Jerusalem is a holy city for Christians. There the events of Jesus’ life happened. There Pentecost spelled a new beginning for the disciples and for the mission of the church in the whole world. The stones of Jerusalem echo the many stories of the life and preaching, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, the churches in Jerusalem still bear witness to the empty tomb and the upper room to the whole world, in part through their enduring presence in the city today.
This year is unique for the unity of the churches, because the dates of Easter and of Pentecost are the same in East and West. It is time to celebrate Pentecost together.
Jerusalem is also a city that literally carries the name of peace. Yet we know that the people of Jerusalem are not living in peace today. Pentecost this year comes at the same time as the world marks 50 years since the war that led to the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The occupation has not ended; it is still manifest in the building of settlements and infrastructure that are against international law. As the World Council of Churches, we are called to and involved in many dimensions of work for a just peace for Israel and Palestine.
This year at Pentecost we have an opportunity to pray for the unity of the church and for just peace for Jerusalem, for the region of the Middle East, and for the other places in the world that are troubled by conflict and war. The church all over the world prays, “Come, Spirit of Peace!” We pray that the Holy Spirit will fill the church with all the gifts needed for us to be peace-makers, to be prophetic in our witness to the righteousness and love of God. With this in mind, in collaboration with the heads of churches in Jerusalem we invite Christians for a common prayer in Jerusalem and for common prayers around the world. The prayer service takes place on Monday, 5 June 2017 at 11:00 a.m., Jerusalem time.
The order of the Pentecost prayer for unity and just peace is prepared particularly to be used in an ecumenical prayer service in Jerusalem. In addition to that, the World Council of Churches calls its member churches and ecumenical partners everywhere to pray for unity and just peace in Jerusalem and in the world in their local settings on Sunday or Monday of the week of Pentecost or afterwards. You are welcome to use this order of prayer and to adapt it according to your context. The songs in this order may be changed with other songs that have the same theme and liturgical purpose. We also want to encourage you to include young people in leadership of the prayer.
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
World Council of Churches