Since 1966, the leaders of the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and of the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission have collaborated annually in preparing and inviting one and a half billion Anglican, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians to pray for Christian Unity during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
For over one hundred years Christians have observed this special week to pray that their churches, which are now in real but incomplete unity, will be in full visible unity with each other. This special week is observed annually between the January 18th feast of St. Peter and the January 25th feast of St. Paul. These feasts are significant in our search for Christian unity because Catholics have a special devotion to St. Peter and Protestants to St. Paul.
Again this year the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches are inviting multitudes of Christians to join in a common effort to attain visible church unity by participating in the 2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Christians in Scotland prepared this year’s observances. They chose the theme from the 24th chapter of Luke’s gospel that records the last words of Jesus as he ascends into heaven: “You Are Witnesses of These Things” (Luke 24:48). This theme reminds us that we are all witnesses and we need to become better witnesses.
The following suggestions may help us to become better witnesses by participating in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this January and throughout the year:
- By reflecting each day on Chapter 24 of Luke’s Gospel in which the women give witness to the apostles of Jesus’ resurrection, the Risen Lord gives witness of his resurrection as he dialogues with two disciples on the way to Emmaus, and the Risen Lord missions his community of believers to be his witnesses
- By engaging with other Christians in the above reflection or in a dialogue about church unity
- By attending a worship service in a church other than your own
- By planning an ecumenical Week of Prayer service in one’s own church
- By attending or attending an ecumenical Week of Prayer service in another church
- By joining the members and leaders of nineteen churches in the Chicago area on Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. to celebrate the 10th Annual Chicago Ecumenical Prayer Service at the Community Church of Wilmette, 1020 Forest Avenue, Wilmette.
May we, over one and a half billion Christians worldwide, provide a small witness to the world that Christians are those who love one another and love one another’s churches.
For more information you may go to www.archchicago.org, click on Departments, click on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and then click on 2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. You may also call 312 534 5325 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.