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Dan Olsen is the Assistant Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Monday, May 16, 2016

16th Annual Prayer Service for Christian Unity

All Christians know that on the night before he died, Jesus took bread, broke it and gave it to his disciples.  He then asked them specifically to “do this in memory of me.”  Because of this request, this act of Jesus has been celebrated liturgically and remembered lovingly among Christians for centuries.

Likely less known, at this very same meal, John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ final prayer to his Father was that his disciples might be one “so that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:21).  When and where Christians are divided, the message of the Gospel is less clear to those who are meant to hear it.  On the other hand, when and where Christians are united, the message of the Gospel is more apparent.

The ecumenical movement, which works toward visible Christian unity, therefore, is rooted in Christ’s prayer for unity among his disciples.  If it was worth Jesus’ time to pray for unity in his final moments with his disciples on earth, it is worth our time to gather and do likewise today.  It is with this sense of purpose that we gather annually with Christians from throughout Chicagoland to celebrate the unity that we already experience as Christians and to pray for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit to bring about the full and visible unity that Christ seeks. 

This year, we meet on Sunday, May 22nd, 4 - 6 p.m., at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn.  This annual service, now in its 16th year, is organized by Ecumenism Metro Chicago (EMC), comprised of 20 Christian churches and organizations throughout Chicago, including the Archdiocese of Chicago.  The gathering is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend. 

During our time together we will explore the theme, “Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of God” (1 Peter 2:11-12).  In this letter, Peter argues that it is part of our Christian duty to “speak” of the gracious gifts that God has revealed to us in our lives.  While this speaking can be accomplished in both word and deed, it must be a part of our sense of vocation as Christians.  We invite you to come, pray and be renewed and strengthened in your awareness of the common Christian call to proclaim God’s loving action in your everyday lives.

Further information about the service and the registration link can be found at the Archdiocesan Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs website, www.archchicago.org/departments/ecumenical or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ecumenismmetrochicago.  We hope to see you there!

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