We are very grateful to Revd Canon Alison Peden, our Interim Pastor, for providing us with this written service for you to follow since there is no service at St Mary’s this Sunday
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021
‘Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit’
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends on 25th January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. This year, our physical separation from each other has sharpened our awareness of the many ways that we are ’apart’. This service comes from the ecumenical Community of Grandchamp, and has the theme ‘Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit’ (based on John 15:10-17).
In a world full of turmoil and pain, the sisters of the Community urge us to pray and reflect so that we may ‘unite and help each other create forces of calmness, refuges of peace, vital centres where the silence of people calls on the creative word of God.’ We can unite spiritually wherever we are, because Christ is at the centre of all of us, if we abide in him..
Lord, you invite us to abide in you. 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 make us afraid. We withdraw into ourselves. Our trust in you and one another is lost. Come and direct our hearts toward you once again, that as one family we may 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.
We sing your praise among suffering and tears,
We sing your praise among promises and achievements.
We sing your praise in the places of conflict and misunderstanding;
We sing your praise in the places of encounter and reconciliation.
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!
I: Abiding in Christ: the unity of the whole person
Reading: John 15:1-11:
‘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.
Reflection: “The encounter with Jesus gives rise to the desire to stay with him and to abide in him: a time in which fruit matures. Being fully human, like us Jesus grew and matured. He lived a simple life, rooted in the practices of his Jewish faith. In this hidden life in Nazareth, where apparently nothing extraordinary happened, the presence of the Father nourished him. Mary contemplated the actions of God in her life and in that of her son. She treasured all these things in her heart. Thus, little by little, she embraced the mystery of Jesus. We too need a long period of maturation, an entire lifetime, in order to plumb the depths of Christ’s love, to let him abide in us and for us to abide in him.”
As we stay at home – abide there – let us rest in the presence of God who nourishes us.
Intercessions: ‘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 accept one another. May your loving gaze, which rests upon each person, inspire us to celebrate each other just as we are.
You knit us together as one vine in Jesus. May your loving Spirit abide in us as your Church family,
even when we cannot meet together.
God of the one vineyard, you call us to live 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 communities. Amen
II: The visible unity of Christians
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? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Reflection: “On the eve of his death, Jesus prayed for the unity of those the Father gave him: “that they may all be one … so that the world may believe”. Joined to him, as a branch is to the vine, we share the same sap that circulates among us and vitalizes us. Each tradition seeks to lead us to the heart of our faith: communion with God, through Christ, in the Spirit. The more we live this communion, the more we are connected to other Christians and to all of humanity.”
All denominations are sharing the same experience just now, and asking ‘What – and where – is the Church?’
Intercessions: ‘May we bear witness together to the hope that sustains us’
Holy Spirit, you create and re-create the Church in all places and prayed “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe”.
Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, light the fire of your love in us so that suspicions and misunderstanding cease in the Church. May the walls that separate us fall. Open our hearts to forgiveness and reconciliation and bring us back to you when we lose our way.
Holy Spirit, you never abandon those who are persecuted for their faithfulness to the gospel.
Give them strength and courage, and support those who help them. Amen
III: The unity of all peoples with all creation
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.’
Reflection: “We participate in the work of the Spirit so that creation in all its fullness may continue to praise God. When nature suffers, when human beings are crushed, the Spirit of the risen Christ – far from allowing us to lose heart – invites us to become part of his work of healing. The newness of life that Christ brings, however hidden, is a light of hope for many. It is a wellspring of reconciliation for the whole of creation and contains a joy that comes from beyond ourselves: “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11).”
How much do our lives declare God’s salvation? What view of God would others have from how we live? How can ‘newness of life’ live in us and in all Creation?
Intercessions: God of peace, God of love, in You is our hope!
Merciful God, you have shown us in Christ that we are one in you. Teach us to use this gift so that believers of all faiths in every country may be able to listen to each other and live in peace.
O Jesus, you came into the world and shared fully in our humanity. You know the hardships of life for people who suffer. May the Spirit of compassion move us to share our what we have with those in need.
Holy Spirit, you hear the fury of your wounded creation and the cries of those already suffering from climate change. Guide us toward new ways of living that are in harmony with all creation.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
May the God of all creation fill us with all joy and all 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.
Service adapted from https://ctbi.org.uk/resources-for-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2021/
You might like to end with this hymn – ‘Thy hand, O God, has guided …’ which is sung at
Thy hand, O God, has guided thy flock, from age to age;
their wondrous tale is written, full clear, on every page;
thy people owned thy goodness, and we their deeds record;
and both of this bear witness; one Church, one Faith, one Lord.
Thy heralds brought glad tidings to greatest as to least;
they bade men rise, and hasten to share the great King’s feast;
and this was all their teaching, in every deed and word,
to all alike proclaiming one Church, one Faith, one Lord.
Thy mercy will not fail us, nor leave thy work undone;
with thy right hand to help us, thy victory shall be won;
and then, by all creation, thy name shall be adored,
and this shall be our anthem: one Church, one Faith, one Lord.