THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been an ecumenical tradition since
1908 and is now coordinated by the World Council of Churches. The theme for
2021 “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (John 15), was chosen by
the monastic community of Grandchamp, located near Lake Neuchatel in
Switzerland. The community, founded in the 1930s, brings together sisters from
different churches and various countries, whose ecumenical vocation commits
them on the path of reconciliation among Christians and within the human family.
The second promise of their life commitment asks, “Will you, from now on, with
your sisters, celebrate the newness of life that Jesus Christ gives through the Holy
Spirit and let it grow in you and among us, in the Church and in the world, in the
whole of creation, thus fulfilling your service in this Community?”
The metaphor that Jesus uses in John’s gospel, chapter 15, is that of a tree and
branches. The image helps us believers to understand that, although diverse
individuals, our oneness is deeper than any diversity or individuality. Christ,
Whose life we share, joins us to one another in everlasting fashion.
During this week, we pray the Jesus, Source of our unity, by His gracious love,
make this oneness a reality for us. May we love one another victoriously. And
may we unconditionally share such love with whomever comes across our path,
so to transform the world…
we pray for all the member of your holy Church,
that all may abide in you and you in them,
that they may be one in your love and bear much fruit.
We also pray for the world,
that all may come to believe in your love for them
by the fruit of our witness.
We know that our divisions
are a source of scandal to your world,
and we know that in love
we are called to unite as one in the vine and branches.
The vine is our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.
We are meant to be his branches.
Help us we pray,
to seek justice
and to be your prophetic voice in the world.
May your grace effect growth of good fruit among us,
that our world may realize peace.
We ask all this in the name of Jesus,
your Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.
I have found these past days profoundly unsettling. I imagine that, no matter where you stand politically, the same is true for you. After months of struggle and unrest, more chaos and lawlessness, and they have shaken us deeply as a nation. Even if born of desperation, violence is never the answer. It cancels good-will and sabotages hopes of dialogue. It divides. The divisions in our country have further been laid bare and deepened. Such divisions tear painfully at our hearts.
In the light of these events and prompted by the love that gathers us, I ask that we, at ASA, recommit to being peacemakers, to being and respecting seekers of truth, to judging no hearts but holding all accountable for actions, to promoting justice, to praying for healing and unity, to listening and to dialogue, to daring to hope, to loving our neighbor as our Lord loves us, because our Lord loves us. This is our mission. Will you join me in renewing this?
Let us pray:
God of ages, in your sight nations rise and fall and pass through times of peril. Now when our land is troubled, be near to judge and to save. May leaders be led by your wisdom; may they search for your will and see it clearly. In any ways we have turned from your way, help us to reverse them. Give us your light and your truth to guide us; through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen
At Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes, “we value the church as a community that welcomes all people, where viewpoint diversity is considered a blessing” (from our Statement of Particular Values).
What is the theological foundation that undergirds this value?
To begin, we understand that “Jesus’ ‘kingdom is not of this world’ (John 18:36). And is consequently deepened in our understanding that,
“the course of action for Christians in the political sphere is not always obvious and may lead to different political perspectives among parishioners. We are certainly not removed from the world, as we are called to love ‘in truth and in action’ (I John 3:18).
We may have different understandings of how to ‘act justly’ (Micah 6:8), however, and thus, as a church, we choose to minister primarily in our immediate community and we pray that each parishioner go forth,
formed by our common faith and according to the dictates of individual conscience, to make the world a better place.”
(Statement of Particular Values)
Over the next two days, we will see fellow Americans gathered in our city to attend the “March to Save America”. I've been asked, "So how are we, as members and friends of ASA, to respond to this expression of free speech?"
First and foremost, we are to PRAY— Pray for peace. Pray to be peacemakers. And let us avoid making sweeping generalizations. As disciples of Christ, in conscience, let us resist the temptation to view those who think differently than us to be "the enemy".
As Congressman John Lewis (+2020) said, “Not one of us can rest, be happy, be at home, be at peace with ourselves, until we end hatred and division.”
We must bear in mind that, as members of the American family, we are all fellow citizens that share the same right to expression, that is no different than any other secular organizations we may endorse. And we must bear in mind that, divinely speaking, these individuals may be fellow Christians, and perhaps even fellow parishioners; who, if they have a different political perspective, are no less our Sister(or Brother)-in-Christ than those who share our political perspectives.
I Remain Yours in Christ, the Prince of Peace,
The Rev. Dominique Peridans
Glad to be your Rector