Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017

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 2017           

                                    ECUMENISM IN GERMANY

                                    DAILY REFLECTIONS AND PRAYERS

                                    QUOTES AND PHOTOS FROM EACH DAY AT KILMACUD

                                    PREVIOUS YEARS

                                                                     
THEME:        
The Love of Christ Compels Us  

BIBLICAL TEXT FOR 2017:  2 Corinthians 5:14-20

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

Guest speakers at the Carmelite Monastery this week:

Mon 18th: Rev. Ruth Patterson, Restoration Ministries, Belfast 
Tues 19th: 
Reflection by a Carmelite Sister
Wed 20th:  
Rev. Ian Gallagher, St. Brigid’s Church of Ireland, Stillorgan
Thurs 21st:
Reflection by a Carmelite Sister    
Fri 22nd:  
Reflection by a Carmelite Sister 
Sat  23rd:  
Rev. Kieran McDermott, Vicar for Evangelisation & Ecumenism, Archdiocese of Dublin
Sun 24th: 
Rev. Tony Coote Adm., Mount Merrion & Kilmacud parishes
Mon 25th: 
Pr Martin Sauter, St. Finian's Lutheran Church, International Congregation 

ECUMENISM IN GERMANY

This text is reproduced under the sole authority and responsibility of the ecumenical group in Germany which came together to write the source texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017.

Of the 81 million inhabitants in Germany today, 50 million are Christian. Most of them belong either to the Roman Catholic Church or to one of the Protestant regional churches which together make up the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). Although small by comparison, there are also “Free Churches”, the Orthodox Church and, indeed, all major Christian traditions are present in Germany today.

Centuries ago, Germany consisted of many kingdoms and principalities but was united by a common church. The Reformation, led among others by Martin Luther, resulted in schisms within Western Christianity and ultimately in wars between Catholic and Protestant forces. The Peace of Augsburg (1555) temporarily put an end to these conflicts by stipulating that the people of a kingdom or principality were to adhere to the faith of their ruler. Those who believed differently were forced to convert or move to a different region. These provisions applied to Lutherans and Catholics, but not to the followers of Calvin and the Anabaptists, who were thus subject to persecution. The Peace of Augsburg held for over six decades until the outbreak of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Peace was re-established by the Peace of Westphalia which affirmed the Peace of Augsburg, this time, however, with provision for Calvinists. As a result, the German people lived in regional denominational isolation. Confessional diversity within a sovereign land was unthinkable, and, driven by the horrors of war, mistrust and animosity between the denominations were rampant.

The 19th century saw the advent of other churches and denominations in Germany, among them the Baptist and Methodist as well as old-confessional churches (the Old Lutheran, Old Reformed and Old Catholic churches). Their rise was often due to inner church protest movements. As a result, these churches were relatively small in number and mostly disinclined to ecumenical relations.

After World War II, the situation of the Christian churches in Germany changed significantly. About 12 million people of German ancestry fled or were expelled from Eastern Europe. When they were settled in Germany no consideration was given to the question of which Christian tradition they belonged to. Protestants came to live in Catholic areas and vice versa. As a result, Protestants and Catholics came in closer contact with each other.

Post-War economic and industrial growth created a demand for labour, resulting in agreements between the German government and many Mediterranean countries concerning “guest workers”. In this way people from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia came to Germany, which increased the confessional and religious diversity of the country. This saw in particular an increase in the Orthodox presence in Germany. Although it was initially thought that they would return to their home countries after a couple of years (hence the name “guest workers”), many stayed and left their mark on German life and culture. The 1980s saw an increase of immigrants with German roots from the former Soviet Union, many of whom were Orthodox, Baptist or Jewish. In recent years war, terror and social unrest in the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, Ukraine and many other countries have generated a large flow of refugees. While most of these flee to neighbouring regions, there are increasing numbers of migrants seeking refuge in Germany and in other European countries.

In former Eastern Germany the churches, most especially the Protestant church, played a key role in the events leading up to the fall of the Berlin wall (1989) and the downfall of the Communist government. Even that, however, did not prevent the Christian faith from losing its significance in East Germany. The British newspaper, The Guardian, went so far as to describe East Germany as “the most godless place on earth”. The rule of the Communist government was by no means the only reason for the lack of religiosity there; the Christian faith had been on the decline in East Germany even before the communists came to power. The atheism there is not at all aggressive in nature, like that of the so-called “new atheists”. Instead, it is characterized by a deep-rooted indifference to any kind of faith. When people in Berlin were asked whether they considered themselves to be believers or unbelievers, one person responded: “I’m neither, I’m normal”.

Today Germany is home to people of many different cultural backgrounds and of different – or no – beliefs. About one third of the population belongs to one of the Protestant regional churches in the EKD, one third is Roman Catholic and just under one third does not adhere to any faith. 1,7% of the population are Orthodox Christians, another 1,8% are members of one of the free churches. These are mostly churches which have strong historical and theological links to the Reformation but do not have ties to the state like the Roman Catholic Church and the EKD. 4,9% of the people in Germany are Muslim, 0,1% are Jewish.

The churches in Germany have not yet overcome all their differences, but they have learned to work together. During the rule of the National Socialists there were Christians who collaborated with the government. Others, however, offered resistance and were imprisoned or sent to concentration camps. The common experience of living and suffering under the dictatorship of the Nazis brought Christians of different traditions closer together. Today, German churches do a much better job of cooperating in order to fulfil the mission of the Church and witness to the Gospel in word and deed. Because the Roman Catholic Church and the EKD each have many members, they also make up a large part of the ecumenical cooperation that takes place in Germany.

Much of the ecumenism in Germany occurs at the grassroots level, for example the Prayer Week of the Evangelical Alliance and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Neighbouring parishes and congregations often organize ecumenical activities like Bible study, discussing theological topics, celebrating festivals, creating a common website, visiting people who are new to the community and distributing leaflets at a local train station that contain information about the Christian churches. This kind of work is usually done by volunteers who are members of the local churches. In some regions congregations and parishes enter into local ecumenical partnerships, signing a formal agreement that shapes their cooperation. These agreements are usually based on similar written agreements between the leaders of the churches concerned.

Ecumenical co-operation also occurs on the level of church leadership. For example, a group of Catholic and Protestant bishops from the EKD meets twice a year to discuss current topics that affect the churches. Another group discusses theological issues – such as the concept of human dignity. In addition to these bilateral meetings, there are also regular meetings between representatives of the Orthodox Bishops’ Conference with Roman Catholic and with Protestant bishops, respectively, and between the Association of Free Churches and the EKD.

Large church conventions or gatherings for the members of a church are a typical feature of the German Christian landscape. For Catholics they are called Katholikentage, and for Protestants, Kirchentage. Both take place every two years, and are organized by the Central Committee of German Catholics and the German Evangelical Kirchentag (DEKT), respectively. In principle, they are primarily gatherings for the members of one church, but for many years now members of different churches have attended or have even been invited as guest speakers.

In 2003 and in 2010 all the member churches of the German Council of Churches joined together to organise a similar convention on an ecumenical level called an Ökumenischer Kirchentag. Many issues that are important to German society were discussed (the global financial crisis, climate change, ethical questions concerning human life, justice, etc.). Of equal importance were the many Bible studies, theological discussions, and ecumenical worship services. Holding these gatherings, especially the ecumenical Kirchentage, is an excellent opportunity for Christians in Germany to demonstrate not only that they are still active, but also that they are prepared to work together and to engage the rest of German society in dialogue. 



DAILY REFLECTIONS

Printable (pdf) version of these daily reflections


DAY 1: Wed 18th Jan:  One has died for all (2 Cor 5:14)
When Paul was converted to Christ he came to a radical new understanding: one person has died for all.  Jesus did not just die for his own people: he died for all people, past, present and future. Faithful to the Gospel, many Christians down the centuries have laid down their lives for their friends. One such person was the Franciscan Maximilian Kolbe, who in 1941 willingly gave up his life at Auschwitz  so that a fellow
prisoner could live. Because Jesus died for all, all have died with him (2 Cor 5:14).  In dying with Christ our old way of life becomes a thing of the past and we enter into a new form of existence: abundant life, a life in which we can experience comfort, trust and forgiveness, even today, a life which continues to have meaning even after death. This new life is life in God. Paul felt compelled by the love of Christ to preach the Good News of reconciliation with God. Christian churches share in this same commission of proclaiming the Gospel message.  We need to ask ourselves how we can proclaim this gospel of reconciliation in view of our divisions.
Prayer
God our Father, in Jesus you gave us the one who died for all. He lived our life and died our death. You accepted his sacrifice and raised him to new life with you. Grant that we, who have died with him, may be made one by the Holy Spirit and live in the abundance of your divine presence now and for ever.  Amen.

DAY 2: Thurs 19th Jan:  Live no longer for themselves 
(2 Cor 5:15)

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been freed from the need to create our own meaning and from living only out of our own strength. Rather, we live in the life-giving power of Christ, who lived, died, and rose again for us. When we ‘lose’ our life for his sake, we gain it. The prophets were constantly faced with questions concerning the right way to live before God. The prophet Micah found a very clear answer to this question: “To do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” The author of Psalm 25 knew that we cannot do this by ourselves and cried out to God for guidance and strength. In recent years, social isolation and increasing loneliness have become important issues in Germany as in many contemporary societies.
Christians are called to develop new forms of community life in which we share our means of livelihood with others and nurture support between generations. The Gospel call to live not for ourselves but for Christ is also a call to reach out to others and to break down the barriers of isolation.
Prayer
God our Father, 
in Jesus Christ you have freed us for a life that goes beyond ourselves. Guide us with your Spirit and help us to orient our lives as sisters and brothers in Christ, who lived, suffered, died and rose again for us, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.


DAY 3: Fri 20th Jan:  We regard no one from a human point of view (2 Cor 5:16)

Encountering Christ turns everything upside down. Paul had that experience on the road to Damascus. For the first time he could see Jesus for who he really was: the Saviour of the world. His point of view was changed completely. He had to lay his human, worldly judgment aside. Encountering Christ changes our
perspective as well. Nevertheless, we often linger in the past and judge according to human standards. We make claims or do things “in the name of the Lord” that in reality may be self-serving. Throughout history, in Germany and in many other countries, both rulers and the churches themselves have misused their power and influence to pursue unjust political goals.
Transformed by their encounter with Christ, in 1741, the Christians of the Moravian Church (Herrnhuter) answered the call to regard no-one from a human point of view by choosing to ‘submit to Christ’s Rule’. In submitting ourselves to the rule of Christ today, we are called to see others as God sees them, without mistrust or prejudice.

Prayer
Triune God, you are the origin and goal of all living things.
Forgive us when we only think of ourselves and are blinded by our own standards.  Open our hearts and our eyes. Teach us to be loving, accepting and gracious, so that we may grow in the unity which is your gift. To you be honour and praise, now and for ever. Amen.

DAY 4:  Sat 21st Jan:  Everything old has passed away 
(2 Cor 5:17)
We often live out of the past. Looking back can be helpful, and is often necessary for the healing of memories. It can also paralyze us and prevent us from living in the present. Paul’s message here is liberating: “everything old has passed away”. The Bible encourages us to keep the past in mind, to draw strength from our memories, and to remember what good God has done. However, it also asks us to leave the old, even what was good, in order to follow Christ and live a new life in him. During this year, the work of Martin Luther and other reformers is being commemorated by many Christians. The Reformation changed much in the life of the Western Church. Many Christians showed heroic witness and many were renewed in their Christian lives. At the same time, as scripture shows, it is important not to be limited by what happened in the past, but rather to allow the Holy Spirit to open us to a new future in which division is overcome and God’s people is made whole.

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and for ever.
Heal the wounds of our past, bless our pilgrimage towards unity today and guide us into your future, when you will be all in all, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen


DAY 5: Sun 22nd Jan: 
Everything has become new (2 Cor 5:17)
Paul encountered the risen Lord, and became a renewed person—just as everyone does who believes in Christ. This new creation is a reality of faith. God lives in us by the power of the Holy Spirit and lets us share in the life of the Trinity.  This new life becomes visible when we allow it to take shape and live it out in “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” It must also become apparent in our ecumenical relationships. A common conviction in many churches is that the more we are in Christ, the closer we are to each other. Especially on this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we are reminded of both the achievements and tragedies of our history. The love of Christ compels us to live as renewed beings in actively seeking unity and reconciliation.
Prayer
Triune God, you reveal yourself to us as Father and creator, as Son and Saviour,  and as Spirit and giver of life, and yet you are one.  You break through our human boundaries and renew us. Give us a new heart to overcome  all that endangers our unity in you. We pray in the name of Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

DAY 6: Mon 23rd Jan:  God reconciled us to himself 
(2 Cor 5:18)

Reconciliation has two sides: it is fascinating and terrifying at the same time. It draws us in so that we desire it: within ourselves, with one another, and between our different confessional traditions. We see the price and it scares us. For reconciliation means renouncing our desire for power and recognition. In Christ God graciously reconciles us to himself even though we have turned away from him. God's action goes beyond even this: God reconciles not only humanity, but the whole of creation to himself. In the Old Testament God was faithful and merciful to the people of Israel, with whom he established a covenant. This covenant remains: “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). Jesus, who inaugurated the new covenant in his blood, was a son of Israel. Too often in history our churches have failed to honor this. After the Holocaust, it is the distinctive task of the German churches to combat antisemitism. Similarly all churches are called to bring forth reconciliation in their communities and resist all forms of human discrimination, for we are all part of God’s covenant.
Prayer
Merciful God, out of love you made a covenant with your people. Empower us to resist all forms of discrimination. Let the gift of your loving covenant fill us with joy and inspire us to greater unity. Through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.


DAY 7: Tues 24th Jan:  The ministry of reconciliation 
(2 Cor 5:18-19)
God always gives the grace needed for the healing of broken relationships. The great reformers such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, as well as many who remained Catholics, such as Ignatius of Loyola, Francis de Sales and Charles Borromeo, sought to bring about renewal in the Western church. However, what should have been a story of God’s grace became a story of the rending of unity.
Compounded by sin and warfare, mutual hostility and suspicion deepened over the centuries. Today, many Christian churches work together in mutual trust and respect. One positive example of ecumenical reconciliation is the dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Mennonite World Conference. After the dialogue results were published in the document “Healing Memories: Reconciling in Christ”, the two organizations held a penitential service together in 2010 followed by further reconciliation services throughout Germany and in many other countries.
Prayer
God of all goodness, we give you thanks for reconciling us and the whole world to yourself in Christ. Empower us, our congregations and our churches in ministries of reconciliation. Heal our hearts and help us to spread your peace. “Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy”. We pray in the name of Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

DAY 8: Wed 25th Jan:  Reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20)
What if the prophecies in the Bible actually came true? If the wars between people stopped and if life-giving things were to be made out of the weapons of war? What if there really was no more mourning, no more tears, and no more death? It would be the culmination of the reconciliation that God brought about in Jesus Christ. Psalms, canticles, and hymns sing of the day when the whole perfected creation finally arrives at its goal, the day when God will be “all in all”. They tell about the Christian hope for the fulfilment of God´s reign, when suffering will be transformed into joy. On that day, the Church will be revealed in her beauty and grace as the one body of Christ. Wherever we gather in the Spirit to sing
together about the fulfilment of God’s promises, we begin here and now to dance to the melody of eternity. We may be inspired to share images, poems and songs from our particular traditions. These materials can open up spaces for us to experience our common faith in and hope for God’s Kingdom.
Prayer
Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we thank you for this week of prayer, for being together as Christians and for the different ways we have experienced your presence. Let us always praise your holy name together so that we may continue to grow in unity and reconciliation. Amen. 

 

QUOTES AND PHOTOS FROM EACH DAY AT KILMACUD


Will be updated here each day during the Week of Prayer



LINKS TO PREVIOUS YEARS' WEEK OF PRAYER AT KILMACUD

2014: Has Christ been divided? 

Speakers:     Rev. Ian Gallagher, St Brigid's Church of Ireland, Stillorgan
                   Dr Geraldine Smyth, Irish School of Ecumenics
                   Rev. Canon Robert Warren, Taney Parish, Church of Ireland, Dundrum
                   Rev.Tony Coote, Adm., Kilmacud & Mount Merrion Parishes

                   Rev.Jameson Kunjukunju, Mar Thoma Syrian Church

2015: Jesus said to her: "Give me a drink "

Speakers:     Rev. Katherine Meyer, United Methodist/Presbyterian Church, Sandymount
                    Rev. Robert Opala OCD, Carmelite Community, Oxford, UK
                    
Rev. Ian Gallagher, St Brigid's Church of Ireland, Stillorgan
                  
 Rev.Tony Coote, Adm., Kilmacud & Mount Merrion Parishes
                    Mrs. Alex Fromholz, Lay Teacher/Leadership Team, Holy Trinity Church of Ireland,                                 Rathmines


2016: Called to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord

Speakers:      Rev. Stephen Taylor, Dundrum Methodist Church
                    Rev. Gillian Wharton, Booterstown and Carysfort wtih Mount Merrion, Church of Ireland
                    Rev. Ian Gallagher, St Brigid's Church of Ireland, Stillorgan
                    Rev.Tony Coote, Adm., Kilmacud & Mount Merrion Parishes
                    Sr Mary O'Driscoll OP, Dominican Sisters, Cabra

                  

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