World Council of Churches Meeting

Just a heads-up for you Christians who are interested in ecumenism (oh, and btw, that means anybody who identifies as Christian, IMHO...).

The World Council of Churches is meeting right now in Porto Alegre, Brasil. You can follow the news and join with them in prayer online, and make their theme, "God, in Your Grace, Transform the Earth", a part of your prayer this week. Of particular interest to me is the working document "Called to be the one church", which will seek to invite the churches, including the Roman Catholic church which collaborates with the WCC without holding official membership, to renew their commitment to ecumenical unity.

Jean Tillard talked about the "ecumenical winter" in a length interview just before his death, published as I Believe, Despite Everything: An Interview in Winter. "Now the winter has swiftly come," he said, "before summer and the harvests. What a harsh winter!" (3) And, as a child of St. Pierre-et-Miquelon, a collection of French rocks in the middle of the ocean off Newfoundland, Tillard knew from winter. But he also hoped in a greater springtime for the church and for ecumenism, a springtime which will require a renewal of the commitments which the churches made with such joy and such naivete in the 1960s. For this to happen, however, it needs to be the work not just of a group of professionals meeting near the sunny beaches of Brasil, crucial as they are (you go, Laura!); it also needs to be our work here in our local churches, the starting point of which is that we sit up and notice again the division of the churches. The relative normality to us of a divided Christianity is the normality of ignoring the poor in our midst, the normality of a patient so medicated that she no longer notices her pain. Isn't it time you noticed again that the Body of Christ is broken, and began to make that part of your prayer and work again?

Lord, our God Almighty
Transformer and Creator
God of fatherly peace and motherly love
We gather before you with our pleas of despair
From our hearts filled with hope.

Gracious God, your church has experienced
the pangs of birth and its infancy
on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Be with your church as it continues its growth
across the world into adulthood and full unity.

With the church still in its adolescence
We pray for your gift of transformation.
Revive in us a spirit of community
Mould our thoughts into ones of love.
Instill in us a sense of your peace.

Give us the courage and resilience to accept transformation
For ourselves and for others
For the ones who suffer and the ones who inflict it
For the victims and the perpetrators
And for all your people.

In a world filled with violence and hatred
Give us the courage to sow love and harmony.
In a world rampant with discrimination and inequity,
Nurture in us the seeds of unity and grant us the foresight to see and resolve our divisions.
Prepare our hearts, minds and hands to reap your harvest. Amen.

Prayer prepared for WCC
Assembly Sunday by the group
of youth interns in the World
Council of Churches.

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