The theme of the 2013 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “What Does God Require of Us?” The question is a cry from the prophet Micah, who lived seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ. In his time, as in ours, people were suffering from oppression - political, economic, moral and religious. Micah recognized the cause of their suffering and criticized both political and religious authority for abusing their power and stealing from the poor.
Micah also provided a way to move through these oppressive realities. He exhorts his Hebrew people to walk in pilgrimage “up to the mountain of the Lord…that the Lord may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his path (4.2), the path of peace and justice.
A second way to move from oppressive realities is to hear the answer to Micah’s question, “What Does God Require of Us?” God requires that we should “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (cf.6:8).”
The World Council of Churches, with Orthodox and Protestant members, and the universal Catholic Church, through the Vatican, are co-sponsors of the world-wide Week of Prayer for Christian Unity who chose representatives from India to plan this year’s theme.
Why was that powerful question of what God requires of us chosen for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity? It may be because of the circumstances of the people who planned the 2013 observances.
Christians in India are a very small minority.Catholics are 80% of the very poorest in the country that belong to the lowest caste. Caste, a system of inherited social class restricts the association of a member of one caste to associate with the other social classes. The country is trying to alter this system but it still exists. We know how long it takes for discrimination to be irradiated from hearts and minds even after laws have been passed.
Perhaps in India the planners experienced or observed discrimination and oppression and wanted the world to hear Micah’s compassionate but challenging response- “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.”
Locally, the annual service on June 9th is sponsored by Ecumenism Metro Chicago that is comprised of nineteen Christian communities in the Chicago area. Judicatory leaders from these churches will offer prayers for Christian Unity. An opening reception at 4:00 pm will highlight the various ways Chicago’s churches celebrated the 2013 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) and provide attendees an opportunity to dialogue with members of other Christian churches.
In our city of neighborhoods, it would be wonderful if your parishioners joined in the service as St. Thomas. It is a great opportunity for everyone to promote and pray for Christian unity with neighboring Christians.
We’re looking forward to seeing you on Ecumenical Sunday, June 9, 2013 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Cathedral, 5000 St. Charles road – Bellwood, Illinois 60104.
The sponsor of the event, Ecumenism Metro Chicago, chose St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Cathedral to host the 2013 Ecumenical Sunday because the location of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is located in India, especially in the State of Kerala. The Eparchy of St. Thomas of the Syro-Malabars of Chicago is located in Elmhurst, IL. In addition to the Cathedral in Bellwood, there are Syro-Malabar parishes in Maywood and Morton Grove. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church are in full communion. For some, including Roman Catholics, participating in prayer at an Eastern Catholic Church may be a new experience. All are welcome. Please join us in prayer for Christian unity.
What does God require? God requires us to continue together doing justice, loving kindness and walking gentle with our God. This is what Christians are called to do, together. Prayers for visible Christian Unity throughout the year, both personally and when two or three are gathered, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Risen Christ, and make the dream of visible Christian Unity a reality.
For more information, please visit us at www.archchicago.org/departments/ecumenical