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What does God require of us?  (cf. Micah 6:6-8)

DAY 1 Walking in conversation

Genesis 11: 1-9 The story of Babel and legacy of our diversity
Psalm 34:11-18 ―Come…listen‖. God‘s invitation to conversation
Acts 2: 1-12 The outpouring of the Spirit, the gift of understanding
Luke 24: 13-25 Conversation with the Risen Jesus on the road

To walk humbly with God means to walk as people speaking with one another and
with the Lord, always attentive to what we hear. And so we begin our celebration
of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by reflecting on scripture passages
which speak of the essential practice of conversation. Conversation has been
central to the ecumenical movement, as it opens up spaces for learning from one
another, sharing what we have in common, and for differences to be heard and
attended to. In this way mutual understanding is developed. These gifts from the
search for unity are part of our basic call to respond to what God requires of us:
through true conversation justice is done, and kindness learnt. Experiences of
practical liberation from all over the world make clear that the isolation of people
who are made to live with poverty is forcefully overcome by practices of dialogue.
Today‘s Genesis reading, and the story of Pentecost, both reflect something of this
human action, and its place in God‘s liberating plan for people. The story of the
tower of Babel first describes how, where there is no language barrier great things
are possible. However, the story tells how this potential is grasped as a basis for
self-promotion: ―let us make a name for ourselves‖, is the motivation for the
building of the great city. In the end this project leads to a confusion of speech;
from now on we must learn our proper humanity through patient attentiveness to
the other who is strange to us. It is with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost
that understanding across differences is made possible in a new way, through the
power of Jesus‘ resurrection. Now we are invited to share the gift of speech and
listening orientated toward the Lord, and towards freedom. We are called to walk
in the Spirit.
The experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is a conversation taking
place in a context of travel together, but also of loss and disappointed hope. As
churches living with levels of disunity, and as societies divided by prejudices and
fear of the other we can recognise ourselves here. Yet it is precisely here that Jesus
chooses to join the conversation – not presuming the superior role of teacher, but
walking alongside his disciples. It is his desire to be a part of our conversations,
and our response of wanting him to stay and speak more with us, that enables a
living encounter with the Risen Lord.
All Christians know something of this meeting with Jesus, and the power of his
word ―burning within us‖; this resurrection experience calls us into a deeper unity
in Christ. Constant conversation with each other and with Jesus – even in our own
disorientation – keeps us walking together towards unity.

Jesus Christ, we proclaim with joy our common identity in you, and we thank you
for inviting us into a dialogue of love with you. Open our hearts to share more
perfectly in your prayer to the Father that we may be one, so that as we journey
together we may draw closer to each other. Give us the courage to bear witness to
the truth together, and may our conversations embrace those who perpetuate
disunity. Send your Spirit to empower us to challenge situations where dignity and
compassion are lacking in our societies, nations, and the world.
God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen

 Where do we practice true conversation, across the various differences that
separate us?
 Is our conversation orientated towards some grand project of our own, or
towards new life which brings hope of resurrection?
 What people do we converse with, and who is not included in our
conversations? Why?

Annual brochure (pdf) jointly prepared and published by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.

Please note: This is the international version of the text of the Week of Prayer 2013. Kindly contact your local Bishops’ Conference or Synod of your Church to obtain an adaptation of this text for your local context.