The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will be observed by Christian churches worldwide January 18-25, has adopted as its theme the passage from Matthew 18:20, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."
Chosen by an ecumenical group in Ireland, the theme is intended "to draw attention to Jesus as the source of our unity" and to underline "the simplicity of two or three coming together in Christian mutual love as a vital means of building up relations between divided peoples and communities," according to the World Council of Churches.
Week of Prayer resources are available online and include an introduction to the theme; a suggested ecumenical worship service that local churches are encouraged to adapt for their own particular liturgical, social and cultural contexts; biblical reflections and prayers for the "eight days;" and additional prayers from, and an overview of, the ecumenical situation in the particular country that has prepared the material -- in this case, Ireland.
The 2006 Week of Prayer materials are available on the World Council of Churches website.
"[We are] mindful that hope for the future, and peace and reconciliation in the present necessarily involved dealing with painful memories and hurtful grievances of the past," the Irish preparatory group said. It is "in that spirit," they added, "that all Christians who use these Week of Prayer resources are encouraged to come together in prayer and in mutual love to seek to understand each other amidst differences."
Jointly prepared since 1968 by the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally celebrated from January 18-25, although in the Southern hemisphere, other dates are sometimes chosen, for example, around Pentecost.
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