The theme for this year’s special week is “You shall love the Lord your God ... and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10: 27).
The Ecumenical Prayer Cycle is also praying with and for the people and churches of Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Dr Andrej Jeftić, director of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission on Faith and Order, offered a reflection on how we define our neighbor in both a practical and a spiritual sense.
“Who are the ones that we turn our heads from and go to the other side of the road as we encounter them?” Jeftić asked. “Whose wounds have not moved us? To whom are we not practicing love? Because love is a practical thing.”
He asked people to reflect on all the ways that they can become neighbours to each other. “Let us question ourselves: Who are the ones that need our loving care the most?” Jeftić said. “What are the wounds of our sisters and brothers that need healing?”
Those joining in the prayer expressed why they felt inspired.
Christian Müggler of the Focolare Movement reflected that Christian unity is a mission.
“Christian unity starts by discovering each other as sisters and brothers, as family, by welcoming each other and meeting the needs of whoever God places at our side,” said Müggler. “The other day I was asked if I could be available for a moment to greet a pastor from Haiti who came spontaneously to visit the WCC. I realised it was right to not only spend a little time with him, but also to eat lunch with him, to accompany him to the station to change his train ticket and then pay a visit to the cathedral in Geneva. We became friends.”
Laura Casorio, executive secretary at Fondation pour l'aide au protestantisme réformé, asked how we can express a message of love in a world faced with conflict, disasters, and disparities.
“How can we express and convey this message of love and transform it into solidarity?” she asked. "We live in a world where specialisation has become a must, and one of the simple consequences is that we delegate to experts and feel less engaged. This week reminds us that all together we can reflect, pray, and act as brothers and sisters from all over the world, doing the same at the same time, each one of us as we are, as we can.”
Isaiah Toroitich, Lutheran World Federation head of Global Advocacy, Action for Justice Unit, reflected that Christian unity is an important and meaningful antidote to our current world that is broken and hurt by many divisions. “We should unite in prayer and in our efforts to take action for justice, and to love and serve our neighbors, particularly those directly suffering the consequence of global crises such as wars, climate change, and human rights violations,” he said.
As people prayed together in the Ecumenical Centre and across the world, they sought a sense of unity. “God of welcome, grant us the grace to risk embracing the stranger, tending their wounds and standing in solidarity with them,” they prayed, concluding with: “Everything we can do together, let’s do it!”