I end, today, a series of five posts on the history and development of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I do so with an earnest and heartfelt invitation to you to join us in prayer for the work of the ACT3 Network. I humbly, yet boldly, ask you to help us advance the work of unity as widely as possible. We do this mission with very little money. We could do more if the Lord provided it and we can do it even more efficiently and simply with more help, both from people who help us as partners and through financial sacrifices for our work.
Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement which I’ve mentioned several times this week, has inspired me in numerous ways over the last twelve months. I expect that she will continue to inspire me as an agent for unity throughout this new year. As I work on a book that I am writing on Christian love I find myself drawing heavily from Chiara’s life and witness. She was truly a living icon of love and unity. She once wrote:
Unity is a gift of God. It’s a grace of God. So what can we do? We can respond to this universal vocation of all people to unity. We can do our part so that unity truly triumphs in the world.
This is what I am called to – to lead a response to the “universal vocation” of praying for, and teaching/modeling, Christ’s gift of unity. Why? So that “unity triumphs in the world.” In a world torn apart by violence and endless political and social debate, by imploding families and moral confusion, we need unity in the love of Christ more than ever, probably more than anything else. Think of it, Jesus says that the unity he prayed for would reveal the love of the Father for Jesus to the whole world. The world will see us, as Christians with our diversity of gifts and expressions, in unity and then come to know that God loves them! Tell me one program for evangelism or mission that is more important than this one? I can say that precisely because Jesus says it (cf. John 17:21-24).
God has abundantly provided for the ACT3 Network. We retired a six-year old debt on January 1. We moved into 2013 with fresh hope of experiencing things that we are just now beginning to see. And I believe much more is to come.
Perhaps the most important gift that I can give to many of you this year is to invite you to share in a Unity Factor Forum in 2013. If there is one coming near you please pray about attending. If you would like to help us have a forum in your town or city invite us. No place is too small and no venue will not be considered if the Spirit is in the planning.
Our next Unity Factor Forum is in suburban Chicago, just one week from tomorrow, on Saturday, February 2. You can sign up for this event online right now. There is another in Dallas two weeks later, February 16. Other cities are already planned and more are to come. These remarkable events are not about me lecturing on unity for five hours. They are about a whole team of people sharing a “big” story about what God is doing to bring Christians together in unity for prayer, witness and transformation. They are about his story, not mine or your’s. They are about us and about Jesus in us.
If you cannot attend a Unity Factor Forum tell us your story anyway. We have a new blog spot for just this purpose. It is called: MyChristianUnityStory.com. We hope to put some videos on this new site very soon. You can write or video your story anytime and upload it to this site so you can help us touch lives. Please consider doing this as your part in telling the story of what Jesus is doing to bring his people together in amazing ways. There is a great story forming here in the United States and around the world. This story is not one that most of us have seen or entered into before. Now is the time to seek the Lord and now is the time to seek Christ for the gift that he prayed for in John 17:21 – that all of God’s people would be ONE.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity formally ends tomorrow but the work is just beginning for many who visit this blog. Ask God to show you what your part is in this story and keep praying.