(UMCom) The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25, 2011, invites the entire Christian community throughout the world to pray in communion with the prayer of Jesus, "that they all may be one" (John 17:21). The 2011 theme: One in the Apostles' Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and Prayer (Acts 2:42).
"United Methodists respond to the theological, biblical, and practical mandates for Christian Unity by firmly committing ourselves to the cause of Christian Unity at local, national, and world levels. We invest ourselves in many ways by which mutual recognition of churches, of members, and of ministries may lead us to sharing in Holy Communion with all of God's people." – 2008 Book of Discipline.
Day 1, They devoted themselves...
Joel 2:21-22, 28-29, I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.
Psalm 46, God is in the midst of the city.
Acts 2:1-12, When the day of Pentecost had come.
John 14:15-21, This is the spirit of truth.
The journey of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers." The "they" is the earliest Church born on the day of the Pentecost. All who live in continuity with the day of Pentecost live in continuity with the earliest Church of Jerusalem and with its leader, St. James. This church provides the image or icon of the Christian unity for which we pray this week.
According to an ancient eastern tradition, the succession of the church comes through continuity with the first Christian community of Jerusalem. It is linked with the heavenly Church of Jerusalem, which in turn becomes the icon of all Christian churches. The sign of continuity for all the churches is maintaining the "marks" of the first Christian community through our devotion to the "apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers."
The present Church of Jerusalem lives in continuity with the apostolic Church of Jerusalem. Its witness to the gospel and its struggles against inequality and injustice remind us that prayer for Christian unity is inseparable from prayer for peace and justice.
Almighty and Merciful God, with great power you gathered together the first Christians in the city of Jerusalem. Grant that, like this first church in Jerusalem, we may come together to be bold in preaching and living the good news of reconciliation and peace wherever there is inequality and injustice. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who liberates us from the bondage of sin and death. Amen.