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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

PREPARATION: Questions for Reflection on the Themes of the Eight Days

2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we are invited to enter more deeply into our faith that we will all be changed through the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The biblical readings, commentaries, prayers and questions for reflection, all explore different aspects of what this means for the lives of Christians and their unity with one another, in and for today's world. These questions are provided as further opportunities to reflect upon the daily themes.

Day One: Changed by the Servant Christ
The Son of Man came to serve (cf. Mark 10:45)

On this day we encounter Jesus, on the road to victory through service. We see him as the "one who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life, a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). Consequently, the Church of Jesus Christ is a serving community. The use of our diverse gifts in common service to humanity makes visible our unity in Christ.

  1. What opportunities for service are most threatened by pride and arrogance?
  2. What should be done to ensure that all Christian ministries are better experienced as service?
  3. In our community, what can Christians of different traditions do better together than in isolation to reveal the Servant Christ?

Day Two: Changed through patient waiting for the Lord 
Let it be so now, for it is proper to fulfil all righteousness (Matt. 3:15)

On this day we concentrate on patient waiting for the Lord. To achieve any change, perseverance and patience are needed. Prayer to God for any kind of transformation is also an act of faith and trust in his promises. Such waiting for the Lord is essential for all who pray for the visible unity of the church this week. All ecumenical activities require time, mutual attention and joint action. We are all called to co-operate with the work of the Spirit in uniting Christians.

  1. In what situations in our life should we have a greater trust in God's promises? 
  2. What areas of church life are particularly at risk from the temptation to act hastily?
  3. In what situations should Christians wait, and when should they act together?

Day Three: Changed by the Suffering Servant
Christ suffered for us (cf. 1 Peter 2:21)

This day calls us to reflect on the suffering of Christ. Following Christ the Suffering Servant, Christians are called to solidarity with all who suffer. The closer we come to the cross of Christ the closer we come to one another.

  1. How can our faith help us in our response to long-lasting suffering?
  2. What areas of human suffering are unnoticed and belittled today? 
  3. How can Christians bear witness together to the power of the cross?

Day Four: Changed by the Lord's Victory over Evil
Overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21)

This day takes us deeper into the struggles against evil. Victory in Christ is an overcoming of all that damages God's creation, and keeps us apart from one another. In Jesus we are called to share in this new life, struggling with him against what is wrong in our world, with renewed confidence and with a delight in what is good. In our divisions we cannot be strong enough to overcome evil in our times.

  1. Where do we see evil in our own lives? 
  2. In what way can our faith in Christ help us to overcome evil and the Evil One? 
  3. What can we learn from situations in our community where division has given way to reconciliation?

Day Five: Changed by the peace of the Risen Lord 
Jesus stood among them and said: Peace be with you! (John 20:19)

Today we celebrate the peace of the Risen Lord. The Risen One is the great Victor over death and the world of darkness. He unites His disciples, who were paralysed with fear. He opens up before us new prospects of life and of acting for His coming kingdom. The Risen Lord unites and strengthens all believers. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of our transformation in the resurrection.

  1. What forms of violence in our community can we as Christians confront together?
  2. How do we experience hidden hostilities that affect our relationship to each other as Christian communities?
  3. How can we learn to welcome each other as Christ welcomes us?

Day Six: Changed by God's Steadfast Love
This is the victory, our faith (cf. 1 John 5:4)

On this day we concentrate our attention on God's steadfast love. The Paschal Mystery reveals this steadfast love, and calls us to a new way of faith. This faith overcomes fear and opens our hearts to the power of the Spirit. Such faith calls us to friendship with Christ, and so to one another.

  1. How should we express Christian love in contexts of different religions and philosophies?
  2. What must we do to become more credible witnesses of God´s steadfast love in a divided world?
  3. How can Christ's followers more visibly support one another throughout the world?

Day Seven: Changed by the Good Shepherd
Feed my sheep (John 21:19)

On this day the Bible texts show us the Lord strengthening His flock. Following the Good Shepherd, we are called to strengthen each other in the Lord, and to support and fortify the weak and the lost. There is one Shepherd, and we are his people.

  1. How does the Good Shepherd inspire us to comfort, revive, and restore the confidence of those who are lost?
  2. In what ways can Christians of various traditions strengthen each other in confessing and bearing witness to Jesus Christ?
  3. For us today, what can be the meaning of St Paul's exhortation: "Be strong in the Lord.... put on the whole armour of God"?

Day Eight: United in the Reign of Christ
To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne (Revalations. 3:21)

On this last day of our week of prayer for Christian Unity we celebrate the Reign of Christ. Christ's victory enables us to look into the future with hope. This victory overcomes all that keeps us from sharing fullness of life with him and with each other. Christians know that unity among us is above all a gift of God. It is a share in Christ's glorious victory over all that divides.

  1. In what ways do false humility and a desire for earthly glory manifest themselves in our lives?
  2. How do we express together our faith in the Reign of Christ?
  3. How do we live out our hope in the coming Kingdom of God?