Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021 (Summary)
‘Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit’ (cf. Jn 15,5-9)
Materials for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp, which has its origin in a group of women of the Reformed Church of Switzerland in the 1930s. This community placed prayer for Christian unity at the center of its life. In the turmoil of Europe in 1938, just before the Second World War, Geneviève Micheli, the leader of the community, later called Mother Gene -viève, underlined how Christians needed to tackle the crisis by uniting and helping each other.
When we listen to the words of Jesus, He abundantly pours His life into us and invites us to allow the Word to abide in us. As individuals, a community, and the entire Church, we can become united to Christ and remain faithful to His commandment to love one another as He loves us (cf. Jn 15,7-12). When we move forward in order to draw closer to the Lord, we draw closer to each other. Conversely, the further we move away from God, the further we move away from each other. As trying to approach the Lord, we overcome divisions caused by trivial misunderstandings. We also believe that, Christians can prevent disputes and conflicts that might well end up causing violence and wars as a result of our selfish greed.
Today we are facing an old yet new crisis, just as the Community of Grandchamp suffered crisis in its early days. Our crisis is the outbreak of COVID-19, which has still put the whole world in a state of confusion. As a result of indiscriminate human development, bats were forced from their habitats in the deep forest and thus came into close contact with the human world carrying viruses with them. In turn, this has caused great disruption around the world. As COVID-19 is a disease caused by human actions, preventing ecological and environment degradation is one of our tasks to protect the Divine order in creation. We pray that, through solidarity, we may respect an animal’s right to life and preserve natural habitats.
Recalling the words, “Remain in my love”, we will be able to realize the importance of abiding in the Lord. Over the past hundreds of years, salvation was considered as something fit only for human beings. However, as the Bible testifies, ‘the world of creation also waits for the day of redemption the Lord will accomplish’ (cf. Rm 8,18-25). Today amid a deepening crisis, this desire is more and more urgent for us.
Through our prayer for Christian unity, we would like to repent for past divisions and share new hope. Now is the time to pray for a new path to unity. We have made great efforts to move beyond our past when too often the strong suppressed, exploited, and disregarded the weak. In particular, the Church has endeavored to walk a new path in solidarity with civil society. Now the Church is called to act in solidarity and concretely express our unity in Christ as a living unity among all people, a unity of life, and a universal unity.
Let us recite together the morning prayer of the Community of Grandchamp, “pray and work that God may reign.” And thus, let us make all our experiences into an encounter with the Lord. A lesson we have learned from COVID-19 is that we are living in a global village where all the people coexist in solidarity for the common good and other core values. In light of this teaching, we can turn this crisis into an opportunity for grace. This year, may we strive to create opportunities to thank God for the gift of this precious world where we live together with our neighbors and to abide in the love of the Lord.
January 18, 2021
+ Hyginus Kim Hee-joong
Archbishop of Gwangju
President of the CBCK Committee
for Promoting Christian Unity & Interreligious Dialogue