A Moment for Mission
"All you people: Trust in him at all times! Pour out your hearts before him! God is our refuge!" -- Psalm 62:8, CEB
On Ecumenical Sunday and during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians echo the message that "we're all in this together."
Jesus prayed, "I pray they will be one … so that the world will believe that you sent me." (John 17:21, CEB)
Today United Methodists observe Ecumenical Sunday. During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25), United Methodists unite with people of other faiths to take Jesus' prayer to heart. God put us here together. How do we treat each other? How can we make it work?
It is hard to grasp the religious division in the world today — life-ending conflicts taking place in the name of God. Now, more than ever, we need interfaith understanding. We also need more people who understand — people like the Rev. Lowell McCoy.
At Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, students affectionately called the Christian professor "Rabbi McCoy."
For more than half a century, McCoy, a United Methodist, helped students with more than 2,000 sermons and listened to them lead more than 6,000 services in the campus chapel. Many of the students he taught continue to lead reform congregations across the United States.
Now the school has created a Rev. Lowell McCoy Prize in Interfaith Relations. Each year, a graduate student will carry McCoy's torch and Jesus' prayer. The footprints are there. We just need to follow them.
Loving God, bless our differences. No matter our disciplines, practices, logos or symbols, bring us together with one solid purpose: to love one another. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Third Sunday After the Epiphany/Ecumenical Sunday – God of salvation, it is a privilege to worship you! You are the fount of goodness, truth, and beauty. You love all you have made. In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we ask you to empower our brothers and sisters in Christ to share your good news in meaningful ways. Give all people of faith the joy of the psalmist, that we may bring our offerings to you with hearty songs of praise. We pray through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Amen. (Psalm 27)
Friendships can cross boundaries like cultures and identities. Can people say of you, "He or she has never met a stranger?" Often, we treat people of other religions like strangers, when a simple conversation, shared meal or common cause could help us see how alike we really are.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be a catalyst for welcoming and being welcomed. Invite people from other churches and religious communities to your house of worship and fellowship events. Consider it a two-way blessing to visit other churches. Convey unity, perhaps with a joint worship service or by offering meaningful gifts representing love, acceptance and commonalties.
In John 17:21, Jesus said a prayer for unity, not just for his disciples then, but also for his disciples now. How can your congregation fulfill Jesus' call to bring the world together?
One way is through the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund, which enables United Methodists to have a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical and interreligious organizations.