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THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
JANUARY 18–25, 2015

PRAYER / WORSHIP: An Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God
Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
(John 4:7)

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ECUMENICAL WORSHIP SERVICE NOTES

Introduction to the Worship

This outline for the ecumenical worship may be used for the opening of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity or for another appropriate moment chosen by the local communities.

Jesus deliberately chose to cross Samaria on his way to Judea in Galilee. His route passed by the well of the Samaritan woman who came there to draw water. The Brazilian ecumenical group that prepared the celebration invites us to use these two symbols of the route and water as images of the visible Christian unity for which we pray. In preparing this celebration the local planning group may wish to reflect on these initial questions that give shape to the celebration:

Which is the path of unity, the route we should take, so that the world may drink from the source of life, Jesus Christ? 

Which is the path of unity that gives proper respect to our diversity?

On this path of unity, there is a well filled with water: both the water sought by Jesus, tired on the way, and also the water given by him, springing up to eternal life. The water drawn by the Samaritan woman in her daily task is the water that quenches thirst, the water that makes the desert bloom. The water that Jesus gives is the water over which the Spirit of God hovered, the living water in which we were baptized.

The passage from John 4, 1-42 is at the heart of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This long Gospel passage may be read by several voices or by a dramatization.

For the sermon after the Gospel the preacher/homilist might wish to focus on the gospel and take into account the initial questions.

A liturgical environment suggestion—The path and the well

A path can be arranged with candles, flowers and colorful pieces of cloth on the floor of the central aisle of the place of celebration, leading to the front of the assembly. In the center of the path, a large basin is placed and jugs of water nearby. These pitchers could be different from one another to represent the diversity of the assembly.

The celebrants may enter in procession along this path. Passing near the “well”, each representative of a participating church will slowly pour the water from a jug into the bowl. This water, from different sources, is a symbol of our unity, already present though incomplete and hidden from our eyes. This gesture should be introduced at the beginning of the celebration and may be commented upon in the preaching.

If the path is created, the following is a suggested greeting to inform the congregation of the ritual actions:
L: Please stand and join in singing the opening hymn as the celebrants enter in procession along the path. Passing near the “well”, each representative of a participating church will slowly pour the water from a jug into the bowl. This water, from different sources, is a symbol of our unity which is real, though still incomplete.

The path may also be used in the preparation of the confession of sins. People come from different parts of the assembly on the way to express petitions for forgiveness.

NB:  The planning team in Brazil has noted that particular attention should be given to include those with impaired hearing and people with disabilities so that they can fully participate in the celebration.

An Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2015
Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (John 4:7)

“L” refers to the leader(s) of worship and is chosen from those churches present at worship.
“A” refers to the assembly gathered for worship.

PRELUDE/PREPARATION

A WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION TO THE WEEK OF PRAYER – THEME

PROCESSIONAL HYMN

INVITATION TO PRAYER:

L: Almighty God, breathe into us the wind of unity that recognizes our diversity,
A: Breathe into us mutual acceptance that welcomes and makes us community,
L: Breathe into us fire that unites what is torn apart and heals what is ill,
A: Breathe into us grace that overcomes hatred and frees us from violence,
L: Breathe into us life that faces down and defeats death,
A: Blessed be the God of mercy, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and makes all things new. Amen!

CONFESSION OF SIN AND KYRIE

L: In humility, as children of God and sisters and brothers in Christ, we receive God’s mercy and respond to God’s call to renew all relationships.
L: Merciful Lord, your Spirit hovered over the waters where diversity sprouted and flourished. We confess our difficulty to live with legitimate differences. Forgive us those attitudes of mind, words and actions that do violenceto unity in diversity.
A: Lord, have mercy or Kyrie eleison

L: Merciful Christ, grace and joy of the multitude, listener and teacher, you give birth to new visions of hope and heal the wounds of mind and body. We confess that we have failed to listen to voices different from our own, failed to say words that bring healing and hope, and we have perpetuated exclusive attitudes to those who cry out for solidarity and fellowship.
A: Lord, have mercy or Kyrie eleison

L: Merciful Lord, you are the source of all creation, the Eternal and life-giving Word. We confess that we do not listen to your creation that groans and cries out for liberation and renewal. Help us to walk together and to hear your voice in all living things that suffer
and yearn for healing and care.
A: Lord, have mercy or Kyrie eleison

L: O God, fountain of mercy and grace, pour over us your pardon. May your love transform us into a source of living waters to restore the strength of your people. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

WE LISTEN FOR THEWORD OF GOD

LECTOR 1: Isaiah 55: 1-5

PSALM: Psalm 19: 1 - 14
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer

L: The Gospel is proclaimed. John 4:1-42

THE SERMON

WE RESPOND IN FAITH AND UNITY

L: Dear brothers and sisters, let us remember the promises of Holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and his works and promised to serve God.
L:And so I ask you: Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
A: I do.
L: Do you reject the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?
A: I do.
L: Do you reject Satan, the author and prince of sin?
A: I do.
L: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
A: I do.
L: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
A: I do.
L: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
A: I do.
L: May almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins, keep us by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord, for eternal life.
A: Amen.

INTERCESSORY PRAYER

L: God of eternal compassion, as individuals and as community, we ask for light, so we may become more welcoming and understanding towards others and reduce the suffering in our world.
A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
L: God of eternal compassion, teach your children that charity, hospitality and unity are expressions of your revelation and will for humanity.
A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
L: God of eternal compassion, we beseech you, grant us peace; teach us and guide us to be builders of an accepting and non-violent world.
A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
L: God of eternal compassion, who spoke to us through creation, then through the prophets and then through your Son Jesus Christ, grant us wisdom to listen to your voice that calls us to unity in our diversity.
A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
L: God of eternal compassion, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord who as a stranger asked for a drink from a Samaritan woman; give us living water, springing up unto eternal life.
A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!
Anyone wishing to voice their own intention may do so at this time. The gathered assembly will respond:
A: Hear us, God of love! Hear this our cry!

OFFERING

(Local communities are invited to organize the offerings according to local tradition.)

L: We learn from Jesus to offer our lives as a sign of love and compassion. God, may we become living offerings dedicated to the ministry of your Word and grace.

OFFERING HYMN:

THE LORD’S PRAYER

L: God, who is with us and walks in our midst, grant us this day the grace of your light and Spirit so that we may continue our mission and remain faithful to welcoming and listening to all, even those who are different from ourselves. Take away the violence that is in our hearts and the discriminating attitudes that exclude and devalue the human dignity of others. Enable our churches to be welcoming spaces where feast and forgiveness, joy and tenderness, strength and faith become our daily practice, our daily food, our daily movement forward in Jesus Christ. As we strive to realize these goals, may we discern your voice, O Lord, and journey together towards your everlasting Kingdom. And so we pray:
A: Our Father…

BENEDICTION, PEACE AND SENDING FORTH

BENEDICTION

L: May the Lord God, bless you and protect you, fill your heart with tenderness and your soul with joy, your ears with music, your nostrils with perfume and your tongue with song giving face to hope.

May Jesus Christ the living water, be behind you to protect you, before you to guide you, by your side to accompany you, within you to console you and above you to bless you.

May the life-giving Spirit breathe into you that your thoughts may be holy, act in you so that your work is holy, draw your heart so that you love what is holy and strengthen you that you will defend what is holy.

May he make his home in your heart, water its dryness, and melt its coldness, kindle in your innermost soul the fire of his love and bestow upon you a true faith, and firm hope, and a sincere and perfect love.
A: Amen.

SHARING PEACE:

L: Before we go our separate ways from this place let us share with each other some sign of peace.

SENDING FORTH

L: May God, who teaches us to welcome each other and calls us to practice hospitality, grant us peace and serenity as we move forward on the path of Christian Unity.
A: Amen

SENDING HYMN

POSTLUDE