Pray for Christian Unity
Cartoon courtesy Dave Walker at The Cartoon Blog.
On the night before he died, John's Gospel tells us that Jesus prayed for those who would come to believe because of the disciples' teaching, "Father make them one, as you and I are one that the world may see and believe."
In 1908, the Friars at Graymoor Monastery began an annual octave (or eight days) of prayer for Christian unity. This year, that movement of prayer is 100 years old. In the words of the official website Celebrating Prayer for Christian Unity,
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an expression of the ecumenical movement – a worldwide movement among Christians to heal the divisions within the Church; to promote dialogues among churches and Christian communities; and to encourage Christians everywhere to better understand and reflect the implications of "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Each year from January 18 – 25, Christians are encouraged to pray together as a sign of the unity that is already theirs in Christ and that that unity will become complete.You may also find online the Graymoor Today newsletter with articles on the 100 years of prayer. Finally, there is an Episcopal News Service article, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Looking for the words to pray for this? There is a prayer in the Book of Common Prayer which is for the unity of the church:
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.I do like the idea of praying for Christian unity. I like it so much that I find it odd to relegate this to eight days a year. It makes it sound like the other days can then be devoted to disunity. It would be like Delta devoting eight days to flight. Instead I think we should make sure that the whole year is so infused with our working with Chrsitians from all denominations, that the week of prayer seems like a quaint custom, but not needed by a church living into the unity for which we pray.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor