Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
This city has a history of sectarianism and on 20 June 1909 Liverpool experienced its worst outbreak of sectarian trouble when Catholics and Protestants violently clashed in the street (news.bbc.co.uk/local/liverpool). The 1909 riots were the culmination of many years of simmering tensions between Liverpool’s Catholic and Protestant communities. Many families were displaced at this time as Protestants and Catholics moved to different parts of the city. For me it is difficult to imagine such aggression towards Christians of other traditions taking place here in Liverpool. Hence Merseyside Church leaders have worked hard over the years to work in partnership. You only have to look at the Warlock, Shepherd and Newton years to see a genuine partnership and a genuine love for Merseyside.
It was at Pentecost 1985 that the Church Leaders of Merseyside issued a call to Partnership. Churches together in Merseyside recognise that not all tensions have been resolved, but there is a general understanding that it is ‘Better Together.’ (ctmr.org.uk)
Every year the churches locally and nationally come together to pray for unity and the octave of prayer for Christian Unity week began yesterday. This year the materials for prayer and reflection comes from Christians in the Middle East and the theme for the week is ‘We Saw His Star in the East…’ The Christians in the Middle East explore and reflect upon the visit of the Magi in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 2. They suggest that the Magi come from far off countries and represent diverse cultures ‘yet driven by the same hunger to see and know the new-born king’ (ctbi.org).
That drive to see the new-born king is part of who we are as Christians despite denominational affiliation. So this week why not stop and pray for your fellow brothers and siters in Christ as they journey from different places and different theological understandings to know God through God’s Son, Jesus.
The Magi came from the East to pay homage
and offer special gifts from their cultures and countries.
We pray today for all Christian communities around the world
in their diversity of worship and tradition:
Lord we ask you to preserve these treasures,
particularly in areas of the world where the presence … and survival of the Church is threatened by violence and oppression Amen.
On Sunday 23 January at 3pm there will be a joint service, between the two Cathedrals, at the Metropolitan Cathedral to pray for Christian Unity.