Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2011
שבוע של תפילה לאחדות בין הנוצריים בירושלים ובא”י 2011 ובכל פלסטינא
Can we teach something about God today and link each other through different denominations? Some decades ago, indeed, the Orthodox students of Jerusalem could attend some Catholic courses and some Catholics were trained in Orthodox school or together with Orthodox clergy and lay people; many Syrian Orthodox would speak Armenian because they attended their school as Armenians perfectly speak Arbic that they got at the Frères’ school. Time passes, not only time, but times and delays as it is wisely written in the Book of Ecclesiasticus/Kohelet, precisely the book of Ecclesiality and Congregation, of Ekklesia and Kahal Rav, the great Assembly and the Klal: pleroma of all the believers known by God and united at the sight of His Throne.
We can cry over Jerusalem. Not only can we cry, but also try to measure the permanent break and lack of unity that affected visibly the city and broke it down into pieces also the Lord wept over the City and wanted to gather it as the hen gathers her chicks. We are going through very tight and difficult times, hours, days, nights. Silence, confrontation, tacite fights, hidden jealousy. In so many places in Jerusalem, Christians do not greet other Christians. Groups will cheer at the sight of other brethren and sisters, measure what those are doing and compare if they can do better of compete with much success. In some other ways, it is even possible at this point to consider that there is no fight, no more competition as I could write in a comment of the Upper Room meeting some years ago (Abbaa.blog).
We became mechanics. It is worse, somehow than being ritualistic. We have the plight, the mitzvah, the obligation to meet each individual because God shaped them in His Image and Likeness. This has no price; this cannot be sold as privileges provided money for the shops only or also in otehr ways for the Churches or that Church versus this Church. We are just humans and too simply basic instinct as all humans are.
This week of unity convenes us to join as each year in the main Churches of Jerusalem. The week begins a bit later and after the worldwide scheduled Week of Unity because we just finished the celebration of the Oriental Feasts of the Nativity/Theophany. The Armenian Church had it on January 18/19 in the Holy Land.
I am glad that we shall start the week with the Orthodox Compline (Apodeipnon) at the Golgotha or Calvary, inside of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Resurrection/Anastasis. It is normal to gather at this place where the Lord died and revived Adam and all human nature, the whole of the world and creation. I do hope to greet the faithful as I always try to do at some point with chocolates and bonbons/sweets down Adam’s chapel. It also happened that I arrived to the Upper Room wit hteh same sweets in the name of our Patriarch to show some loving-kindness….
We are blessed to live next to this unique place and to receive for all of you the graces and blessings to be shared in peace, love, forgiveness, understanding, encounter, assistance, spirituality and free spirit. Since the time when Jesus died on this place and came up from the Tree of Life, anyone of us can fully trust each other, anyone can share anything with any person and even their enemies. Anyone can now receive free and benevolent assistance and get the food to be nurtured and nourished each day for the sake of their personal lives, bodies, souls and redemption and for the benefit and any living being.
This is not a dream. Of course, there is something that seems or sounds a bit “bi-polar” in such words, as if two poles of the same reality could never cope with the other and as if believers get convinced that they are more than nature can concede.
But in Jerusalem we do share bread. Bread is baked all the time and since most ancient days to feed the needy and the poor; here, we do understand through the Sacraments of the Eucharist how fundamental it is important to share bread. The Hebrew and Arabic/Aramaic root includes in the radicals “lechem/lachma = לחם ” that dreams can come true, salt preserves the food, pardon and forgiveness open on everlasting life. This has been the constant hope of the Church, the constant reality of the One Church of Jerusalem.
No one possesses faith. Faith can grasp or seize us. We have lots of prayer groups and it is almost “professional” in Jerusalem to have a group or even more… But we are all beggars and searchers, seekers on the way to God; moreover we can say that God calls us and then it makes the challenge much different.
When you pray for Jerusalem, please remember that we are still on a combat, a lasting wrestling to face the plenitude of the Lord and not be tempted by the terrible fight against Evil and the Devil. In some way, we are here in an earth-quaking navel place of birth to spirituality and to God and this fight continues, it goes on as also to reach every soul throughout the world and bless, cure, heal the the Presence of God.
We can be weak, uncertain, we may have our doubts. The Creed ascertains that “full faith” means that we are sure that God can save each of us. Jerusalem remains the cradle of these feelings and intimate conviction that nothing can separate us from the Presence of God.
This year is also a bit exceptional because the French France 2 Television channel will show the program live from the Greek Catholic Melkite Church in Jerusalem. I shall be present throughout the week to all the prayers in the name of our Church of Jerusalem and also participate in the different programs of the the morning “Jour du Seigneur – Day of the Lord”.
Blessed is the Lord Who sustains us and allows us to reach this time and those days and to witness for this period of our generation,
av aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)
Jerusalem, January 23 – 30
Theme : One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship,
breaking of bread and prayer(cf. Acts 2:42)
The call for unity this year comes to churches all over the world from Jerusalem, the mother Church. Mindful of its own divisions and its own need to do more for the unity of the Body of Christ, the churches in Jerusalem call all Christians to rediscover the values that bound together the early Christian community in Jerusalem, when they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and prayers. This is the challenge before us. The Christians of Jerusalem call upon their brothers and sisters to make this week of prayer an occasion for a renewed commitment to work for a genuine ecumenism, grounded in the experience of the early Church. They also ask us to remember them in their precarious situation and to pray for justice that will bring peace in the Holy Land.
Saturday, Jan. 22 Anastasis (Holy Sepulchre), Calvary 5.30 p.m.
Greek Orthodox Office of “Apodeipnon”(Compline)
Sunday, Jan. 23 Greek Catholic Church of Annunciation 5.00 p.m.
Old City, near Jaffa Gate
Monday, Jan. 24 Armenian Cathedral of St James 5.00 p.m.
Old City, Armenian Quarter
Tuesday, Jan. 25 Lutheran Church of the Redeemer 5.00 p.m.
Old City, near Holy Sepulchre
Wednesday, Jan. 26 St Saviour’s Latin Parish Church 5.00 p.m.
Old City, near New Gate
Thursday, Jan. 27 Upper Room, Cenacle 4.00 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 28 St Mark’s Church, Syrian Orthodox 5.00 p.m.
Old City, near Jaffa Gate
Saturday, Jan. 29 Ethiopian Orthodox Church 5.00 p.m.
West Jerusalem, off Prophets’ Street
Sunday, Jan. 30 Anglican Cathedral of St George 5.00 p.m.
N.B. Sunday 16 January, at 3.00 p.m., Fr. Frans Bouwen, w.f., will give a lecture on “L’actualité œcuménique en 2010” (in French), at the Monastery of the Emmanuel (Bethlehem, tel. 2744380).