Monday, January 19, 2015
Prayer for Christian Unity Day 2
Tired of the journey, Jesus sat down facing the well (John 4:6)
Genesis 29:1-14 Jacob and Rachel at the well
Psalms 137 How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Each one of you says, "I am for Paul," or "I am for Apollos"
John 4:5-6 Jesus was tired out by his journey
Jesus had been in Judea before his encounter with the Samaritan woman. The Pharisees had begun to spread the word that Jesus baptized more disciples than John. Perhaps this rumour has caused some tension and discomfort. Perhaps it is the reason behind Jesus’ decision to leave.
Arriving at the well, Jesus decides to stop. He was tired from his journey. His fatigue could also be related to the rumours. While he was resting, a Samaritan woman came near the well to fetch water. This meeting took place at Jacob’s well: a symbolic place in the life and spirituality of the people of the Bible.
A dialogue begins between the Samaritan woman and Jesus about the place of worship. "Is it on this mountain or in Jerusalem?" asks the Samaritan woman. Jesus answers, "neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him" (Jn 4: 21- 24).
It still happens that instead of a common search for unity, competition and dispute mark the relations between the churches. This has been the experience of Brazil in recent years. Communities extol their own virtues and the benefits that accrue to their adherents in order to attract new members. Some think that the bigger the church, the larger its number of members, the greater its power, the closer they are to God, presenting themselves as the only true worshippers. As a result there has been violence and disrespect to other religions and traditions. This type of competitive marketing creates both distrust between the churches and a lack of credibility in society towards Christianity as a whole. As competition grows the "other" community becomes the enemy.
Who are the true worshippers? True worshippers do not allow the logic of competition – who is better and who is worse – to infect faith. We need "wells" to lean upon, to rest and let go of disputes, competition and violence, places where we can learn that true worshippers worship "in Spirit and in Truth."
What are the main reasons for competition among our churches?
Are we able to identify a common "well" upon which we can lean, and rest from our disputes and competitions ?
Often our churches are led to choose the logic of competition.
Forgive our sin of presumption.
We are weary from this need to be first. Allow us to rest at the well.
Refresh us with the water of unity drawn from our common prayer.
May your Spirit who hovered over the waters of chaos bring unity from our diversity.