Introduction to the Theme: One in the Apostles' Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of                                                   Bread and Prayer
                                                  Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2011
    

Guía Diario de Escritura y Oración

 
 

By The International Preparatory Group

Two thousand years ago, the first Christians gathered in Jerusalem experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and were joined together in unity as the body of Christ. In that event, Christians of every time and place see their origin as a community of the faithful, called together to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Although that earliest Jerusalem Church experienced difficulties, both externally and internally, its members persevered in faithfulness and fellowship, in breaking bread and prayers.

The churches in Jerusalem today offer us a vision of what it means to be united, even amid great problems. They show us that the call to unity can be more than mere words, and indeed that it can point us toward a future where we anticipate and help build the heavenly Jerusalem.

Realism is required to make reality of such a vision. The responsibility for our divisions lies with us; they are the results of our own actions. We need to change our prayer, asking God to change us so that we may actively work for unity. We are ready enough to pray for unity, but that can become a substitute for action to bring it about. Is it possible that we ourselves are blocking the Holy Spirit because we are the obstacles to unity; that our own hubris prevents unity?

The call for unity this year comes to churches all over the world from Jerusalem, the mother Church. Mindful of its own divisions and its own need to do more for the unity of the Body of Christ, the Church in Jerusalem calls all Christians to rediscover the values that bound together the early Christian community in Jerusalem, when they devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. This is the challenge before us. The Christians of Jerusalem call upon their brothers and sisters to make this week of prayer an occasion for a renewed commitment to work for a genuine ecumenism, grounded in the experience of the early Church.

The 2011 prayers for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by Palestinian Christians, who chose as a theme Acts 2:42, 'They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.' This theme is a call back to the origins of the first church in Jerusalem; it is a call for inspiration and renewal, a return to the essentials of the faith; it is a call to remember the time when the Church was still One. Within this theme four elements are presented which were marks of the early Christian community, and which are essential to the life of the Christian Community wherever it exists. Firstly, the Word was passed on by the apostles. Secondly, fellowship (koinonia) was an important mark of the early believers whenever they met together. A third mark of the early Church was the celebration of the Eucharist (the 'breaking of the bread'), remembering the New Covenant which Jesus has enacted in his suffering, death and resurrection. The fourth aspect is the offering of constant prayer. These four elements are the pillars of the life of the Church, and of its unity.

The Christian Community in the Holy Land wishes to give prominence to these basic essentials as it raises its prayers to God for the unity and vitality of the Church throughout the world. The Christians of Jerusalem invite their sisters and brothers around the world to join them in prayer as they struggle for justice, peace and prosperity for all people of the land.


                                                                   Copyright © 2010 Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute