Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 8 of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Day 8Walking in celebration

Habakkuk 3.17-19Celebrating in a time of hardship
Psalm 100The worship of God through all the earth
Philippians 4.4-9Rejoice in the Lord always
Luke 1:46-55The Song of Mary

To walk humbly with God means to walk in celebration. The visitor to India is struck by the hardships and struggles endured by Dalits, but at the same time by their sense of hope and celebration.
Hope and celebration occur together in today’s biblical readings. The prophet Habakkuk rejoices in the Lord at a time of drought and crop failure. Such testimony that God will walk with his people in their difficulties is a celebration of hope. The Blessed Virgin Mary walks to her cousin Elizabeth in order to celebrate her pregnancy. She sings her Magnificat as a song of hope even before the birth of her child. And from prison, Paul exhorts the Christian community at Philippi to celebration: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” In the Bible, celebration is linked to hope in God’s faithfulness.

The celebratory aspects of Dalit culture bear similar testimony to a gospel of faith and hope, forged out of the crucible of the Dalit experience of struggle for dignity and resilient survival. As we pray for Christian unity this week, we turn to the celebration of life that we see in India with focus on the faithfulness of Dalits to their Christian identity in the context of their struggles for life. Our celebration for a unity among Christians which has yet to be achieved likewise occurs in hope and struggle. It is grounded in hope that Christ’s prayer that we may be one will be achieved in God’s time and through God’s means. It is grounded in gratitude that unity is God’s gift, and in recognition of the unity we already experience as the friends of Jesus, expressed in one baptism. It is grounded in the conviction that God calls each of us to work for that unity, and that all our efforts will be used by God, trusting with St Paul “in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The walk towards Christian unity requires that we walk humbly with God in celebration, in prayer, and in hope.

Gracious God, may your Holy Spirit fill our communities with joy and celebration, so that we can cherish the unity we already share, and zealously continue in the search for visible unity. We rejoice in the faith and hope of peoples who refuse to allow their dignity to be diminished, seeing in them your wonderful grace and your promise of freedom. Teach us to share in their joy and learn from their faithful endurance. Rekindle our hope and sustain our resolve, that in Christ’s name we may walk together in love, raising a united voice of praise, and singing together one prayer of adoration.
God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.

  • What are the struggles towards justice in your community? What are the causes for celebration on the way?
  • What are the struggles towards Christian unity in your community? What are the causes for celebration along the way?

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