Jan 21, 2011

Christian Unity Octave service in Aoyama

Though Catholic Church and Christian Churches of other denominations all over the world always pray for unity among Christians, a special week of prayer has been observed annually from 18 to 25 January.  For this year's octave, Christian council and Catholic Church chose the Acts of Apostles chapter 2, verses 42 to 47 as the theme for the prayer service which is "One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer".  Catholic Bishops  Conference of Japan (CBCJ) and the National Christian Council in Japan (NCC) have been working together to prepare a booklet every year for the prayer service and encourage their respective members to organise joint prayer services during the octave.

As for Niigata city area, since late Bishop Ito and late Bishop Sato, both my predecessor of Niigata diocese, were the chairman of the Ecumenism Commission of the CBCJ, a week long joint services for Christian Unity was one of the regular events for Christian Churches in the city.  Until recently, daily evening prayer service during the octave had been organised by the council of Christian teachers of Niigata city and member churches, including Catholic parishes, took turn to host the prayer service.  However, problem had arisen that majority of members, both Catholics and other denominations, grew old and were not able to venture out into cold winter evening.  So it was decided by the teachers' council to reduce numbers of the prayer service to 4 times during the week and shift the timing to 10am.

Today was the turn for the Aoyama Catholic Church to host the prayer service of this year and around 35 people joined the prayer for Christian Unity led by the parish priest, Fr. Raul (photo above).  Fr. Raul invited the participants, including 5 ministers from other denominations, to put more trust in the power of Jesus who broke down the wall and make his followers one.  He also pointed out that "when we see someone fighting on the street, then we do not want to get involved in the trouble.  So if Christians are fighting each other, then who wants to come to join us?".

There will be a main prayer service on Sunday, 23 at 2 pm in Niigata Catholic Cathedral which will be led by Fr. Otaki, the diocesan chancellor.  You are most welcome to join us. Then at 10am on 25, Tuesday, final day of this year's octave will be observed in the Higashinaka-dori Christian Church.      

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