By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 January, 2014
This year's theme - ‘Is Christ Divided?’ - was chosen by the Churches of French Canada.
Canon Desmond Sinnamon of the Church of Ireland, on the invitation of the Dublin Council of Churches, will preach the homily.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from 18 to 25 January – the octave of St Peter and St Paul.
‘Is Christ Divided?’ is the theme that has been selected for this year. It was chosen by the Churches of French Canada and comes from St Paul’s question in 1 Corinthians, “Has Christ been divided?”
According to a reflection on the Irish Catholic Bishops’ website, “Paul begins his letters to the Corinthians with a powerful opening. This passage touches on themes that certainly prepare us for what is to come in these letters and lay a solid but challenging foundation for our reflections as Christians living and working together in churches and society today.”
Among the events organised by the Dublin Council of Churches which are due to take place over the course of the week is an ‘Ecumenical Walk of Light’ on Sunday 19 January at 5pm.
It will include four short prayer services, starting at Christ Church (CofI) in Dun Laoghaire and continuing to the Methodist church, St Michael’s RC church and ending at the Presbyterian church in Dun Laoghaire.
Other events include a Taizé prayer around the cross at St Paul’s Arran Quay, Dublin on Friday 24 January at 7.30pm; on the same evening, Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin is hosting an Interchurch Service in Irish with Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise (CoI) & Pobal an Aifrinn (RC).
A series of resources are available for use during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the Catholic Bishops’ website: http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2014/01/09/week-prayer-christian-unity-2014/
These resources include a special set of daily reflections for the eight days so that people may observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity for themselves.
Each of the days begins with the word “Together…”
This is to emphasise that the Body of Christ is not divided. “Together” reminds us that in Christ we are one and that in all aspects of our Christian living we should seek to discover that unity which is God’s gift to us.
Day 1 – Together…we are called to be saints (1 Cor 1:2)
We reflect on how God calls us to be ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood’ and consider our attitudes, and behaviour and action as saints.
Day 2 – Together…we give thanks for God’s grace in one another (1 Cor 1:4). We celebrate God’s grace and the many ways in which it is manifest in our diverse Christian communities.
Day 3 – Together…we are not lacking in any spiritual gifts (1 Cor 1:7). We recognise we have been given abundant gifts and that together we have everything necessary to do God’s work.
Day 4 – Together…we affirm that God is faithful (1 Cor 1:9a)
God’s faith and love for us calls and inspires us to strive for justice and unity.
Day 5 – Together…we are called into fellowship (1 Cor 1:9b)
We consider our need for friendship and togetherness, with each other and with Christ.
Day 6 – Together…we seek to be in agreement (1 Cor 1:10)
We acknowledge that disagreements are painful and divisive but that, with God’s guidance, we can reach out to each other in peace and unity.
Day 7 – Together…we belong to Christ (1 Cor 1:12-13)
Recognising and rejoicing in the gifts of different church traditions is a step towards Christian unity.
Day 8 – Together…we proclaim the gospel (1 Cor 1:17)
We have journeyed through the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reflecting on and celebrating how we are bound together as Christians through God’s abundant gifts to us. Our response to his outpouring of endless love is to unite in sharing the Good News.