January 18-25, 2020 is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Each day this week we will publish a Bible reading, reflection and prayer on the theme of church unity.
If you would like to celebrate Unity Sunday in your congregation on Sunday, January 26, 2020, then see our worship resources posted here.
“After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it… Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days.”
After the traumas and conflicts of the storm at sea, the practical care offered by the islanders is experienced as an unusual kindness by those washed up on the shores. Such kindness demonstrates our common humanity. The Gospel teaches us that when we care for those in distress we are showing love to Christ himself (cf. Matthew 25:40). Furthermore, when we show loving kindness to the weak and dispossessed we are attuning our hearts to the heart of God in which the poor have a special place. Welcoming outsiders, whether they be people of other cultures or beliefs, immigrants or refugees, is both to love Christ himself, and to love as God loves. As Christians, we are called to step out in faith and reach out with God’s all-embracing love, even to those we find difficult to love.
God of the orphan, the widow and the stranger,
instil in our hearts a deep sense of hospitality.
Open our eyes and hearts
when you ask us to feed you, to clothe you and to visit you.
May our churches participate
in the ending of hunger, thirst and isolation
and in overcoming barriers that prevent the welcome of all people.
We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus,
who is present in the least of our sisters and brothers. Amen.