Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Praying for unity - is it about justice or about prayer?

It's been a busy weekend with a big event for the churches in Geneva and the WCC marking the 100th anniversary of the week of prayer for Christian Unity. Airline timetabling and US immigration did their best to thwart arrangements. Rev. Pierre Wallière from Haïti got stuck in Miami and then in Zürich. He did arrive in time for some in depth conversations over supper with people from the local churches and on Monday morning he preached on the necessity of prayer for Christians everywhere - particularly as a source of support for those living in situations of violence.
Sister Sheila Flynn spoke movingly on Sunday of unity not being possible if the unity we pray for remains indifferent to the millions living with and dying of HIV/AIDS. The women she works with at Kopanang sent her with a message to Geneva - tell them not to forget us. (The picture, like the others in this post is by my colleague Juan Michel and shows Pierre and Sheila at the WCC). Rev. Jean-Claude Mokry preached about how the week of prayer's theme "pray without ceasing" served as a springboard to renew our personal, local and global witness, rooting prayer in practical experience and expression.

So unity cannot only be about in-depth detailed theological papers and encounters but has also to engage with what people experience and prayer can't be separate either from the intellect or from political commitment and deep engagement with society. Unity isn't about a choice between justice and prayer but about rooting them in the same soil.