JERUSALEM – From January 20 -28, 2018, the various Churches of Jerusalem each evening hosted a prayer service to facilitate common prayer. This annual Week of Prayer for Christian unity is designed to remind us that the world yearns for reconciliation and peace.
As every year, a Week of Prayer for Christian unity is organized worldwide. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches choose a theme and write texts to help us experience this week. “Your right hand, O Lord, radiant power” (Ex 15.6) is the theme that was selected for the year 2018.
As the Pontifical Council recalled, “The liberation and salvation of God’s people come through the power of God. The right hand of God can be understood both as God’s sure victory over his adversaries and as his unfailing protection of his people. […] By his control of wind and sea God shows his will to preserve life and to destroy violence (Ex 15:10). The purpose of this redemption was to constitute the Israelites as a people of praise recognizing God’s steadfast love. The liberation brought hope and a promise for the people.”
It is in this hope and promise of liberation that the Jerusalem Christians turned out in numbers to experience the week that calls for unity. First, at Calvary for the Divine Office of the Greek Orthodox, followed by the communal prayer with the Anglicans at Saint Georges Cathedral, then, the faithful were able to meet with the Armenian Cathedral of St. Jacques before praying together on the fourth day at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.
On Wednesday, January 25, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, greeted Jerusalem Christians in the Co-Cathedral of the Patriarchate. In his homily, the Administrator proposed to the assembly to be aware that “Jesus took and takes us by the hand.” The Archbishop invited the people present to “have, no matter what happens, a special relationship, an intimate relationship with Jesus Who saves us from ourselves,” despite all the difficulties and all the temptations of life.
On Thursday, Christians went to the Cenacle where the gathering was led by the Benedictines Community at the Church of Dormition. The next day, prayer took place in the Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Mark. Then the Ethiopian and the Greek Melkites were pleased to receive in their churches many faithful to close the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
At the heart of each celebration: the exchange of Peace. A gesture of peace that is more than necessary in a world where still reign too much division and instability. A sign of solidarity in a Jerusalem that suffers again from political tensions and where domination seems to replace respect for others and their differences.