"I am the vine, you are the branches.
Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit..."
This coming Monday, January 18th, begins the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Each year, for more than a century, Christians of many traditions and denominations have paused to pray for greater cooperation and deeper relationship with one another in the days between the feast of the Confession of St. Peter (January 18) and the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25).
In the week ahead, I invite all of us to commit to prayers of reconciliation, relationship, and unity among all followers of Jesus. While a global movement, I believe this also presents us a special opportunity to pray for our friends in neighboring congregations across the High Country, our partners in mission and ministry, co-laborers in the emerging kingdom of God.
We are many branches connected by the one vine, our Lord Jesus, one holy community, united in purpose and call.
The Book of Common Prayer includes this prayer for the Church, prayed most often at ordinations and in our petitions on Good Friday. It seems an appropriate text for us to pray in these days also -
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were being cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.
I am also keenly aware that this week of prayer focused on reconciliation and unity falls amidst a pivotal week in our common life as a nation. Let our prayers for deeper relationship with one another not be limited by the traditional scope of this eight-day call to ecumenical cooperation. Let us pray also for the healing of the many barriers that divide, separate, and enslave us, that we might become the bridge builders God longs for us to be. Another prayer, for the human family, from our prayer book -
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.