By Bob Merikangas
As in previous years, Christian residents of Riderwood can celebrate the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18 to 25. The theme for 2017, the year of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s actions that began the Lutheran Reformation in 1517, is Reconciliation: The Love of Christ Compels Us (2 Corinthians 5:14-20). From the website of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, we learn: The initial work on the theme for this year’s week of prayer material was prepared by a group from the Council of Churches in Germany. The texts were approved by the International Committee composed of members of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The materials for the 2017 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have two accents: reflection upon the main concerns of the churches marked by Martin Luther’s Reformation, and secondly, recognizing the pain of the subsequent deep divisions which afflict the unity of the Church. In selecting this theme, it is viewed as an opportunity to take steps toward reconciliation.
This year copies of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Daily Scripture & Prayer Guide will again be in the Pastoral Ministries office, but there will be no scheduled prayer gatherings in the chapel. Instead, residents will be free to use the Guide personally in their apartments or the chapel or to meet with neighbors in a location of their choosing to share the readings and to pray and dialogue together, on the days and at the times of their choosing.
The theme for 2017 opens up the call to discuss reconciliation not only between the churches, many of which are represented here at Riderwood but also working for peace between nations, and the end of division caused by discrimination. From one of the meditations in the Guide: “After the Holocaust, it is the distinctive task of the German churches to combat anti-Semitism. Similarly, all churches are called to bring forth reconciliation in their communities and resist all forms of human discrimination, for we are all part of God’s covenant.” The year 2017 could also open up reflections by citizens on how to move to reconciliation between people of all religious communities, and to move to promote national and international peace. One of the meditations says: “Throughout history, in Germany and many other countries, both rulers and the churches themselves have misused their power and influence to pursue unjust political goals.” Certainly, we face many challenges as American citizens.
In January, Riderwood residents can also check the news and other sources to find out about celebrations of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in this area and around the world.