The Anglican/Episcopal Communion joins with major Christian denominations across the world in observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25, 2023. In John’s gospel (17: 22) Jesus prays for the unity of the mission of the apostles and the subsequent Church that would emerge in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit (John 20: 22 & Matthew 28: 19). The theme for this year’s global focus is, “Do good; Seek Justice” (Isaiah 1:17). This prophetic injunction from the Prophet Isaiah is the inspiration, directive and hope that is commissioned to the world. Its objective is to foster and promote the gift of PEACE or shalom to a broken world inhabited by a people desperately in need of healing as was in the prophet’s day and even more so in today’s uneasy world.
The Week of Prayer is aimed at gathering all Christians together in worship in our respective homes, churches, or our ecumenical partners to respond with one accord to God’ will. Like Jesus we are called to possess undying love for each other, especially the oppressed and marginalized, poor and homeless, weak and vulnerable, and pray for those countries torn by war and threats of war. The Church is this ecclesia or holy assembly under God’s providential love, power, grace and mercy. It is the manifestation of God’s vision to which we are invited to embrace. We do this by possessing new hearts and minds, embody new ways of living together that is pleasing to God and edifying to the world.
In the Letter to the Ephesians (2:14), the Apostle Paul describes the characteristics of God’s consecrated people. The commitment to love and serve Christ is founded upon the ability to love any person, irrespective of color, race, social status, or culture. However, noble we may appear, however orthodox our teachings, however vibrant our worship and our liturgy, the Church is not real unless it is characterized by hospitality and welcoming, caring, and loving actions toward our fellow human beings. The temptation to remain within our walls and silos is ever present, our daily struggles are so complex, and things are rarely black or white but often grey. Nevertheless, St. Paul reminds us of Christ calling to be one.
The theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity inspires each one of us to tread the path of love with awe and humility, as we seek to realize our destiny in God. In our walk with Jesus, the Son of God, the corner stone of God’s household, we are called to devote ourselves completely to him. However, on this journey of faith, we are always at risk of ignoring the thirst and longing we have for God. In the face of this temptation, we are called to be vigilant, courageous, and confident in God’s grace. We are called to be full of hope and patience whenever we are discouraged by trials of life. As such, to enable the completion of our journey of faith, let us pray that our deeds and our words always reflect the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us pray:
O God of justice, God of peace, One in the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, enliven the unity of your church on earth. Help us to see that our unity goes beyond unity in doctrinal essentials to an active unity of humanity with you and with one another.
Forgive us for not remembering we are brothers and sisters in equity and justice under your law of love. Help us remember that each of us is created in your Divine image and that we share the dignity of being your children. Temper your justice, O Lord, with mercy to forgive and heal our broken relationships.
Unite us in a fellowship that recalls our baptism, which has conquered sin and death, hate and division in the power of the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ. Grant all this, Lord, in his name and by the power of your Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.
(Note: some thoughts from across the Anglican Communion are incorporated in the reflection)