The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018

I wonder how many church-going readers have dutifully downloaded the various resources for the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity and groaned a little groan. The theme for this year, ‘Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in its power’ is about freedom, and the Caribbean churches which have organized the readings and reflections for each day have done so out of their own history of oppression and slavery. The results are moving and sometimes painful, but what of the underlying purpose of all these words, the attainment of Christian Unity? There we have a problem, for the Churches do not agree on what form Unity should take or how it should be expressed. At one level, we share so much; at another, we seem to be poles apart.

I think myself that once we have grasped that Unity is not optional, that it is willed by Christ and therefore something we must both desire and work towards, we are faced with a different question — not, how do we attain Unity but, much more fundamentally, what is Unity? Our old certainties tend to crumble in the light of this question because it is much more searching than at first appears. Is Unity to be identified with doctrinal agreement, liturgical and sacramental expression, institutional accords or what? We are sometimes tempted to pick and choose what we wish to believe and assert that whatever mix we come up with is Catholicism or any other -ism we choose to name. Praying for Christian Unity should not make us want to water down or minimalise what we believe but lead us deeper into appreciation of its truth and beauty. As a Catholic, I believe that the Church offers us the fullest expression of Christian truth, but that does not mean I am closed to, still less opposed to, the riches of other Christian traditions.

As we pray for Christian Unity in the next few days, let us ask the Lord to enlighten our hearts and minds and make us truly free to accept his truth and his vision. Christian Unity isn’t what we want it to be; it is what the Lord wills.

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4 thoughts on “The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018”

  1. “…there are many mansions…” Unity is based on recognition of the differences and acceptance of their existence even though we may not like them. Loving our neighbour whatever their race, creed, gender, sexuality, social position or age is a fundamental part of God’s will for us all. Without it there cannot be peace in this troubled world.

  2. I guess the reality is we are already United in Christ due the on going creation by God, and our redemption through His death and resurrection.

    The challenge, as I see it, lies in understanding how we can be different, how we can reconcile opposites, and importantly for me in my own thinking, how I can accept this in humility.

    Unity to my mind lies not in sameness or a hierarchy of authority, but in our recognition of our common relationship through each person in the Trinity.

    Thank you once again Dame Catherine for prompting these meditations.

  3. A little groan, indeed – and a temptation not to seriously address the issues but sink the head into the sand and mutter about us all having the same aim so that’s ok. Having gone to a Catholic convent school – briefly – been brought up a Methodist/Baptist but finally landed in the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Anglican church I have experienced a variety of “certainties” all sincerely and firmly believed, from total focus on the Scriptures with no belief in any further inspiration from later thinkers and saints to the opposite end of the scale – from a God who may be prayed to for a parking space to one who doesn’t intervene at all. Everyone is convinced they know what is right and we are in danger of praying for unity – but only for our version, oh dear! May God have mercy on his church and lead us to the unity he wills.

  4. Its all been made so complicated.

    Simply put …In knowing Jesus and the love of God the Holy Spirit reminds us.

    If His love is not just flowing then our obedience is needed. We supply the will He supplies the power

    To make every effort to keep the unity of The Spirit through the bond of peace Ephesians 4. 3

    Accept one another then for the glory of God just as Christ has accepted us. Romans 15.7…

    So lets Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus….Hebrews 12

    We may meet in church building homes or other, have different styles and traditions which aid us to draw close to God in worship .Though on occasion it is lovely to join with others of different tradition or style without judgement or resentment. Jesus must love his family getting together
    .Bless The Lord.”” John 17.

    Praise God that I have the freedom to attend a church .

    I worship in a church made up of several denominations , traditions and nationalities. an answer to Jesus’ prayer.It is the only English speaking church on the island of Corfu and happens to be Anglican……Holy Trinity Corfu. This is my church home and family. At the same time I have no problem worshiping and praying in other churches and welcome occasions that bring us together with our brothers and sisters.

    Wherever hearts are open to God then we and others will sense His presence
    With Love in Jesus
    Psalm 133

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