This week has been an emotional whirlwind. From the inauguration and the first of this administration’s official actions to the Women’s March and other forms of social demonstration, this week has been overwhelming.
Regardless of your political leanings, regardless of your religious inclination, regardless of your situation in life, there is one thing we, as a people, have completely lost sight of this week. In and among all of the examples of political and social platforms, we have lost sight of the power of prayer. Prayer, in its most general definition, is merely an “earnest hope or wish.” You don’t need to direct your prayer to a deity or a life force in order to pray. In our current times, I would think that most people could express an “earnest hope or wish” for our country to move in a certain direction.
That brings me to this week. Unbeknownst to many, unseen in our streets, and unheard of on social media, it is the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. If you’re a non-Christian, you may think that this isn’t really important for you or to the week of upheaval we have all experienced. You’re wrong. In a country where people are flinging their religion around as the basis for their political beliefs (on both sides of the aisle), this is important. In a country where the majority of people identify as “Christian” but cannot agree on how to apply the second greatest commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself,” this is important. For a religion that, at its center, agrees to follow a spiritual figure who was so giving, gracious, and merciful that he died rather than denounce his practice of peace and care for all, this is important.
While the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was originally proposed by the Catholic Church, it has been adopted by the World Council of Churches, which includes the Orthodox churches as well as most mainstream Protestant churches. As such, this is an internationally, and almost universally, recognized week to earnestly hope for unity across one of the largest religions in the world and encompassing over two billion people. Even for non-Christians, this is a week where we should be encouraging each other and engendering hope for unity.
For non-Christians, this is a week where your support and earnest hopes and wishes for the betterment of the Christian faithful are vital. You don’t need to go to church or believe in Jesus or God to have a hope for more accountability in the Christian churches. To wish for less hate proclaimed in the name of God, more appeal for social justice, greater adherence to the spirit of peace and pursuit of wisdom on which the Christian church was founded.
For Christians, this is a week where more time should be spent in prayer than in chastising the actions and beliefs of others. If you believe in the power of prayer, it is time to put that power to work in an effort to find sameness instead of working to build walls of division.
This has indeed been an overwhelming week. For some, it has been a time of fear, frustration, and anger. For some, it has been a week filled with confusion and the realization of broken promises. For some it has been a week of hoped for change. In all of these groups of people, there are those who profess a faith in the Christian tradition. Oftentimes, these are the loudest voices, using the same religion to bolster their differing political inclinations. Wherever you fall on the political, social, or religious spectrum, what better time than now to pray, to hope, for the unity of these voices for a common goal?
we praise you for sending your Son
to be one of us and to save us.
Look upon your people with mercy,
for we are divided in so many ways,
and give us the Spirit of Jesus to make us one in love.
We ask this gift, loving Father,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.