WEEK OF PRAYER REFLECTION January 20, 2016

together

DAY THREE: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
CHRISTIAN UNITY

Reflection by Michael Ramos (Executive Director, The Church Council of Greater Seattle)

To walk humbly with God means walking in solidarity with all who struggle for justice and peace. Walking in solidarity has implications not just for individual believers, but for the very nature and mission of the whole Christian community. The Church is called and empowered to share the suffering of all by advocacy and care for the poor, the needy and the marginalized. Such is implicit in our prayer for Christian unity this week.

Abuna Elias Chacour, Archbishop of the Melkite (Greek Catholic) Church of northern Israel, saw his family’s land taken away from them during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 1948. Clear about his identity as a Palestinian, Arab, Christian, Israeli, his ministry began with a modest church placement in Galilee. From his early days as a pastor living in his car, Archbishop Chacour has built from the ground up the Mar Elias School, serving 4,000 children from pre-school through high school. While the school is Christian and Muslim, Druze and Jewish; the common denominator is equality and respect. “Peace is the result of the quality of relations,” says Abuna, “between people of different religions and backgrounds.” “And acceptance of the other is the root of reconciliation.” Their approach is inclusive love. “We invite students in, not as guests, to share in the greatness that God has given to us.” The school is one of the highest in academic achievement in all of Israel. Moreover, the school has transformed the landscape of a small village in Galilee into a place of light shining in the darkness of what is for many a second-class citizenship status. Archbishop Chacour’s walking in solidarity with the children through the vision of addressing the simple need of a school has taught more than a generation that God’s shalom prevails in all manner of circumstance.

Abuna goes on to say that solidarity, as expressed by the Beatitudes, is straightening up and walking humbly. Rather than a passive resignation, walking humbly means living the Beatitudes forthrightly in this time and place. Finding those who are incarcerated, or ill, or out of legal status, or homelessness, or jobless and walking alongside them with a “firm perseverance” (Pope John Paul II), is the very definition of solidarity. Staying present and allowing the “other” to teach us leads us to the fruit of such a stance: transformation of hearts and ultimately of the city. The ecumenical church acts to serve God by taking the narrative of God’s kin-dom of justice and peace and giving it laser focus in its priorities. In listening well, we are reminded that it is the children who are at the center of God’s reign (Mark 10:30-37).

After the tragedy of the murders in the Connecticut elementary school several years ago, solidarity with our children takes on new urgency. What if the criteria for gun legislation were based on how children would be affected and not the risks of the consequences of upsetting the gun lobby? What if the children said, “For our sake, give us the best opportunity to learn without arming teachers or administrators or security officers?” What if we stood in solidarity with these children and built a society on the basis of these relationships?

Walking humbly in solidarity means taking risks, confident in God’s abundant grace to be with us. We are co-conspirators, breathing new life into relationships and seeing where the Spirit will lead.   The apostle of non-violence, Archbishop Chacour, teaches us that in walking together with those who are sometimes considered “other” while claiming who we are as equals, relationships are reconciled and the seeds of peace may flourish.

Guest Reflections Week of Prayer 2016

January 20, 2016 Daily Prayer Resources

Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity

Prayer resources offered by the churches of Latvia.

Theme for the Day:
THE WITNESS OF FELLOWSHIP

Scripture Readings:

Jeremiah 31:10-13 – They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion.
Psalm 122 – Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.
1 John 4:16b-21 – Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars.
John 17:20-23 – That they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me.

Questions:

  1. How do we regard Christians of other churches and are we prepared to ask forgiveness for prejudice towards them?
  2. What can each of us do to decrease division amongst Christians?

School Cycle of Prayer:

We pray today for the Doctoral Project Seminar class taught by Sharon Callahan; Mark Taylor, faculty; Barbara Bauml and Jo Beecher, students.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might all be one, we pray to you for the unity of Christians according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see our sin and to hope beyond all hope. Amen.

Prayer Resources Week of Prayer 2016