Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Due to Covid-19, services for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January 2021 may take place online and all resources have been adapted for individual use at home. For each of the three Vigil sessions an introductory prayer and Litany of Praise is included. 

Opening Prayer

Lord, you invite us to abide in you who are the vinedresser who cares for us with love.

You call on us to see the beauty of each branch united to the vine,

the beauty of each person.

And yet, too often the differences in others make us afraid.

We withdraw into ourselves. Our trust in you and one another is lost.

Come and direct our hearts toward you once again.

That as one family we may praise your name.

Amen.

Litany of praise

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!

We sing your praise in the midst of the world and among all peoples,

We sing your praise in the midst of creation and among all creatures.

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!

We sing your praise among suffering and tears,

We sing your praise among promises and achievements.

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you! 

We sing your praise in the places of conflict and misunderstanding;

We sing your praise in the places of encounter and reconciliation.

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you! 

We sing your praise in the midst of rifts and divisions,

We sing your praise in the midst of life and death, the birth of a new heaven and a new earth.

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!

First Vigil – Abiding in Christ: the unity of the whole person

Reading:  John 15:1-17   The Vine and the Branches

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.

Give yourself a short time of silence to reflect on the reading.

Intercessions

God of love, through Christ you said to us: “You did not choose me but I chose you.” You  invite us to receive your friendship. Teach us to respond more deeply to this invitation, and to grow and grow in a life that is ever more complete.

The joy of our heart is in God. 

God of life, you call us to be praise in the midst of the world and to accept one another. May your loving gaze, which rests upon each person, inspire us to  celebrate  each other just as we are.

The joy of our heart is in God. 

God you who gather, you knit us together as one vine in Jesus. May your loving Spirit abide in us at church and in our community that together we may celebrate you with joy.

The joy of our heart is in God. 

God of the one vineyard, you call us to live in your love in all we do and say. Touched by your goodness, grant us to be a reflection of that love in our homes, schools and workplaces.

The joy of our heart is in God. 

Blessing

Be one, so that the world may believe! Abide in God’s love, go into the world and bear the fruits of this love.

May the God of all creation,  fill us with all joy and all peace in faith, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen +

Second Vigil – The visible unity of Christians

Psalm 85A Prayer for God’s Mercy on Israel

Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people; thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease. Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.

I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

Reading: 1 Cor 1:10-13a –  A Church Divided Over Leaders

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Allow yourself to take a few moments of silence to take in the message of the readings.

Intercessions

Holy Spirit, you create and re-create the Church in all places. Come and whisper in our hearts the prayer which Jesus addressed to his Father on the eve of his passion: “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe”.

Thank you. Amen.

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, light the fire of your love in us so that suspicions and misunderstanding cease in the Church. May the walls that separate us fall.

Thank you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, Consoler of all, open our hearts to forgiveness and reconciliation and bring us back to you when we lose our way.

Thank you. Amen.

Lord Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, give us poverty of spirit so that we may be open to your grace.

Thank you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, you never abandon the men, women and children who are persecuted for their faithfulness to the gospel. Give them strength and courage, and support those who help them.

Thank you. Amen.

Let us exchange a sign of Christ’s peace as our prayer and commitment to unity.

Blessing

Be one, so that the world may believe! Abide in God’s love, go into the world and bear the fruits of this love.

May the God of all creation,  fill us with all joy and all peace in faith, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen +

Third Vigil – The unity of all peoples with all creation

Reading: Rev. 7: 9-12The Great Multitude in White Robes

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honour
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

A short time of silence

Intercessions

God of life, you have created everyone in your image and likeness. We sing your praise for the gift of our many cultures and traditions. Grant us the courage to stand against injustice and prejudice

God of peace, God of love, in you is our hope!

Merciful God, you have shown us in Christ that we are one in you. Teach us to use this gift in the world so that believers of all faiths in every country may be able to listen to each other and live in peace

God of peace, God of love, in you is our hope!

O Jesus, you came into the world and shared fully in our humanity. You know the hardships of life for people who suffer in so many different ways. May the Spirit of compassion move us to share our time, gifts and resources with all those in need.

God of peace, God of love, in you is our hope!

Holy Spirit, you hear the fury of your wounded creation and the cries of those already suffering from climate change. Guide us toward new ways of living that are in harmony with all creation.

God of peace, God of love, in you is our hope!

At the centre of the world is God, in whom all our desires and longings find their meeting place. As we move closer to God, so we draw closer to one another. And the closer we come to one another.

Allow yourself a short time of silence followed by the Lord’s Prayer after which you may want to pray using words the Grandchamp nuns pray each day…

Will you Pray and work that God may reign?

With God’s help, we will.

Throughout your day will you let the Word of God breathe life into your work and play and rest?

With God’s help, we will.

Will you maintain inner silence in all things so as to dwell in Christ?

With God’s help, we will.

Amen.

Blessing

Be one, so that the world may believe! Abide in God’s love, go into the world and bear the fruits of this love.

May the God of all creation,  fill us with all joy and all peace in faith, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen +

Listen to the following piece of music while you take time to reflect on the session. 

This simplified version of the Ecumenical Celebration was prepared by Lynne Chitty, on behalf of ROOTS for Churches Ltd.  ROOTS publishes weekly worship and learning resources at www.rootsontheweb.com

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