Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2014

18-25th January inclusive at 4.30pm.

The night before his Passion and Death, Jesus said:

“May they all be one,
just as, Father,
you are in me and I am in you” Jn 17:21

Each year from 18-25th January, Christians of all denominations unite around the world to pray for this great desire of the heart of Jesus—that we may all be one. Here at Kilmacud Carmelite Monastery we dedicate our Evening Prayer at 4.30pm for this intention each day during the Week of Prayer.  All are welcome to join us. 

QUICK LINKS:             THEME & BIBLICAL TEXT 2014           

                                    ECUMENISM IN CANADA

                                    DAILY REFLECTIONS AND PRAYERS

                                    QUOTES AND PHOTOS FROM EACH DAY AT KILMACUD

THEME:        Has Christ been Divided?

BIBLICAL TEXT FOR 2014: 1 Corinthians 1:1-17

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind — just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you — so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

Guest speakers at the Carmelite Monastery this week:

Sat 18th:     Rev. Ian Gallagher, St Brigid's Church of Ireland, Stillorgan
Sun 19th:    Dr Geraldine Smyth, Irish School of Ecumenics
Mon 20th:
   Reflection by a Sister
Tue 21st:     Rev. Canon Robert Warren, Taney Parish, Church of Ireland, Dundrum
Wed 22nd:   Reflection by a Sister
Thurs 23rd: 
  Rev.Tony Coote, Adm., Kilmacud & Mount Merrion Parishes
Fri 24th:
     Reflection by a Sister
Sat 25th:     Rev.Jameson Kunjukunju, Mar Thoma Syrian Church


This text is reproduced under the sole authority and responsibility of the ecumenical group in Canada which came together to write the source texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2014.

Canadians live in a country that is marked by diversity in language, culture, and even climate, and we also embody diversity in our expressions of Christian faith. Living with this diversity, but being faithful to Christ’s desire for the unity of his disciples, has led us 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 embody 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.

Among the many factors that influence Canadian religious experience is the sheer size of our country. Canada is the second largest country in the world, 40% of which is in the Arctic, north of 60o latitude. Stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the United States to the North Pole, Canada has ten provinces and three territories. The vast distances between our cities have promoted both self-reliance and formation of distinct identities in the regions, but can also engender feelings of alienation or resentment.

 Canadian Christians worship in hundreds of languages and dialects and preserve distinctive elements of their cultures within a rich cultural and religious mosaic. Members of other religions have also settled in Canada, including Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Baha'i. Canadian cities rank among the most multicultural and multireligious in the world. Earlier government policies promoting assimilation have been replaced by official multiculturalism since the 1970s.

 For over 150 years, some of the Christian denominations of Canada worked with the federal government to operate Indian Residential Schools, which took aboriginal children to be taught and assimilated into European culture. These schools, which sought to eradicate indigenous language and culture, were often sites of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The largest churches in Canada – Roman Catholic, United, Anglican, and Presbyterian – were complicit and have recently apologized in a variety of ways. These churches now work closely together with aboriginal people in the search for justice, healing, truth, and reconciliation.

Twenty-four denominations come together in the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), one of the broadest and most inclusive church councils in the world, encompassing Anglican, Catholic, Reformed, Evangelical, Free Church, and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox traditions.

 One of the many innovative aspects of Canadian ecumenism is the formation of more than fifty inter-church coalitions for social justice beginning in the 1960s.

 Differences within the Christian community have continued to be factors inhibiting cooperation. Nevertheless, Christian cooperation in inter-religious dialogue has increased in recent years and is frequently undertaken collaboratively between churches. Has Christ been divided in Canada? It can certainly be said that there are divisions among Christians in Canada. However, in the face of new social issues some religious communities have begun to engage with their neighbours in new and positive ways. Indeed, Canadian history has seen periods of tension and rivalry, of life lived in ignorance and indifference to each other. Through it all, we have learned to take into consideration the values of others in order to live peaceably together. We continue to be divided by doctrine, polity, and practice, and to maintain our own religious solitudes, yet our pilgrimage towards unity continues under God’s guidance.

 The aspirations expressed in this prayer from the 1967 Canadian Centennial celebrations still reflect the modern Canadian character:

“Let us pray and live for a world where people of all nations will be united in thought, word and deed; help us to be transparently honest, pure, and loving in
our relations with others in our world and every world.  Let us pray for harmony and self-fulfilment for every soul in this nation and every nation; help us to work and live
so that hunger, poverty, ignorance, and disease will disappear and thy kingdom will come indeed. Amen.”


Printable (pdf) version of these daily reflections

DAY 1: Sat 18th Jan: Together... we are called to be saints
Together, we who call upon the name of the Lord are called to be saints “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:2). In Exodus, this gathering together of God’s people is described as a treasured possession, a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. In 1 Peter, our membership in this communion of saints is understood to come as a result of God calling us together as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, God’s own people. With this calling comes a shared mandate to proclaim the mighty acts of God that drew us out of darkness and into God’s light. Furthermore, we discover in Matthew that as a communion of saints, our oneness in Jesus is to extend beyond our family, clan, or class as together we pray for unity and seek to do the will of God.

Merciful God, together with all those who call on the name of the Lord, in our brokenness we hear your call to be saints. Yet you have made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. By the power of your Holy Spirit, draw us together in the communion of saints and strengthen us to do your will and to proclaim the mighty acts of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen

DAY 2: Sun 19th Jan: Together... we give thanks for God’s grace in one another
Gratitude, in Deuteronomy, is a way of living life with a deep awareness of God’s presence within us and around us. It is the ability to recognize God’s grace active and alive in one another and in all people everywhere and to give God thanks. The joy that flows from this grace is so great that it embraces even “the aliens who reside among you”. Gratitude, in the ecumenical context, means being able to rejoice in the gifts of God’s grace present in other Christian communities, an attitude that opens the door to ecumenical sharing of gifts and to learning from one another. All of life is a gift from God: from the moment of creation to the moment God became flesh in the life and work of Jesus, to this moment in which we are living. Let us thank God for the gifts of grace and truth given in Jesus Christ, and
manifest in one another and our churches.
Most loving and gracious God, we give thanks for the gifts of your grace that we experience in our own tradition and in the traditions of other churches. By the grace of your Holy Spirit, may our gratitude continue to grow as we encounter one another and experience your gift of unity in new ways. This we pray through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

DAY 3: Mon 20th Jan:  Together... we are not lacking in any spiritual gifts
Job realizes that even though all has been taken away from him, the fear of the Lord remains – that is wisdom. As brothers and sisters in Christ, even though we are impoverished by our divisions, we have all been graced with an abundance of diverse gifts, both spiritual and material to build up his body. Yet, despite God’s promises and Jesus’ generous life and love, we, like the disciples in Mark, sometimes forget our true wealth: we divide, we hoard; we speak and act as if we have “no bread”. Christ has not been divided: together we have gifts enough to share with one another and “with every living thing”.
Faithful, open-handed God, we bless you that you have given us all the spiritual gifts we need to come to the measure of the full stature of Christ : for wisdom, for gifts of service and for bread. Help us to be signs of your abundance, gathered in unity to bring the gifts of your everlasting kingdom to every place of pain and lack. Filled with the Spirit, we pray in the name of the One whose gift was the bread of his life broken for us, now and forever. Amen.

DAY 4: Tues 21st Jan:  Together... we affirm that God is faithful
The eternal unity of Father, Son and Spirit draws us closer into the love of God, and calls us to participate in God’s work in the world which is love, mercy and justice. Mercy and justice are not divided in God, but rather are joined together in the steadfast love manifested in God’s covenant with us and with all of creation. The new father Zechariah testifies to God’s manifestation of mercy in keeping his promises to Abraham and his descendents. God is faithful to his holy covenant. As we continue to pray for the unity of the church, we must not neglect to meet together and encourage one another, spurring each other on towards love and good deeds, saying: “God is faithful.”
Faithful God, we give thanks for your steadfast love and your devotedness that extends to the clouds. As we wait in joyful hope, working and praying together for the full visible unity of your church, fill us with confidence in your promises . We make this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

DAY 5: Wed 22nd Jan: Together... we are called into fellowship
We are called into fellowship with God the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. As we draw closer to the Triune God, we are drawn closer to one another in Christian unity. Christ has initiated a change in our relationship, calling us friends instead of servants. In response to this relationship of love, we are called out of relationships of power and domination into friendship and love of one another. Called by Jesus, we witness to the gospel both to those who have not yet heard it and to those who have. This proclamation contains a call into fellowship with God, and establishes
fellowship among those who respond.
Father of love, you have called us into the fellowship of your Son and appointed us to bear fruit in our witness to the gospel. By the grace of your Spirit, enable us to love one another and to dwell together in unity so that our joy may be complete. Amen.

DAY 6: Thurs 23rd Jan: Together... we seek to be in agreement
The disunity described in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 reflects a distortion of the gospel, undermining the integrity of the message of Christ. To acknowledge conflict and division, as Chloe’s people did, is the first step to establishing unity. Women like Deborah and Chloe raise a prophetic voice among God’s people in times of conflict and division, confronting us with the need to be reconciled. Such prophetic voices may enable people to gather in renewed unity for action. As we strive to be united in the same mind and the same purpose, we are called to seek the Lord and his peace as the psalmist wrote.
Loving God, you give us prophetic witnesses in times of conflict and division. When we seek you, Lord, send us your Holy Spirit to make us artisans of reconciliation, united in the same mind and the same purpose. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.

DAY 7: Fri 24th Jan: Together... we belong to Christ
Isaiah envisioned a day when Egyptians and Assyrians would worship together with Israel as God’s people. Christian unity belongs to the design of God for the unity of all humanity, and indeed of the cosmos itself. We pray for the day when we will worship together in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship. We are blessed by the gifts of various church traditions. Recognising those gifts in each other impels us towards visible unity. Our baptism unites us as one body in Christ. While we value our particular churches, Paul reminds us that all who call on the name of the Lord are with us in Christ for we all belong to the one body. There is no other to whom we can say, “I have no need of you” (1 Cor 12:21).
We give you thanks, O God, that you bless each and every member of the body of Christ with the gifts of your Spirit. Help us to be supportive of one another, to be respectful of our differences, and to work for the unity of all throughout the world who call upon Jesus as Lord. Amen.

DAY 8: Sat 25th Jan: Together... we proclaim the gospel
Together we proclaim anew the good news prophesied in Isaiah, fulfilled in our Lord Jesus, preached by the Apostle Paul, and received by the Church. Facing honestly the differences we have and the labels of denomination we embrace, we must never lose sight of the common mandate we have in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul is sent “to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power” (1 Cor 1:17). The path to unity is to be found in the power of the cross. The Gospel we proclaim is made tangible and relevant to us as we bear witness to the work of Jesus Christ in our own lives and the life of the Christian community.
Gracious God, you sent your son Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to redeem your people. Unite us in our diversity, that we might affirm and proclaim together the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Christ for a world in need of his gospel. Amen.


Rev. Ian Gallagher, St Brigid's Stillorgan
"Jesus was sent behind enemy lines to rescue us, to bring us back alive. Do we still live for, because of, with and out of a need to give our answer to Jesus' death?
Do we live in Him as He lives in us? 
If you, like me, believe Jesus has inspired countless people to acts of self-sacrifice, if you believe that the humbling, self-giving love Jesus taught is what you need, if you believe that truth and meaning and a worthwhile life is found in living a life that Jesus wants - then you, like me, are not living for yourself alone. 
What Our Lord wants us to do is to "love one another as I have loved you". 
Our lives are not our own. They belong to Him who saved them, and gave them back to us again, and because of that we are all and have been at our baptism, called and sent out to be saints."

Dr. Geraldine Smyth, Irish School of Ecumenics

"This evening we come in thanksgiving and ask for the grace of perseverance for our unfinished ecumenical journey. We need to encourage one another in the faith that God still has plans for us. It is God who began this work in us, that will bring it to completion.

To understand Christian Unity we need to enter the mind of Christ in His longing for oneness for His disciples. He prayed for an all-embracing unity, not based on sameness – the disciples couldn’t have been more different from one another! He was never preoccupied with uniformity in belief and worship. Unity in Christ is no mere matter of social politeness, it doesn’t stop at tolerance.

Do we not need to pray for the gift of not giving up discovering the gifts of grace that each of our Churches is holding in trust from Christ? We dare not keep these gifts wrapped up in a napkin, but need to find creative ways of exchanging gifts. In such hidden shifts of mindsets and small gestures of opening up, we will come to know the other as gift of God."

Reflection by a Sister

"As I was thinking about today's theme it came to me that it is the virtue of humility which opens us up to receive the utter goodness of God in Christ Jesus. This virtue will enable us to recognise the features of Christ in the other Churches. Thanksgiving in receiving God's gift to us in Christ will heal our divisions and divides."  

Sr Mary Paul (photo), who died 10 years ago and who was a great ecumenist in our community loved the quote of St Sergio - "contemplating the Most Holy Trinity overcomes the hateful divisions of our times".

Rev. Canon Robert Warren, Taney Parish, Church of Ireland, Dundrum

We've come a long way, and yet, I think that there's still that kind of frustration that we haven't quite got the prize. And why it is that we haven't got the prize - I don't know! I'm not sure that we have actually embraced it enough as Churches. We do it quite well at the official level - we have the interaction - but I'm not altogether sure that our congregations now actually see it as a priority anymore. Some of that is to do with complacency. Some of it is reflected in what our Archbishop Michael Jackson drew our attention to last autumn when he highlighted that within his diocese there is still quite a degree of secterianism in our people. People were upset because they didn't see themselves in that light - but I think you only have to scratch the surface to be able to see the underlying currents are still there... they probably exist still in all our communities, even if it's under the surface.

Where we've come from - we have come a long way. There is no doubt about that.  We now freely can experience each others' worship, we can be in each others' company, and so on...  
We've come to the realisation that we can have unity in diversity, and for me that has been a worthwhile change in the ecumenical movement.

As we travel together, we ask God to bless us, we will see the faithfulness of God... to all of us, and how we have been blessed in different ways. Let's hope we can travel together in love, in peace, in concord, to the glory of the One Lord.

Reflection by a Sister

As believers in Christ we are all members of his body, sharing the same knowledge and love of God. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is an expression of God's love which we experience in our relationship with him and with others. The love flowing between the Father, Son and Spirit is dynamic and creative and we are called to share in that love by responding to God's invitation to enter into fellowship or communion with him. In the Rublev icon this is depicted by the empty space at the table; we are invited to take our place there and to become enfolded in the life of the Trinity.
Right from the beginning of our Christian life through our baptism, we become children of God and brothers and sisters of one another. From that moment God is welcoming us into a progressively deeper relationship with himself, and he holds us all in his heart calling us into fellowship with each other, but this only becomes a reality if our hearts are open to the work of his Spirit.

(Photo: Display in our Chapel during the Week of Prayer 2014)

Rev.Tony Coote, Adm., Kilmacud & Mount Merrion Parishes

There’s no such thing as a perfect family! Each one of us individually are not perfect – so put us all together and it’s a recipe for disaster!

When it comes then to the Christian family it’s no wonder that there is division, because as individuals we seek our own way so often. We often have our own agenda. And so, sadly, do the groups of the different Christians – they seek to have their own agenda.

And yet, Christ is not divided, because if Christ is divided then there is no Christianity at all! There is only one Christ. Our perfection then, is reached when we meet Jesus face to face, and then we will be perfect and will be seen as we are seen.

 We are all going up the same mountain, we are just taking different paths!

We pray in this week then that as followers of Jesus Christ we find enrichment in each other not in an idealistic way when we think that we will get it all perfect but to not strive for it is the scandal… to refuse to take that step towards others with the same faith in Jesus is the scandal…

Reflection by a Sister

About this time of the evening, a little over five years ago I was here in this chapel with some members of my family. We were taking photographs, because earlier that day I had just made my first profession of vows as a Carmelite. Just as we were finishing the photos, a good friend of our community – Hilary Hughes – walked into the chapel for Evening Prayer, as she often did. Hilary is a member of the Methodist Church and came to know us many years ago during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Reflecting on this photograph with Hilary, it strikes me that the very first person outside my immediate family and community that I met after taking my religious vows was a member of another Christian tradition. That is significant. Hilary belongs to Christ from her baptism – just as much as I belong to Christ from my baptism! 

Sometimes we can be afraid of showing our ignorance when we talk with Christians of another denomination, and this fear can make us distant or uncomfortable with them. But there is one safe question that we can always ask any Christian of any denomination, and that is: “Where were you baptized?” It is our common denominator, if you like! You might even be surprised at the answer you receive – it might even open up a very interesting conversation!

Rev.Jameson Kunjukunju, Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Faith in the resurrection of Christ makes Christianity a unique religion. The power of the resurrection is a power of unity. A divided church cannot share the gospel. Even though there are differences in culture, tradition, rituals and practices, there is only one faith, one baptism and one Gospel. Christ is the Gospel and we too are called out to be gospels to our brothers and sisters through our lives. There are not only four gospels but five... the fifth gospel is myself and yourself, we the Church. We may belong to different denominations such as Roman Catholic, Oriental orthodox, reformed or evangelicals... But Christ is our unifying factor and the focal point of our mission life.

Proclaiming the Gospel together is a privilege.
Proclaiming the Gospel together demands our humbleness and attitude of unworthiness before God.
Proclaiming the Gospel together demands our willingness to carry the cross of Christ.

Divided church cannot share the Gospel in a meaningful way.
May God bless us to proclaim the Gospel with a heart of unity and concord.

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