WEEK OF PRAYER REFLECTION January 25, 2016

wheat

DAY EIGHT: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
CHRISTIAN UNITY

Reflection by Mark Lloyd Taylor, Ph.D. (Faculty, Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry)

“…unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies…” (John 12:24)

A transformative moment of self awareness came for me when I realized my greatest gifts as a person and my most impactful limitations do not lie separated from each other, on opposite ends of some spectrum, but in closest proximity, like two sides of the same coin. My ability to keep calm and look out for the needs of others in times of crisis, for example, born out of the experience of caring for younger siblings when I was eight and our little baby brother was so gravely ill and in the hospital, that ability comes at a high price, for I sometimes find it difficult to feel my own feelings deeply as I squelch what’s inside to deal with the chaos outside.

Something similar can be said, I believe, of the gifts and limitations of our various ecclesial communities – they lie in close proximity. I am an Episcopalian. Public, corporate worship represents the center of gravity for my ecclesial community. Important gifts flow from this center: the Episcopal way of being Christian is highly communal, fiercely embodied, elemental, dramatic, beautiful, tolerant of ambiguity, and adverse to doctrinal rigidity. But limitations lie close at hand as well: we Episcopalians can devolve into liturgical fundamentalists, or worse, we can fail to connect our worship to the transformative work of justice and peace in the world to which we are called by our baptism. I wonder how you would describe the gifts and limitations of your Roman Catholic or Presbyterian or American Baptist or ______________ ecclesial community and whether you experience them as two sides of the same coin?

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,” Jesus says in John’s gospel, “it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

My almost twenty years of association with Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry have taught me that ecumenism, Christian unity, requires all of us – Episcopalian and Roman Catholic and Presbyterian and American Baptist and ________________ – to undergo a kind of death. Like Jesus’ grain of wheat, we must die to our “singleness,” the illusion that my way of being Christian is the only way, or the best way; the illusion that I can be a healthy Episcopal Christian without the distinctly different ways of worship and witness represented by my Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and American Baptist sisters and brothers. But also like Jesus’ grain of wheat, which does not cease to exist, does not cease being wheat, when it falls into the earth and dies, so Christian unity does not ask us to negate the particular gifts of our ecclesial communities; to the contrary, they contain the germ of new life. For like Jesus’ grain of wheat, much fruit is borne when our greatest gifts are liberated from the prisons of our singleness, our most impactful limitations. Then they truly become gifts offered to all, instead private possessions to be hidden and hoarded.

Faculty Reflections Week of Prayer 2016

January 25, 2016 Daily Prayer Resources

Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity

Prayer resources offered by the churches of Latvia.

Theme for the Day:
HEARTS BURNING FOR UNITY

Scripture Readings:

Isaiah 52:7-9 – How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news.
Psalm 30 – You have turned my mourning into dancing.
Colossians 1:27-29 – How great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you.
Luke 24:13-36 – Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

Questions:

  1. What are the disappointments that isolate us from others?
  2. What are the gifts (initiatives, methods, and programs) that we can receive from other Christian communities?

School Cycle of Prayer:

We pray today for the Clinical 6 class taught by Ethan Schwab; Lisa Gustaveson, staff; Danelle Whitmore and Patricia Whitney, students.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you have made our hearts burn within us, and have sent us back upon the road towards our brothers and sisters, with the Gospel message on our lips. Help us to see that hope and obedience to your commands always lead to the greater unity of your people. Amen.

Prayer Resources Week of Prayer 2016