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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

PRAYER / WORSHIP: Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God

2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

We Will All Be Changed by the Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58)

"L" refers to the leader(s) of worship and are chosen from the churches present at worship. 
"A" refers to the assembly gathered for worship.

GATHERING
During this time, the clergy and other assisting persons can enter in a procession.

OPENING HYMN

OPENING INVOCATION
L: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 
A: And with your spirit.
L: Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed.
A: Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
L: God in Christ is the Victor. Victory requires effort and struggle. As we pray for and strive towards the full visible unity of the church we -- and the traditions to which we belong -- will be changed, transformed and conformed to the likeness of Christ. Christians want to make this effort together, without triumphalism, in humility, serving God and their neighbor according to the example of Jesus Christ. In striving for unity, this is the attitude we desire to ask of God together.

WELCOME 
After the greeting or presentation of those present, a short introduction may be given that briefly introduces the 2012 celebration, placing it within the framework of the chosen theme.

OPENING PRAYER 
L: Almighty God, through Jesus you say to us that whoever wishes to be first must become the least and the servant of all. We enter into your presence, knowing that your victory is won through the powerlessness of the cross. We come to pray that your church may be one. Teach us to accept humbly that this unity is a gift of your Spirit; through this gift, change and transform us
and make us more like your Son Jesus Christ.
A: Amen.

PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
L: Almighty God, in spite of the Unity we receive in Christ, we persist in our disunity. Have mercy on us!
A: Have mercy on us! (or sing "Kyrie Eleison")
L: We harden our hearts when we hear the Gospel. Have mercy on us!
A: Have mercy on us!
L: We fail to serve You in our brothers and sisters. Have mercy on us!
A: Have mercy on us!
L: The disobedience of Adam and Eve brought suffering and death to us, and creation was wounded and torn apart. Have mercy on us!
A: Have mercy on us!
(A moment of silence is kept)
L: May God Almighty have mercy on us, forgive our sins, and lead us to eternal life. 
A: Amen.

PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD OF GOD

Lector 1: Habakkuk 3:17-19

Psalm/Hymn: 
(At this time an appropriate psalm or a hymn based upon the psalms may
recited or sung by the congregation.)

Lector 2: 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

L: The Gospel is proclaimed. John 12:23-26

THE SERMON
It is customary to invite a guest to preach in the host church's pulpit.

THE NICENE-CONSTANTINOPLE CREED

L: Let us join together in professing the Creed.
A: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

HYMN/SONG
During this time "op?atki" are brought to the front and placed on a central table. Poland has a particular custom of sharing a special wafer, the "op?atek". Although it is not the Eucharist, nevertheless it resembles it and symbolizes the presence of Him who was born in a House of Bread (Bethlehem) and who himself became the bread of life -- Jesus Christ.

PRAYERS FOR UNITY AND TRANSFORMATION
L: United in Christ who gives us the victory, let us pray to God:
Lector 1: For the Church, the Body of Christ, that we might truly live the unity we receive through the Holy Spirit. God our strength: 
A: Change us by your grace.
Lector 2: For the leaders of our churches that they may be faithful to the unity to which all Christians are called. God our strength:
A: Change us by your grace.
Lector 1: For the nations of the world, that they may live in peace with one another and promote justice for all. God our strength: 
A: Change us by your grace.
Lector 2: For all people, that we may be good stewards of the earth. God our strength:
A: Change us by your grace. 
Lector 1: For the people of our society, that we may be transformed to live as caring neighbors to each other. God our strength:
A: Change us by your grace.
Lector 2: For the sick and suffering, that they may be transformed by your healing presence. God our strength:
A: Change us by your grace.
Lector 1: For all families and households, that their struggles and joys may find their fulfilment in your love. God our strength:
A: Change us by your grace.
Lector 2: For the dying, that they may be comforted by your presence. God our strength:
A: Change us by your grace.
L: Lord, stand in our midst and grant us unity and peace.
A: Amen.

THE LORD'S PRAYER
L: When the disciples asked Jesus, "how shall we pray", he responded -- when you pray use these words: 
A: Our Father… (could be sung)

RITUAL ACTIONS AND SIGN OF PEACE
Poland has a particular custom of sharing special wafer, the "op?atek", in people's homes and churches at Christmas. Each person is given a wafer. People then share this wafer by breaking off a piece of another person's wafer and eating it. In doing so they convey their best wishes to each other. This sharing of the wafer expresses unity, love, and forgiveness. We invite you to do the same as a sign of peace and unity.
L: The peace of the Lord be with you always.
A: And with your spirit.
L: Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

HYMN 
(A collection may be taken during this hymn)

PRAYER OF COMMITMENT
L: We remember what Paul the Apostle writes to the Corinthians: "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."(1 Corinthians 15, 57-58) Praise to the Lord, who leads us into unity! Father, we dedicate this week to pray for the deepening of our unity in Christ. He has overcome death, and called us into new life in the Spirit. And so we pray:
L: Changed by the Servant Christ - 
A: Send us and together we will go!
L: Changed through patient waiting for the Lord -
A: Send us and together we will go!
L: Changed by the Suffering Servant -
A: Send us and together we will go!
L: Changed by the Lord's victory over evil -
A: Send us and together we will go!
L: Changed by the peace of the Risen Lord -
A: Send us and together we will go!
L: Changed by God's steadfast love -
A: Send us and together we will go!
L: Changed by the Good Shepherd -
A: Send us and together we will go!
L: United in the reign of Christ -
A: Send us and together we will go!

BLESSING AND SENDING FORTH
L: The Lord be with you.
A: And with your spirit.
L: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. 
A: Amen.
L: May the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be upon you.
A: Amen.
L: Go forth in the peace of Christ!
A: Thanks be to God!

FINAL HYMN OR POSTLUDE