World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Order of Worship

At the centre of the worship service proposed for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2001 lies the theme for the week as chosen from John 14: 6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life".

01 January 2001

L: Leaders;  C: Congregation

I - Opening

Greeting (with introduction to the worship service)

Entrance
(Procession of all those who have a particular role to perform during the service. In the procession, a cross, a Bible and a baptismal candle are carried and then placed on or near the altar/communion table. Appropriate music may accompany the procession.)

Invocation of the Blessed Trinity

L:

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
God, who knows our ways, has brought us together.
From wherever we come, in Christ our separated ways are united.
In his Spirit we are linked together.

Therefore, we give thanks and praise to God:

Psalm

L:

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever.

C:

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever.

L1:

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble

L2:

and gathered in from the lands from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south

L3:

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town.

L4:

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.

C:

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

L1:

Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High

L2:

Their hearts were bowed down with hard labour; they fell down, with no one to help.

L3:

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder.

L4:

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron

C:

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. (Ps 107: 1-16)

Prayer: (This prayer could be said by a leader near the baptismal candle or the baptismal font. The congregation might also gather there. If this is not possible, all the leaders could gather around the baptismal font or/and the candle.)

L1:

God called us from the darkness towards his wonderful light

L2:

God,
You led us and liberated us. Your way leads us from darkness to light.
Through baptism you called us to be your daughters and sons. You enlightened and filled us with your spirit. You have been with us and will be with us. Strengthen us on our common way of freedom, hope and love.

L1:

Christ says: Whoever follows me, will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.

C:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen

Hymn (This should be a hymn with a doxological character; a proposal would be the "Sfinte Dumnezeule" - "Holy and Almighty God" - from the International Ecumenical Hymnbook, "Thuma Mina", hymn no. 38)

II - Confession of Sins

L1:

Christ, you said: I am the way!

L2:

We confess that although we should know better, we often stick to our old ways. It is our pursuit of success that determines what we do and the end justifies the means. We prefer the comfortable and easy way and avoid each other. We fail to believe that the goal to which you lead us should even now determine our way. We stand still while you want to continue the journey with us.
We call upon you.

C:

Kyrie eleison (sung)

L1:

Christ, you said: I am the truth!

L2:

We confess that again and again we become ensnared by lies and deceit. We carefully hold on to the images and prejudices we have of one another. We are often unwilling to confront the empty words which bolster power, intolerance and greed. We live in one world, but are not prepared to share it in justice and peace.
We call upon you.

C:

Kyrie eleison (sung)

L1:

Christ, you said: I am the life!

L2:

We confess that we do not respect the variety and fullness of the life which you prepared for us. The strong deny the rights of the weak, the healthy of the sick, one generation of the other, the rich of the poor. Violence and aggression destroy life. We do not allow the renewal and healing, which you promise, to develop.
We call upon you.

C:

Kyrie eleison (sung)

Words of grace:

L:

Let us hear Christ’s promise of pardon:
"Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

C:

Thanks, praise and glory be to God.

Prayer (Ideally this prayer should be read by a leader near the Bible. If possible, the congregation could also gather around the Bible. If this is not possible, all the leaders gather around the Bible.)

L1:

Sanctify us, God, in your truth. Your word is truth.

L2:

Jesus Christ, you are our teacher:
whoever listens to you, listens to the Father.

We thank you for your life on earth
It is an example for us.
We thank you for your healings
They give us hope

We thank you for your parables
They make us long for your kingdom.
We thank you for your teaching:
Your words are life-giving.

We thank you that you called us to follow you.
We thank you that your truth makes us free.

L1:

Let us worship God in spirit and in truth.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen

III - Proclamation of the Word

    • Epistle (of choice)
    • Alleluia
    • Gospel reading: John 14: 1-6
    • Sermon
    • Hymn

IV - Confession of Faith

(If there is a cross in a suitable location in the church, this part of the service should take place around it. The congregation would gather there also. If this is not possible, the leaders might gather around or in front of the cross.)

Prayer:

L1:

Let us look to Jesus
The pioneer and perfector of our faith.

L2:

Jesus Christ, we look upon your cross.
We come to you and stand before your cross.

Your cross is showing us the way.
Your cross points the way from separation to unity,
because you sacrificed yourself for all of us.
Your cross points the way from death to life,
because you defeated death for ever.
Your cross points the way from sadness to joy.
Your resurrection calls us to rejoice in a joy that no one can take from us.

L1:

Jesus Christ, you are the resurrection and the life. We worship you.

C:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen

Silence

L:

Throughout the ages Christians have shared their common belief in the triune God. Let us confess together this faith.

Creed (The Nicene-Constantinopolitan or another confession of faith. The refrain may be sung after each part and can be found in Cantate Domino, 184, and Thuma Mina 106]

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

Je crois Seigneur, Halleluja,

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us all, and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
On the third day he rose from the dead
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

Je crois Seigneur, Halleluja

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
Who, with the Father and the Son, is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

Je crois Seigneur, Halleluja

We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
We confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the age to come. Amen.

V - Intercessions

L:

We turn to the Lord in prayer.
Lord, you said that you are the way. Help us no longer to walk side by side in indifference. We need courage if we are to leave behind our self-centredness and walk on the way to unity. May our various traditions lead us to mutual enrichment in the full communion we seek, for the glory of your name.

C:

Lord, hear our prayer.

L:

Lord, you said that you are the truth. Make us then attentive to your truth. Only in this way shall we be ready to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches today, to proclaim it for the salvation of the world, and no longer provoke scandal by our divisions. May we be gathered together in your truth from every corner of the earth, to the glory of your name.

C:

Lord, hear our prayer.

L:

Lord, you said that you are the life. Guide all of us, who through baptism have life in you, to find that unity which will give us your life in its fullness. May our unity be a visible expression of the life of the Blessed Trinity. For the salvation of the world and the glory of your name.

C:

Lord, hear our prayer.

(Other intercessions may be added to reflect the concerns of the congregation.)

VI - Sending forth and Blessing

L:

By one baptism we have been reborn to new life and have become sisters and brothers in Christ. Let us pray together:

Our Father...

Exchange of the sign of peace

Dismissal:

L:

When he rose from the dead the Lord said to his disciples: "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you". He addresses these same words to us and to our communities. We are also being sent to be witnesses that he is "the way, and the truth, and the life". On our common witness depends the acceptance of Christ by the world as its saviour, sent by the Father. As our prayer for Christian unity draws towards its close we join hands with those nearest to us to show our commitment to seek daily in this newly-begun millennium, that perfect unity which the Lord desires for those who are his own. May it offer a sign of the witness we hope to bring to the world.

(The participants join hands.)

Prayer:

O God, your only Son prayed that we might be one as you, Father, are in him, and he in you. Guide our steps, open our hearts and make us ready and able to follow him, the way and the truth and the life, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Blessing

Hymn

Recessional