The Irish School of Ecumenics has made available resources for the Week for Prayer for Christian Unity, 18-25 January 2011. Please read below an introductory letter from Dr Geraldine Smyth, head of the Irish School of Ecumenics. You also can access the sample homily notes and order of service.
As the Irish School of Ecumenics this year celebrates its 40th anniversary, we are happy once more to offer you information and resources for the coming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18th-25th January 2011). For this year, the Order of Service has been prepared by Christians in Jerusalem. They have chosen the biblical theme – “One in the Apostles’ teaching, fellowship and the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42).
This witness of oneness in faith calls to mind the protracted suffering of the churches in Israel and Palestine and of the many people in that land, broken apart by the violence of war. In November, we in ISE were honoured to host a visiting delegation of Church Leaders from that place known familiarly to us as the “Holy Land”. We have heard first hand of their plight, their longing for an end to oppression and the restoring of peace and justice.
And so, in asking you in your different denominations in your particular place, to come together in a special service of prayer for Christian unity, bearing in mind Christ’s longing for the oneness of his church, I can find no better basis, no stronger encouragement today, than their plea to us to be in solidarity and prayer with them. It is a reminder to all of us that the world needs a more visible witness to reconciliation, justice, truth and koinonia.
I take this occasion to thank you for your continuing support of the Irish School of Ecumenics. Firmly ensconced now in Trinity College, our students following the Masters and PhD programmes are benefitting enormously from their study and practical preparation to play their part as ambassadors of reconciliation in their varied walks of life. Yet, we continue to struggle to sustain our range of community-based, church-related and ecumenical courses and events, in Northern Ireland, even as we plan to pilot a new programme in partnership with some parishes in the wider Leinster area. It is by faith rather than assurance that we dare to plough new furrows. So too, with sensitivity to the impact of the astringent economic conditions, and to the many pressing demands that churches are facing, I ask you once more to donate the proceeds of the collection at the service, whether you hold it at the traditional or alternatively chosen time.
As we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may Christ, the Shalom of God be with you, and the Holy Spirit journey with you all throughout the coming year.
Dr Geraldine Smyth OP
Head of the Irish School of Ecumenics