An Ecumenical Celebration of the Word
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2006
Where two or more and gathered in my name…
(Matthew 18:15-22)

“L(s)” refers to leader(s) of worship. These are to be chosen from the churches present at the worship. “A” refers to the assembly gathered for worship.


Opening of the Worship:
Procession, Hymn and Welcome

Leaders of the churches present for the service and other liturgical ministers form the processional body. A hymn emphasizing the gathering of two or more in the name of Jesus Christ accompanies the procession. Banners celebrating the name of Jesus could be brought in procession to the sanctuary of the place of worship, or encircle the congregation. Such banners could read “Jesus, Risen Lord”, “Jesus, Good Shepherd” , “Jesus, Word of Life,” “Jesus, Friend of the Poor”, etc. They could be as diverse as possible, calling forth the power of Jesus’ name to unite the Church in its diversity. The host church’s leader welcomes those present with reference to the scriptural theme, in the name of the Triune God.

L: Grace and peace be with you.
A: Grace and peace be with you.
L & A: in the name of God our Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.

Litany of the Presence of Christ
L: Jesus, Risen Lord -
A: We gather in your name.

L: Jesus, Good Shepherd -
A: We gather in your name.

L: Jesus, Word of life -
A: We gather in your name.

L: Jesus, friend of the poor -
A: We gather in your name.

L: Jesus, source of all forgiveness -
A: We gather in your name.

L: Jesus, Prince of peace -
A: We gather in your name.

A: Lord Jesus Christ,
you call us together in faith and love. Breathe again the new life of your Holy Spirit upon us, that we may hear your holy word, pray in your name, seek unity among Christians, and live more fully the faith we profess. All glory and honor be yours, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

A Hymn of Praise
A reflective hymn, such as “Lord of all Hopefulness” or “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” are recommended.

Proclamation of the Word of God

Lector: Exodus 40:1-4, 34-38.

Psalm 78:1-8.
The Psalm is prayed antiphonally or “side to side” by the whole assembly, A1 and A2, in turns. It may also be sung.

A1: Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
A2: I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
A1: things that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have told us.
A2: We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
A2: He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children;
A1: that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children,
A2: so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;
A1: and that they should not be like their ancestors, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Lector: Revelation 22: 1-5.

L: The Gospel is proclaimed: Matthew 18: 15-22.

The Sermon
It is customary to invite a guest to preach in the host church’s pulpit.

Act of Repentance
L: There are many ways to be unfaithful to what we have become through baptism, to our commitment and our obedience to God. We offer him now our prayers of repentance.
A: We confess to you, living God, our failure to live as brothers and sisters, and as your children. We confess to you, loving God, that we have not loved you as you have loved us.
        Lord have mercy.
A: We confess to you, gracious God, that we have doubted your word and failed to obey its teaching. We confess to you, merciful God, our desire to own you and contain you within our doctrines and theologies. We confess to you, almighty God, that we do not acknowledge you as Lord of all the earth. Forgive us and redeem us for we have not allowed your presence to shine among us.
        Lord have mercy.
A: We confess there are many ways in which we have failed in our commitment and obedience to our fellow men and women We confess to one another our shallow pride and self sufficiency. We confess that we have failed to see the risen Christ in the stranger in our midst. We confess to one another our desire for an easy life, a comfortable life, a life which makes no demands upon us.
        Lord have mercy.
L: May each of us hear the forgiving words of Jesus that we may turn from the wrong way and travel the path of friendship, love and unity shown by the Savior. In harmony and peace we say the prayer he taught his followers:

The Lord’s Prayer

A: What we have confessed with our lips let us make real in our lives. By sharing in the sign of peace we renew our commitment to a new way of life.

The Sign of Peace

The host leader of worship designates the recipient of the offering and invites all to participate in giving. A hymn or musical presentation may be sung or performed during the collection.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Two worship leaders/readers and the congregation.

L1: Remembering God’s gifts we pray together:
Lord of heaven and earth, we gather in the name of Jesus and listen to your Holy Spirit, calling us to unity in Christ.
A: We thank you, O Lord.
L2: May we be more attentive to your inspiration and more ready to listen to one another.
A: We ask you, O Lord.
L1: For the agreements reached on matters of theology and pastoral life.
A: We thank you, O Lord.
L2: That we may be able to face and resolve the difficult issues which still divide us.
A: We ask you, O Lord.
L1: For common witness in Christ which we have given in times of crisis, for justice, peace and humanitarian aid.
A: We thank you, O Lord.
L2: That prayer in common may become a regular part of the life of our local congregations.
A: We ask you, O Lord.
L1: For progress in interreligious dialogue throughout the world.
A: We thank you, O Lord.
L2: For blessings upon the Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches this year in Porto Alegre, Brazil and for the gatherings of all our national church councils, synods, assemblies and conventions, that Christian unity may be a primary concern in their deliberations.
A: We ask you, O Lord.
L1: For all inter-confessional families: living witnesses of personal communion in the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
A: We thank you, O Lord.
L2: For the immense progress made by our churches in their common realization of Gods word as the source of revelation, and for the progress already achieved towards a common celebration of the eucharist.
A: We thank you, O Lord, and we ask you to make us truly one.
(Other prayers of intercession may be made as appropriate to the local context of the gathering.)

Praise / Hymn / Music

Sending Forth

A:     Open our eyes to your presence.
        Open our ears to your call.
        Open our hearts to your love.
        May we open our arms to others.
        May we open our hearts to strangers.
        May we open our doors to callers.
        That we may be open to you, Lord,
        Open this day and for evermore.
(Flame in my heart - St Aidan for Today, David Adams, Triangle Press, SPCK)

A: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Closing Hymn