gift of life. Fill us with your good Spirit so that we
may grow into the image of Christ and become his image in the world.
Day 7, Folly and Wisdom, Life in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).
Job 32:7-33, It is... the breath of the Almighty, that makes for
Psalm 14:1-7, The LORD looks down... to see if there are any... who
seek after God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-30, God chose what is foolish in the world to
shame the wise.
Matthew 10: 17-25a, It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your
Father speaking through you.
Democracy and liberty bring us many advantages but also temptations.
That is true for individuals as it is for churches. In countries that
have been Christian since ancient times, churches are often tempted by a
misplaced use of power. In consequence, their witness has sometimes
offered human perspectives rather than the word of God. Nowadays, we can
still be tempted to rely on relations of power and the advantages that
come from being in the majority, or, alternatively, to abandon debate in
our societies, too often futile. As churches we have been commanded
nonetheless to witness to a common unique foundation for the life of the
world, that is Jesus Christ and his word, and nothing can change that.
The prophets underlined that what they proclaimed was not their own
words, thoughts or opinions, but a word received from God. Job
understands that he must seek wisdom elsewhere, in the inspiration of
God, rather than from his own resources. The apostle Paul says that he
has decided to know nothing other than Jesus Christ. For the sake of the
message of Christ crucified, Paul is ready to appear a fool in the eyes
of the wise. He writes to the Corinthians that Godís wisdom was to offer
salvation "through the folly of what we preach": Christ crucified. The
word of the cross has also been entrusted to us, Christians of today.
Between our churches, which the madness of humankind has separated, the
pursuit of unity might seem like a crazy project. Yet at the heart of a
divided world, torn apart by war and violence, the search for peace and
reconciliation remains the only wisdom. In the light of the cross, the
foundation of our common witness takes shape. With Christ, God reaches
out towards humanity and sends us towards those who seek him in order to
proclaim: the way to life passes through the crucified and risen Christ.
O God, full of wisdom and truth, you made known to us the folly of
your love when humanity crucified your only Son, Jesus, and when you
raised him from the dead as the Christ, we began to grasp your great
wisdom. We pray you, keep us in the steps of your Son on the narrow road
to Life. May we proclaim the good news of salvation by the cross of
Jesus Christ which witnessed to life for all. May your Church today stay
faithful to him who is its unique foundation and may it lead all nations
to the wisdom of your Spirit. Amen.
Day 8, You Belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
Isaiah 44:1-8, I am the first and I am the last.
Psalm 89:1-4, Your steadfast love is established forever.
Revelation 4:1-11, Worshipping the one who lives forever and ever.
Mark 9:33-35, Whoever wants to be first must be last.
We belong to Christ. This fact is the foundation of our unity: In
baptism Christ has claimed us for his own and made us all one in him.
The unity we share in Christ is greater than all the differences, past
and present, that divides the churches today. If we belong to Christ we
belong to one another and are accountable to one another. That is why
Christ calls us to build up his body, the church, together as co-workers
and fellow servants. That is why Christians are called to live and work
together as fellow servants in witnessing to their faith and in serving
those in need. And that is why divisions, dissension, quarreling,
factions based on personalities Ė all these are denials not only of our
brothers and sisters in Christ, but of Christ himself. As Godís temple,
the church is a place of worship, and common worship is the most
powerful expression of our common belonging to Christ. Every act of
common worship is a victory over our division and a celebration of the
unity that we have in Christ. We are united with all those in all places
and times who have belonged to Christ and who in the Spirit have
worshiped God. We do not always act in accordance with this unity given
us in Christ. When we can not worship together, especially at the Lordís
table, our disunity is plain for all to see. There is more building to
be done Ė and that by all the churches! Since we belong to Christ, we
belong to God. Paul affirms in all boldness: "all things are yours." We
live and move together with all our co-workers and fellow servants
within Godís plan for all creation. God acts within history for
salvation, for healing of the broken, for reconciliation of those at
war, for the renewal of the whole of creation. God also acts in
judgement: we know that what we build together is being tested and the
results made known. We know we will be judged by the God whose nature is
life and love. For all Godís gifts of creation and redemption we give
praise and thanks to God who has made us one through his Spirit in
Christ. May our building together of Christís church and our search for
unity be offered in praise of God.
Loving God, we thank you for making us one in Christ. Give us
imagination and courage to build your church together in unity and love.
Make our lives and the lives of our churches a witness to your love for
us and for the whole creation. Grant us unity in our time, O Lord. Amen.
Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious
PO Box 300, Garrison, New York 10524-0300