Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
During the week of Jan. 18 to 25, 2011, Christians the world over celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The roots of this week go back to the 1800s; it is one of the oldest, most widely observed ecumenical events in the world.
This universal week of prayer encourages Christians of all denominations to meet, to participate in various liturgical and other community activities, and to pray together that all may be one, as Christ desires.
Four elements of unity
The 2011 prayers for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by Christians in Jerusalem, who chose as a theme Acts 2:42, "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."
This theme is a call back to the origins of the first church in Jerusalem; it is a call for inspiration and renewal, a return to the essentials of the faith; it is a call to remember the time when the church was still one.
Within this theme, four elements are presented which were marks of the early Christian community, and which are essential to the life of the Christian Community wherever it exists.
- Firstly, the Word was passed on by the apostles.
- Secondly, fellowship (koinonia) was an important mark of the early believers whenever they met together.
- A third mark of the early Church was the celebration of the Eucharist (the 'breaking of the bread'), remembering the New Covenant which Jesus has enacted in his suffering, death and resurrection.
- The fourth aspect is the offering of constant prayer.
- These four elements are the pillars of the life of the church, and of its unity.
Taken from Resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and throughout the year
Painting by Betty Lou Knox CSJ