#WPCU2020 – Introduction to the theme

Our prayer for Christian unity is deeply rooted in the Bible. We pray for unity because Jesus prayed that His disciples would be one, that the world might believe (John 17:20-21). St Paul also urged the churches to which he wrote to recognise their unity in Christ, even though there was much diversity within them (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

For the churches in Malta, the Bible has special relevance for the shared life of the churches there, for the Gospel first came to Malta in the events that are told in the Acts of the Apostles, where St Paul and those with him encountered unusual kindness from the inhabitants. Many people in Britain and Ireland will have visited Malta on holiday and seen the place where these events are believed to have taken place. This is a reminder that Christianity is not merely a spirituality, but a faith rooted in events in human history: the redemption of humanity and the whole of creation. The unity for which we pray therefore serves to make Christ known in the world.

The story of St Paul’s being shipwrecked on Malta in Acts 27 and 28 leads us, during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to reflect upon many aspects of our own lives and the lives of our churches. As we approach one another, seeking unity, we recognize that we sometimes carry baggage from history, tradition and cultural expectation, which can weigh us down and threaten to overwhelm us. There is the danger that, in the face of that experience, we might lose sight of the hope which first called us and so give up reaching for the light which Christ offers us.

St Paul challenged his fellow travellers, sailors, soldiers and prisoners to keep up their courage. In the face of apparent desperation and hopelessness, we are challenged to put our trust in God and allow ourselves to be held and carried through the waters. There will be times when we are broken, as individuals and as churches, and looking back we shall see not just the one set of footprints in the sand, but hundreds, as we are surrounded and supported by those who love us. There will be times when, standing in the storms of our own making, we are challenged to demonstrate unusual kindness in the face of worldly indifference.

To demonstrate unusual kindness is to see the sister and brother in the monster’s shame and know that they too are children of God. To demonstrate unusual kindness is to give without counting the cost, and to allow ourselves to be given unto without questioning worth. As we reflect upon, and pray for, Christian unity, we acknowledge the injury that we have caused, the pain that we carry, the baggage that we must jettison. We pray for Christian unity as the place from which we can move onward in faith and in hope for the redemption of the world and the restoration of creation.

For this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we accompany the churches of Malta, praying with and alongside them, praying also for them in their Christian journey as they seek the unity for which Christ prayed. And we rejoice with them that Malta traces its Christian origins back to the time of the Apostles. And in so doing, we enter into the drama of St Paul, those that travelled with him, and the inhabitants whom they met, to discover our shared unity, and in so doing recognise the importance of unusual acts of kindness that bear witness to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation.

#wpcu2020 – DAILY PRAYER SERVICES

We invite our Christian Brother’s and Sister’s in our town and local area to join together in the unity of prayer, during the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity.

Details of these services, all held in Bellshill Central Parish Church, are listed in the poster and we encourage everyone to come along when they can, regardless of race, age, background or faith as we come together to pray.

Each day during Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – #WPCU and #WPCU2020 – we will post daily readings and reflections to help you in this week’s prayer journey if you are not able to join us in person each day.

#wpcu Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

We look but what kind of looking do we do? How do we see and understand ourselves, especially in light of our relationship with the Living Christ? We know that God speaks to us in still small voices, but also in the people and places we least expect. In supposed barren hard places there can spring unimaginable beauty and nourishment.

In spite of the turbulence of the world at the present time, we also discover acts of kindness, of love, forgiveness and hospitality in places or from people we did not expect. As in the natural world, there are still the places where the water of life seeps into the mainstream and brings colour and joy and offers a hopeful future.

But it is only when we immerse ourselves in the vitality of all that life brings do we find this water of life seeping into the main steam. Our Bible story gives us a visceral story of human fear, survival, hope and love. It will invite us to reflect upon the abundance of God’s grace and fullness, that we can see if only we stop and look closely at what is in front of us. In the most difficult situations, inhospitable places and even in the most inhospitable people, there we will find something of God’s grace.

We are invited in this year’s Week Of Prayer for Christian Unity materials to see God working through people and places which offer unusual kindness. If only we would do the appropriate kind of looking.

Bob Fyffe, General Secretary,
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

#wpcu2020 – DAILY PRAYER SERVICES

We invite our Christian Brother’s and Sister’s in our town and local area to join together in the unity of prayer, during the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity.

Details of these services, all held in Bellshill Central Parish Church, are listed in the poster and we encourage everyone to come along when they can, regardless of race, age, background or faith as we come together to pray.

Each day during Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – #WPCU and #WPCU2020 – we will post daily readings and reflections to help you in this week’s prayer journey if you are not able to join us in person each day.