Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: What does God require of us?

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins tomorrow, Jan 18, on the feast of St. Peter, and runs through Jan 25, the feast of St. Paul. As always, the World Council of Churches has provided prayer resources (PDF) in English and other languages.

This 45 page brochure includes an introduction to the theme, an ecumenical worship service, and biblical reflections and prayers for each day of the week that are suitable for individual as well as communal use. Any of this material may be adapted for use, whether for a special service devoted to the theme, or for incorporation into your regular Sunday service or midweek prayer group, or for any other use in observing the week of prayer.

The brochure also includes some historical material about the Week of Prayer, including all the themes since 1968, as well as some background material on Christianity in India, the home of the authors of this year’s resources.

This year’s theme, What does God require of us?, is inspired by Micah 6:6-8:

‘With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’ He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The brochure’s introduction to the theme describes how the Student Christian Movement of India, invited to prepare the resources this year in honor of their 100th anniversary, reflected together with the All India Catholic University Federation and the National Council of Churches in India on the issue of casteism in the context of the search for Christian unity. This four page essay does an excellent job of presenting the issue of casteism and the Dalit experience in India and among Indian Christians, relating it to the book of Micah in its historical context, and giving an overview of the sub-themes of the eight days of prayer which are centered around the symbol of walking:

The path of Christian discipleship involves walking the path of justice, mercy and humility. The metaphor of ‘walking’ has been chosen to link together the 8 days of prayer because, as an active, intentional and ongoing act, the metaphor of walking communicates the dynamism which characterizes Christian discipleship. . . . The 8 subthemes for the week, related to different modes of walking, enable us to focus on various dimensions of an authentic Christian discipleship which walks the path of righteousness that leads to life (Prov 12:28a).

I encourage you to download the brochure and read this material, and to keep the church of India in your prayers this week, as well as praying for the unity of all Christians.

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