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”
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.
Monday January 22
Through love we embrace all baptized Christians as our brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 2:14,16)
- Psalm 133 How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell in unity
- John 1:12-13 To all who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God
- Luke 10:25-37 True love of neighbor – the Parable of the Good Samaritan
- Ephesians 2:14-22 Christ has broken down the dividing wall of hostility and has reconciled us to God in one body through the cross
Commentary: The Lord wants our love to be as expansive and wide as his love is for each of us –individually and corporately as well – since he is our Head and we are members of his body whom he has redeemed and cleansed through the blood he shed for us on the cross. All who are baptized into Christ share the same call and mission to live as his disciples, to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and to witness together that he is Lord of all and Savior of all who believe in him.
Today we witness an ecumenism of blood as Christians around the world face unprecedented persecution, violence and martyrdom – not because they are Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, or another denomination – but because they bear the name of Christ.
The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that all who are baptized into Christ are our brothers and sisters. This is the basis for our common witness and common mission to proclaim Jesus is Lord. And this is the reason we love and honor one another as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Questions for reflection:
- Do you recognize all baptized Christians as your brothers and sisters in Christ? Ask the Lord Jesus to open your eyes and to widen your heart to love, serve, and respect all who bear the name of Christ.
- Do you speak with respect and ecumenical courtesy towards Christians from other traditions and denominations?
- Do your look for and support common ecumenical opportunities to pray together, read the Scriptures, and do common mission – especially to spread the Gospel and bring others to Christ?
Prayer: God our Father, in Jesus you gave us the one who died for all. He lived our life and died our death. You accepted his sacrifice and raised him to new life with you. Grant that we, who have died with him, may be made one by the Holy Spirit and live in the abundance of your divine presence now and forever. Amen.
Living Our Ecumenical Call
Mary Rose Jordan
I don’t like the smell of hard boiled eggs. I don’t think they would be the preferred lunch choice of very many middle school students. But, there I was, 12 years old, with my 2 hard-boiled eggs and lentil soup for lunch. I didn’t like Lent. I didn’t like having to get out my sulfuric smelling snack and endure the stares and turned up noses of my classmates. My saving grace though, was Elissa- my best friend and fellow hard-boiled egg unenthusiast. We were both growing up in Community together and although she was Baptist and I was Roman Catholic, our families had the same Lenten practices. Because we had each other, we embraced the 40 days of smelly lunches while we proudly told our classmates of the cool ‘gatherings’ our families attended and the different youth group we were in. My friendship with Elissa is one of the greatest treasures of my childhood.
Fast forward almost 20 years. I still am not a fan of hard boiled eggs. I do, however, realize the gift it was to have a friend who shared the same spiritual practices. It was an especially significant blessing considering our denominational differences. That friendship set a precedent in my life: I learned to be open to and appreciate friendships with people from other denominations, I learned that what I had in common with them outweighed the differences, I learned that other denominations had strengths that I could learn from, I learned that the ecumenical life we have in the Sword of the Spirit is unique and challenging and worth striving for.
In a time when our culture, even within Christianity, seems incredibly divided and focused on differences, I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I have grown up in an ecumenical environment. From a young age I have experienced the richness of ecumenism and have been blessed to have many relationships with brothers and sisters from other denominations that have played a significant role in my walk with Christ. The common way of life and shared spirituality I was a part of in my home community have given me a common witness along with my brothers and sisters, regardless of our denominational, racial or political backgrounds. Our ecumenical witness is amazing and fills my heart with joy at the goodness of our Lord and his provision for us. Our friendship with each other, in my eyes at least, is a small taste of heaven.
Mary Rose Jordan lives in the Community of the Risen Christ in Glasgow, Scotland. She is the executive director for The Lovely Commission, a website encouraging young women to follow the Lord.