Christian Unity Week
This year’s theme comes to us from the Churches of French Canada.
Canadians live in a country that is marked by diversity in language, culture, and even climate, and it also embodies diversity in expressions of Christian faith. Living with this diversity, but being faithful to Christ’s desire for the unity of his disciples, has led them to a reflection on Paul’s provocative question in 1 Corinthians, “Has Christ been divided?” In faith we respond, “No!” yet our church communities continue to endure scandalous divisions. 1 Corinthians also points us to a way in which we can value and receive the gifts of others even now in the midst of our divisions, and that is an encouragement to us in our work for unity.
The Churches of Canada have a strong history of co-operation and mutual support. Their history includes examples of common efforts, shared ministries, and even the union of several churches. Where organic unity of churches has not been possible, they have often achieved common agreements and shared ministries that witness to growing unity in Christ. The churches have acted together on issues related to poverty and social justice, and together many of the churches are beginning to take responsibility for what they see as their un-Christ-like attitudes towards indigenous peoples in their country. And yet, despite these encouraging movements towards the unity that Christ desires, disunity prevails. A consequence of this disunity is revealed in behaviour towards neighbours and the planet.
In considering the many blessings and gifts of God made manifest in their country and peoples, the Canadian Churches have begun to recognize that they must treat one another, and the very land from which they derive their living, with dignity and respect. We can share this recognition and how it calls us all to confession and repentance, and to the seeking of new and sustainable ways of living on the earth. It raises our consciousness about how God has blessed us all, and that no one group can decide how to use the world’s resources without hearing and including the voices of our fellow human beings.
THE 8 DAYS
As well as the main worship service you may want to observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on each of the “8 days”. We have provided resources for this which can either be shared in small groups or used by individuals for personal devotion.
Each of the days begins with the word “Together…”. This is to emphasise that the Body of Christ is not divided, even if we, as Christians, are. Together reminds us that in Christ we are one and that in all aspects of our Christian living we should seek to discover that unity which is God’s gift to us.
DAY 1 – TOGETHER…WE ARE CALLED TO BE SAINTS (1 Cor 1: 2)
We reflect on how God calls us to be ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood’ and consider our attitudes, and behaviour and action as saints.
DAY 2 – TOGETHER…WE GIVE THANKS FOR GOD’S GRACE IN ONE ANOTHER (1 Cor 1: 4)
We celebrate God’s grace and the many ways in which it is manifest in our diverse Christian communities.
DAY 3 – TOGETHER…WE ARE NOT LACKING IN ANY SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1 Cor 1: 7)
We recognise we have been given abundant gifts and that together we have everything necessary to do God’s work.
DAY 4 – TOGETHER…WE AFFIRM THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL (1 Cor 1: 9a)
God’s faith and love for us calls and inspires us to strive for justice and unity.
DAY 5 – TOGETHER…WE ARE CALLED INTO FELLOWSHIP (1 Cor 1: 9b)
We consider our need for friendship and togetherness, with each other and with Christ.
DAY 6 – TOGETHER…WE SEEK TO BE IN AGREEMENT (1 Cor 1: 10)
We acknowledge that disagreements are painful and divisive but that, with God’s guidance, we can reach out to each other in peace and unity.
DAY 7 – TOGETHER…WE BELONG TO CHRIST (1 Cor 1: 12-13)
Recognising and rejoicing in the gifts of different church traditions is a step towards Christian unity.
DAY 8 – TOGETHER…WE PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL (1 Cor 1: 17)
We have journeyed through the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reflecting on and celebrating how we are bound together as Christians through God’s abundant gifts to us. Our response to his outpouring of endless love is to unite in sharing the Good News.