The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

2020 Week of Prayer for Christian UnityThe Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a global, ecumenical, and annual event which was first observed in 1908 in the chapel of a small Atonement Franciscan convent of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the hills of New York.  The celebration soon caught the attention of others and gradually grew into a worldwide observance involving millions of Christians and many, many nations.  The goal remains the same: for churches of all faiths to firm a vibrant and prayerful witness for Christian unity by heeding Jesus’ prayer “that they all may be one.”

In 2020 the week will be from the 18th to the 25th of January.  The theme was selected by representatives from the Christian Churches in Malta and will be “They Showed Us Unusual Kindness,” a quote found in Acts 27:18 – 28:10.
The story begins in Acts 27 with Paul being taken by boat to Rome as a prisoner. Despite his chains the mission of God continues through him.  The 276 passengers are at the mercy of the elements of nature, and they begin to feel hopeless. Paul stands out as a beacon of peace in the storm.  Following his example, the travelers share bread together, united in a new trust revealed by God.

All lives were saved when the ship was wrecked off the Island of Malta, and the passengers swam to shore, even if their possessions were lost.  The natives showed them unusual kindness, and they pulled together on the island to find a way forward.

In today’s world many migrants are facing the similar dangerous circumstances on the seas.  On the land different kinds of storms also rage.  Since there are things all around us that could be feared, kindness and hospitality are much needed fruits of Christian witness today.   The contemporary Christians of Malta, in choosing this theme, remind us it was through unusual kindness that a divided people were drawn closer together, and the Gospel was furthered.

Christians around the world will talk about this story during this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and you are invited to join them.  Resources can be ordered at www.geii.org/week_of_prayer_for_christian_unity/theme_announcement_2020.html. Also located there are links to more history, commentaries and other resources.