Intense Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Jerusalem

Posted on Jan 25, 2019

An eight-day journey through churches and holy places in Jerusalem to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Greek Orthodox people began these days of ecumenical prayer in the chapel of Calvary, in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.

In front of the rock where Jesus was crucified, prayers rose to heaven as incense! Then they continued their journey in the Anglican Cathedral of St. George.

As in every church, the Word of God was proclaimed and commented on.

The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue”, so every day there was a thought on this subject.

 Dean of St George’s Anglican Cathedral

“The theme wants to remind us of the importance and urgency of justice, especially here in Jerusalem, because Jerusalem is the city of peace and people come here from all over the world to live in unity and peace. To live like people belonging to the family of God. I wish that this Week for the Unity of Christians and the prayers will lead us to God. The blessing will come from here, from Jerusalem, where the tomb is empty, to the rest of the world. Justice can prevail not only in Jerusalem, but also in the rest of the world.”

Also the Armenian Cathedral of St. James, in the Old Town, gathered the faithful interested in praying for unity… the songs and the dim light of the place favoured the atmosphere of prayer.

Father Samuel Aghoyan Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem

“We believe in the power of prayer, unity begins with prayer, God helps us, He opens our minds and hearts to accept others, other nations, other people, other races and so we can work together in the name of God and be united. In order to be united we need to understand one another, to have the desire to accept others as our brothers, to create a community of peace and love. This is why Christ came into the world”.

On Tuesday, the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer hosted the moment of prayer, and it was highlighted that “as members of the Body of Christ, we are called to pursue and incorporate justice”.

The week continued in the Church of St. Saviour. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, celebrated the liturgy and, in addition to pointing out the value of prayer and unity, highlighted how special it is to live these days in the Holy Land.

 Custos of the Holy Land

“And this has a very special aspect here in the Holy Land, because if we all get together here – even if we are a small minority – we can all offer the deepest sense of being Christians, that is charity, to Jews and Muslims too”.

And in this church the rite of sprinkling was also celebrated.

Br Stéphane Milovitch
 Custody of Holy Land

“Even if we belong to different rites, different cultures, we may have been baptized in the same way, because there is the baptism of the church, there are no different baptisms, therefore each one of us is a member of the Church of Christ. And the fact that each leader of the different Churches comes to sprinkle the whole congregation is not a gesture of folklore, it is to show that we all belong to the same baptism, we recognize the baptism of others and we feel like brothers united to so many essential pillars”.

What unites us – added Brother Stéphane – is much greater than what divides us.

In the Cenacle, which indicates the place where Mary and the apostles gathered, Christians invoked with one voice the descent of the Holy Spirit. The moment of prayer was led by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of the Dormition of Mount Zion.

The week of prayer continues in the Holy City until Sunday 27 January and until then moments of prayer will take place in the Church of St. Anthony, the Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Greek Catholic Church of the Annunciation.