18 January 2023

Praying through the Week of
Christian Unity and with USPG:
18 January 2023

‘Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow’ (Isaiah 1: 17) … the scales of justice depicted on the Precentor’s Stall in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

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 begins today (18 January 2023), and between now and next Wednesday my morning reflections look at this year’s readings and prayers.

Today’s theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Milton Keynes is ‘Prayer for the City.’

In Saint Mary’s Church, Bletchley, this evening, Pastor Ferdinand Tambwe from Rehoboth PEFA Church leads worship and prayer for the new City of Milton Keynes. This is an evening of Pentecostal prayer and vibrant music, with speakers including the Rev Helen Cameron, the Moderator of the Free Churches Group, and the local Roman Catholic bishop, the Right Revd David Oakley.

An Orthodox icon of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, interpreting the parable according to the Patristic and Orthodox tradition (Click on image for full-screen viewing)

Day 1: Learning to do the right thing


Isaiah 1: 12-18

Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan; plead for the widow

Luke 10: 25-36

He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”


According to Isaiah, God wants Judah not only to practice justice but to embrace the principle of always doing the right thing. God wants us not only to care for orphans and widows but to do what is right and good for them and anyone marginalised by society. The Hebrew word for good is yaw-tab' and it means to be glad, joyful, pleasing, to do well, to make something beautiful.

To be Christian means to be a disciple. All Christians sit under the Word of God, learning together what it is to do good, and who it is that stands in need of this solidarity. As society becomes more indifferent to the needs of others, we, as the children of God, must learn to take up the cause of our oppressed brothers and sisters by speaking truth to power and if necessary, plead their case so that they may live in peace with justice. In doing this we will always do the right thing!

Our commitment to eradicate and to be healed of the sin of racism requires us to be prepared and willing to be in relationship with our Christian sisters and brothers.

Christian Unity

A lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus’ response asks us to see beyond the divisions of religion, tribe and nationality to recognise our neighbour in need. Christians likewise must see beyond these divides and the divisions within the Christian family to recognise and love our brothers and sisters in Christ.


Who are the marginalised or oppressed in your society? How might churches together walk with these brothers and sisters, respond to their need and speak up on their behalf?


Lord, you called your people from slavery into freedom,

Give us strength and courage to seek out those who are standing in need of justice. Allow us to see this need and provide help, and through your Holy Spirit gather us into the one fold of Jesus Christ, our Shepherd. Amen.

The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him’ (Luke 10: 35) … coins on a bar table in an inn in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

USPG Prayer Diary:

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins today (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 Christians worldwide, in places near and far. May we desire to learn from each other and grow in faith and understanding.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued Tomorrow

‘You shall love … your neighbour as yourself’(Luke 10: 26) … but who is my neighbour? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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