Salt of the Earth: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Produced by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Day 1 – Let the Stone be Rolled away
Ezekiel 37:12–14 I am going to open your graves.
Psalm 71:19–23 Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens.
Romans 8:15–21 We suffer with him so that we may also be glorified.
Matthew 28: 1–10 He is not here: he has been raised.
You have drawn the stone over the door of your fine and private tomb.
A cosy death this.
Night embraces the broken body of Christ,
shrouded in complacency on its solid rock of dogma.
Let no one roll away the stone lest you must go forth,
whole, in his footsteps to meet the day’s challenge.
- There is an odd comfort about a tomb because it protects us from the strangeness and challenge of Christ’s resurrection. What is it in our lives that makes us resist the stone being rolled away?
- How can we share our experience of God with others?
Risen Lord Jesus, the stone was no barrier to you;
your resurrection brings love, new life, new challenges.
Give us strength and courage to allow ourselves to believe this
and so to roll back the stones that imprison us,
embrace the glory of the Easter morning,
and meet the believers from whom we are separated.
In your name, O risen Lord, we pray. Amen
Day 2 – Called to be Heralds of Joy
Isaiah 61: 1–4 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me.
Psalm 133 How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
Philippians 2:1–5 Make my joy complete: be of the same mind.
John 15: 9–12 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you.
Good news indeed!
Such nice people, in such a nice part of town:
no immigrants, no offenders, no prison.
A new vicar: young, white, and thankfully male,
to match the new church roof
and the state-of-the-art kitchenette that cost thousands.
The poor? Ah yes. The poor …
Isn’t something sent to a place called the Third World?
And doesn’t someone collect tins and stuff
for a Food Bank somewhere? But this is a good area.
The sleepy stillness of its Sundays knows
no sigh of need, no howl of pain, no cry of despair.
- Pope Francis writes of the ‘joy of the gospel’. What do you think the joy of the gospel is for the world and for the churches?
- Joy is Christ’s gift, and he gives it through other people. What can you receive from other Christians so that Jesus’ joy may be in you, inspiring you to witness?
Lord Jesus, Lord of joy, the world craves good news;
the world craves your love and joy.
Fill us with that love and joy. Help us to see the plight of others, to hear the sighs of need, the howls of pain, the cries of despair, and to respond, always, in the love and joy of you, our Saviour and our Lord. Amen
Day 3 – The Witness of Fellowship
Jeremiah 31:10-13 They shall come and sing aloud.
Psalm 122 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
1 John 4:16b–21 Those who abide in love, abide in God.
John 17:20–23 That they may become completely one.
‘That they may become completely one’
You weep for your faith, for few come to your festivals;
churches are desolate; priests groan.
This, you say, is a second exile.
‘Our retrograde God will restore his people, as he restored Israel.’
Hear the word of the Lord, as you sugar-coat doctrine,
water down liturgy in the futile pursuit of a fractured mission:
‘My people divided and unrepentant shall never rebuild Jerusalem.’
- What does it mean to you to be ‘one in Christ’?
- How does being ‘one in Christ’ help us to overcome the prejudices caused by centuries of division amongst Christians in our own islands as well as in mainland Europe?
Lord Jesus, Lord of wholeness, your prayer for unity among your disciples has fallen on closed ears and on hard hearts.
Forgive us our closed ears, forgive us our hard hearts,
which perpetuate suspicion, prejudice and division:
forgive us our fractured mission.
Open our hearts, eyes and minds to your love and truth within all Christian people and strengthen in us the resolve to work to restore the unity of your Church and your creation to the glory of your name. Amen
Day 4 – A Priestly People called to Proclaim the Gospel
Genesis 17:1–8 Your name shall be Abraham, the ancestor of a multitude of nations.
Psalm 145:8–12 The Lord is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love.
Romans 10:14–15 How can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?
Matthew 13:3–9 But some seeds fell on fertile soil.
Priests of Babel, your words are launched like missiles from your pulpits to justify where you stand and why you cannot, in conscience, but agree to disagree.
Words, words, words. Subtle, serpentine, their poisonous shells stifling in the soil the seed of the one Word of the Kingdom of God.
- In what ways do your attitudes to other Christian traditions hinder the proclamation of the Gospel?
- Who hears the word of life from our lips?
the Word made flesh and sent to live among us,
the Word of truth, of love, of joy,
the Word of compassion, of acceptance, of unity.
Forgive our negative, critical, wounding and divisive thoughts and words.
Inspire us with your Spirit and give us that unity which will empower us to speak words of joy, acceptance and of reconciliation.
Make us life-giving, priestly people in our communities,
to your glory. Amen
Day 5 – Listen to this dream
Genesis 37:5–8 Listen to this dream that I dreamed.
Psalm 98 O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things.
Romans 12: 9–13 Love one another with mutual affection.
John 21:25 The world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
A dream of abasement this, turned into a tale of reconciliation with suffering brothers in a moment of grace, foreshadowing the dream:
‘that they may become completely one’;
estranged brothers and sisters reconciled in prayer and mission.
This, you know, must be right. Disunity hurts, strife cripples;
and there is even, in your debatable doctrines nothing that speaks of a schism in heaven.
- What does it mean to place our dreams for Christian unity at the feet of Christ?
- In what ways does the Lord’s vision of unity call the churches to renewal and change today?
Jesus, our suffering Lord, our disunity as churches compounds your suffering and causes pain to those who long for your dream of unity to become reality. Forgive us our part in continuing division; grant us humility to hear your voice ever urging reconciliation. Inspire us to work tirelessly to be one so that the world may believe in your name. Amen
Day 6 – Hospitality for Prayer
Isaiah 62:6–7 I have posted watchmen on your walls
Psalm 100 Shout with joy to the Lord all the earth!
1 Peter 4:7b–10 Be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.
John 4:4–14 Jesus, the spring of eternal life.
This is the one week when, as you encircle the church with prayer you become, all too briefly, one people.
Persist in this prayer. Persevere, watchful as the sentinels upon the walls of Jerusalem. Be not silent. Take no rest. Give the Lord no respite until, at last, he binds you together and to himself: one people, one mission, one God, that the world may believe.
- What would it mean for the church to be ‘one’ in your locality?
- How important is it to pray together?
You asked your apostles to stay awake and pray with you.
May we offer the world sacred space and holy time in which to find refreshment and peace, so that praying together we come to know you more deeply. Amen
Day 7 – Hearts Burning for Unity
Isaiah 52:7–9 Messengers of peace.
Psalm 126 The Lord has done great things for us.
Colossians 1:27–29 Christ in you, the hope of glory!
Luke 24:13–36 Were not our hearts burning within us?
The Road to Unity
You have withdrawn, baffled and disillusioned, from the communion of fellowship, and taken the lonely road to your own Emmaus: a journey of separation and isolation. When your eyes are opened to recognise him who comes near and goes with you, explains to you the scriptures, blesses and breaks the bread, you will return at once, your hearts burning within you, to your companions, gathered together in Jerusalem.
- What challenges and opportunities would there be in doing mission together in our localities?
Lord Jesus, constant companion on the journey, you have made our hearts burn within us, and have sent us back on the road towards our brothers and sisters, with the Gospel message on our lips.
Help us to see that hope and obedience to your commands always lead to the greater unity of your people. Amen
Day 8 – The Fellowship of the Apostles
Isaiah 56:6–8 My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
Psalm 24 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
Acts 2:37–42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship.
John 13:34–35 Love one another
The sermon was about healing, wholeness,
the feast of rich food and well-matured wines, that is for all peoples.
Out in the street, Christ’s body and blood still sweet on your tongue,
you eye with disdain strangers drifting out of alien churches.
Outcasts, you say; Children of darkness. Outcast yourself, Christ’s body and blood a noxious poison now in your crabbed soul.
- We have no greater gift to give God or others than our time. What gifts have we received from God when we have spent time with our fellow Christians?
- Share a little of what you mean by leadership. How can leaders encourage the visible unity of the church? How can we support and encourage them in that?
Lord Jesus, you commanded us to break bread together and to drink one cup in remembrance of you – your imperative ignored.
Forgive us, Lord. Open the hearts and minds of Christians world-wide,
especially those entrusted with leadership in your Church, to the joys and blessings of this fellowship. Create in all of us a passion to realise the hope to which you have called us: one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one baptism, one God who is above and through and in all. Amen