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The Sword of the Spirit
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 18-25, 2018

Called to Love, Unity,
and Mission Together

“All will know that you are my disciples
if you have love for one another”
(John 13:35)

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Introduction

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an eight-day observance or “octave” of prayer. It has been this way from the beginnings of this international movement in 1908. Following are a set of eight daily scripture readings, a short commentary on the readings and a prayer. This set of materials was developed by the Sword of the Spirit for use within local communities and households during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held around the world between January 18-25, 2018.

Included with the common readings and prayers are some additional questions to help individuals and families participate in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We would encourage families to take some time to engage the readings and prayers for each day and talk about them together, perhaps around the dinner table or in family worship time.  Please feel free to adapt or change them as helpful.  In particular the ‘questions for reflection’ will benefit from adaptations or expansion to best match the ecumenical reality in each local situation.

We have also included a short Lord’s Day prayer that can be inserted in the section following the Blessing of the Wine which can be used like the other seasonal variations in the Lord’s Day prayers.

Please use these materials in any way you find most helpful in your personal and family worship times during this season of prayer.

Note: The Psalms listed here follow the numbering of the Hebrew tradition.

 

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Tuesday, January 23

Through love we pursue common witness and mission for the Lord together (Nehemiah 2:18)

  • Nehemiah 2:17-18 and 6:15-16 “Let us rise up and build.” So, they strengthened their hands for the good work.
  • Psalm 145:10-21 They shall speak the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power
  • Mark 16:15-20 They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it
  • Acts 2:43-47 All who believed were together and the Lord added to their number day by day

Commentary: [excerpt from The Gift of Salvation: A Statement by Evangelicals and Catholics Together, January 1988] “What unites us is greater than what divides us. We believe that the Lord is calling for greater witness and mission together for the sake of the Gospel and Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations.

“We confess together one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; we confess Jesus Christ the Incarnate Son of God; we affirm the binding authority of Holy Scripture, God’s inspired Word; and we acknowledge the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds as faithful witnesses to that Word.

“The effectiveness of our witness for Christ depends upon the work of the Holy Spirit, who calls and empowers us to confess together the meaning of the salvation promised and accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Through prayer and study of Holy Scripture, and aided by the Church’s reflection on the sacred text from earliest times, we have found that, notwithstanding some persistent and serious differences, we can together bear witness to the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. To this saving gift we now testify, speaking not for, but from and to, our several communities.

“As believers we are sent into the world and commissioned to be bearers of the good news, to serve one another in love, to do good to all, and to evangelize everyone everywhere. It is our responsibility and firm resolve to bring to the whole world the tidings of God’s love and of the salvation accomplished in our crucified, risen, and returning Lord. Many are in grave peril of being eternally lost because they do not know the way to salvation.

“In obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord, we commit ourselves to evangelizing everyone. We must share the fullness of God’s saving truth with all, including members of our several communities. [Whatever Church tradition or denomination we come from we must speak the Gospel to each other’s tradition/denomination] Evangelicals must speak the Gospel to Catholics and Catholics to Evangelicals, always speaking the truth in love, so that “working hard to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . . the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:3, 12-13).”

Questions for reflection:

  • What is the basis for common witness of the Gospel and mission together? Jesus said, “All will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). In what ways can you and your community pray together and witness together with Christians from other traditions and denominations?
  • In what ways can you and your community share in the work of evangelizing and spreading the Gospel more widely with Christians from other traditions and denominations?

Prayer: God of love and mercy, look upon our willingness to serve you despite our spiritual poverty and limited abilities. Fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts to be filled with the joy of your presence. Fill our broken hearts with your healing love so that we may love as you have loved us. Grant us the gift of unity so that we may serve you together with joy and share the good news of your salvation with all. This we ask in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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