Week of Christian Unity (18.-25.01.22 in N. hemisphere)
Dear readers in Stuttgart and in the worldwide St Catherine’s family,
On Sunday 23rd January which rightly falls in the Week of Christian Unity, we will have other things on our minds – not least a Council meeting before the service….. so I am bringing this forward a week and it will be a feature of our worship on Sunday 16th January and the main focus of our prayers that Sunday also.
Most of us / of you are part of this church family, this chaplaincy, because of the English language worship, not necessarily because you are Anglicans. Indeed many of you have confessed to having no idea what that even is or means, in response to which over the years we have added to the resources online to explain not only what Anglicanism is theologically and sacramentally and liturgically but also in terms of governance*.
Christian backgrounds or heritage I have encountered among you include –
Baptist, Roman Catholic, Altkatholisch, Church of South India, Open Brethren, Methodist, Pentecostal, Landeskirche and even a sprinkling of Anglicans.
I am sure there are others. On Sunday 16th January I would like us to pray for all these as well as our local ecumenical neighbours – the Leonhardskirche and the AKs, and others in Stuttgart.
A bit of background for the curious among you:
This special week began in 1908 and focused on prayer for church unity. Its concept came from the Franciscan Friars and was later blessed by the then Pope and over time was adopted by more and more Protestant Leaders also.
In 1948 the World Council of Churches** was founded and that gave great impetus to this week of prayer. It was not until 1968 that actual collaboration began to produce resources for all churches – and this is the bit I love – that the same themes and prayers are used across the globe in every imaginable language and culture and Christian church. A ‘trailer’ for Pentecost surely.
Interestingly in the southern hemisphere this week does not fall during the Epiphany season but during the days between Ascension Day and Pentecost***.
The WCC continues to co-ordinate this:
In choosing “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Matthew 2:2) as the theme for the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it highlights the importance and meaning of the epiphany to Eastern Christians in revealing God’s salvation to the world and showing the unity He desires among His creation. His light beckons us, as it did the Magi, to worship Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour and the one true God and to open our treasures to Him. As Christian witnesses changed by our experience of the epiphany, we choose a new path of repentance and renewal by serving the Gospel and keeping Jesus’s commandment of “loving one another as He has loved us.” The theme reminds Christians worldwide to pray for closer communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as for greater solidarity with all of creation.
The epiphany of the birth of Jesus as God incarnate brought light, hope and unity to the world at a time of darkness and uncertainty. So as we face new challenges and struggles in our current day, the theme for the Week of Prayer in 2022 shows that Christ’s light has not left us; it shines as brightly as ever, calling Christians everywhere to come together and follow the path of Jesus.
To max out on this opportunity I need of course for you to let me know please which church traditions to include, so please email firstname.lastname@example.org:
- what is your Christian heritage?
- which denomination were you baptised in or grew up in?
- what church denomination might you still belong to ‘back home’?
If there are up to 3 lay people wishing to participate in the leading of the liturgy for this special service please also email the chaplain who will send out texts.
We give you thanks because the unity you have given us in your Son and that you are the God and Father of us all, above all and through all and in all. Amen.
with Epiphany Blessings
* if you have joined St C since the pandemic started, look out for an invitation to a Zoom session on Anglicanism
** the World Council of Churches is coming to Karlsruhe 31.08.-08.09.2022
*** other initiatives using those days are local – which means this year here in Stuttgart look out for Katholikentag events all over the city 25.-29.05.2022