December 16, 2016

That All May Be One / Fr. Rick Ginther

Spirit will be present at Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Fr. Rick GintherChristmas—all Christians share a devotion to this great feast and season.

And unlike Easter, all Christians share a common date for Christmas, Dec. 25.

That which we share in common is very important. Our sharing in a longing for unity is most important!

Annually, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated from Jan. 18-25. This “octave” (eight days) offers an intense time for prayer that all may be one.

At 7 p.m. on Jan, 18, 2017, at King of Glory Lutheran Church, 2201 E. 106th Street, in Carmel, Ind., the Christian community of the greater Indianapolis area will gather for prayer. A reception will follow.

In keeping with this year of commemoration of the 500th year of the start of the Protestant Reformation, our host church is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), Indiana-Kentucky Synod.

The Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity annually publishes the Week of Christian Unity prayer service.

Each year’s service is formulated by a national or regional committee. For 2017, the German national committee was chosen. It consisted of representatives of different Christian communities in Germany—Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, Methodist, Orthodox, Mennonite and Reformed.

The theme which the national committee chose is “The Love of Christ Compels Us.” The source for this theme was Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel,” #9).

From this, they used the fuller Scripture text of 2 Corinthians 5:14-20 to frame the prayer service and the entire week.

“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 (2 Cor 5:14-15).

“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! (2 Cor 5:16-17)

“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 this appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 18-20).

Our prayer service on Jan. 18 will be based upon the international English version of the Prayer Service. Various leaders of Christian communities in Indiana, along with lay ministers and choir, will lead us in the prayer.

Having just completed the Holy Year of Mercy, what better opportunity could we have than to join together in an evening of prayer such as this?

May the Spirit of God compel us to be a part of this night—indeed this week—of hope and prayer for unity.

For more insight into the prayer service, go to www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/week-of-prayer.
 

(Father Rick Ginther is director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenism. He is also pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis.)

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