Has Christ been divided?

Prayer for Christian Unity – World Council of Churches  

Jan 19 – 25, 2014
 

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1:13)

Day 1)    Together … we are called to be saints

Exodus 19:3-8      You shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nations
Psalm 95: 1-7       We are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand
1 Peter 2:9-10      Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people
Matt 12:46-50      Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother

Reflection

  • Together, we who call upon the name of the Lord are called to be saints "sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor 1:2). In Exodus, this gathering together of God’s people is described as a treasured possession, a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.
  • In 1 Peter, our membership in this communion of saints is understood to come as a result of God calling us together as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, God’s own people. With this calling comes a shared mandate to proclaim the mighty acts of God that drew us out of darkness and into God’s light.
  • Furthermore, we discover in Matthew that as a communion of saints, our oneness in Jesus is to extend beyond our family, clan, or class as together we pray for unity and seek to do the will of God.

Prayer

Merciful God, together with all those who call on the name of the Lord, in our brokenness we hear your call to be saints. Yet you have made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. By the power of your Holy Spirit, draw us together in the communion of saints and strengthen us to do your will and to proclaim the mighty acts of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Day 2)    Together … we give thanks for God’s grace in one another

Deuteronomy 26: 1-11      The Lord brought us out of Egypt
Psalm 100                      Give thanks to God, bless God’s name
Philippians 1:3-11             I thank God every time I remember you
John 1:1-18                  Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ

Reflection

  • Gratitude, in Deuteronomy, is a way of living life with a deep awareness of God’s presence within us and around us. It is the ability to recognize God’s grace active and alive in one another and in all people everywhere and to give God thanks. The joy that flows from this grace is so great that it embraces even "the aliens who reside among you".
  • Gratitude, in the ecumenical context, means being able to rejoice in the gifts of God’s grace present in other Christian communities, an attitude that opens the door to ecumenical sharing of gifts and to learning from one another.
  • All of life is a gift from God: from the moment of creation to the moment God became flesh in the life and work of Jesus, to this moment in which we are living. Let us thank God for the gifts of grace and truth given in Jesus Christ, and manifest in one another and our churches.

Prayer

Most loving and gracious God, we give thanks for the gifts of your grace that we experience in our own tradition and in the traditions of other churches. By the grace of your Holy Spirit, may our gratitude continue to grow as we encounter one another and experience your gift of unity in new ways. This we pray through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Day 3)    Together … we are not lacking in any spiritual gifts

Job 28:20-28        Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom
Ps 145:10-21        You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing
Ephesians 4:7-13 Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift
Mark 8:14-21        Why are you talking about having no bread

Reflection

  • Job realizes that even though all has been taken away from him, the fear of the Lord remains – that is wisdom. As brothers and sisters in Christ, even though we are impoverished by our divisions, we have all been graced with an abundance of diverse gifts, both spiritual and material to build up his body.
  • Yet, despite God’s promises and Jesus’ generous life and love, we, like the disciples in Mark, sometimes forget our true wealth: we divide, we hoard; we speak and act as if we have "no bread".
  • Christ has not been divided: together we have gifts enough to share with one another and "with every living thing".

Prayer

Faithful, open-handed God, we bless you that you have given us all the spiritual gifts we need to come to the measure of the full stature of Christ: for wisdom, for gifts of service and for bread. Help us to be signs of your abundance, gathered in unity to bring the gifts of your everlasting kingdom to every place of pain and lack. Filled with the Spirit, we pray in the name of the One whose gift was the bread of his life broken for us, now and forever. Amen.

Day 4)    Together … we affirm that God is faithful

Lamentations 3:19-26  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
Psalm 57:7-11            God’s faithfulness extends to the clouds
Hebrews 10:19-25         He who has promised is faithful
Luke 1:67-75             He has looked favorably on his people

Reflection

  • The eternal unity of Father, Son and Spirit draws us closer into the love of God, and calls us to participate in God’s work in the world which is love, mercy and justice. Mercy and justice are not divided in God, but rather are joined together in the steadfast love manifested in God’s covenant with us and with all of creation.
  • The new father Zechariah testifies to God’s manifestation of mercy in keeping his promises to Abraham and his descendents. God is faithful to his holy covenant.
  • As we continue to pray for the unity of the church, we must not neglect to meet together and encourage one another, spurring each other on towards love and good deeds, saying: "God is faithful."

Prayer

Faithful God, we give thanks for your steadfast love and your devotedness that extends to the clouds. As we wait in joyful hope, working and praying together for the full visible unity of your church, fill us with confidence in your promises. We make this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Day 5)    Together … we are called into fellowship

Isaiah 43:1-7   I will be with you
Ps 133             How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
1 John 1:3-7   We have fellowship with one another
John 15:12-17 I have called you friends

Reflection

  • We are called into fellowship with God the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. As we draw closer to the Triune God, we are drawn closer to one another in Christian unity.
  • Christ has initiated a change in our relationship, calling us friends instead of servants. In response to this relationship of love, we are called out of relationships of power and domination into friendship and love of one another.
  • Called by Jesus, we witness to the gospel both to those who have not yet heard it and to those who have. This proclamation contains a call into fellowship with God, and establishes fellowship among those who respond.

Prayer

Father of love, you have called us into the fellowship of your Son and appointed us to bear fruit in our witness to the gospel. By the grace of your Spirit, enable us to love one another and to dwell together in unity so that our joy may be complete. Amen.

Day 6)    Together … we seek to be in agreement

Judges 4:1-9                 If you go with me, I will go
Psalm 34:1-14                Seek peace, and pursue it
1Corinthians 1:10-15         Be united in the same mind and the same purpose
Luke 22:24-30               A dispute also arose among them

Reflection

  • The disunity described in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 reflects a distortion of the gospel, undermining the integrity of the message of Christ. To acknowledge conflict and division, as Chloe’s people did, is the first step to establishing unity.
  • Women like Deborah and Chloe raise a prophetic voice among God’s people in times of conflict and division, confronting us with the need to be reconciled. Such prophetic voices may enable people to gather in renewed unity for action.
  • As we strive to be united in the same mind and the same purpose, we are called to seek the Lord and his peace as the psalmist wrote.

Prayer

Loving God, you give us prophetic witnesses in times of conflict and division. When we seek you, Lord, send us your Holy Spirit to make us artisans of reconciliation, united in the same mind and the same purpose. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.

Day 7)    Together … we belong to Christ

Isaiah 19:19-25              God will send them a savior
Psalm 139:1-12              Where can I go from your spirit?
1Corinthians 12:12-16  If one member suffers…If one member is honored…
Mark 9:38-41            Whoever is not against us is for us

Reflection

  • Isaiah envisioned a day when Egyptians and Assyrians would worship together with Israel as God’s people. Christian unity belongs to the design of God for the unity of all humanity, and indeed of the cosmos itself. We pray for the day when we will worship together in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship.
  • We are blessed by the gifts of various church traditions. Recognizing those gifts in each other impels us towards visible unity.
  • Our baptism unites us as one body in Christ. While we value our particular churches, Paul reminds us that all who call on the name of the Lord are with us in Christ for we all belong to the one body. There is no other to whom we can say, "I have no need of you" (1 Cor 12:21).

Prayer

We give you thanks, O God, that you bless each and every member of the body of Christ with the gifts of your Spirit. Help us to be supportive of one another, to be respectful of our differences, and to work for the unity of all throughout the world who call upon Jesus as Lord. Amen.

Day 8)    Together … we proclaim the gospel

Isaiah 61: 1-4           The spirit of the Lord God has sent me to bring good news
Psalm 145:1-7           One generation shall laud your works to another
1Corinthians 15:1-8      For I handed on to you what I in turn had received
Luke 4:14-21            Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing

Reflection

  • Together we proclaim anew the good news prophesied in Isaiah, fulfilled in our Lord Jesus, preached by the Apostle Paul, and received by the Church. Facing honestly the differences we have and the labels of denomination we embrace, we must never lose sight of the common mandate we have in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Paul is sent "to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power" (1 Cor 1:17). The path to unity is to be found in the power of the cross.
  • The Gospel we proclaim is made tangible and relevant to us as we bear witness to the work of Jesus Christ in our own lives and the life of the Christian community.

Prayer

Gracious God, you sent your son Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to redeem your people. Unite us in our diversity, that we might affirm and proclaim together the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Christ for a world in need of his gospel. Amen.

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at JoyAlive.net,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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