20 January 2023
Praying through the Week of
Christian Unity and with USPG:
20 January 2023
Christmas is not a season of 12 days, despite the popular Christmas song. Christmas is a 40-day season that lasts from Christmas Day (25 December) to Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation (2 February).
Throughout the 40 days of this Christmas Season, I have been reflecting in these ways:
1, Reflecting on a seasonal or appropriate poem;
2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’
However, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began two days ago (18 January 2023), and between now and next Wednesday my morning reflections look at this year’s readings and prayers.
Churches Together in Milton Keynes continues to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this evening with ‘We Sing!’ at 7:30 in Saint Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church in Shenley Church End.
The Catholic community in Milton Keynes is rich in diversity with members from every corner of the World. This is planned as an evening of words and music reflecting the multicultural nature of the parishioners. With refreshments celebrating the breadth and depth of this community, it is expected to be an engaging and reflective evening.
Day 3: Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly
Micah 6: 6-8
And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Mark 10: 17-31
Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
We – not me. The prophet warns the people what faithfulness to God’s covenant means: “…and what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” In Biblical Hebrew justice and kindness (mercy) are not different or opposite from each other. They are in fact bonded together in a single word, mishpat. God has shown us what is good, asking us to do justice by loving kindness and walking humbly with God. Walking humbly with God means walking alongside others and therefore it is not just about the individual: my walk, my love.
The love that God invites us into is always a love which gathers us into communion: we – not me. This insight makes all the difference in how we “do justice”. As Christians we act justly to manifest something of God’s kingdom in the world, and therefore to invite others into this place of God’s loving kindness. Within God’s kingdom we are all loved equally as God’s children, and as God’s Church we are called to love one another as brothers and sisters and to invite others into that love.
To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God, calls Christians to act together in bearing a united witness to God’s kingdom within our communities: we – not me.
“Walking humbly” was challenging for the rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. He had obeyed all the commandments from his youth, but he could not take the further step to join Jesus’ disciples because of his wealth; he was beholden to his possessions. How difficult it is for Christians to let go of that which we perceive as riches, but which keep us from the greater wealth on joining Jesus’s disciples in Christian unity.
How can our churches better respond to the needs of our most vulnerable neighbours? How can we honour every voice in our communities?
Gracious and loving God,
Expand our vision that we might see the mission we share with all of our Christian brothers and sisters, to show forth the justice and loving kindness of your kingdom.
Help us to welcome our neighbours as your Son welcomed us.
Help us to be more generous as we witness to the grace that you freely give us. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
USPG Prayer Diary:
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began two days ago (18 January), and the theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is the ‘Week of Prayer For Christian Unity.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with a reflection from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.
The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:
Let us pray for the grace to live with difference. May we seek right relationships in our desire to do good and our search for justice.