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Witness through Awareness: WPCU Day #3
From the official material prepared by the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity:
1 Samuel 3:1-10, Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.
Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd.
Acts 8:26-40, Philip proclaimed to him the Good News about Jesus.
Luke 24:13-19a, …their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
Growing in faith is a complex journey. It is easy to miss God’s revealing love to us in our everyday life and experiences. The more pressure and activity we surround ourselves with, then the greater the possibility of overlooking what is in fact before our very eyes. Like the two disciples in the gospel, we sometimes think we know what is real, and try to explain our view to others, yet we are not aware of the full truth. In our world today we are invited to be aware of God in the surprising and unlikely events of life.
In our Old Testament reading, we hear how God calls and invites Samuel to bear witness. Samuel first of all has to hear this word. Hearing requires an open disposition and a willingness to listen to God.
This desire to hear God’s Word is also experienced by both Philip and the Ethiopian in the reading from Acts. They witness to their faith by responding to what is asked of them at that precise moment in time. They listen attentively and respond accordingly. The psalm of the Good Shepherd reflects the quiet trust of the one who is aware of the tender care of God, who gathers the flock and leads them to green pastures.
During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we seek to be aware of God in our everyday events and experiences. We meet people who are familiar and others who are strangers. In these encounters we learn from each other’s spiritual experiences and so get a new view of God’s reality. This awareness of God’s presence challenges us to work for Christian unity.
Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd, You encounter us and remain with us in everyday life. We pray for the grace to be aware of all you do for us. We ask that you prepare us to be open to all you offer us and bring us together in one flock. Amen.
When have you been aware of God’s presence in your life? Are you aware of global celebrations and tragedies, and how might our churches together respond to these? Is being aware enough, or is there something more that you might do in order to give witness to your faith? How do you make yourself aware of God when the reality of God’s presence does not correspond to your expectations?
Witness through Sharing Stories; WPCU Day #2
From the official material prepared by the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Poromoting Christian Unity:
Jeremiah 1:4-8, Go to all to whom I send you.
Psalm 98, Sing to the Lord a new song.
Acts 14:21-23, They strengthened the souls of the disciples.
Luke 24:13-17a, What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?
Sharing our stories is a powerful way in which we give witness to our faith in God. Listening to one another with respect and consideration allows us to encounter God in the very person with whom we are sharing. The reading from Jeremiah offers us a powerful witness of God’s call to the prophet. He is to share what he has received, and so allow God’s Word to be heard and lived out. This call to proclaim God’s Word is also experienced by the disciples in the early Church, as witnessed to in the reading from Acts. Our psalm allows us to sing to God with a spirit of praise and thanksgiving.
Today’s gospel passage presents a Jesus who enlightens our blindness and dispels our disillusionment. He helps us to understand our stories within the one unfolding plan of God. During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we listen to the faith stories of other Christians in order to encounter God in the variety of ways God’s very self is revealed to us. In listening with attentiveness we grow in faith and love. In spite of the diversity of our personal and collective witness, we find ourselves intertwined in the one story of God’s love for us revealed in Jesus Christ.
God of history, we thank you for all who have shared their story of faith with us and so have given witness to your presence in their lives. We praise you for the variety of our stories both as individuals and churches. In these stories we see the unfolding of the one story of Jesus Christ. We pray for the courage and the conviction to share our faith with those with whom we come into contact, and so allow the message of your Word to spread to all. Amen.
Are you “gossiping the Gospel” or just gossiping?
How open are you or your church to be drawn into the stories of others?
How open are you to share with others your stories of faith, and so give witness to God’s presence in your personal experiences of life and of death?
Are you aware of the enormous potential for good that modern means of communication offer the Church today?
Witness through Celebrating Life; Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Day #1
From the official material prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches:
Genesis 1:26-31, God saw all that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
Psalm 104:1-24, O Lord, how manifold are your works.
Corinthians 15:12-20, If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.
Luke 24:1-5, Why do you look for the living among the dead?
Our journey of Christian unity is firmly rooted in our common belief that in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, – we celebrate not only the life God has given us but the offer of new life through Jesus’ conquering death once and for all. As we meet together during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we witness to our shared faith by our concern for the life of all.
The reading from the book of Genesis reminds us of the creative power and energy of God. It is this power and energy that St. Paul encounters in experiencing Jesus’ resurrection. He challenges the people of Corinth to put their total trust in the Risen Lord and his offer of new life. The psalm continues this theme as it proclaims the glory of God’s creation.
Our gospel passage challenges us to look for new life in the face of a culture of death that our world frequently presents to us. It encourages us to trust in Jesus’ power, and so to experience life and healing.
Today, we thank God for all that shows God’s love for us: for all of creation; for brothers and sisters in all parts of the world; for communion in love, for forgiveness and healing and for life eternal.
God our creator, we praise you for all who give witness to their faith by their words and actions. In living life to the full we encounter your loving presence in the many experiences you offer us. May our common witness of celebrating life unite us in blessing you, the author of all life. Amen.
To what extent do your own witness and the witness of your church celebrate life? Will others know from your witness that Christ has been raised from the dead? What do you see as the areas of growth in your life? Are there things of the past that the churches cling to which ought to be laid to rest because of a new ecumenical consciousness?