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WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

January 18th - – 25th, 2022


THEME: “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him

(Mt. 2:2)


Order of Worship L Leader R Reader C Congregation Opening The clergy and other participants enter in procession while an Oriental hymn is sung or played. 1. Call to Worship L In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. C Amen. L Brothers and sisters, we are united today with fellow believers in the four corners of the world as we gather to pray for the visible unity of the Church. We do this with worship resources prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches. Our texts are inspired by the visit of the Magi to the new-born King, as described in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew: “We observed His star in the East, and have come to pay Him homage.” Let us fix our eyes on the star that was seen in the East and allow it to lead us too. Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving and joy, bringing all the sick, the suffering, the marginalized, the refugees, and the uprooted before Him, knowing that God can dispel our darkness with His light. As we pray today for the unity of the Church, may we and our communities also be lights that guide others to Jesus, the Saviour. L Glory be to You Father Almighty, for You have revealed Yourself through Your creation and invited all people to stand in Your presence. We have seen the star of Jesus in our lives and have come to worship Him just as the Magi did. We offer Him ourselves today and we ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit among us. C Unite us with one another as we come from the North and from the South, from the East and from the West, old and young, men and women to bow down before You and offer You homage, our heavenly King. Amen. Hymn O Worship the King Prayer of Praise and Confession L. We glorify You, O Lord, creator of heaven and earth, for You have set the lights in the vault of the sky. You separated light from darkness and arranged signs to mark sacred times, and days and years. You studded the firmament with stars. How majestic are Your works, the heavens declare Your glory and the skies proclaim the work of Your Hands! C. We glorify You, O Lord. L. We praise You for You did not abandon us despite our rebellion, but sent Your Son to brighten our darkness and be our light and our salvation. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all humanity. And the light shines in thedarkness. C. We praise You, O Lord. L. We worship You, O Lord, for You accompany us in the chaos of our life through the power of Your Holy Spirit. You light up our paths and give us wisdom and faith in a world of untruth and doubt. C. We worship You, O Lord. L. We thank You, O Lord, for You send us into the world to reflect this light around us, in our various churches and diverse cultures and to witness to Jesus, the one true King, offering ourselves to Him. C. We thank You, O Lord. L. May all the peoples bow before You and worship You. We have often preferred darkness, but You have given us light. Therefore, we come to You confessing our sins and saying: C. We confess before You that we have turned away from Your ways and disobeyed Your ordinances. We have disfigured Your good creation and squandered its resources through our consumerist practices. We have polluted Your rivers and seas and poisoned Your air and soil and contributed to the extinction of many species. (Silence) C. We have acted selfishly towards our brothers and sisters. We have allowed our own needs and desires to prevail over our commitment to justice. We have built walls between us and planted the seeds of distrust towards the other. (Silence) C. We have separated people based on ethnicity, religion and gender and we have claimed Jesus on our side in any war we waged. Forgive all these thoughts and deeds, O Lord, as we come before You in repentance. (Silence) L. Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom You have sent in the fullness of time to redeem all the people, we ask You to have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and transform us into His glorious image so we can shine as a beacon of hope in our troubled world. (Silence) L. The Almighty God hears our prayers, has mercy on us and forgives our sins. C. Thanks be to God, whom we praise with all our voices. Chant Holy God! Holy Mighty! Holy Immortal, have mercy on us! Psalm 8 (responsively) R. O Lord, our Sovereign Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. C. Out of the mouths of babes and infants, You have founded a bulwark because of Your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. R. When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars that You have established; C. What are human beings that You are mindful of them, mortals that You care for them? R. Yet You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour. C. You have given them dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under theirfeet, R. All sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. C. O Lord, our Sovereign, howmajestic is Your name in all the earth! Chant First Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7 Chant Song of Light Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14 Gospel Acclamation (sung) Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12 Sermon: (Moment of silence or hymn) Nicene Creed (according to the tradition of the Eastern Churches) We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, Godfrom God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped andglorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead,and the life of the world to come. Amen. Sharing Christ’s Light A piece of dark blue cloth is hung to evoke the night sky, on which a large star isplaced. Paper stars are made available for the worshippers, who are invited to come forward andadd their stars to thecloth /an e-animation for this Liturgical symbol. L. A star led the Magi to Christ. Today this star points to the presence of Christ, who has been revealed to us and whose light shines on us. As the Magi followed the star to Bethlehem, we gather under this star today, adding our own stars to the sky, uniting our own gifts and prayers for the visible unity of Church. As we journey towards that goal, may our lives together give a luminous witness that leads others to know Christ. Prayers of Intercession L. With faith and confidence, we come in prayer, before God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: R. The Magi came from the East to pay homage and offer special gifts from their cultures and countries. We pray today for all Christian communitiesaround the world in all of their diversity of worship and tradition: Lordwe ask You to preservethese treasures, particularly in areas of the world where the presence and survival of Christians is threatened by violence and oppression. C. O, Lord hearour prayer (spoken or sung) R. The early childhood of the Lord was marked by violence and massacres at theorders of the despot Herod. We pray for children living in places in the world where violence continues and where its results are tangible: Strengthen, O Lord, the bonds of unity and mutual love among our churches and help us to cooperate and witness to Your holy Name. Inspire us to work without ceasing in order to defend the oppressed and include the marginalised. Encourage us to stand together in the face of tyranny and oppressive regimes as we seek Your Kingdom among us. C. O, Lord, hear our prayer R. After the visit of the Magi, the holy family experienced migration through the wilderness and became refugees in the land of Egypt. We pray for all the refugees and uprooted people in this world: Equip us, Lord, to show hospitality to those driven from their homes, and grant us the spirit of welcome to those looking for a safe haven. C. O, Lord, hear our prayer R. The birth of Jesus was good news for all, gathering people from different nations andreligions in worship of the Holy Child. We pray for our efforts to seek harmony and dialogue with other religions: Lord, give us humility and patience to walkwith others with respect on their journey. C. O, Lord, hear our prayer R. The Magireturned to their home by a different way. We pray for our churches in this changing world: Lord, help us to find new and creative ways to follow You and to witness to You so that the world may believe. C. O, Lord, hear our prayer R. When the Magi saw the holy child, they were filled with great joy. Heavenly Father, fix our eyes on Him so we do not lose our way. Unite us in the Lord Jesus, who is the Way,the Truth, and the Life, and who has taught us to pray, saying: C. Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever. Amen Hymn Sending and Blessing (All ordained clergy are invited to the front to take part in this section) L. Go now and live as children of light. C. For the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. L. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness. C. Let us wake from sleep and Christ willshine upon us. L . Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ. C. Amen. Thanks be to God. Parting Hymn DAY 1

“We observed His star in the East” (Mt 2:2) Raise us up and draw us to Your perfect light Readings Zech 4:1-7 I see a lampstand all of gold. Ps 139:1-10 Your right hand shall hold me fast. 2 Tim 1:7-10 This grace… has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus. Jn 16:7-14 When theSpirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth Reflection In this fragile and uncertain world, we look for a light, a ray of hope from afar. In the midst of evil, we long for goodness. We look for the good within ourselves, but so often we are overwhelmed by our weakness that hope fails us. Our confidence rests in the Godwe worship. God, in His wisdom, enabled us to hope for divine intervention; but we had not anticipated that God’s intervention would be a person, and that the Lord himself would be the light in our midst. This exceeded all our expectations. God’s gift to us is a ‘spirit of power, and love’. Not by relying on our own strength and ability are we drawn forward on the way to this perfect light, but rather by God’s Holy Spirit. In the midst of humanity’s darkness, the star from the East shone. In it we see a light that penetrates the depths of the darkness that separates us from one another. The star’s light was not only an illumination at a particular historical moment, but it continues to shine and change the face of history. Throughout the ages, and ever since the star first appeared, the world has come to know through the lives of Christ’s followers the hope that is inspired by the Holy Spirit. These give witness to God’s work in history, and to the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Despite the vicissitudes of history and the changing of circumstances, the Risen One continues to shine, moving within the flow of history like a beacon guiding all into this perfect light and overcoming the darkness, which separates us from one another. The desire to overcome the darkness that separates us compels us to pray and workfor Christian unity. Prayer Lord God, illumine our path by the light of Christ who moves before us and leads us. Enlighten us and dwell within us. Guide usto discover a small manger in our hearts where a great light still sleeps. Creator of light, we thank You for the gift of that unfading Star, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. May He be a beacon for our pilgrimage. Heal our divisions and draw us closer to the Light that we may find our unity in Him. Amen. Prayer for all Churches and Ministries Each day, we will pray for the conversion to Christfor a specific Church, believing that getting closer to Christ by a genuine daily effort to imitate Him, we will getcloser to one another as disciples of the Gospel. Let us pray for the Orthodox Churches Today we pray for the Holy Orthodox Churches, for the Ecumenical Patriarch of Istanbul, Bartholomeo, for the Patriarchof Moscow, Kyrill, for the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Coptic Patriarchof Cairo, those of Antioch and the other Churches and all their faithful. We pray that they all be faithful to the Gospel of Christ and fulfil the meaning of the name orthodox; that they come closer to Him in their daily lives so as to impact their nations with righteousness. We pray in particular forthe Church members in the Middle East who are migrating in great numbers because of war or persecution; and for many more who stay behind to bear witness, may the Lord have mercy on them all including their enemies and show them His love and protection. May God bring peace especially to the Middle East for all to accept the Princeof Peace. More prayers may follow

DAY 2 “Where is the child who has been born King of theJews?” (Mt 2:2) Humble leadership breaks downwalls and builds up with love Readings Jer 23:1-6 He shall reign as King and deal wisely. Ps 46 He makes warscease to the end of the earth. Phil 2:5-11 Who… did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited Mt 20:20-28 The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. Reflection Jeremiah denounces the bad leadership of the kings of Israel who divided and scattered the people. Theirs was a leadership that destroyed nations and drove their citizens into exile. In contrast, the Lord promises a Shepherd-King who will ‘execute justice and righteousness in theland’ and gather together the members of His flock. Our world craves good leadership and is constantly seeking someone who will fulfil this desire. Where can one find such a leader? Only in Christ have we seen the example of a King or leader after God’s heart. As we are called to follow Him, we are also called to emulate His way of Servant-Kingship in the world and in the Church. In Christ we encounter one who does nottear down and divide but builds up and makes whole for theglory of God’s name. His rule is not self-serving and He does not use force. Rather in Him we encounter a loving, humble servant, who does not regard equality withGod as something to be exploited. He is one who comes to serve,rather than be served, and His followers are called to do the same. Today, the Middle East is experiencing the loss of its people to exile as ‘righteousness and justice’ are becoming scarce commodities not only there, but throughout the world. Yet we have a hope that will not be shaken even if ‘the nations are in an uproar’ and ‘the kingdoms totter’ around us. Leaders, both in the world and in the Church, have responsibility to bring together rather than to scatter or divide the people of God. So much division in the world and in the Church is caused by the desire for position, power and self-advantage. The more faithfully Christians emulate the servant leadership of Christ, the more division in both the world and the Church will beovercome. As we work for righteousness, justice and peace for the wellbeing of all, we witness humbly to the Shepherd-King, and draw others into His presence. Prayer God, our only refuge and strength, we glorify You for You are a just and righteous God. We confess before You that we often covet worldly models of leadership. Help us to seek our Lord Jesus Christ not in the palaces of the powerful but in the humble manger and to emulate him in his meekness. Encourage us to empty ourselves as we serve each other in obedience to You. We pray in the name of Christ who with You and with the Holy Spirit reigns forever in glory. Amen. Let us pray for the Anglican Communion This Church continues to experience tremendous turmoil because of issues dividing the various parts of the Church around the world mostly related to issues of biblical authority, ordination of women, same-sex unions, and ordination to ministry and leadership of self-confessed gay priests or ministers. Let us pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the Primate of the Anglican Communion, for all the bishops, priests and faithful: for their continual conversion to Christ and their service to the poor and needy. We pray in particular for the Anglican Church in Kenya and her Archbishop the MostReverend Dr. Jackson Ole Sapit, that he may, with fellow bishops, keep the flock in unity and peace. Amen. More prayers may follow

DAY 3

“When kingHerod heard this he was disturbed, and allJerusalem with him” (Mt 2:3) The presence of Christ, turning the world upside down Readings Neh 4:18-21 So we laboured … from break of dawn until the stars came out Ps 2:1-10 Why do the nations conspire…? 2 Thess 2:13-3; 5 But the Lord is faithful, he will strengthen you. Mt 2:1-5 He was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. Reflection The Lord has come amongst us. Christ’s coming disturbs the ways of the world. In contrast to so many national leaders, the Lordcomes in humility denouncing the evil of injustice and oppression that accompanies the ambition for power and status. The coming of Jesus calls for a change of heart and a transformation of life, so that people will be liberatedfrom all that dehumanises them and causes them suffering. Jesus shows us that Godis with those who suffer because each person has a dignity as God’s beloved child. Thus, Jesus’ presence creates disturbance precisely because He rocks the boatof the rich and the powerful, who work only for their own interests and neglect the common good. But, for those who work for peace and unity, Christ’s coming brings thelight of hope. Today, we are invited to commit ourselves to the constructive action of making justice a reality in our world. This implies the need to reflect andacknowledge the instances when ourways are not God’s ways of justice and peace. When Christians worktogether for justice and peace, our efforts are more powerful. And when Christians work together in this way, theanswer to our prayer for Christian unity is made visible such thatothers recognise in us Christ’s presence in theworld today. Through our words and actions, we can bring the light of hope to so many who are still living in the darkness of political unrest, social poverty, and structural discrimination. The Good News is that Godis faithful, and He is always the one strengthening us and protecting usfrom harm, and inspiring us to work for the good of others, especially those living in the darkness of suffering, hatred, violence and pain. Prayer O Lord, You have guided us out of darkness to Jesus. You have illumined the Star of hope in our lives. Help us to be united in our commitment to bring about Your Reign of love, justice and peace and so to be the light of hope to all those living in the darkness ofdespair and disillusionment. Take our hand, Lord, so we can see You in our daily lives. As we follow You, remove our fear and anxiety. Shine Your light upon us and set our hearts on fire so that Your love surrounds us with warmth. Lift us up to You, You whohave emptied Yourself for our sake, so that our lives may glorify You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Let us pray for the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) On October 31st, 2017, Lutherans worldwide marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the day when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and biblical professor at the University of Wittenberg, nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in the city of Wittenberg. Since this was the church in which the academic community worshipped, and this door was normally used for academic and church announcements, Luther pinned his 95 theses on it to provoke a public debate at the university in the quest for the reform of the Catholic Church due to his concern over thesale of indulgences. As a biblical scholar, Luther was convinced that humans are savedby grace though faith alone according to the scriptures. He vigorously objected to thecorrupt practice of selling indulgences as a way of gaining salvation and, on October 31, 1517, he nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of theWittenberg Castle Church. This disputation never took place as some members of the church took the folio down, printed more copies and circulated the document among friends and in churches, thus sparking the flame of the reformation that changed the church and the world. The church became divided and fragmented in the aftermath, and Europe was in great religious and political turmoil for many centuries until only recently when ecumenical contact and cooperation has become possible.We rejoice that Lutherans and Roman Catholics came together on 31 October 2016 at the Lutheran Cathedral in Lund, Sweden, when the Pope and Lutheran bishops from around the world jointly celebrated Holy Communion to mark the year leading to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This ecumenical event opened the window for the reconciliation of Christians throughout the Church of Christ. Furthermore, in 1999 the two churches signed the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on Justification. This declaration was later adopted by the Reformed Church in 2017. This has now enabled Catholics and Protestants to come to a common understanding on the doctrine of justification, which was the key point of contention in the Reformation of 1517. This, in addition to the century-old Protestant ecumenism through the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), marks a great milestone towards reconciliation and unity. May the Church continue to ever be reformed and reforming through the grace of Christ and theguidance of theHoly Spirit. Wepray for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) and the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC), for their respective Presiding Bishops that they may be granted wisdom in leading their flock in theways of righteousness to the glory of Your Holy Name. Amen More prayers may follow DAY 4

“And you, Bethlehem… are by no means least” (Mt 2:6) Though small and suffering, we lack nothing Readings Mic 5:2-5a, 7-8 From You shall come forth … one who is to rule in Israel. Ps 23The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 1 Pet 2: 21-25 Now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. Lk 12:32-40 Do not beafraid, little flock. Reflection From the small and lowly city of Bethlehem, the Lord, the Son of God, made His entrance into the world. From the womb of a humble village girl, He took human flesh, andchose to live His humanity in obscurity and simplicity. He became a grain in the field, yeast in the dough, and a small ray of light to our eyes, and that light has filled the earth. Out of the obscurity of Ephrata has come a Ruler, the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. And though He is our Shepherd, He became the Lamb who carried the sins of the world thatwe might be healed. Though of little significance among the great clans of Judah, Bethlehem was made great because of the birth of the Shepherd of all Shepherds, the King of all kings. Bethlehem, a name that means the “house of bread”, can be a metaphor for the Church that brings to the world the Bread of Life. The Church, the Bethlehem of today, continues to be the place where the weak, the powerless and the small are welcome because in Her each has a place. The gathering of these grains becomes the harvest. The united yeast becomes a powerful force. The concentrated rays become a guiding light. In the midst of political turmoil, a growing culture of greed, and the abuse of power in thisworld, Christians, like others in the Middle East, suffer persecution and experience a sense of marginalization, living in fear of violence and injustice. Yet, they are not afraid because the Shepherd walks with them, gathering them into one fold and making them a sign of His loving presence. United, they are the yeast that leavens the batch. In Christ they find a model of humility,and from Him they hear a call to overcome divisions and to be united in one flock. Though they are few, in their suffering they follow in the steps of the Lamb who suffered for the world’s salvation. Though few they aresure in hope, lacking nothing. Prayer Good Shepherd, the fragmentation of the little flock grieves your Holy Spirit. Forgive our weak efforts and slowness in the pursuit of Your will. Give us wise shepherds after Your own heart who recognise the sin of division, and who will lead the churches with righteousness and holiness, to unity in You. We ask You, Lord, to hear our prayer. Amen. Let us pray for the Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Churches Many Protestant Churches have been committed to the ecumenical spirit from the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement andthe creation of the WCC. Many of their leaders had a great vision to see the Church of Christ re-united for the purpose of true evangelism, particularly in mission countries. May the testimony of their devoted lives inspire more Christians to put in practice the Gospel values, especially where God is less known. Assist the current generation not to flag in zeal, but rather to rekindle that interest that together we may walk towards that unity that Christ prayed for. Amen. DAY 5


“Ahead of them, went the Star that they had seen at its rising.” (Mt 2:9) Readings Guidedby the one Lord Prayer O Lord God, our Father, You sent the Star to lead the Magi to Your only begotten Son. Increase our hope in You and let us know at all times that You are walking with us, watching over Your people. Teach us tofollow the guidance of YourHoly Spirit, however strange the path may seem, so that we may be led to our unity in Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. Open our eyes to Your Spirit, and encourage us in our faith, so that we may confess that Jesus is Lord and worship and rejoice in Him as the Magi did in Bethlehem. We ask you these blessings in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen. Let us pray for all Evangelicals and Pentecostal Churches Many depressed areas in Kenya have Evangelical chapels where the Sunday Service is a moment of intense worship and praises to the Lord. Poor people express their faith in traditional songs and intercessions. Christ is alive in their lives and is hope for a better future out of misery. Let us rejoice that they celebrate the Gospel joyfully and wholeheartedly. We pray for their pastors that they may bring to their congregations aray of light and peace. May the Lord bless their families and provide opportunities for all. Let us pray that guided by God's Word, which is truth, they will not be misled by false visions and prophecies.


DAY 6


They saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they knelt down and paid Him homage.” (Mt 2:11)

Gathered in worship around the One Lord


Readings


Ex 3:1-6 Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Ps 84 How Lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!

Rev 4:8-11 Worship the One who lives forever and ever. Mt 28:16-20 When they saw Him, they worshipped Him.


Reflection


When the Magi from their far-away countries arrived at Bethlehem and saw the Child with His mother, they worshiped Him. In the presence of this revelation of God among us,eyes are cast down and knees are bent. Similarly, at the sight of the burning bush, Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God. When the disciples saw the risen Christ on the mountain in Galilee, they were amazed and troubled. Yet they worshiped Him. In the heavenly liturgy, the twenty-four elders fall before Him who sits on the throne. Encountering God’s presence, we respond thus: gazing, followed by amazement, leading to worship.

Do we see? Are we amazed? Are we truly worshiping? How many times do we see without perceiving, our eyes remaining blind to God’s presence? How can we worship in truth if we do not see first? In our narrow vision, too often we see only our tangled disagreements, forgetting that the one Lord has given His saving grace to us all, and that we share in the one Spirit who draws us into unity. Often in our pride, we follow our own laws and human traditions, whilst often disregarding the love we are called to share as one people justified by Christ’s blood, with a common faith in Jesus as our Saviour.

As communities enlivened by the Holy Spirit, our churches call us to walk together towards the Christ-Child to offer him homage as one people. The Spirit of compassion guides us to each other, and together guides us all to our one Lord. Only by following this guide will we be able to “worship in spirit and truth”. Our future in God is a future of unity and love; our way to this destination must reflect that same truth of one-ness in Christ.


Prayer


Compassionate God, You gave the blind the insight to recognize You as their Saviour, enable us to repent. In your mercy, remove the scales from our eyes and lead us to worship You as our God and Redeemer. In the midst of our sorrow and despite the depth of our sins, give us the capacity to love You with all our hearts. May we journey together guided by Your light, with one heart and one mind, as were the very first disciples. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon us, so that together we glorify You in the Spirit’s fellowship, and witness to all those around us. Amen


Let us pray for the Roman Catholic Church around the world


Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has shown a desire to reform the Church and bring her closer to the Gospel of Christ. Three key words come to our mind in reference to his ministry: simplicity, joy and mercy. May all the members of the Roman Catholic Church walk along this line of action and come closer to Christ. Let them accept the invitation of Pope Francis to boldly go to the margins of society and announce the Good News of salvation. We pray for the leaders of the Church that they may inspire deep conversion and work for unity, fraternal love, and service to the needy.


DAY 7


“Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and

myrrh” (Mt 2:11)

The gifts of communion


Readings


Hos 6:1-6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice.

Ps 100 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Acts 3:1-10 I Have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you.

Mt 6:19-21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Reflection

In our journey to Bethlehem, the city of bread, we contemplate the wise men who came to pay homage to the Christ-child. They opened their treasures, and offered the new-born king their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Our historical divisions, our wrong–headed fixation with timely traditions, rules and rituals, and our preoccupation with worldly matters, have broken us apart. So, what gifts have we prepared to offer to the king who comes to illuminate our lives and lead us to the grace of unity? We know that God does not want our riches or burnt offerings, but rather that His power works through our poverty: “I have no silver or gold”. The Lord desires our beating and loving hearts: hearts full of love for Him and for ourbrothers and sisters in Christ from whom we are separated; hearts flowing with acts of mercy, and hearts truly penitent and desiring change.

Let us then prepare for Him the gift of a heart full of love. Kneeling in worship requires hearts that are contrite for the sin that divides us and obedient to the One we serve. This obedience revives, heals and reconciles everything that is broken or wounded in us, around us, and among us as Christians. Christ has already given the gift of unity to His Church. We grow in communion as we share the graces our different traditions have received, acknowledging that the source of all our gifts is the Lord.

Prayer

All praise, glory and thanksgiving to you, O God. You have revealed Yourself in the epiphany of your Son both to those who have long awaited Your coming, and to those who were not expecting You. You know the suffering that surrounds us, the pain caused by our divisions. You see the world struggling and the deteriorating situation in the Middle East today – the place where You chose to be born, which was sanctified by Your presence. We ask You to enable our hearts and our minds to know You. As we join the wise men coming from afar, we pray that You open our hearts to Your love and to the love of our brothers and sisters around us. Give us the will and the means to work towards the transformation of this world and to offer each other gifts that may nurture our communion. Grant us Your endless gifts and blessings. Receive our prayer in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let us pray for Christians involved in Ecumenical Groups


The theologians of all Churches have done a great job in the last 50 years in putting to the fore all that unite the Christians coming from various denominations. Now, it is


time for the faithful to commit themselves to a greater sense of unity in love, praying together, acting together for the service of the needy, and working together for the protection of creation. We ask the Lord to inspire them with genuine initiatives that will give hands to their faith and that reconciliation among them will spring out from their desire to serve Christ in neighbour and society.


DAY 8


“They left for their own country by another road.” (Mt 2:12)

Beyond the familiar routes of separation to God’s new paths


Readings


Jer. 31:31-34I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. Ps 16You show me the path of life.

Eph 4:20-23 To be renewed in the spirit of your minds

Mt 11:25-30 Because You have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent, and have revealed them to infants


Reflection

We do not know what the wise men thought - they who were experts in astronomy and navigation - when they were warned to return by another road. They may well have been very confused, but the same light that illumined their journey showed them that there was another road, another possibility. They were called to change direction.

We often find ourselves bound by our familiar ways of doing things and of seeing the world. When these ways or ‘roads’ are closed, we wonder how to proceed and continue the journey. God’s divine providence is always there to show us that there is another way prepared for us. God is there to renew His covenant and lift us up from the frustration we experience when we meet an obstacle. We only have to trust that the everlasting One, who gave us the light, can always find a way forward when our ways and paths are blocked. A fresh start is always possible when we are willing and open to the work of the Spirit. As churches, we look to the past and find illumination, and we look to the future in search of new ways so that we can continue to shine the light of the Gospel with renewed fervour and welcome each other as Christ welcomed us for the glory of God.


On the old familiar roads Christian communities have walked apart from one another. On the new roads to which God calls us, Christians walk together and become pilgrim companions. Finding these new roads demands discernment, humility and courage. Now is the time for conversion and reconciliation.


Prayer


Gracious God, when we only know one way and we think we must return to it, and when we think that all roads are blocked, and we fall into despair, we always find You there. You are the God of renewed promises. We find You creating a new path before us,one that we did not expect. We thank You because You exceed our expectations. We thank You for Your wisdom that surpasses our understanding. We thank You because Your creative paths open up unforeseen possibilities. If we search our maps and find no route, nonetheless we always find You, who lead us by a yet more excellent way,the way of love. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, that You will always lead us back to You. Amen.


Let us pray for Christians who have left the Church and for the non-believers


In many public places in today’s society, God is not acknowledged anymore. People have come to live without reference to God. Many have grown individualistic, self- centered, and even cynical about politics, wars, poverty and religious matters. Yet, some individuals have seen the necessity of human solidarity, consciousness about climate change, the flow of migrants and economic disparity to be concerned about them. Always God looks at the heart of people.May those who put efforts in responding to the challenges of this world come to realize that only in Jesus is their work fulfilled and may they find a deep sense of serving and bring light and peace around them in Him and by seeing the connection between their work and faith to the glory of God.

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