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Ecumenism: preparations for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

"So that they look like one in your hand" (Ezekiel 37, 17) is the theme of the Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians for the year 2009 (January 18-25). This year the biblical text was proposed by the Christian churches of Korea who, in their history as a people divided between North and South, found inspiration in the prophet Ezekiel, who also lived in a country tragically divided while desiring the unity of its people.
The meditation stems from the second great vision of the prophet who describes two sticks, symbolizing the two kingdoms into which Israel was divided, that come together again to form one stick (Ezekiel 37, 15-23). According to Ezekiel the division was the result of their sin and going away from God; their reconciliation constitutes a new creation, the birth of a new people that would be a sign of hope for other people and for all of humanity.

The reflection lasting eight days wants to create a deeper recognition of how the unity of the church would be for the well being of all humanity. With such an awareness there comes a great responsibility: all those who confess Christ as Lord should seek to realize his prayer "that all may be one... so the world would believe that you sent me" (John 17, 21). This is the reason why the eight days start with a reflection on the unity of Christians.

"The titles proposed for each of the days of this Week... put the Christian communities before the old and new divisions, of war and violence, of economic injustice and poverty, of environmental crisis, of discrimination a social prejudice, of sickness and suffering, of the plurality of religions to reach in the end the proclamation of Christian hope in a world of separation. We therefore await the splendid announcement of Revelation 21: ‘Now I make everything new’", is what we read in the presentation of the booklet prepared for the Week by the Italian Bible Society; the presentation is signed by Domenico Maselli, President of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), by Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Commission for ecumenism and dialogue of the Italian Episcopal Conference and bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia; and by Gennadios Zervos, Archbishop-Orthodox metropolita of Italy and Malta and Exarch of Southern Europe.

From press service NEV - Notizie evangeliche, 30 December 2008

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