“God’s love exceeds the limits of earthly life, and places every moment of our reality in the breadth of eternal life,” said József Steinbach, reformed Bishop and president of the Ecumenical Council of Churches at the opening service of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held in the St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest. The ecumenical opening worship has been declared prayer day for the persecuted Christians, as well.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 was prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp. The theme that was chosen, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the church and the human family.
The Ecumenical Council of Churches of Hungary (ECCH) and the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference decided three years ago that the opening Sunday of the week of prayer should also be the National Day of Prayer for the persecuted Christians, therefore participants of the event also prayed for our Christian communities suffering discrimination and hardships because of their faith.
Called to be a sign in the world through mutual love
“The gospel speaks of love in a very specific way: God’s love is the example we are encouraged to imitate. Let us be faithful to this love, let us love one another as the Father loves us,” urged Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop and Primate Roman Catholic Church in Hungary, based on John 15. This feeling is different from the love of the enemy, he added, because the disciples must love one another in a special way: God calls us to love one another not only on the basis of creation but more specifically, based on our baptism.
“This inner and intimate community of love will be a sign to the world,” the archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest emphasized, adding that the way how we love each other, demonstrates and mediates God’s love for humankind. Therefore it is a great responsibility how we deal with issues related to the church. “We need to keep in mind the example of Jesus. He loved everyone, gave his life for both good and evil, but he spoke to his disciples differently, thought them in a special way. This is the love we can experience within the Christian family and community,” he said. “Apostle Paul also emphasized that if we receive the Eucharist together, we cannot leave our neighbour alone in other areas of life,” added Peter Erdő before he concluded: “Until we reach full unity in faith, we can exercise solidarity, especially for persecuted Christians. They exemplify and fulfil the ecumenism of martyrdom, so let us pray for them!”
Community of Grandchamp
The community of Grandchamp is a monastic community and brings together sisters from different churches and various countries. Our ecumenical vocation commits us on the path of reconciliation among Christians and within the human family, and to respect the whole of creation. About 50 sisters form the community. Most of them live at Grandchamp, Areuse, in French-speaking Switzerland. Some sisters live in Sonnenhof, in the country near Bâle, and others live a simple presence of prayer and friendship in different places. There are sisters now in Switzerland, in the Netherlands and in France.
Self-denial, contentment in gratitude and renewal
„Csodálkozzunk rá Isten szeretetére!” – kérte az imahét mottójának üzenetével összecsengő 103. zsoltár alapján prédikáló Steinbach József. „Ezen az estén, nehéz időket élve különösen szükségünk van arra, hogy rácsodálkozzunk Isten megtartó szeretetére, mert Ő nemcsak beszél a szeretetről, hanem szabadító jótetteivel cselekszik értünk” – fogalmazott a dunántúli püspök.
“Let us be amazed by the love of God!” encouraged the audience József Steinbach, reformed Bishop and President of ECCH who preached about Psalm 103, reflecting on the message of the motto of the week of prayer Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit. “Tonight, living through difficult times, we especially need to marvel at God's sustaining love, because He not only speaks of love, but also acts out of His love for us through his saving and liberating deeds,” said the Bishop of Transdanubian Church District.
The psalmist describes how God is working for us, the Lord whose love is manifested in forgiving our sins, healing our diseases, and redeeming our lives. “This is an important augmentation; He first forgives, than renews and heals in spirit and flesh, and finally he redeems us. God’s love exceeds the limits of earthly life, and places every moment of our reality in the breadth of eternal life. If we reflect on this, we will understand the biblical motto of this year's week of prayer,” he said.
At the beginning of the 21st century, he continued, we are surrounded by plenty of stimuli and noises, for which the message of the Grandschamp Community is a cure: let us slow down, recharge emotionally in the love of God, and then return to our community. Psalm 103 reminds us of the same when it suggests that we stand still and truly recognize the love of God, because we cannot become his instruments and build His kingdom on our own, relying on our own strength. This is the only way for us to bear fruits.
“He crowns us with love and compassion”, says the Psalms. “Nourished by this certitude we can bring the fruits of self denial – which is basically different from self-fulfilment or self-abandonment,” the Bishop reminded. The second fruit is that God fills our lives with the good things and benefits of his heavenly reality. Let us realize that we have everything, if we have the love of God. All what we have comes from His love. Our hearts can be filled with gratitude and praise. The third fruit is renewal, by which our lives are not restored in a self-serving way, but in returning to God’s original good order of love, in which alone human alone can be fulfilled and completed.”
Among those participating in the liturgy were Dr. Vilmos Fischl, Secretary General of Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary; Zoltán Balog, Bishop of the Danubian Reformed Church District; Dr. Tamás Fabiny, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Hungary; Frank Hegedűs Anglican priest; Dr. László Khaled Methodist Superintendent; Fülöp Kocsis Greek Catholic Metropolitan; Peter Kondor, Lutheran Bishop; Péter Marius Magyar orthodox dean; János Papp president of the Baptist Church and Albert Pataky president Pentecostal Church.
Annual brochure jointly prepared and published by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 was prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp. The theme that was chosen is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the church and the human family.