OSUN-OSOGBO Festival

Pilgrimage to Osun-Osogbo Festival 2021

An amazing experience by Peter Ekutt

African Traditional beliefs involving animist spirits are still widely held in many African societies despite the arrival of Christianity. In some places it is restricted and private. For the Yoruba people of Osogbo land, it’s a civic traditional religion. The concept of religion is not exclusive. In each family one can have many deities and divinities while belonging to any other religion like Christianity, Islam.

Every year in August, during the long vacation, an annual processional festival occurs in “Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove” to re-establish the mystic bonds between the goddess and the people of the town and thus sustains the living cultural traditions of the Yoruba people. The 75 hectares and dense virgin forest located on the outskirts of the city of Osogbo town, the capital of Osun State, was founded some 500 years ago in southwest Nigeria, at a distance of 250 km from Lagos. The Osun Sacred Grove is the largest and perhaps the only remaining example of a once widespread phenomenon that used to characterize every Yoruba settlement. It now represents Yoruba sacred Groves and their reflection of Yoruba cosmology. It is the largest sacred grove to have survived and one that is still revered today. The secret Grove inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005 is amazing and full of excitements.

The festival of Osun-Osgobo, which takes place every year in Osogbo, Nigeria, celebrates the Yoruba goddess of fertility, Osun. The festival renews the contract between humans and the divine: Osun offers grace to the community; in return, it vows to honor her Sacred Grove.

After a private visit to the grove three months ago, I had a chance to participate at this year’s festival (13/08/2021) amids sounds, talking drums, cultural and religious manifestations. The “Osun-Osogbo festival” is the biggest annual religious festival among the Yoruba people and serves as a strong unifying factor for indigenes of Osogbo land during which irrespective of the different social, economic, religious and political convictions of the people, they all come together annually to celebrate the festival and to witness the sacrificial offering by “ Arugba” a virgin maiden who is a link between the community and deity. The Arugba, also known as the calabash carrier, comes out with a large calabash on her head underneath a colorful veil accompanied to deliver the message of the year’s festival sent by Osun to his people gather around the grove. The calabash contains the sacrifices of the entire community and those offered by the people in attendance. Information gathered at the scene reveals that every Arugba has to remain a virgin during her time in the role. Before all this happens, the worshippers offer a special prayer in the shrine of a priestess which I had the opportunity to visit during the festival though with lots of challenges.

Experts on traditional religion met at the scene say the festival was started by the founders of the town of Osogbo around 600 years ago. They had planned to build their houses by the river bank, but as they began felling trees, it is said the spirit of the river-god Osun called out to them, ordering them away. Was this action related to any respect and preservation for nature? Yes, I can say. The grove has been a sacred area of worship for the spirit’s devotees. The goddess promised to protect the entire group and bring them prosperity in return for an annual sacrifice to her. The group accepted the proposition. Today the annual sacrifice to the Osun River Goddess is what is celebrated as the Osun-Osogbo Festival. This is why August is a month of celebration, traditional cleansing of the city and cultural reunion of the people with their ancestors and founders of the Osogbo Kingdom.

Osun is a goddess of all things feminine; fertility, spirituality, emotions, sensuality, nurture and love.

My experience

Once I step into the place, I had some feelings, seems like all the African gods inhabit this place, decorated with very creative artwork, the grove is a place to be, get close to nature, experience healing and meditation. Discovering for the first time, the landscape of the grove dotted with sanctuaries and shrines, sculptures and art works, its meandering river and vegetation in honor of “Osun” and other deities made me stand in owe and splendor. I witnessed the beauty and natural conservation of species and animals. The grove is a natural herbal pharmacy containing over 400 species of plants, some endemic, of which more than 200 species are known for their medicinal uses. Birds, reptiles, and animals are well preserved and protected. As I walked around the, I discovered signs and indications that reads: “it is forbidden, to destroy or kill any animal for food”. There are traditional activities that have been used to protect the site from any form of threats such as traditional laws, myths, taboos and customs that forbid people from fishing, hunting, poaching, felling of trees and farming inside the grove. The traditional worshippers and devotees maintain the intangible heritage through spiritualism, worship and symbolism. It is amazing how things are connected. Natures is not meant only to serve man’s economic needs.

This year’s festival attracted local, international worshipers, devotees, spectators and tourists drawn by what I see as a religious and cultural interaction. This was what pushed me as Missionary of Africa to participate at this year’s festival. These cultural and religious interaction reveals to me how interconnected we are in terms of religion, culture and nature. During the festival I felt that Traditions, religions and Nature become a mix of colors, religion, culture and sounds. The authenticity of the Grove is related to its value as a sacred place. The sacred nature of places can only be continually reinforced if that sacredness is widely respected. And this was displayed in the festival.

Over the past forty years the new sculptures in the Grove have had the effect of reinforcing the special qualities of the Grove and giving it back its spiritual qualities that imbue it with high cultural value. Devotees at the Osun-Osogbo festival believe that the sacred grove forest, situated on the outskirts of the city of Osogbo, is one of the last remaining places that the spirits, or “Orishas” reveal themselves to bless them. this actually makes me understand why such a large crowd present and active at the festival. Many fetched some water from the Osun river to drink, to wash their faces and to take it home for other uses. I met many on the way going back home with buckets and buckets of water with high esteem and trust in such a colorful water. It reminded me of the Christians coming out from NAMUGONGO’s shrine carrying also colorful holy water in bucket and bottles. I stood in awe to see such expressions of trust and faith in a cultural fiesta. Christians, Muslims, and even non-believers were present at the festival offer sacrifices around the water. Some had crosses on their neck, others came with different religious symbols. I got the chance of meeting one IFA PRIEST who allowed me to be at the scene of sacrifice and ceremony. Colas, hard traditional drinks, animals, birds like pigeons were offered by many at the riverside. The religiosity was incurable- there was something more to it as people felt into trance and were taken over by the spirit of Osun. The adoration for Osun, the deity of fertility is undeniable for the Yoruba people. It was an amazing pilgrimage.

I will say, the festival’s popularity has been growing in part because of the activism of Austrian-born artist and activist, Susanne Wenger, who rebuilt the shrines and worked to get the grove protected. Ms Wenger arrived in Nigeria in 1950s, she later divorced her husband and resolved to stay in Osogbo for the rest of her life. She was also known as Adunni Olorisha. She really entered into interaction and encounter with the culture of the Yoruba people of Osogbo.

If you love the African tradition and culture, here is your goto destination. Expect to see monkeys jumping around, and reserve some tips for the praying women at the entrance of the shrine. Feel free to pray to the river goddess, and experience walking through the first ever suspension bridge in Nigeria. You will enjoy an art village with tye and dye, paintings, wood carvings, drums and other arts and craft, amazing architecture, fantastic landscape and nature and its totally worth a visit. Above all something will take you into dialogue between religion and culture. I hope this site’s maintenance remains top-notch! Greetings from the Osun-River.

Peter Ekutt

Lecture on Contemporary Islam (Michael Fitzgerald)

The Visit of Pope Francis to Iraq

Its Significance for Religious Relations

Main lecturer: Cardinal Michael L. Fitzgerald, M.Afr.

A Web conference organised by Georgetown University and PISAI

on Thursday, May 6th, 2021

from 12:00pm to 1:30pm EDT (6:00pm to 7:30pm Rome time)

ONLINE by ZOOM WEBINAR

Registration compulsory :

https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/events/the-visit-of-pope-francis-to-iraq

A recording of the conference will be posted on the same website after the event.

Message for the month of Ramadan

Message for the month of Ramadan

You will find here a message from the Vatican for our brothers and sisters of the Islamic Faith at the occasion of the Ramadan. You’ll find both an English version and an Arabic version. Please share abundantly with those around you!

[…] For us, your Christian friends, it is a propitious time to further strengthen our relationships with you, by greeting you, meeting you on this occasion and, where possible, by sharing in an iftar with you. Ramadan and ‘Jd al-Fitr thus are special occasions to foster fraternity between Christians and Muslims. It is in this spirit that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue offers its prayerful best wishes and hearty congratulations to you all. […]

Christian unity – Day 8

Let us Pray for Christian Unity

Day 8 - Generosity: Receiving and giving

Acts 28:8-10

“The father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him.After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They bestowed many honours on us, and when we were about to sail, they put on board all the provisions we needed”.

Reflection

This story is full of giving and receiving: Paul received unusual kindness from the islanders; Paul gives healing to the father of Publius and others; having lost everything in the storm, the 276 receive abundant provisions as they set sail. As Christians we are called to unusual kindness. But in order to give we must first learn to receive – from Christ and from others. More often than we realize, we are recipients of acts of kindness from people who are different from us. These acts also point towards the generosity and healing of our Lord. We who have been healed by the Lord are responsible for passing on that which we have received.

Prayer
God, giver of life,
we thank you for the gift of your compassionate love
which soothes and strengthens us.
We pray that our churches may be always open
to receive your gifts from one another.
Grant us a spirit of generosity to all
as we journey together in the path of Christian unity.
We ask this in the name of your Son
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Day 7 - Conversion: Changing our hearts and minds

Acts 28:3-6

“Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.”

Reflection

The locals realized that their judgment of Paul as a murderer was wrong, so they changed their minds. The extraordinary event with the viper enables the islanders to see things in a new way, a way which might prepare them to hear the message of Christ through Paul. In our search for Christian unity and reconciliation we are often challenged to rethink how we perceive other traditions and cultures. This demands an ongoing conversion to Christ in which the churches learn to overcome their perception of the other as a threat. As a result, our pejorative views of others will be cast away, and we will be drawn closer to unity.

Prayer
Almighty God,
we turn to you with repentant hearts.
In our sincere quest for your truth,
purify us from our unjust opinions of others
and lead the churches to grow in communion.
Help us let go of our fears,
and so better understand each other and the stranger in our midst.
We ask this in the name of the Just One,
your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Day 6 - Hospitality: Show unusual kindness

Acts 28: 1-2, 7

“After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it… Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days.”

Reflection

After the traumas and conflicts of the storm at sea, the practical care offered by the islanders is experienced as an unusual kindness by those washed up on the shores. Such kindness demonstrates our common humanity. The Gospel teaches us that when we care for those in distress we are showing love to Christ himself (cf. Matthew 25:40). Furthermore, when we show loving kindness to the weak and dispossessed we are attuning our hearts to the heart of God in which the poor have a special place. Welcoming outsiders, whether they be people of other cultures or beliefs, immigrants or refugees, is both to love Christ himself, and to love as God loves. As Christians, we are called to step out in faith and reach out with God’s all-embracing love, even to those we find difficult to love.

Prayer
God of the orphan, the widow and the stranger,
instil in our hearts a deep sense of hospitality.
Open our eyes and hearts when you ask us to feed you,
to clothe you and to visit you.
May our churches participate in the ending
of hunger,  thirst and isolation
and in overcoming barriers
that prevent the welcome of all people.
We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus,
who is present in the least of our sisters and brothers.
Amen.

Day 5 - Strength: Breaking bread for the journey

Acts 27:33-36

“Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves.”

Reflection

Paul’s invitation to eat is an exhortation to those in the boat to strengthen themselves for what lies ahead. This taking of bread marks a change of attitude, as those in the boat move from despair to courage. In a similar way the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper provides us with food for the journey and re-orientates us to life in God. We are made strong. The breaking of the bread – at the core of Christian community life and worship – builds us up as we commit ourselves to Christian service. We long for the day when all Christians will be able to share at the same table of the Lord’s Supper and draw strength from one bread and one cup.

Prayer
Loving God, your Son Jesus Christ
broke bread and shared the cup
with his friends on the eve of his passion.
May we grow together in closer communion.
Following the example of Paul and the early Christians,
give us strength to build bridges
of compassion, solidarity and harmony.
In the power of the Holy Spirit,
we ask this in the name of your Son,
who gives his life that we might live.
Amen.

Day 4 - Trust: Do not be afraid, believe

Acts 27:23-26

“For the last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”

Cette nuit même, en effet, un ange d
u
Dieu auquel j’appartiens et que je sers s’est présenté à moi et m’a dit
: ‘Sois
sans crainte, Paul
; il faut que tu comparaisses devant l’empereur et Dieu t’accorde aussi la vie de tous tes compagnons
de traversée
!’ Courage, donc, mes amis
! Je fais conf
iance à Dieu
: il en sera comme il m’a dit. Nous devons échouer
sur une île
».

Reflection

In the midst of the tempest Paul’s encouragement and hope contradicted the fear and despair of his fellow travellers. Our common call to be disciples of Jesus Christ entails being a sign of contradiction. In a world riven with anxieties, we are called to stand as witnesses to hope by placing our trust in God’s loving providence. Christian experience shows us that God writes straight on crooked lines, and we know, against all odds, we will not drown or be lost. Because God’s steadfast love endures for ever.

Prayer
Almighty God,
our personal suffering leads us to cry out in pain
and we shrink in fear when we experience sickness,
anxiety or the death of loved ones.
Teach us to trust you.
May the churches we belong to be signs of your providential care.
Make us true disciples of your Son
who taught us to listen to your word
and to serve one another.
In confidence we ask this in the name of your Son,
and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Day 3 - Hope: Paul’s message

Acts 27:22 ; 34

“I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship… none of you will lose a hair from your heads…”

Reflection

As Christians belonging to churches and traditions that are not fully reconciled to one another, we are often discouraged by the lack of progress towards visible unity. Indeed, some have given up all hope and see this unity as an unattainable ideal. Others do noteven see unity as a necessary part of their Christian faith. As we pray for this gift of visible unity, let us do so with steadfast faith, enduring patience and expectant hope, trusting in God’s loving providence. Unity is the Lord’s prayer for the Church and he is accompanying us on this journey. We will not be lost.

Prayer
God of mercy,
lost and disheartened, we turn to you.
Instil in us your gift of hope.
May our churches hope and strive
for the unity for which your Son prayed
on the eve of his passion.
We ask this through him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Amen.

Day 2 - Enlightenment: Seeking and showing forth Christ’s light

Actes 27,20

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

Reflection

Christ is our light and our guide. Without the light and guidance of Christ, we become disorientated. When Christians lose sight of Christ, they grow fearfuland divided from one another. Moreover many people of good will outside the Church are unable to see the light of Christ because in our Christian division we reflect Christ’s light less clearly or, at times, block it out completely. As we seek the light of Christ, we are drawn closer to one another, and so mirror this light more clearly, becoming truly a sign of Christ, the light of the world.

Prayer
God, your word is alight to our steps
and without you we are lost and disorientated.
Enlighten us so that, through your word,
we may walk your path.
May our churches crave your guiding,
consoling and transforming presence.
Give us the honesty we need to recognize
when we make it difficult for others to see your light,
and the grace we need to share your light with others.
We ask this in the name of your Son,
who calls us, his followers, to be light to the world.
Amen.

Day 1 - Reconciliation: Throwing the cargo overboard

Acts 27:18-19, 21

“We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard… Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul thenstood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss’.”

Reflection

As Christians from different Churches and Traditions, we have unfortunately, over the centuries, accumulated abundantbaggage consisting of mutual distrust, bitterness and suspicion. We thank the Lord for the birth and the growth of the ecumenical movement over the past century. Our encounter with Christians from other traditions and our common prayer forChristian unity encourage us to seek mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance. We must not allow the baggage of our past to hinder us from drawing closer to one another. It is the Lord’s will that we let go, in order to let God!

Prayer
Forgiving God,
set us free from the painful memories of the past,
that wound our shared Christian life.
Lead us to reconciliation so that,
through the Holy Spirit,
we may overcome hatred with love,
anger with gentleness
and suspicion with trust.
We ask this in the name
of your beloved Son, our brother Jesus.
Amen.

Christian unity – Day 7

Let us Pray for Christian Unity

Day 7 - Conversion: Changing our hearts and minds

Acts 28:3-6

“Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.”

Reflection

The locals realized that their judgment of Paul as a murderer was wrong, so they changed their minds. The extraordinary event with the viper enables the islanders to see things in a new way, a way which might prepare them to hear the message of Christ through Paul. In our search for Christian unity and reconciliation we are often challenged to rethink how we perceive other traditions and cultures. This demands an ongoing conversion to Christ in which the churches learn to overcome their perception of the other as a threat. As a result, our pejorative views of others will be cast away, and we will be drawn closer to unity.

Prayer
Almighty God,
we turn to you with repentant hearts.
In our sincere quest for your truth,
purify us from our unjust opinions of others
and lead the churches to grow in communion.
Help us let go of our fears,
and so better understand each other and the stranger in our midst.
We ask this in the name of the Just One,
your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Day 6 - Hospitality: Show unusual kindness

Acts 28: 1-2, 7

“After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it… Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days.”

Reflection

After the traumas and conflicts of the storm at sea, the practical care offered by the islanders is experienced as an unusual kindness by those washed up on the shores. Such kindness demonstrates our common humanity. The Gospel teaches us that when we care for those in distress we are showing love to Christ himself (cf. Matthew 25:40). Furthermore, when we show loving kindness to the weak and dispossessed we are attuning our hearts to the heart of God in which the poor have a special place. Welcoming outsiders, whether they be people of other cultures or beliefs, immigrants or refugees, is both to love Christ himself, and to love as God loves. As Christians, we are called to step out in faith and reach out with God’s all-embracing love, even to those we find difficult to love.

Prayer
God of the orphan, the widow and the stranger,
instil in our hearts a deep sense of hospitality.
Open our eyes and hearts when you ask us to feed you,
to clothe you and to visit you.
May our churches participate in the ending
of hunger,  thirst and isolation
and in overcoming barriers
that prevent the welcome of all people.
We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus,
who is present in the least of our sisters and brothers.
Amen.

Day 5 - Strength: Breaking bread for the journey

Acts 27:33-36

“Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves.”

Reflection

Paul’s invitation to eat is an exhortation to those in the boat to strengthen themselves for what lies ahead. This taking of bread marks a change of attitude, as those in the boat move from despair to courage. In a similar way the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper provides us with food for the journey and re-orientates us to life in God. We are made strong. The breaking of the bread – at the core of Christian community life and worship – builds us up as we commit ourselves to Christian service. We long for the day when all Christians will be able to share at the same table of the Lord’s Supper and draw strength from one bread and one cup.

Prayer
Loving God, your Son Jesus Christ
broke bread and shared the cup
with his friends on the eve of his passion.
May we grow together in closer communion.
Following the example of Paul and the early Christians,
give us strength to build bridges
of compassion, solidarity and harmony.
In the power of the Holy Spirit,
we ask this in the name of your Son,
who gives his life that we might live.
Amen.

Day 4 - Trust: Do not be afraid, believe

Acts 27:23-26

“For the last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”

Cette nuit même, en effet, un ange d
u
Dieu auquel j’appartiens et que je sers s’est présenté à moi et m’a dit
: ‘Sois
sans crainte, Paul
; il faut que tu comparaisses devant l’empereur et Dieu t’accorde aussi la vie de tous tes compagnons
de traversée
!’ Courage, donc, mes amis
! Je fais conf
iance à Dieu
: il en sera comme il m’a dit. Nous devons échouer
sur une île
».

Reflection

In the midst of the tempest Paul’s encouragement and hope contradicted the fear and despair of his fellow travellers. Our common call to be disciples of Jesus Christ entails being a sign of contradiction. In a world riven with anxieties, we are called to stand as witnesses to hope by placing our trust in God’s loving providence. Christian experience shows us that God writes straight on crooked lines, and we know, against all odds, we will not drown or be lost. Because God’s steadfast love endures for ever.

Prayer
Almighty God,
our personal suffering leads us to cry out in pain
and we shrink in fear when we experience sickness,
anxiety or the death of loved ones.
Teach us to trust you.
May the churches we belong to be signs of your providential care.
Make us true disciples of your Son
who taught us to listen to your word
and to serve one another.
In confidence we ask this in the name of your Son,
and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Day 3 - Hope: Paul’s message

Acts 27:22 ; 34

“I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship… none of you will lose a hair from your heads…”

Reflection

As Christians belonging to churches and traditions that are not fully reconciled to one another, we are often discouraged by the lack of progress towards visible unity. Indeed, some have given up all hope and see this unity as an unattainable ideal. Others do noteven see unity as a necessary part of their Christian faith. As we pray for this gift of visible unity, let us do so with steadfast faith, enduring patience and expectant hope, trusting in God’s loving providence. Unity is the Lord’s prayer for the Church and he is accompanying us on this journey. We will not be lost.

Prayer
God of mercy,
lost and disheartened, we turn to you.
Instil in us your gift of hope.
May our churches hope and strive
for the unity for which your Son prayed
on the eve of his passion.
We ask this through him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Amen.

Day 2 - Enlightenment: Seeking and showing forth Christ’s light

Actes 27,20

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

Reflection

Christ is our light and our guide. Without the light and guidance of Christ, we become disorientated. When Christians lose sight of Christ, they grow fearfuland divided from one another. Moreover many people of good will outside the Church are unable to see the light of Christ because in our Christian division we reflect Christ’s light less clearly or, at times, block it out completely. As we seek the light of Christ, we are drawn closer to one another, and so mirror this light more clearly, becoming truly a sign of Christ, the light of the world.

Prayer
God, your word is alight to our steps
and without you we are lost and disorientated.
Enlighten us so that, through your word,
we may walk your path.
May our churches crave your guiding,
consoling and transforming presence.
Give us the honesty we need to recognize
when we make it difficult for others to see your light,
and the grace we need to share your light with others.
We ask this in the name of your Son,
who calls us, his followers, to be light to the world.
Amen.

Day 1 - Reconciliation: Throwing the cargo overboard

Acts 27:18-19, 21

“We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard… Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul thenstood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss’.”

Reflection

As Christians from different Churches and Traditions, we have unfortunately, over the centuries, accumulated abundantbaggage consisting of mutual distrust, bitterness and suspicion. We thank the Lord for the birth and the growth of the ecumenical movement over the past century. Our encounter with Christians from other traditions and our common prayer forChristian unity encourage us to seek mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance. We must not allow the baggage of our past to hinder us from drawing closer to one another. It is the Lord’s will that we let go, in order to let God!

Prayer
Forgiving God,
set us free from the painful memories of the past,
that wound our shared Christian life.
Lead us to reconciliation so that,
through the Holy Spirit,
we may overcome hatred with love,
anger with gentleness
and suspicion with trust.
We ask this in the name
of your beloved Son, our brother Jesus.
Amen.

Christian unity – Day 6

Let us Pray for Christian Unity

Day 6 - Hospitality: Show unusual kindness

Acts 28: 1-2, 7

“After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it… Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days.”

Reflection

After the traumas and conflicts of the storm at sea, the practical care offered by the islanders is experienced as an unusual kindness by those washed up on the shores. Such kindness demonstrates our common humanity. The Gospel teaches us that when we care for those in distress we are showing love to Christ himself (cf. Matthew 25:40). Furthermore, when we show loving kindness to the weak and dispossessed we are attuning our hearts to the heart of God in which the poor have a special place. Welcoming outsiders, whether they be people of other cultures or beliefs, immigrants or refugees, is both to love Christ himself, and to love as God loves. As Christians, we are called to step out in faith and reach out with God’s all-embracing love, even to those we find difficult to love.

Prayer
God of the orphan, the widow and the stranger,
instil in our hearts a deep sense of hospitality.
Open our eyes and hearts when you ask us to feed you,
to clothe you and to visit you.
May our churches participate in the ending
of hunger,  thirst and isolation
and in overcoming barriers
that prevent the welcome of all people.
We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus,
who is present in the least of our sisters and brothers.
Amen.

Day 5 - Strength: Breaking bread for the journey

Acts 27:33-36

“Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves.”

Reflection

Paul’s invitation to eat is an exhortation to those in the boat to strengthen themselves for what lies ahead. This taking of bread marks a change of attitude, as those in the boat move from despair to courage. In a similar way the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper provides us with food for the journey and re-orientates us to life in God. We are made strong. The breaking of the bread – at the core of Christian community life and worship – builds us up as we commit ourselves to Christian service. We long for the day when all Christians will be able to share at the same table of the Lord’s Supper and draw strength from one bread and one cup.

Prayer
Loving God, your Son Jesus Christ
broke bread and shared the cup
with his friends on the eve of his passion.
May we grow together in closer communion.
Following the example of Paul and the early Christians,
give us strength to build bridges
of compassion, solidarity and harmony.
In the power of the Holy Spirit,
we ask this in the name of your Son,
who gives his life that we might live.
Amen.

Day 4 - Trust: Do not be afraid, believe

Acts 27:23-26

“For the last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”

Cette nuit même, en effet, un ange d
u
Dieu auquel j’appartiens et que je sers s’est présenté à moi et m’a dit
: ‘Sois
sans crainte, Paul
; il faut que tu comparaisses devant l’empereur et Dieu t’accorde aussi la vie de tous tes compagnons
de traversée
!’ Courage, donc, mes amis
! Je fais conf
iance à Dieu
: il en sera comme il m’a dit. Nous devons échouer
sur une île
».

Reflection

In the midst of the tempest Paul’s encouragement and hope contradicted the fear and despair of his fellow travellers. Our common call to be disciples of Jesus Christ entails being a sign of contradiction. In a world riven with anxieties, we are called to stand as witnesses to hope by placing our trust in God’s loving providence. Christian experience shows us that God writes straight on crooked lines, and we know, against all odds, we will not drown or be lost. Because God’s steadfast love endures for ever.

Prayer
Almighty God,
our personal suffering leads us to cry out in pain
and we shrink in fear when we experience sickness,
anxiety or the death of loved ones.
Teach us to trust you.
May the churches we belong to be signs of your providential care.
Make us true disciples of your Son
who taught us to listen to your word
and to serve one another.
In confidence we ask this in the name of your Son,
and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Day 3 - Hope: Paul’s message

Acts 27:22 ; 34

“I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship… none of you will lose a hair from your heads…”

Reflection

As Christians belonging to churches and traditions that are not fully reconciled to one another, we are often discouraged by the lack of progress towards visible unity. Indeed, some have given up all hope and see this unity as an unattainable ideal. Others do noteven see unity as a necessary part of their Christian faith. As we pray for this gift of visible unity, let us do so with steadfast faith, enduring patience and expectant hope, trusting in God’s loving providence. Unity is the Lord’s prayer for the Church and he is accompanying us on this journey. We will not be lost.

Prayer
God of mercy,
lost and disheartened, we turn to you.
Instil in us your gift of hope.
May our churches hope and strive
for the unity for which your Son prayed
on the eve of his passion.
We ask this through him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Amen.

Day 2 - Enlightenment: Seeking and showing forth Christ’s light

Actes 27,20

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

Reflection

Christ is our light and our guide. Without the light and guidance of Christ, we become disorientated. When Christians lose sight of Christ, they grow fearfuland divided from one another. Moreover many people of good will outside the Church are unable to see the light of Christ because in our Christian division we reflect Christ’s light less clearly or, at times, block it out completely. As we seek the light of Christ, we are drawn closer to one another, and so mirror this light more clearly, becoming truly a sign of Christ, the light of the world.

Prayer
God, your word is alight to our steps
and without you we are lost and disorientated.
Enlighten us so that, through your word,
we may walk your path.
May our churches crave your guiding,
consoling and transforming presence.
Give us the honesty we need to recognize
when we make it difficult for others to see your light,
and the grace we need to share your light with others.
We ask this in the name of your Son,
who calls us, his followers, to be light to the world.
Amen.

Day 1 - Reconciliation: Throwing the cargo overboard

Acts 27:18-19, 21

“We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard… Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul thenstood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss’.”

Reflection

As Christians from different Churches and Traditions, we have unfortunately, over the centuries, accumulated abundantbaggage consisting of mutual distrust, bitterness and suspicion. We thank the Lord for the birth and the growth of the ecumenical movement over the past century. Our encounter with Christians from other traditions and our common prayer forChristian unity encourage us to seek mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance. We must not allow the baggage of our past to hinder us from drawing closer to one another. It is the Lord’s will that we let go, in order to let God!

Prayer
Forgiving God,
set us free from the painful memories of the past,
that wound our shared Christian life.
Lead us to reconciliation so that,
through the Holy Spirit,
we may overcome hatred with love,
anger with gentleness
and suspicion with trust.
We ask this in the name
of your beloved Son, our brother Jesus.
Amen.

Christian unity – Day 5

Let us Pray for Christian Unity

Day 5 - Strength: Breaking bread for the journey

Acts 27:33-36

“Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves.”

Reflection

Paul’s invitation to eat is an exhortation to those in the boat to strengthen themselves for what lies ahead. This taking of bread marks a change of attitude, as those in the boat move from despair to courage. In a similar way the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper provides us with food for the journey and re-orientates us to life in God. We are made strong. The breaking of the bread – at the core of Christian community life and worship – builds us up as we commit ourselves to Christian service. We long for the day when all Christians will be able to share at the same table of the Lord’s Supper and draw strength from one bread and one cup.

Prayer
Loving God, your Son Jesus Christ
broke bread and shared the cup
with his friends on the eve of his passion.
May we grow together in closer communion.
Following the example of Paul and the early Christians,
give us strength to build bridges
of compassion, solidarity and harmony.
In the power of the Holy Spirit,
we ask this in the name of your Son,
who gives his life that we might live.
Amen.

Day 4 - Trust: Do not be afraid, believe

Acts 27:23-26

“For the last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”

Cette nuit même, en effet, un ange d
u
Dieu auquel j’appartiens et que je sers s’est présenté à moi et m’a dit
: ‘Sois
sans crainte, Paul
; il faut que tu comparaisses devant l’empereur et Dieu t’accorde aussi la vie de tous tes compagnons
de traversée
!’ Courage, donc, mes amis
! Je fais conf
iance à Dieu
: il en sera comme il m’a dit. Nous devons échouer
sur une île
».

Reflection

In the midst of the tempest Paul’s encouragement and hope contradicted the fear and despair of his fellow travellers. Our common call to be disciples of Jesus Christ entails being a sign of contradiction. In a world riven with anxieties, we are called to stand as witnesses to hope by placing our trust in God’s loving providence. Christian experience shows us that God writes straight on crooked lines, and we know, against all odds, we will not drown or be lost. Because God’s steadfast love endures for ever.

Prayer
Almighty God,
our personal suffering leads us to cry out in pain
and we shrink in fear when we experience sickness,
anxiety or the death of loved ones.
Teach us to trust you.
May the churches we belong to be signs of your providential care.
Make us true disciples of your Son
who taught us to listen to your word
and to serve one another.
In confidence we ask this in the name of your Son,
and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Day 3 - Hope: Paul’s message

Acts 27:22 ; 34

“I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship… none of you will lose a hair from your heads…”

Reflection

As Christians belonging to churches and traditions that are not fully reconciled to one another, we are often discouraged by the lack of progress towards visible unity. Indeed, some have given up all hope and see this unity as an unattainable ideal. Others do noteven see unity as a necessary part of their Christian faith. As we pray for this gift of visible unity, let us do so with steadfast faith, enduring patience and expectant hope, trusting in God’s loving providence. Unity is the Lord’s prayer for the Church and he is accompanying us on this journey. We will not be lost.

Prayer
God of mercy,
lost and disheartened, we turn to you.
Instil in us your gift of hope.
May our churches hope and strive
for the unity for which your Son prayed
on the eve of his passion.
We ask this through him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Amen.

Day 2 - Enlightenment: Seeking and showing forth Christ’s light

Actes 27,20

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

Reflection

Christ is our light and our guide. Without the light and guidance of Christ, we become disorientated. When Christians lose sight of Christ, they grow fearfuland divided from one another. Moreover many people of good will outside the Church are unable to see the light of Christ because in our Christian division we reflect Christ’s light less clearly or, at times, block it out completely. As we seek the light of Christ, we are drawn closer to one another, and so mirror this light more clearly, becoming truly a sign of Christ, the light of the world.

Prayer
God, your word is alight to our steps
and without you we are lost and disorientated.
Enlighten us so that, through your word,
we may walk your path.
May our churches crave your guiding,
consoling and transforming presence.
Give us the honesty we need to recognize
when we make it difficult for others to see your light,
and the grace we need to share your light with others.
We ask this in the name of your Son,
who calls us, his followers, to be light to the world.
Amen.

Day 1 - Reconciliation: Throwing the cargo overboard

Acts 27:18-19, 21

“We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard… Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul thenstood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss’.”

Reflection

As Christians from different Churches and Traditions, we have unfortunately, over the centuries, accumulated abundantbaggage consisting of mutual distrust, bitterness and suspicion. We thank the Lord for the birth and the growth of the ecumenical movement over the past century. Our encounter with Christians from other traditions and our common prayer forChristian unity encourage us to seek mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance. We must not allow the baggage of our past to hinder us from drawing closer to one another. It is the Lord’s will that we let go, in order to let God!

Prayer
Forgiving God,
set us free from the painful memories of the past,
that wound our shared Christian life.
Lead us to reconciliation so that,
through the Holy Spirit,
we may overcome hatred with love,
anger with gentleness
and suspicion with trust.
We ask this in the name
of your beloved Son, our brother Jesus.
Amen.

Christian unity – Day 4

Let us Pray for Christian Unity

Day 4 - Trust: Do not be afraid, believe

Acts 27:23-26

“For the last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”

Cette nuit même, en effet, un ange d
u
Dieu auquel j’appartiens et que je sers s’est présenté à moi et m’a dit
: ‘Sois
sans crainte, Paul
; il faut que tu comparaisses devant l’empereur et Dieu t’accorde aussi la vie de tous tes compagnons
de traversée
!’ Courage, donc, mes amis
! Je fais conf
iance à Dieu
: il en sera comme il m’a dit. Nous devons échouer
sur une île
».

Reflection

In the midst of the tempest Paul’s encouragement and hope contradicted the fear and despair of his fellow travellers. Our common call to be disciples of Jesus Christ entails being a sign of contradiction. In a world riven with anxieties, we are called to stand as witnesses to hope by placing our trust in God’s loving providence. Christian experience shows us that God writes straight on crooked lines, and we know, against all odds, we will not drown or be lost. Because God’s steadfast love endures for ever.

Prayer
Almighty God,
our personal suffering leads us to cry out in pain
and we shrink in fear when we experience sickness,
anxiety or the death of loved ones.
Teach us to trust you.
May the churches we belong to be signs of your providential care.
Make us true disciples of your Son
who taught us to listen to your word
and to serve one another.
In confidence we ask this in the name of your Son,
and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Day 3 - Hope: Paul’s message

Acts 27:22 ; 34

“I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship… none of you will lose a hair from your heads…”

Reflection

As Christians belonging to churches and traditions that are not fully reconciled to one another, we are often discouraged by the lack of progress towards visible unity. Indeed, some have given up all hope and see this unity as an unattainable ideal. Others do noteven see unity as a necessary part of their Christian faith. As we pray for this gift of visible unity, let us do so with steadfast faith, enduring patience and expectant hope, trusting in God’s loving providence. Unity is the Lord’s prayer for the Church and he is accompanying us on this journey. We will not be lost.

Prayer
God of mercy,
lost and disheartened, we turn to you.
Instil in us your gift of hope.
May our churches hope and strive
for the unity for which your Son prayed
on the eve of his passion.
We ask this through him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Amen.

Day 2 - Enlightenment: Seeking and showing forth Christ’s light

Actes 27,20

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

Reflection

Christ is our light and our guide. Without the light and guidance of Christ, we become disorientated. When Christians lose sight of Christ, they grow fearfuland divided from one another. Moreover many people of good will outside the Church are unable to see the light of Christ because in our Christian division we reflect Christ’s light less clearly or, at times, block it out completely. As we seek the light of Christ, we are drawn closer to one another, and so mirror this light more clearly, becoming truly a sign of Christ, the light of the world.

Prayer
God, your word is alight to our steps
and without you we are lost and disorientated.
Enlighten us so that, through your word,
we may walk your path.
May our churches crave your guiding,
consoling and transforming presence.
Give us the honesty we need to recognize
when we make it difficult for others to see your light,
and the grace we need to share your light with others.
We ask this in the name of your Son,
who calls us, his followers, to be light to the world.
Amen.

Day 1 - Reconciliation: Throwing the cargo overboard

Acts 27:18-19, 21

“We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard… Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul thenstood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss’.”

Reflection

As Christians from different Churches and Traditions, we have unfortunately, over the centuries, accumulated abundantbaggage consisting of mutual distrust, bitterness and suspicion. We thank the Lord for the birth and the growth of the ecumenical movement over the past century. Our encounter with Christians from other traditions and our common prayer forChristian unity encourage us to seek mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance. We must not allow the baggage of our past to hinder us from drawing closer to one another. It is the Lord’s will that we let go, in order to let God!

Prayer
Forgiving God,
set us free from the painful memories of the past,
that wound our shared Christian life.
Lead us to reconciliation so that,
through the Holy Spirit,
we may overcome hatred with love,
anger with gentleness
and suspicion with trust.
We ask this in the name
of your beloved Son, our brother Jesus.
Amen.

Christian unity – Day 3

Let us Pray for Christian Unity

Day 3 - Hope: Paul’s message

Acts 27:22 ; 34

“I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship… none of you will lose a hair from your heads…”

Reflection

As Christians belonging to churches and traditions that are not fully reconciled to one another, we are often discouraged by the lack of progress towards visible unity. Indeed, some have given up all hope and see this unity as an unattainable ideal. Others do noteven see unity as a necessary part of their Christian faith. As we pray for this gift of visible unity, let us do so with steadfast faith, enduring patience and expectant hope, trusting in God’s loving providence. Unity is the Lord’s prayer for the Church and he is accompanying us on this journey. We will not be lost.

Prayer
God of mercy,
lost and disheartened, we turn to you.
Instil in us your gift of hope.
May our churches hope and strive
for the unity for which your Son prayed
on the eve of his passion.
We ask this through him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Amen.

Day 2 - Enlightenment: Seeking and showing forth Christ’s light

Actes 27,20

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

Reflection

Christ is our light and our guide. Without the light and guidance of Christ, we become disorientated. When Christians lose sight of Christ, they grow fearfuland divided from one another. Moreover many people of good will outside the Church are unable to see the light of Christ because in our Christian division we reflect Christ’s light less clearly or, at times, block it out completely. As we seek the light of Christ, we are drawn closer to one another, and so mirror this light more clearly, becoming truly a sign of Christ, the light of the world.

Prayer
God, your word is alight to our steps
and without you we are lost and disorientated.
Enlighten us so that, through your word,
we may walk your path.
May our churches crave your guiding,
consoling and transforming presence.
Give us the honesty we need to recognize
when we make it difficult for others to see your light,
and the grace we need to share your light with others.
We ask this in the name of your Son,
who calls us, his followers, to be light to the world.
Amen.

Day 1 - Reconciliation: Throwing the cargo overboard

Acts 27:18-19, 21

“We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard… Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul thenstood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss’.”

Reflection

As Christians from different Churches and Traditions, we have unfortunately, over the centuries, accumulated abundantbaggage consisting of mutual distrust, bitterness and suspicion. We thank the Lord for the birth and the growth of the ecumenical movement over the past century. Our encounter with Christians from other traditions and our common prayer forChristian unity encourage us to seek mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance. We must not allow the baggage of our past to hinder us from drawing closer to one another. It is the Lord’s will that we let go, in order to let God!

Prayer
Forgiving God,
set us free from the painful memories of the past,
that wound our shared Christian life.
Lead us to reconciliation so that,
through the Holy Spirit,
we may overcome hatred with love,
anger with gentleness
and suspicion with trust.
We ask this in the name
of your beloved Son, our brother Jesus.
Amen.

Christian unity – Day 2

Let us Pray for Christian Unity

Day 2 - Enlightenment: Seeking and showing forth Christ’s light

Actes 27:20

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

Reflection

Christ is our light and our guide. Without the light and guidance of Christ, we become disorientated. When Christians lose sight of Christ, they grow fearfuland divided from one another. Moreover many people of good will outside the Church are unable to see the light of Christ because in our Christian division we reflect Christ’s light less clearly or, at times, block it out completely. As we seek the light of Christ, we are drawn closer to one another, and so mirror this light more clearly, becoming truly a sign of Christ, the light of the world.

Prayer
God, your word is alight to our steps
and without you we are lost and disorientated.
Enlighten us so that, through your word,
we may walk your path.
May our churches crave your guiding,
consoling and transforming presence.
Give us the honesty we need to recognize
when we make it difficult for others to see your light,
and the grace we need to share your light with others.
We ask this in the name of your Son,
who calls us, his followers, to be light to the world.
Amen.

Day 1 - Reconciliation: Throwing the cargo overboard

Acts 27:18-19, 21

“We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard… Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul thenstood up among them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss’.”

Reflection

As Christians from different Churches and Traditions, we have unfortunately, over the centuries, accumulated abundantbaggage consisting of mutual distrust, bitterness and suspicion. We thank the Lord for the birth and the growth of the ecumenical movement over the past century. Our encounter with Christians from other traditions and our common prayer forChristian unity encourage us to seek mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance. We must not allow the baggage of our past to hinder us from drawing closer to one another. It is the Lord’s will that we let go, in order to let God!

Prayer
Forgiving God,
set us free from the painful memories of the past,
that wound our shared Christian life.
Lead us to reconciliation so that,
through the Holy Spirit,
we may overcome hatred with love,
anger with gentleness
and suspicion with trust.
We ask this in the name
of your beloved Son, our brother Jesus.
Amen.