Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: January 18–25
Scripture Passage: Exodus 15:1–21
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea; his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power— your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries; you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.
Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendour, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them.
In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed; you guided them by your strength to your holy abode. The peoples heard, they trembled; pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; trembling seized the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away. Terror and dread fell upon them; by the might of your arm, they became still as a stone until your people, O Lord, passed by, until the people whom you acquired passed by. You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession, the place, O Lord, that you made your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established. The Lord will reign for ever and ever”.
When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea”.
International version of text for the Week of Prayer
from the Vatican
jointly published by
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
The Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches
with the Caribbean Region in mind
Invocation of the Holy Spirit
With the Christians of the Caribbean, let us call upon the Holy Spirit to set our hearts on fire as we pray for the unity of the Church. Unite your servants in the bond of unity.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Teach us to pray.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Liberate us from the slavery of sin.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Help us in our weakness.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Restore us as your children.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Day 1: You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt
- Leviticus 19:33–34, You shall love the alien as yourself
- Psalm 146, The Lord watches over the strangers
- Hebrews 13:1–3, Some have entertained angels without knowing it
- Matthew 25:31–46, I was a stranger and you welcomed me
After becoming the first independent black republic, Haiti extended hospitality to other enslaved peoples in search of freedom. Recent times have brought severe economic hardship to Haitians, many of whom have left home, making perilous journeys in hope of a better life. In many instances they have been met with inhospitality and legal barriers. The Caribbean Council of Churches has been involved in advocacy to challenge those nations that are restricting or stripping Haitians of citizenship rights.
The Israelites’ memory of being strangers in the land of Egypt lay behind the Law’s instruction that God’s people were to welcome the stranger in their midst. The memory of their own exile was expected to prompt empathy and solidarity with contemporary exiles and strangers. Like Israel, our common Christian experience of God’s saving action goes together with remembering both alienation and estrangement – in the sense of estrangement from God and from his kingdom. This kind of Christian remembering has ethical implications. God has restored our dignity in Christ, and made us citizens of his kingdom, not because of anything we did to deserve it but by his own free gift in love. We are called to do likewise, freely and motivated by love. Christian love is to love like the Father, that is to recognize dignity and to give dignity, and thereby to help bring healing to the broken human family.
Day 2: No longer as a slave but a beloved brother
- Genesis 1:26-28 God created humankind in God’s own image
- Psalm 10:1-10 Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
- Philemon No longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother
- Luke 10:25-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan
One of the first things we learn about God in the Hebrew and Christian Bible is that God created humankind in his own image. However, this profound and beautiful truth has often been obscured or denied throughout human history. For instance, in the Roman Empire, the dignity of those enslaved was denied. The Gospel message is entirely different to this. Jesus challenged the social norms that devalued the human dignity of Samaritans, describing the Samaritan as the ‘neighbour’ of the man who had been attacked on the road to Jericho – a neighbour to be loved, according to the Law. And Paul, made bold in Christ, describes the once-enslaved Onesimus as ‘a beloved brother’, transgressing the norms of his society and affirming Onesimus’s humanity.
Christian love must always be a courageous love that dares to cross borders, recognising in others a dignity equal to our own. Like St Paul, Christians must be ‘bold enough in Christ’ to raise a united voice in clearly recognising trafficked persons as their neighbours and their beloved brothers and sisters, and so work together to end modern-day slavery.
Day 3: Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
- Exodus 3:4-10 God frees those who are in human bondage
- Psalm 24:1-6 Lord, we are the people who seek your face
- 1 Cor 6:9-20 Therefore glorify God in your body
- Matthew 18:1-7 Woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!
The book of Exodus demonstrates God’s concern for people in human bondage. God’s revelation to Moses at the burning bush was a powerful declaration of his will to free his people. God observed their misery, heard their cry and so came to deliver them. God still hears the cry of those who are subject to enslavement today, and wills to deliver them. While sexuality is a gift of God for human relationships and the expression of intimacy, the misuse of this gift through pornography enslaves and devalues both those caught up in producing it and those who consume it. God is not impervious to their plight and Christians are called to be similarly concerned.
St Paul writes that we are called to give glory to God in our own bodies, which means that every part of our lives, including our relationships, can and should be an offering pleasing to God. Christians must work together for the kind of society that upholds human dignity and does not put a stumbling block before any of God’s little ones, but, rather, enables them to live in the freedom which is God’s will for them.
Day 4: Hope and Healing
- Isaiah 9:2–7a, His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace
- Psalm 34:1–14, Seek peace, and pursue it
- Revelation 7:13–17, God will wipe away every tear from their eyes
- John 14:25–27, Peace I leave with you
Day 5: Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land!
- Deuteronomy 1:19-35, The Lord God goes before you and carried you
- Psalm 145:9–20, The Lord upholds all who are falling
- James 1:9–11, The rich will disappear like a flower in the field
- Luke 18:35–43, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!
Day 6: Let us look to the interests of others
- Isaiah 25:1–9, Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation
- Psalm 82, Maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute
- Philippians 2:1–4, Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others
- Luke 12:13–21, Be on your guard against all kinds of greed
Day 7: Building family in household and church
- Exodus 2:1–10, The birth of Moses
- Psalm 127, Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain
- Hebrews 11:23–24, Moses was hidden by his parents … because they saw that the child was beautiful
- Matthew 2:13–15, Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt
Day 8: He will gather the dispersed… from the four corners of the earth
- Isaiah 11:12–13, Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile towards Ephraim
- Psalm 106:1-14, 43–48, Gather us to give thanks to your holy name
- Ephesians 2:13–19, He has broken down the dividing wall
- John 17:1–12, I have been glorified in them
We, as Christian people of the Caribbean, because of our common calling in Christ, covenant to join together in a regional fellowship of churches for theological reflection, inspiration, consultation, and cooperative action, to overcome the challenges created by history, language, culture, class and distance. We are therefore deeply committed to promoting peace, the holistic development of our people and affirming social justice and the dignity of all persons. We pledge to journey together in Christ and to share our experiences for the strengthening of the kingdom of God in the world.
— from the Preamble to the Caribbean Conference of Churches