Last night the local churches in Geneva organized the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service. It took place in the chapel of the Ecumenical Centre this year, there were far more people than in the previous few years so we felt it was successful - and for the most part it was. We began with moving words from Father Megally the priest of Geneva's Coptic Orthodox Church, who thanked the local churches for their solidarity and prayers following the recent tragic attack on the Coptic Church in Alexandria.
The focus of the prayers this year is Jerusalem, the churches there prepared the material for the octave of prayer which is marked by Christians throughout the world. We had Middle Eastern as well as French music at last night's service.
The WCC's general secretary picked up on the theme of Jerusalem and of the table in his sermon
"The table is also a place and space that demands that we think about justice and the way food and access to power are shared in the world, especially at a time when speculation with food prices will mean that the poorest will become poorer, and go hungry."
"Perhaps the image of the table can help us with this, it is around the table that not only bread is broken but that the word is shared; the table is a place of fellowship, of joy, a place for learning and forging reconciliation. The table is also a place and space that demands that we think about justice and the way food and access to power are shared in the world, especially at a time when speculation with food prices will mean that the poorest will become poorer, and go hungry. Of course there is still sadly one table where we as Christians do not yet eat together. We live with the painful reality of our own divisions."
So last night, all went well, people were happy, the chapel was full, more than 30 different confessions were represented including several of the migration churches ... and yet as I look back on it I think that somehow we need to become more missional in our approach to Christian unity. I made a joke about how next year in order to change the age profile of those attending we should do a skateboard service for unity. I think of a friend who is a trained youth pastor and who is finding it hard to find a parish to go to as there are so few young people in the church. So I wonder will we dare next year to invite the church youth movements in Geneva to lead the service and do things a bit differently. It is difficult after something has seemingly worked and been a success to think like this. I'm concerned that we think we have found the formula for something that has worked and that we don't see what isn't working as a result.
So I suppose what I am saying is - things went well and that is good and to be celebrated, but a big challenge remains.