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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

PRAYER / WORSHIP: Daily Scripture & Prayer Guide

2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Day 1, Changed by the Servant Christ.

Zechariah 9:9-10, A King righteous and victorious - and humble.
Psalm131, My heart is not proud.
Romans 12:3-8, We have different gifts with which to serve.
Mark 10:42-45, The Son of Man came to serve.
The coming of the Messiah and His victory was accomplished through service. Jesus wants a spirit of service in the hearts of His followers as well. True greatness consists in serving God and one's neighbor. 
Zechariah's prophecy concerning a victorious and humble King was fulfilled in Christ. The King of Peace comes to Jerusalem - the City of Peace. He does not conquer it by deceit or violence, but by gentleness and humility. 
Psalm 131 describes the picture of a mother and child as a sign of God's tender love and of trust in God, to which the entire community of believers is called. 
St. Paul challenges us to discover our own abilities. Each of our traditions has been endowed by the Lord with gifts that we are called to place at the service of others.
By His service, Christ redeemed our refusal to serve God. St. Paul reminds us that the diverse gifts given to us are for service. In our diversity we are always one body in Christ, and members of one another. The use of our diverse gifts in common service to humanity makes visible our unity in Christ. They are an expression of the practical ecumenism which the Church and the world badly need. The imitation of Christ the Servant provides eloquent testimony to the Gospel, moving not only minds, but also hearts. It is a sign of the coming Kingdom of God - the Kingdom of the Servant Christ. 
Almighty and eternal God, by travelling the royal road of service your Son leads us from the arrogance of our disobedience to humility of heart. Unite us to one another by your Holy Spirit, so that through service to our sisters and brothers, Your true countenance may be revealed; You, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Day 2, Changed through patient waiting for the Lord.

1 Samue1:1-20, Hannah's trust and patient waiting.
Psalm 40, Patient waiting for the Lord.
Hebrews 11:32-34, Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice.
Matthew 3:13-17, Let it be so now, for it is proper to fulfill all righteousness.
From a Christian perspective victory is a long-term process of transformation. Transformative victory teaches us that it occurs in God's time, not ours, calling for our patient trust and deep hope in God. Hannah witnessed to such patient trust and hope. After many years of waiting to be pregnant, she prayed to God for a child. When Eli assured her that God would grant her prayer, she simply trusted, waited, and was sad no longer. Hannah's trust and hope results not only in her own transformation, but that of her people.
The psalmist echoes Hannah's patient waiting. He gives thanks that God has transformed his shame and confusion, and continues to trust in God's steadfast love.
The Letter to the Hebrews recalls the patience of people who were able to be victorious through their faith and trust in God. God's intervention into human history eliminates the temptation to be triumphant in human terms. 
Jesus, does not succumb to the temptation to usher in the Kingdom of God without delay, but patiently reveals what life in the Kingdom means through his own life and ministry which leads to his death on the Cross. While the Kingdom of God breaks through in a decisive way in the resurrection, it is not yet fully realized. The ultimate victory will come about only with the second coming of our Lord. 
Our longing for the visible unity of the Church likewise requires patient and trustful waiting. Our prayer for Christian unity is like the prayer of Hannah and the psalmist. Our work for Christian unity is like the deeds recorded in the Letter to the Hebrews. Our attitude of patient waiting is not one of helplessness or passivity, but a deep trust that the unity of the Church is God's gift, not our achievement. Such patient waiting, praying and trust transforms us and prepares us for the visible unity of the Church not as we plan it, but as God gives it. 
Faithful God, you are true to your word in every age. May we, like Jesus, have patience and trust in your steadfast love. Enlighten us by your Holy Spirit that we may not obstruct the fullness of your justice by our own hasty judgments, but rather discern your wisdom and love in all things. For You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Day 3, Changed by the Suffering Servant.

Isaiah 53:3-11, The man of sorrows accustomed to suffering.
Psalm 22:12-24, He did not despise the affliction of the afflicted.
1Peter 2:21-25, Christ suffered for us.
Luke 24:25-27, Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things?
The divine paradox is that God can change tragedy and disaster into victory. He transforms the enormity of history's pain into a resurrection that encompasses the whole world. While appearing to be defeated, He is the true Victory whom no one and nothing can overcome. 
Isaiah's prophecy was completely fulfilled in Christ. After suffering enormous agony, the Man of Sorrows shall see His offspring. We are that offspring, born from the Savior's suffering. In this way we are made one family in Him.
Psalm 22 is not only about Jesus. The Savior Himself prayed this psalm on the cross. In the second part of the psalm the lamentation changes into praise of God for God's works.
Peter presents to us as an example: Jesus did not curse God, but submitted to the one who judges righteously. His wounds have healed us, and returned us all to the one Shepherd. 
As with the disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus is our constant companion on the stony road of life, stirring our hearts and opening our eyes to the mysterious plan of salvation. The power of the cross draws us into unity. Here we encounter Christ's suffering as the source of compassion for and solidarity with the entire human family. In our shared solidarity with all who suffer we learn from the crucified suffering servant the lessons of self-emptying, letting go and self-sacrifice. These are the gifts we need from His Spirit on our way to unity in Him.
God of consolation, you have transformed the shame of the cross into a sign of victory. Grant that we may be united around the Cross of your Son to worship Him for the mercy offered through his suffering. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes and our hearts, so that we may help those who suffer to experience your closeness; You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Day 4, Changed by the Lord's victory over evil.

Exodus 23:1-9, Do not follow the majority in wrongdoing.
Psalm 1, Happy are those whose delight is in the law of the Lord.
Romans 12:17-2, Overcome evil with good.
Matthew 4:1-11, Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.
In Jesus we learn what "victory" really means, that is, happiness with one another in God's love through His overcoming of all that keeps us apart. In Jesus we can share in a new life which calls us to struggle against what is wrong in our world with renewed confidence and with a delight in what is good.
The words from Exodus give a categorical warning against engaging in wrongdoing and injustice. The attitude of the majority must not in any way provide an excuse. Nothing entitles a person to do wrong. 
Psalm 1 draws attention not only to the need to observe the commandments, but especially to the joyful fruits of doing so. A person who loves the law of the Lord above all else is called happy and blessed. 
In Paul's admonitions we find encouragement to "overcome evil with good." Only good can interrupt the endless spiral of hatred and the desire for revenge. He calls peace with others and understands our continuous struggle against our instincts to harm those who hurt us. 
Matthew describes the Son of God's struggle against Satan. Jesus' victory over the temptations in the desert are fulfilled in His obedience to the Father, which leads Him to the Cross. His resurrection confirms that God's goodness ultimately wins: love overcomes death. His presence calls Christians to act together in the cause of goodness. The scandal is that because of our divisions we cannot be strong enough to fight against the evils of our time. United in Christ, we are called to share in His mission of bringing hope to the places of injustice, hatred, and despair.
Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for your victory over evil and division. We praise you for your sacrifice and your resurrection that conquer death. Help us in our everyday struggle against all adversity. May the Holy Spirit give us strength and wisdom so that, following you, we may overcome evil with good, and division with reconciliation. Amen.

Day 5, Changed by the peace of the Risen Lord.

Malachi 4:5-6, He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents.
Psalm 133, How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
Ephesians 2:14-20, To reconcile both groups to God in one body, putting to death hostility.
John 20:19-23, Jesus stood among them and said: Peace be with you!
Malachi's words convey God's promise of sending God's chosen one to establish harmony and respect in all households. He draws attention to one of the most difficult conflicts -- the heartbreak in relations between parents and their offspring. This restoration of unity is not possible without God's help. It is God's emissary who performs the miracle of transformation in people's hearts and relationships.
The psalm shows what great joy such unity among people can bring. Happiness consists in living in a human community in harmony, peace, trust and understanding. Living together in unity is not restricted to family members only - this is rather a declaration of the closeness between people who accept the peace of God. 
The epistle tells us of Him whom the prophet Malachi announced. Jesus brings unity, because in His own body He has demolished the "wall of hostility" between people. Jesus puts an end to alienation. He transforms, heals and unites all that they may become "members of God's household."
"Peace be with you" is Christ's greeting and also his gift. It is an invitation to seek peace with God and establish new, lasting relationships within the human family and all of creation. Jesus has trampled down death and sin. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Risen Lord invites his disciples into his mission of bringing peace, healing and forgiveness. As long as Christians remain divided, the world will not be convinced of the full truth of the Gospel. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of this transformation. The Churches need to appropriate and witness to these gifts as members of the one household of God built upon the sure foundation of Jesus as the cornerstone.
Loving and merciful God, teach us the joy of sharing in your peace. Fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we may tear down the walls of hostility separating us. May the risen Christ, who is our peace, help us to overcome all division and unite us as members of his household. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Day 6, Changed by God's steadfast love.

Habakkuk 3:17-19, God, the Lord is my strength.
Psalm 136:1-4,23-26, His steadfast love endures forever.
1 John 5:1-6, This is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.
John 15:9-17, No one has greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.
It is faith in God that keeps hope alive. Habakkuk's lamentation turns to joy in God's fidelity that supplies strength in the face of despair. 
Psalm 136 confirms that the memory of God's steadfast love in Israel's history. Because of God's intervention, the people of Israel experienced extraordinary and surprising victories. Recalling God's great works of salvation is a source of joy, gratitude and hope, which believers have for centuries expressed in prayer, hymns of praise, and music. 
The epistle reminds us: "that which has been born of God" is what overcomes the world. Victory in Christ involves a change of heart, perceiving earthly reality from the perspective of eternity, and believing in the final victory over death. This victorious force is faith, the source of which is God. And its most perfect manifestation is love. 
In the gospel, through His death on the cross, Christ assures His disciples of God's love. He invites and challenges them to show love to one another. Even when progress to full visible unity seems slow, we do not lose hope. God's steadfast love will enable us to overcome the deepest divisions. That is why the victory that conquers the world is our faith and the transforming power of God's love.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, by your resurrection You have triumphed over death, and have become the Lord of life. Out of love for us You have chosen us to be Your friends. May the Holy Spirit unite us to You and to one other in the bonds of friendship, that we may faithfully serve You in this world as witnesses to Your steadfast love; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Day 7, Changed by the Good Shepherd.

1 Samuel 2:1-10, Not by might does one prevail.
Psalm 23, You are there with your rod and your staff.
Ephesians 6:10-20, Be strong in the Lord.
John 21:15-19, Feed my sheep.
Hannah's realized that some things happen only with the help of God. It was through His will that Hannah and her husband became parents. In what would seem to be a hopeless situation this text is an example of victory.
The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 guides his sheep even through the darkest places, comforting them with his presence. Those who place their trust in the Lord have no need to fear even the shadows of disunity, as their shepherd will lead them to dwell together in the Lord's own house.
St. Paul urges us to "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power" by putting on spiritual armor: truth, righteousness, proclaiming the Good News, faith, salvation, the word of God, prayer and supplication. 
The Risen Lord urges Peter and each disciple to discover in himself a love of Him who alone is the One True Shepherd. 
The witness to Christ that has been confirmed in us obliges us to act jointly for the sake of unity. We have the ability and the knowledge to bear such witness! But are we willing? He invites us to cooperate with Him unconditionally thus we will be able to help one another on the road to unity. 
Father of all, you call us to be one flock in your Son, Jesus Christ. He is our Good Shepherd who invites us to lie down in green pastures, leads us beside still waters, and restores our souls. In following him, may we so care for others that all see in us the love of the one true shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Day 8, United in the Reign of Christ.

I Chronicles 29:10-13, It is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all.
Psalm 21:1-7, You set a crown of fine gold on his head.
Revelations 3:19b-22, To the one who conquers I will give a place with Me on My throne.
John 12:23-26, Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Jesus Christ has humbled Himself and been exalted and shares His reign and exaltation with all people.
David's hymn expresses the truth that everything happens by grace. Christian tradition gives it a Messianic sense; Christ is the true King, full of blessing and life, the perfect presence of God among people. 
The Book of Revelations constitutes a message to the Church in all times and places. Those who admit Christ into their homes will all be invited to share with him in the banquet of eternal life. The promise regarding sitting on thrones, previously announced to the "twelve", is now extended to all who are victorious.
Christians are aware that unity among them is above all a gift of God. It is a share in Christ's victory over sin, death and the evil which causes division. Our participation in Christ's victory reaches its fullness in heaven. Our common witness to the Gospel shows the world a God who does not limit or overpower us. We announce to the people of our day and age, that Christ's victory overcomes all that keeps us from sharing fullness of life with Him and with each other. 
Almighty God, Ruler of All, teach us to contemplate the mystery of your glory. Grant that we may accept your gifts with humility and respect each person's dignity. May Your Holy Spirit strengthen us for the spiritual battles which lie ahead, so that united in Christ we may reign with Him in glory. Grant this through Christ who humbled himself and was exalted, who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.