Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bishop Younan preaches on Christian unity

Bishop Munib A. Younan preached a sermon for the Week for the Prayer of Christian Unity at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. I have provided some excerpts here. For the complete sermon, please go to the link: http://gallery.mailchimp.com/c9c32f1679d067d8ca8107b9e/files/Bishop_Younan_Sermon_WeekOfPrayerForChristianUnity.pdf

The wonderful resources of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are not limited to a single week but can be used anytime in prayers and vigils for peace, conferences and events, special worship services. Explore this website at the World Council of Churches: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-commissions/faith-and-order-commission/xi-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity.html

Here are excerpts from Bishop Younan's sermon -

Jan. 25, 2011
“One. . . in the apostles’ teaching. . . .”
(Acts 2:42)

"(...) As I often say, to work for unity in Jerusalem is an art. We are in need of capable artists to produce something so beautiful. We all know the work required and the careful planning to design a Middle Eastern Carpet. It is as if each of our churches is a different color of thread (or yarn), yet woven together the carpet becomes so much more beautiful than each strand of yarn by itself.
The individual threads do not loose their identity or individual character. The beauty of their particular color remains intact. Yet coming together under the direction of an artist, the finished carpet is more beautiful than all of the individual strands. And it is none other than the Holy Spirit that guides this process of coming together to produce this beautiful ecumenical carpet. Picture with me such a beautiful carpet hanging here on the wall—a beautiful carpet, perhaps with an image of the Lord’s Supper with Jesus sitting in the middle—Imagine how beautiful this carpet would be. If ecumenism succeeds in Jerusalem, it can succeed in the whole world. And so we are called to this purpose, for we are capable artists weaving together this beautiful carpet of the holy communion. It is not a burden, nor an effort. It is simply our duty to which we have been called to answer Christ’s priestly intercession so that we maybe one as Christ and the Father are one (John 17).

"(...) This can be an example of how Christian unity can take place here in Jerusalem. Ecumenism is not built on the shoulders of others, not on finding mistakes and disagreements with others. Nor is it in concentrating on particular events in our common histories. Unity starts when we are open to live in a spirit of repentance and forgiveness, and ask our Lord to guide us. Unity is not uniformity. A carpet of all red threads is okay, or one that is all blue, or all green. But we all know that much more desirable in the market is that carpet which brings together various colors into one with a carefully designed pattern of the Holy Communion. Each of the churches brings to our ecumenical carpet special gifts that benefit us all. Those of us from the Lutheran tradition stand in appreciation of the witness that each of you give:
• To the Orthodox we say thank you for your witness of steadfastness in faith.
• To the Armenian and Coptic for your example of faith in martyrdom.
• To the Syriac for the way that you have preserved a history going back to the Aramaic roots of our faith.
• To the Latin Catholic for your example of church order and for the spirit of faithful obedience.
• To the Maronites for your ability to contextualize our faith.
• To the Greek Catholic for joining East and West together under one roof.
• To the Anglicans for your liturgical forms and hymnody
• And I hope that you would say the same for our Lutheran zeal and fervor inpreaching and especially our devotion to justification by faith and the priesthood of all believers. We stand appreciative of each of you and your witness in the faith. And now that we have worked together for some time here in Jerusalem, we can only say that we cannot imagine for one moment trying to exist without each other.

"(...) Unity in a spirit of repentance and forgiveness calls us as reconciled diversity to see Christ in the other, and to find a common witness here in Jerusalem. Why did God decide on that first Pentecost to make use of 19 different languages including Arabic? Why has God today placed us here in Jerusalem: Orthodox, Catholic, Oriental Catholic and Orthodox, Lutheran Evangelical, Anglican? Why here in Jerusalem? Why us? Why these particular different churches? One thing is certain: he called us to be in Jerusalem to be a light to the world. It is a light that emanates from Golgotha and the empty tomb. It is a light reflecting this spirit of repentance and forgiveness. It is a light that calls us to be living witness and creative diakonia together.

"(...) We must have strategies and action plans. Most of all we are called to remain steadfast in the apostles’ teaching. We all as churches are responsible to deepen the understanding of our witness and presence in the Holy Land. We are called to educate our people:
To know the Bible deeply.
To understand its message.
To emphasize the importance of Christian education.
To know why we are here in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
To show the world that we in Jerusalem continue to be both the church of Golgotha and the church of the empty tomb, the church of suffering, but also the church of resurrection.
We are called to educate our people that what unites us is Jesus.
We are called through this teaching to confess together that There is one body and one spirit, one hope in which we are called, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one eucharist, one God and father of us all.
We are called through this teaching to stand together, to present a common living witness."

Learn more about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Land: http://www.elcjhl.org/

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