for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 18th to 25th
The daily themes, scripture readings, reflections, and prayers were prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches and the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU) Writing Team. The introduction and discussion questions were prepared by the Canadian WPCU Writing and Animation Team. The daily themes and scripture for each day are presented below.
The document with the reflections and prayers can be downloaded here. This is just one of the resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Others, including hymn suggestions, can be found on its website.
How we read, hear, and interpret the Bible is affected by the context of our own lives and communities. The reflections below for each day’s Bible Study were prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches based in Beirut, Lebanon. The churches in the Middle East context are often in the minority and experience marginalization and oppression. The Gospel speaks directly to their experience, bringing light and hope while empowering them to bring this light and hope to their communities. We hear these themes in their reflections, which is an encouragement to us as we seek to live as Gospel people.
Our Canadian context, though, is not the same as that of our sisters and brothers in the Middle East. Although Canada includes many Christians who are part of marginalized and oppressed communities, and their churches have been agents of light and justice to communities both inside and outside the Christian context, the experience of most Canadian churches is that we are not in a marginalized place. We have often been ‘Babylon’, ‘Rome’, ‘Persia’, and ‘Herod’ to others, especially in our relationships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. For example, in the Middle East it makes sense to speak of the Magi making their journey to Bethlehem with open minds and hearts, ready to bow their knees before the Christ who was born in a context so different from their own. In Canada, we who are part of the ‘settler communities’ must wrestle honestly with our history of violent conquest of these lands and of the peoples who were already here. Many Christian churches acted in the name of Jesus to perpetrate the horrors of the residential school system on Indigenous children and their families, believing they were following the same light that guided the Magi. What does ‘Christian unity’ mean when it is experienced as an outside, conquering force?
Although Canadians often speak of building a diverse, inclusive and just society, we know that racism is deeply imbedded in our society and that we have seen great violence against people of colour and against ethnic and religious minorities.
As we undertake these Bible Studies, let us bring the honest questions and reflections that come when the light of the Gospel illuminates the truth of both our past and our present. As we seek greater unity, may it be in service to the love and justice God has revealed in Jesus.
2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
“We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Matthew 2: 2)
BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS AND PRAYERS FOR THE EIGHT DAYS
“We observed his star in the East” (Mt 2: 2)
Raise us up and draw us to your perfect light
Zechariah 4: 1-7 I see a lampstand all of gold
Psalm 139: 1-10 Your right hand shall hold me fast
2 Timothy 1: 7-10 This grace … has now been revealed through the appearing of our
. Saviour Christ Jesus
John 16: 7-14 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth
“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” (Mt 2: 2)
Humble leadership breaks down walls and builds up with love
Jeremiah 23: 1-6 He shall reign as king and deal wisely
Psalm 46 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth
Philippians 2: 5-11 Who… did not regard equality with God as something to be
Matthew 20: 20-28 The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve
“When king Herod heard this he was disturbed,
and all Jerusalem with him” (Mt 2: 3)
The presence of Christ, turning the world upside down
Nehemiah 4: 18-21 So we laboured … from break of dawn until the stars came out
Psalm 2: 1-10 Why do the nations conspire … ?
2 Thessalonians 2: 13 – 3: 5 But the Lord is faithful, he will strengthen you
Matthew 2: 1-5 He was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him
“And you, Bethlehem … are by no means least” (Mt 2: 6)
Though small and suffering, we lack nothing
Micah 5: 2-5a, 7-8 From you shall come forth … one who is to rule in Israel
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
1 Peter 2: 21-25 Now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your
Luke 12: 32-40 Do not be afraid, little flock
“Ahead of them went the star that they had seen at its rising” (Mt 2: 9)
Guided by the one Lord
Exodus 13: 17 – 14: 4 The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud
Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?
Revelation 22: 5-9 For the Lord God will be their light
Matthew 2: 7-10 Ahead of them went the star that they had seen at its rising
“They saw the child with Mary his mother,
and they knelt down and paid him homage” (Mt 2: 11)
Gathered in worship around the One Lord
Exodus 3: 1-6 Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God
Psalm 84 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
Revelation 4: 8-11 Worship the one who lives forever and ever
Matthew 28: 16-20 When they saw him, they worshipped him
“Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts
of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Mt 2: 11)
The gifts of communion
Hosea 6: 1-6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice
Psalm 100 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise
Acts 3: 1-10 I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you
Matthew 6: 19-21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
“They left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2: 12)
Beyond the familiar routes of separation to God’s new paths
Jeremiah 31: 31-34 I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
Psalm 16 You show me the path of life
Ephesians 4: 20-23 To be renewed in the spirit of your minds
Matthew 11: 25-30 Because you have hidden these things from the wise and the
. intelligent, and have revealed them to infants