18-25 January 2013
THEME FOR THE YEAR 2013
What does God require of us?
(Micah 6: 6-8)
“‘With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’ He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”The path of Christian discipleship involves walking the path of justice, mercy and humility. The metaphor of ‘walking’ has been chosen to link together the 8 days of prayer because, as an active, intentional and ongoing act, the metaphor of walking communicates the dynamism which characterizes Christian discipleship. Further, the theme of the tenth assembly of the WCC to be held in Busan, Korea, in 2013 - ‘God of life lead us to Justice and Peace’ resonates with the image of the Trinitarian God who accompanies humanity and walks into human history while inviting all people to walk in partnership.
The 8 subthemes for the week, related to different modes of walking, enable us to focus on various dimensions of an authentic Christian discipleship which walks the path of righteousness that leads to life (Prov. 12:28a).
Day 1: walking in conversation. We reflect on the importance of the practices of dialogue and conversation, as a means of overcoming barriers. Both in ecumenism, and in the struggles for liberation of people across the globe, the skills of speaking and listening are recognised as essential. In such authentic conversation we can come to recognise Christ more clearly.
Day 2: walking with the broken body of Christ. Recognising the solidarity between Christ crucified, and the “broken peoples” of the world, such as the Dalits, we seek as Christians together to learn to be more deeply a part of this solidarity ourselves. In particular, the relation of eucharist and justice is opened up, and Christians invited to discover practical ways of eucharistic living in the world.
Day 3: walking towards freedom. Today we are invited to celebrate the efforts of communities across our world that are oppressed, like the Dalits in India, as they protest against all that enslaves human beings. As Christians committed to greater unity, we learn that the removal of all that separates people from one another is an essential part of fullness of life, freedom in the Spirit.
Day 4: walking as children of the earth. Awareness of our place in God’s creation draws us together, as we realize our interdependence upon one another and the earth. Contemplating the urgent calls to environmental care, and to proper sharing and justice with regard to the fruits of the earth, Christians are called into lives of active witness, in the spirit of the year of Jubilee.
Day 5: walking as the friends of Jesus. Today we reflect on the biblical images of human friendship and love as models for God’s love for every human being. Understanding ourselves as beloved friends of God has consequences for relationships within the community of Jesus. Within the Church, all barriers of exclusion are inconsistent within a community in which all are equally the beloved friends of Jesus.
Day 6: walking beyond barriers. Walking with God means walking beyond barriers that divide and damage the children of God. The biblical readings on this day look at various ways in which human barriers are overcome, culminating in St Paul’s teaching that “As many of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Day 7: walking in solidarity. To walk humbly with God means walking in solidarity with all who struggle for justice and peace. Walking in solidarity has implications not just for individual believers, but for the very nature and mission of the whole Christian community. The Church is called and empowered to share the suffering of all by advocacy and care for the poor, the needy and the marginalised. Such is implicit in our prayer for Christian unity this week.
Day 8: walking in celebration. The biblical texts on this day speak about celebration, not in the sense of celebrating a successful completion, but celebration as a sign of hope in God and in God’s justice. Similarly, the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is our sign of hope that our unity will be achieved according to God’s time and God’s means.What God requires of us today is to walk the path of justice, mercy and humility. This path of discipleship involves walking the narrow path of God’s reign and not the highway of today’s empires. Walking this path of righteousness involves the hardships of struggle, the isolation which accompanies protest and the risk associated with resisting “the powers and principalities” (Ep 6:12). This is especially so when those who speak out for justice are treated as trouble makers and disrupters of peace. In this context we need to understand that peace and unity are complete only if founded on justice.