“A key strategic priority in this season is to deepen, broaden and renew our ecumenical call in the Sword of the Spirit”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we have done in years past, we as the Sword of the Spirit want to observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity as a special time to focus on praying, “that they all may be one.” In praying for all our Christian brothers and sisters and for the various ecumenical efforts going on around the world, we are also hoping to raise awareness and appreciation for our ecumenical call within the Sword of the Spirit.
The material for this year reflects this concern. Its aim is to help individuals, families, and communities fruitfully observe this season. It contains a daily Scripture passage followed by a reflection, a short prayer, and specific intentions to pray for on that day. We also include a few testimonies from across our various communities where brothers and sisters share how they live tangibly our common ecumenical vocation.
The Sword of the Spirit Assembly has adopted the following as one of our strategic priorities for this season in our life: “to deepen, broaden and renew our ecumenical call: to raise the profile, increase our conviction, and broaden the ownership by our members.” The ecumenical life and vision we share is one of our greatest gifts. At the same time, we recognize that we fall far short in living this fully and we are convinced that the Lord has more for us. This week we want to reflect on how we can move forward personally and corporately.
The structure of this content is as follows: the first day will serve as a reminder of what the Lord has called us to be in terms of Christian unity. The subsequent seven days will seek to outline a journey toward greater engagement (this progression is sometimes called the “Ecumenical Ladder”). We then look at the obstacles to unity, both in ourselves and among Christians more broadly: indifference or even outright hostility. In contrast, the Scriptures give us clear instructions to learn not only to respect, but also to foster a spirit of compassion and acceptance vis-à-vis brethren from other church traditions. In fact, while we come from different traditions, we form the one body of Christ, and that has significant consequences. While we are working toward the same goal, each one of us is a different part of the body. While we may look different one from another, it is those very differences that require us to acknowledge our interdependence. We need to “count others better than ourselves” (Philippians 2:1-4) and make sure we actively fight for and protect our unity. What a beautiful reality and a beautiful call!
May this week be a special time when the Lord works in our hearts and speaks to us about how he wants us to contribute to this work of unity!
We are grateful to the team who assembled this materials, for those who worked on the translations and especially to Paul Beckman for writing the thoughtful and challenging daily reflections.
This article is excerpted from © The Sword of the Spirit reflections for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18 – 25 2023.
Top photo by Gabriel Rissi from Uplash (in the public domain).
Daily Reflections for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Jean Barbara is a coordinator from the People of God Community in Beirut, Lebanon. He currently serves as the International President of the Sword of the Spirit.