Christian unity week, January 18-25 is a shared prayerful week by many denominations around the country desiring unity among all those believers of Christ Jesus and His teachings. This year they have chosen a theme "One in the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer," a reference to Acts 2:42: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Actually each day has its own theme for prayer:
•January 18: The Church in Jerusalem.
•January 19: Many Members in One Body.
•January 20: Devotion to the Apostles' Teaching Unites Us.
•January 21: Sharing, an Expression of Our Unity.
•January 22: Breaking the Bread in Hope.
•January 23: Empowered to Action in Prayer.
•January 24: Living in Resurrection Faith.
•January 25: Called for the Service of Reconciliation.
What a beautiful way to spend a week! Look at these themes, today is "Many Members in One Body", Believers and kindred spirits separated, but living as the Body of Christ on one planet. How can we talk with each other about Jesus? By knowing who Jesus is, what He has done for all of us, and what He wants for us as Children of God. Wow, isn't that enough to bring people together in song and supplication?
Tomorrow (Wednesday) is: Devotion to the Apostles' Teaching Unites Us. With the New Testament deemed the teaching and instruction manual by so many believers, how can we stay divided over this? By interpretation, yes, but we still firmly belief the apostles were the authors with God's inspiration. We can come together in discussion about the ministry Jesus called the apostles for and how amazing His teachings and healings were. We can share our favorite scriptures and share our insights from the Word, both inspiring each other and encouraging fellowship this week and every week.
Thursday's theme is: Sharing, an Expression of Our Unity. As mentioned above, we can share our favorite references in the Bible, favorite prayers, and believe it or not, the rosary is respected by many non-Catholics. I recently learned this for myself as a small group of moms met to pray the rosary for our new Catholic high school and one of the moms is not Catholic, but wanted to sit and listen to the prayers. She teared up as she told us later that her daughter was planning on coming into the Catholic Church this Easter and she was so proud of her. We all teared up and hugged her! The rosary made her feel closer to how her daughter felt about the Church. Wow.
Friday's theme is "Breaking the Bread in Hope" do you see a thread connecting these themes by now? We found a sign of hope in praying the rosary in our little group the other day, hope that we can all respect each other, love our sameness and respect the differences. All we have to do is find the two and begin to know each other as believers of Jesus Christ and our Triune God!
Saturday's theme is: "Empowered to Action in Prayer" Prayer, don't we all pray some way? Beit rote prayers, supplications, meditation, just off-the-cuff conversations, or on our knees in a secret moment alone with our Lord we all pray, acknowledging that He is our God and we love and need Him. We can certainly have a discussion about this, can't we?
Sunday's theme is: "Living in Resurrection Faith" Jesus was the first to overcome death, giving us hope of salvation and eternal life, with this hope, faith grows. Everyone who believes that Jesus rose from the dead and will come again has something to share with others. Last year, I attended the "March for Life" in Washington, DC with my oldest daughter, during Mass with our diocese, I was caught up by the mozaic behind the altar called , "Christ in Majesty". My breath was taken away as I realized how strong and powerful he was portrayed as newly risen and glorified after the horrific torture and death He endured for us. Surely we have this in common with believers worldwide!
Monday's theme is: "Called for the Service of Reconciliation" Forgiveness is a tough one for many of us, but we are asked to forgive our trespasses(debtors) as we forgive those who trespass against us, aren't we? In the most perfect prayer that Jesus Himself taught us, we are called to forgive. God tells us that our sins are thrown into the sea, so why should we think we are ammune to this task? Maybe the first part of this task is to forgive ourselves. As Catholics we have the sacrament of reconciliation to our avail. We can go every week (like they used to!!) and continually work on being forgiven, so that we will be able to forgive others. It is far easier to smile than frown, bitterness and anger grow deeper and stronger with the lack of forgiveness. Prayer, once again and a good conversation with Jesus can help us reach forgiveness.
Spend some time in prayer and conversation with a brother or sister in Christ this week, you may have more in common than you know. It all starts with a smile and 'hello.
HT: Scott at Catholic.about.com