Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2011
Theme: One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer
The beginning of the Christian Church and its development are recorded in the book of Acts, and this is the origin and model of the ecumenical church.
After Peter and the eleven apostles witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus, those who accepted the Gospel in Jerusalem gradually formed the early church. Acts 2:42-47 refers to “they” and then “everyone” which describes the church in unity. In v.44, it says “And all who believed were together and had all things in common” and in v.45 “and they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” Also, in v.46 it says “Day by day… they spent much time together in the temple”. All of these express an obvious trait of this new community - Unity.
The unity of the early church was not just in ministry, but unity in spirituality. It was not an outward appearance of unity with internal differences; instead it was total unity. It was not unity of formal rituals but rather the expression of unity in concrete rituals shared in community.
The 2nd chapter of Acts is not only a record of the life of the early church, but it is also a calling for today’s church: One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42). The teaching of the apostles was inherited from the truth that Jesus preached. In other words, it is unity in truth and follows the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Fellowship is sharing with one another, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep. We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. The breaking of bread is to remember the death of Jesus and to proclaim that he will come again. It is the core and pinnacle of our faith. Prayer is an indispensable part of the spiritual life. Jesus did teach his apostles to pray. Today’s church that is striving towards unity should also learn and follow the model from these four aspects of the early church’s life.
Today, the church faces many challenges both inside and out. Let us follow the early church and pursue unity, so that the church can fully utilize its energy to witness to the power of the Gospel. To God be the glory!
Diocesan Ecumenical Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Church
The Ecumenical Patriarchate Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia
Church Unity and Relations Committee Hong Kong Christian Council