Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Friday, 2 February 2024
A prayer for unity, or a prayer in unity?
Secretary General of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) Dr. Michel E. Abs delivered this speech at the Prayer Service which was held on the occasion of the end of the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”, on Sunday 28 January 2024, hosted by the Evangelical Episcopal Anglican Church of All Saints in Downtown Beirut. It was part of the celebrations organized in Lebanon by the Episcopal Committee for Ecumenical Relations at the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon, in partnership with the Middle East Council of Churches.

Dr. Michel E. Abs/ Secretary General of the Middle East Council of Churches :

To gather, despite our diversity, in humility before the Cross of the Redeemer, in a church different from ours, reciting common prayers together, distributing their stages, this is something we cannot call anything other than unity!

Diversity is not a division, differentiation is not a division, uniqueness is not a division, and renewal is not a division. The division occurs when we deny the incarnation of the Word, and when we deny the Redeemer’s wounds and his blood that was shed for the New Testament, and his resurrection with which he gave new life to humankind.

We are one, no matter what they say, no matter our differences, and even our disputes. If we were not one, there would be no disagreement or conflict. If we had not disagreed, we would have been in a state of indifference towards the message of salvation, and this message would not have spread to all corners of the earth and pervaded the globe.

Once you believed in Him, you are one with all the children of the faith, because He said, “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)

No one should think that unity requires complete dissolution between components, or cloning from one component to another. This is contrary to human nature and the structure of societies. Unity is maintaining aspirations even if the means differ.

For fifty years, the Church of Christ has been meeting, praying, glorifying the Creator, and restoring the Redeemer’s message in all its dimensions, divine and human. Isn't this a unit?

By this we do not mean at all that the Middle East Council of Churches is the Christian unity, but rather it is the qualified framework for the manifestation of this unity. It is nothing more than an institution, created by the Church in order to express its unity. As for its true unity, it is demonstrated in the meetings between its leaders and gradually among its people.

Diversity and difference are richness, and they are the result of basic Christian values, the first of which is freedom, which results in the creativity that made Christianity take on all the manifestations that we see in the world today, as a result of the acceptance of the Lord’s message from countless peoples, civilizations and cultures.

We do not need to bemoan a lost unity, because it simply exists, no matter how intense the differences are between the components of the pledge of allegiance. Rather, it is a unity that enjoys high vitality, the result of a yearning for progress, on the part of the groups that have embraced the salvation faith and are included within it.

The existence of diverse institutions does not turn into division except to the extent that those in charge of them rely on them to create hostility towards others, and this is not the case with our Christianity today.

Our Christianity is aware, day after day, of the seriousness of its role in saving the human race, which is immersed in its error and continuing in its wrongdoing, so it has unified goals and diverse means.

Unity of target is true unity, not unity of means. The most important thing in all of this is that each institution positions itself in relation to other institutions in a way that serves the basic goal. It is the functional compatibility of each institution according to its comparative advantages. This is how we are united by common goals and service.

“For just as in one body we have many members, but all of these members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ. And we are all members of one another”. (The Epistle to the Romans 12:4-5)

Therefore, I conclude my speech, not by calling for prayer for unity, which I consider to be available by virtue of faith, but rather for prayer within the unity that we all enrich and are grateful for through our interaction within it and with it, and through that, we are sending a message to all human beings, that they be one in the Creator, and to reject racial discrimination and hate speech, otherwise humanity is heading, due to worldwide extreme mixing, into difficult times, full of conflicts and tribulations.

By our unity, we give lessons to humanity and thus, we save it.