Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016: Day Seven, “Hospitality for Prayer”Jan 24th, 2016 | By J. Andrew Deane | Category: Blog Posts
“Keep sane and sober for your prayers. Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” 1 Peter 4:7b-10, RSV
The theme for day seven of this week of prayer for Christian unity focuses on hospitality for prayer. Of the three readings assigned, I found the passage from 1 Peter most insightful with regard to where we stand as Catholics and Reformed Christians in dialogue with one another.
As the background for this year’s set of prayers and readings indicate, ecumenical dialogue in Latvia was a large inspiration for our prayers for Christian unity in 2016. In today’s reflection, the town of Madona (shown above in a photo from 1918) is particularly relevant to this theme of hospitality for prayer.
Madona is a place where there is a good amount of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians living together. In a heart that lacks hospitality, walls could be drawn and each community could never give the other the time of day. But in Madona, these Christian communities come together and pray around the clock, despite having differences with each other.
Can we look each other in the eyes and consider one another Christians despite our differences? Do we come together in that spirit of hospitality?
The stalwart may ask whether love and hospitality sacrifice truth and values. But if we follow the passage from 1 Peter and we are speaking of Christians in dialogue, we understand that love can cover a multitude of sins. Can love lead to unity in the truth? This is our prayer, and it can come when we keep love and hospitality in our hearts, as we speak the truth in that same love.
After receiving communion, Byzantine Christians often sing, “We have seen the true light; we have received the heavenly Spirit; we have found the truth faith; and we worship the undivided Trinity, for the Trinity has saved us.”
The truth of the Gospel comes through union with God who saves us, and through our union with one another. When that union is imperfect, we long for that deeper sense of seeing eye to eye. We want to love one another more, and to be as St. Paul tells us to in 1 Corinthians 1:10, agreeing with one another in everything. Admitting that this is not the case in the here and now, hospitality opens the doors for us to come together and discuss where we are. In hospitality we do not grandstand or ostracize, but we also do not sit indifferently towards what troubles us.
We see the image of God in one another, we profess our common baptism and stand together where we agree, and in love we seek to grow closer together even as we do not fully agree with one another. In this time of prayer for unity, may we journey towards that vision of love, hospitality and the truth, so that we may be ever more united. Grant this, O Lord!
Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls, O gracious One.