Thursday, 14 January 2021

Marking the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity -- January 17


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Service is from the Canadian Council of Churches and prepared this year by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland

Prelude      Simple Gifts          Traditional Shaker Hymn – arr. Hal Leonard

This year the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, chosen by the sisters of the Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland, is: “Abide in my love... you shall bear much fruit.”

It is the great desire of God, expressed by Jesus, that we might come to him and abide in him. He waits for us tirelessly, hoping that, united to him in love, we will bear fruit that will bring life to all. Faced with the difference of “the other”, we risk withdrawing into ourselves and seeing only that which separates us. But let us listen to how Christ calls us to abide in his love, and so bear much fruit.

 Following the format of the service offered for the beginning of this week of Prayer for Christian Unity we will have three moments of prayer, we remember the call of Christ, we turn to his love, to him who is the center of our life. For the path of unity begins in our intimate relationship with God. Abiding in his love strengthens the desire to seek unity and reconciliation with others. God opens us up to those who are different from us. This is an important fruit, a gift of healing for the divisions within us, between us, and in the world.


Gathering Hymn      You are Near
Chorus
Yahweh, I know you are near, standing always at my side.
You guard me from the foe, and you lead me in ways everlasting.

Lord, you have searched my heart
And you know when I sit and when I stand.
Your hand is upon me, protecting me from death,
Keeping me from harm.

Chorus

Where can I run from your love?
If I climb to the heavens you are there;
If I fly to the sunrise or sail beyond the sea,
Still I’d find you there.

Chorus

You know my heart and its ways,
You who formed me before I was born,
In the secret of darkness before I saw the sun,
In my mother’s womb.

Chorus

Marvelous to me are your works;
How profound are your thoughts, my Lord. 
Even if I could count them, they number as the stars,
You would still be there.

Chorus

Gathering

Too often we take the wonders of creation for granted
We welcome this opportunity to make a joyful noise before you

We come to bring worship and praise to our Creator, giving thanks for the beauty around us
But joyful noises are not easy for everyone because of our various situations and lifestyles

Speak to us all, God, in the stillness of this time and remind us or Your presence and love for all of creation.
We offer this time of worship O God. Let it reflect our praise and thanksgiving for the gifts of creation 

Together we pray

Lord, you are the vinedresser who cares for us with love. You call on us to see the beauty of each branch united to the vine, the beauty of each person. And yet, too often the differences in others makes us afraid. We withdraw into ourselves. Our trust in you is forsaken. Enmity develops between us. Come and direct our hearts toward you once again. Grant us to live from your forgiveness so that we may be together and praise your name. Amen


Litany of Praise 

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you!
We sing your praise in the midst of the world and among all peoples. 
We sing your praise in the midst of creation and among all creatures. 

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you! 
We sing your praise among suffering and tears. 
We sing your praise among promises and achievements. 

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you
We sing your praise in the places of conflict and misunderstanding. 
We sing your praise in the places of encounter and reconciliation. 

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you! 
We sing your praise in the midst of rifts and divisions. 
We sing your praise in the midst of life and death, the birth of a new heaven and a new earth. 

You who call us to be praise in the midst of the earth: glory to you! 


First Vigil     Abiding in Christ: The unity of the whole person

Psalm: 103


Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.

As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Reading: John 15:1-17    

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Intercessions
God of love, through Christ you said to us: “You did not choose me but I chose you.” You seek us, you invite us to receive your friendship and abide in it. Teach us to respond more deeply to this invitation, and grow in a life that is ever more complete.
The joy of our heart is in God.

God of life, you call us to be praise in the midst of the world and to welcome one another as a gift of your grace. May your loving gaze, which rests upon each person, open us to receive each other just as we are.
The joy of our heart is in God.

God who gathers, you knit us together as one vine in your Son Jesus. May your loving Spirit abide in us at parish meetings and local ecumenical gatherings. Grant that together we might celebrate you with joy.
The joy of our heart is in God.

God of the one vineyard, you call us to abide in your love in all we do and say. Touched by your goodness, grant us to be a reflection of that love in our homes and workplaces. May we pave the way for bridging rivalries and overcoming tensions.
The joy of our heart is in God.

A time of silence

Very often we think of prayer as some- thing we do, an activity of our own. In this short time we are invited to an interior silence, and to turn aside from all the noise and concerns of our lives and thoughts. In this silence the action belongs to God. We are simply called to abide in God’s love, to rest in God.

Silence

Hymn      I have called you by your Name (MV 161)

I have called you by your name, you are mine; 
I have gifted you and ask you now to shine. 
I will not abandon you; all my promises are true. 
You are gifted, called and chosen; you are mine. 

I will help you learn my name as you go; 
Read it written in my people, help them grow. 
Pour the water in my name, speak the word your soul can claim, 
Offer Jesus’ body given long ago. 

I know you will need my touch as you go; 
Feel it pulsing in creation’s ebb and flow. 
Like the woman reaching out, choosing faith in spite of doubt, 
Hold the hem of Jesus’ robe, then let it go. 

I have given you a name, it is mine; 
I have given you my Spirit as a sign. 
With my wonder in your soul, make my wounded children whole; 
Go and tell my precious people they are mine. 

Second Vigil           The visible unity of Christians

Psalm: 85

Lord, you were favourable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin.
You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation towards us.
Will you be angry with us for ever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13a               

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? 

Intercessions

Holy Spirit, you create and re-create the Church in all places. Come and whisper in our hearts the prayer which Jesus addressed to his Father on the eve of his passion: “that they may all be one...so that the world may believe.”
Lord have mercy.

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, light the fire of your love in us so that suspicions, contempt and misunderstanding cease in the Church. May the walls that separate us fall.
Lord have mercy.

Holy Spirit, Consoler of all, open our hearts to forgiveness and reconciliation and bring us back from our wanderings.
Lord have mercy.

Lord Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, give us poverty of spirit so that we may welcome the unexpectedness of your grace.
Lord have mercy.

Holy Spirit, you never abandon the men, women and children who are persecuted for their fidelity to the gospel. Give them strength and courage, and support those who help them.
Lord have mercy.

Sharing a Sign of Peace

The Lord calls us to be united among ourselves. He gives us his peace and invites us to share it. Let us exchange a socially distanced sign of his peace with our neighbors.

Hymn Living Christ bring us Love (VU 599)

Living Christ, bring us love,
Love for every stranger;
Living Christ, bring us love,
Love from cross and manger.

Living Christ, bring us joy,
Joy of earth and heaven;
Living Christ, bring us joy,
Joy of sin forgiven.

Living Christ, bring us peace,
Peace with God and neighbour;
Living Christ, bring us peace,
Peace in all our labour.

Living Christ, bring us love,
Love shared at your table;
Living Christ, bring us love,
Love from cross and stable.

Living Christ, lead us out,
Out to tell the story;
Living Christ, lead us out,
Out to show your glory.

Third Vigil          The unity of all peoples and all creation
Psalm: 96

O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Honour and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in holy splendour; tremble before him, all the earth.

Say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.’
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.

Reading: Revelation 7:9-12 

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’

Homily

Short Silence
 

Intercessions      Inspired by a text of Dorotheus of Gaza 

We are called to be ministers of God’s healing and reconciling love. This work can only be fruitful when we abide in God, as branches of the true vine which is Jesus Christ. As we come closer to God we draw closer to one another. Imagine a circle drawn on the ground. Imagine that this circle is the world.

The center represents God, and the paths to the center are different ways people live. When people living in this world, desiring to draw closer to God, walk toward the center of the circle...

...to the extent that they move closer to the center, to God, the move closer to one another. And the closer they come to one another...

...the closer they come to God.

(keep a time of prayer in silence.)

The Lord’s Prayer
With the words that Jesus taught us, let us now pray together:

Our Father...

Hymn      I was there to hear your Borning Cry (VU 644)

I was there to hear your borning cry, I’ll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized to see your life unfold.
I was there when you were but a child, with a faith to suit you well;
In a blaze of light you wandered off to find where demons dwell.

When you heard the wonder of the word I was there to cheer you on;
You were raised to praise the living Lord, to whom you now belong.
If you find someone to share your time and you join your hearts as one,
I’ll be there to make your verses rhyme from dusk to rising sun.

In the middle ages of your life, not too old, no longer young,
I’ll be there to guide you through the night, complete what I’ve begun.
When the evening gently closes in and you shut your weary eyes,
I’ll be there as I have always been with just one more surprise.

I was there to hear your borning cry, I’ll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized, to see your life unfold; to see your life unfold.

Spirituality and solidarity are inseparably linked. Prayer and action belong together. When we abide in Christ, we receive the Spirit of courage and wisdom to act against all injustice and oppression. We say together:

Pray and work that God may reign. Throughout your day let the Word of God breathe life into work and rest. Maintain inner silence in all things so as to dwell in Christ. Be filled with the spirit of the Beatitudes: joy, simplicity, mercy. 
  These words are recited daily by the Sisters of the Grandchamp Community.

Blessing

Be one, so that the world may believe! Abide in God’s love, go into the world and bear the fruits of this love.

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in faith, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Post lude      We are one      Music by Tom Snow, Lyrics by Marty Panzer and Jack Feldman


 

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