The 2017 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on 18 January. The week is sometimes referred to as the “Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity”, with its eight days running from the feast of St Peter to that of St Paul (25 January).
Resources for the week have been prepared by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). This year, taking the theme Crossing Barriers, we are asked to reflect on the changing shape of Christian affiliation in Germany where fifty million Christians have traditionally belonged mostly to the Roman Catholic Church or one of the Protestant State Churches. “Recent developments, particularly the reception of refugees and asylum seekers, have begun to change this balance and other Christian traditions are finding expression” – but areas of difference mean that some churches “remain self-absorbed or construct new walls”.
Taking as a starting point Paul’s second letter to the early Christians in Corinth, we are reminded that “God has, in Christ, reconciled the world to himself. The love of Christ compels us to be ambassadors of this reconciliation, which is enacted by dismantling the walls. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany experienced how a seemingly insurmountable wall could be brought down. The fall of this wall is a symbol of hope that, with the love of God, nothing is impossible.”
Here on Singing the Faith Plus we take a look at some of the hymns in Singing the Faith that speak of life and unity in the Church. Phillip Poyner has also offered a selection of suitable hymns as an addition to our lectionary suggestions for 22 January.
We also highlight hymns published on this site that explore the realities of accepting diverse views and concerns within a united Christian community.
Finally, an article for reflection and discussion: Are Christians really interested in one other?