The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
(originally “Octave of Christian Unity”, i.e. 8 days – 18th to 25th inclusive)
The “Week” of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally begins on the 18th January, being the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter, and concludes on the 25th January, which is the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.
However, some areas observe it at Pentecost or some other time.
Resources for 2019 have been prepared by Christians from Indonesia, the largest country in South East Asia, made up of more than 17,000 islands, 1,340 different ethnic groups and over 740 local languages, united by one national language Bahasa Indonesia. With some 86% of its 260 million people estimated to be Muslim, it has the largest Islamic population of any country. About 10% of Indonesians are Christian. Indonesians have lived by the principle of gotong royong which is to live in ‘solidarity and by collaboration’, regarding all Indonesians as brothers and sisters.
But gotong royong sits ill at ease with the neo-liberal approach to economics that has led to economic growth, and corruption infecting politics and business, often with devastating effects on the environment. Meanwhile those who are supposed to promote justice and protect the weak fail to do so. As a consequence, a country rich in resources bears the burden of many people living in poverty. Particular ethnic and religious groups are often associated with wealth in ways that have fed tensions.
The Christians of Indonesia found that the words of Deuteronomy, ‘Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue…' (see Deut. 16:18-20) spoke powerfully to their situation.
Our prayers for unity are offered up amidst injustice in so many places and Christian disunity is in so many ways related to the divisions in our world. The Churches of Indonesia speak out of a context of ethnic and religious diversity, and where there is a strong emphasis upon the need for a unity that is found in diversity, and one built on solidarity and collaboration. Yet they also highlight issues of economic injustice and how religious pluralism can face challenges in the face of radicalization.
Readings, Reflections and Prayers for each of the 8 days are available by clicking here.
A prayer from the Churches of Indonesia:
From the islands and the oceans, we worship you, O God, the Creator of life.
Throughout the mountains and the valleys, we praise you, O God, the Saviour of the world.
With the tongues of all nations, we thank you, O God, the Comforter of bodies and souls.
We come before you bearing our burdens and hopes.
We pray for those who live with injustice.
Encourage us to lift up their voices and strengthen their hope.
We pray for those who continue to perpetuate injustice.
May your kindness transform their hearts and make them agents of freedom and peace.
We pray for every institution and every person who stands for justice.
Let us act justly according to your words.
We pray for the visible unity of the Church.
May we be compelled to fulfil Jesus’ prayer that we may be one and work together to live your Kingdom.
We celebrate the rich diversity of your people.
We thank you for the many colours, cultures, and customs of our world.
In our differences, unite us by your love.
Enable us to act together to uphold life and to make this world a just and peaceful household for all humanity.
May God embrace us with love and make kindness flow out from us.
May God ignite courage within us and transform us into agents of justice and peace.
May God grant us humility and give us perseverance to nurture unity.
O God, hear our prayer and grant us your peace.