SASKATOON — An ecumenical worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church marked the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 25 in Saskatoon.
Ebenezer Baptist Pastor Leyton Erickson opened and closed the service with prayer, and members of the congregation led praise and worship music for the celebration.
Marie-Louise Ternier-Gommers and Martha Fergusson also led prayers during the afternoon service, including prayers of praise, a confession of sins of division, prayers of intersession for unity and healing, as well as the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Those assembled also exchanged a sign of Christ’s peace.
“May our force not be of violence, but of love; may our wealth not be in money, but in sharing; may our path not be of ambition, but of justice; may our victory not be from vengeance, but in forgiveness; may our unity not be in the quest of power, but in vulnerable witness to do your will,” participants prayed together.
The scriptural theme for this year’s Week of Prayer was “Jesus said to her: ‘give me a drink,’ ” with prayer resources and materials prepared by the Christian churches of Brazil.
Bishop Sid Haugen of the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) gave the homily, preaching about the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well, as recorded in the Gospel of John, Chapter 4.
It was a profound encounter, in which Christ overcame cultural and religious boundaries to ask the woman for a drink, Haugen described. The woman brings challenges, tension and heartache to the conversation, and ends by discovering a Messiah who offers Living Water. She sets forth to tell her neighbours who she has found, urging them to “come and see.”
Haugen concluded by noting that Christians are invited to follow the example of Jesus in “drawing the circle wider” when it comes to identifying who are our sisters and brothers, and in extending our invitation to others to “come and see.”
“People of God, we have got to make the circle wider,” urged Haugen. “Wider in our communities, to those who don’t know quite what to make of Jesus — ‘come and see.’ Wider to one another, because we are sisters and brothers — ‘come and see’ what we are together.”
Organized by the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism (PCE), the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Saskatoon Jan. 18 - 25 included eight days of events, such as early-morning worship in different churches around the city, an ecumenical hymn-sing, and a luncheon gathering at Queen’s House.
PCE Director Darren Dahl thanked all those involved in the week of prayer for being faithful beacons of Christian unity who are “leavening the churches.” Dahl also described other PCE initiatives throughout the year, such as a week-long summer ecumenical formation program offered over three years.