“We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him.”
— Matthew 2:2
The Middle East Council of Churches, based in Beirut, Lebanon, has been the convener for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022 drafting group. The WCC and the Vatican have now published the material in several languages.
The reflections explore how Christians are called to be a sign to the world of God bringing about unity. Drawn from different cultures, races and languages, Christians share in a common search for Christ and a common desire to worship him.
Although churches and the people of Lebanon have been burdened by the daily consequences of a persistent political and economic crisis, and faced the tragedy of the August 2020 explosion in Beirut, which caused hundreds of deaths and left hundreds of thousands injured or homeless, Christians from different churches in Lebanon and neighbouring countries have found the spiritual force to come together and prepare the resources, said Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, acting deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and director of its Faith and Order Commission.
“They invite us to turn to the star in the East and worship together the Son of God incarnate,” said Mateus. “For this precious spiritual gift, we are thankful to God and to them.”
Christians from Lebanon, Syria and Egypt developed the local draft for the resources. As is the tradition, it was finalized by an international group representing the by the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission. The resources include an ecumenical opening prayer service, biblical reflections and prayers for eight days, and other elements of worship.
One reflection notes that, in this fragile and uncertain world, we look for a light, a ray of hope from afar. “In the midst of evil, we long for goodness,” the reflection reads. “We look for the good within ourselves, but so often we are overwhelmed by our weakness that hope fails us. Our confidence rests in the God we worship.”
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an international Christian ecumenical observance kept annually around Pentecost in the Southern Hemisphere and between 18-25 January in the Northern Hemisphere.
Each year ecumenical partners in a different region are asked to prepare the materials.
With roots going back over 100 years, the dedicated octave of prayers has been jointly commissioned and prepared since 1966, after the Second Vatican Council, by the Roman Catholic Church and the WCC.
The materials for 2022 are already available in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.
Interview with Benoît and Denise Lokila, of the Cana Fraternity in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Interview with G. Angela David, president of the YWCA of Secunderabad, in India
Sailing on a wave of prayer, by Sister Marlieke, Grandchamp Community
Still together as one, by Rev. James Loughran, SA, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
Week of Prayer brings fruits of the Spirit despite COVID-19, by Dianet de la C. Martínez Valdés, Student Christian Movement of Cuba
Less COVID-19 cases, more “hope cases”, by Sebastian Sanson Ferrari, SIGNIS Uruguay