PRAYERS – Daily Prayers for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

The Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome and the Methodist Liaison Office Jerusalem are publishing daily prayers written by Methodist-related partners in and around Bethlehem. The theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which runs from 18-25 January 2022 is “we saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” from Matthew 2. The theme draws on the coming of the Magi and spotlights the ancient Christian community in the Middle East.

These daily prayers record the hopes of Christian unity in the birthplace of Jesus.

Day 1 – 18 January 2022

This prayer comes from Ata Manasseh, the director of the Nargis Community Development Project in Wadi Fougin near Bethlehem. The nargis (or the daffodil in English) symbolizes hope in Palestinian society. Wadi Fougin is a Muslim village with a population of 1,300 residents located in the Occupied Palestinian Territories next to a large Israeli settlement and the Green Line. Methodists around the world support the Nargis Community Development Project in Wadi Fougin through The Advance giving program of The United Methodist Church.

O God of all nations, we thank you for the kindness that you offer us through our Christian friends and supporters. We thank you that they are united with us through offering care and support and by their solidarity, prayers, and presence. We thank you for the hope they give. May you, O God, bless them and protect them from evil. Amen.

Ata Manasseh

Day 2 – 19 January 2022

The Day 2 prayer was written by Usama Nichola from the WI’AM Conflict Transformation Centre in Bethlehem. Wi’am in Arabic means cordial relationships and developing relationships. The centre is based in the shadow of the Israel illegal seperation wall. It’s logo is a star that represents the city and community of Bethlehem, there are two hands clasped together representing the act and spirit of unity and reconciliation, the rays of light represent both endeavor of non violent reconciliation and the enlightenment that comes with learning peaceful methods of conflict transformation, which embodies the ministry of the staff. The Wi’am Centre is a Methodist-related partner in Bethlehem.

O Child of the Grotto, here we are looking for you on our journey to unity, rejoicing with great joy at your birth like the Magi. O Child of the manger, make all our paths lead to you, who was born in the manger of our hearts, so that we may give you gifts of our unity and forgiveness. O Child of the manger, as the star led the Magi to you, led us to come to you in unity and to offer our unity as a token of thanks for your incarnation, so that we may live a life of love, humility and peace. O Child of the manger, the visit of the Magi to you is the beginning of your message of salvation to all the peoples of the earth. Grant us, to be monotheists and true believers in your message of salvation and to radiate its lights to all nations and peoples. Child Jesus, you are the true star that illuminates our life and dissipates our darkness, the star that leads us to the Father, grant us, that we may all gather in you without ceasing, your prayer for the unity of the Christian churches, as you desire, and in the way you desire. O invisible light, you are the source of the lights, we pray for the intention of those whom you have chosen to be shepherds and guides for your people. Let us raise our prayers steadfastly with faith, love and hope, shouting: “Your right hand, O Lord, is mighty and able to unite us in your love, and make us one church that raises the hymn of Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will, now and forever, Amen.

Usama Nichola

Day 3 – 20 January 2022

This prayer is written by Daoud Nassar from the Tent of Nations, Bethlehem. The Tent of Nations is a small family-owned organic farm in Bethlehem. The Christian family have owned the land for over 100 years and have been fighting a legal battle for over 30 years to maintain ownership of their land which was subsequently classified as ‘Israeli State Land’. The family were awarded the World Methodist Peace Award in 2018 for their faith and response to injustice, their refusal to be enemies, and their commitment to respond in peaceful non-violent ways through the legal system. Many people from around the world visit the farm in solidarity, supporting their children’s summer camps and women’s empowerment project, volunteering, and building bridges of understanding and hope.

God, we thank you for reconciling with our broken world through Jesus Christ our Savior, who came to our world and was born in this little town of Bethlehem to bring salvation, justice, and peace. Help us, O Lord, to be your witnesses wherever we are. Give us the strength and the courage to stand up for truth and to face the injustices of our world with your steadfast love. As Paul said,” for our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh…but against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” help us Lord to stand firm and to fasten the belt of truth around our waist and to put on the breastplate of righteousness to be ready to proclaim the Gospel of peace. As we are celebrating your coming to our world, Lord, let your light shine in our hearts and renew our spirit oh Lord to continue to work for justice. Amen.

Daoud Nassar

Day 4 -21 January 2022

The Day 4 prayer is written by the Rev. Danny Vidad. Rev. Vidad is the minister of Israel First United Methodist Church in Tel Aviv. This growing Filipino Methodist congregation worships in a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv and is the only Methodist congregation in Israel.

Faithful God, we thank you for fulfilling your promise to restore your people by initiating a new covenant in Jesus Christ. You make Bethlehem not only a House of Bread but also the place where our Savior is born. In this humble place of Bethlehem and through the ancestors Boaz and Ruth, you declared and manifested that your salvation is for all people regardless of color and race. You saved us by your grace by sending your only Son Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Bind us with one faith, with one love, and with one service. By the power of your Spirit, send us in unity to obey your Great Commission that is to make disciples of all nations for the transformation of the world. In Jesus’ mighty name, we pray! Amen

Rev. Danny Vidad

Day 5 – 22 January 2022

This prayer is written by JulieAnn Sewell from the Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre. The Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre is a Methodist-supported project which is situated on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Judean wilderness to one side and the old city walls of Jerusalem to the other. It operates under the auspices of the Anglican Episcopal Church in Jerusalem, which in this interfaith region, is engaged in a ministry of faith in action. The Centre works for the inclusion of all Palestinian children with disabilities through medical rehabilitation and education. 

Lord Christ, we remember how you came as light into our world and how you walked and prayed with your disciples seeking out and lifting up those most vulnerable. We thank you Lord for the ministry of those who care for the vulnberable, for the Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre and other organizations which provide care and rehabilitation for children and families pushed to the fringes of society. We thank you for all places and people that follow in your healing footsteps. Help us, also to seek out the marginalized in our communities and to carry a light of hope into the dark and hurting corners of our world, especially in this time of pandemic, safe in the knowledge and faith that, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” Amen.

JulieAnn Sewell

Day 6 – 23 January 2022

The Day 6 prayer is written by Shireen Awwad Hilal, the director of Community and Development Outreach at Bethlehem Bible College.  The Shepherd Society is the charitable arm of the Bethlehem Bible College. The Shepherd Society responds to the Gospel’s call to love our neighbour by meeting basic needs such as food, employment, and medical care in the West Bank and Gaza. The ministry extends to provide aid for Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Our Lord and our God, we give thanks for the gift of your birth, which we celebrate during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  We remember your nativity here in Bethlehem and the time when wise men came from far off to bring their gifts to the new king.  We thank you for this town of Bethlehem, where life continues – despite occupation and Covid – and we continue to give thanks as we remember your birth.  In your name, may we minister to the poorer people in our town.  You, Jesus, are our example and inspiration in this ministry.  You reveal God’s love for us all.  We pray that, during this festival, gifts may continue to pour into Bethlehem, after the example of the wise men all those years ago – and these riches provide for the needs of those in need this yeary.  It is our joy to stand between those who give and our people here, as we pass these gifts to our people.  We thank you, Jesus, as you continue to minister to your people here on earth.  Bless our ministry, during this season, and throughout the year.  Amen

Shireen Awwad Hilal

Day 7 – 24 January 2022

The prayer is written by the Khader Saba, director of Hope School in Bethlehem.  Hope School – a Methodist-supported project – is a Christian school that provides education for orphans and disadvantaged children in the Bethlehem area. It has a kindergarten, primary school, secondary facilities, and a boys’ boarding home. It is committed to the Christian values of love, peace, tolerance, human dignity, and justice among its Muslim and Christian students.

O Lord as we are commemorating the birth of Christ this year, we pray that you blot out our transgressions and wash away all our wickedness, weaknesses, and illness. Cleanse us from our sin. Bless our work in serving poor and vulnerable children, especially at Hope School. Help us in restoring hope to children and teach us how to offer them your gifts of peace, love, and sacrifice, exactly as the wisemen presented to you the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Bless this school and all who teach children in the Holy Land. Give us the strength to find and restore hope for children under our care just as you, O Lord, restored hope to humanity. Keep our children, our staff, and all humanity, safe and healthy amid these uncertain and gloomy days. In the name of the precious Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen. 

Khader Saba

Day 8 – 25 January 2022

The Day 8 prayer is written by the Revd Angleena Keizer of the Methodist Liaison Office Jerusalem. The MLO is a partnership of the World Methodist Council, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, and The United Methodist Church whose purpose is to increase international awareness within the Methodist community of the issues affecting Israel and Palestine. Its ministry is to work through ecumenical and interfaith relationships with churches, organizations, and individuals seeking to provide support to disadvantaged situations and engage in advocacy. The Methodist Liaison Office Jerusalem supports and enables volunteers, visitors, and groups to visit holy sites and to meet and hear the living stones. In addition to serving the Methodist Liaison Office, Revd Keizer is an Associate Minister at St Andrew’s Church in Jerusalem, St Andrew’s Church in Tiberias, and Israel First United Methodist Church in Tel Aviv.

Loving God, we thank you for the Magi who came to Bethlehem and inspired us during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. You reminded us that Emmanuel, God-who-is-with-us, led the Magi from the East by the light of a star on an unfamiliar path. This week we journeyed individually and corporately to the manger and bowed down in worship to the Christ-child with awe and wonder. We offer the gift of ourselves to follow and trust Jesus, the Son of God, our Savior and Shepherd. Like the Magi of old, take us in new directions and paths, O God, which will be exciting, frightening, confusing, overwhelming, and affirmative. You are the Great Shepherd who knows how to care for your sheep, leading us in paths of rest, refreshment, safety, renewal, and restoration. On the paths we tread in these times of pandemic, we may find seemingly closed roads and restrictions. Remind us, O God, of those living in Bethlehem today as they daily face obstacles and separation walls on paths of injustice that prevent freedom of movement and experience the frustration of systems that prevent basic human rights. May we rejoice with you that the Christian witness in Bethlehem and the Middle East continues to burn brightly as followers of Christ face oppression and occupation but choose to live and walk by faith. As we continue our journeys of faith on familiar, unknown, perilous, safe, frustrating, joyful, dead end, and clear paths, may we put our hope and trust in the Holy One who came out of Bethlehem as the Shepherd to God’s people. We praise you as the Root and Offspring of David and the Bright Morning Star who continues to shine in the darkness and lead your people on your eternal paths.  Emmanuel, God-who-is-with-us, may the glory be yours now and forever. Amen.

Revd Angleena Keizer

NEWS – World Methodist Council Statement on the Volcanic Eruption in the Pacific Ocean

On Saturday, 15 January, an underwater volcanic eruption and tsunami at Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai, 65 km north of the Kingdom of Tonga’s main island Tongatapu, caused waves of 1.2 m to force residents to flee to higher ground. The eruption caused shockwaves worldwide. It could be heard more than 10,000 km away in Alaska.

The World Methodist Council (WMC) officers stand in solidarity with the people of Tonga and the Pacific Islands who have been affected by the tsunami. Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the WMC, noted the concerns of Tongan government officials who did not want another wave – “a tsunami of Covid-19” to accompany aid to the island. He, however, encouraged the Wesleyan/Methodist family to keep the Tongan people in their prayers and mobilize the Methodist relief agencies to work together with the government and churches in Tonga. Abrahams also encouraged Methodists to consider giving to UMCOR and other church agencies in New Zealand and Australia as they respond to the situation in Tonga and the Pacific Islands.

We continue to pray for the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga and all people in the Pacific Islands in the day ahead as they deal with the tsunami’s impact.

Donations to support disaster relief can be given through the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

WEBINAR – “Voices from Bethlehem: Christian Unity in the Birthplace of Jesus” on 21 January 2022

The Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome and the Methodist Liaison Office Jerusalem invite you to the webinar “Voices from Bethlehem: Christian Unity in the Birthplace of Jesus” on Friday, 21 January 2022 at 09:00 Rome/10:00 Jerusalem.

The webinar celebrates the theme of the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – “we saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” from Matthew 2 – which was selected by the Middle East Council of Churches. In this webinar Christian leaders from Bethlehem and environs will discuss the importance of Christian unity in contemporary times in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.

Speakers for the events are:

  • Daoud Nassar (Lutheran) is the director of Tent of Nations, a receipent of the World Methodist Peace Award
  • Zoughbi Zoughbi (Latin-rite Catholic) is the founder and director of Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center
  • Fr. Issa Michael Thaljieh (Greek Orthodox) is the parish priest of the Greek Orthodox Nativity Church in Bethlehem
  • Dn. Ashot Ghazaryan (Armenian Apostolic) is the secretary of the Armenian Theological Seminary of Jerusalem
  • Revd Angleena Keizer (Methodist) is a mission partner assigned to the Methodist Liaison Office Jerusalem and a resident of Bethlehem.

The Rev. Matthew A. Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, will moderate the webinar.

The webinar is free and will last 90 minutes. The webinar will be conducted in English on Zoom.

Please register online to receive the Zoom link. Click here to register.

Photo: The Adoration of the Magi. Image in public domain.

NEWS – World Methodist Council Mourns Death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

With great sadness, the Officers and members of the World Methodist Council received the news about the passing away of Archbishop Emeritus Mpilo Desmond Tutu (7 October-26 December 2021).

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Mama Leah, the entire Tutu family, and the global Anglican communion.

We give thanks to God for the life and witness of Archbishop Tutu, a transformative leader, a priest, a prophet, and a pastor who listened to the voices of the marginalized and fearlessly spoke truth to power in apartheid South Africa and many other places around the globe where injustice prevailed.

We were privileged to have “the Arch” as the keynote speaker at the Fifteenth World Methodist Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1986.

We mourn the loss of this stalwart of justice, peace, and reconciliation, a global icon whose legacy lives on and leaves an indelible mark on the lives of many.

May he rest in peace and rise with all the saints in Glory.

Bishop Ivan M Abrahams
General Secretary
World Methodist Council