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

DAY 8 Walking in celebration

Habakkuk 3.17-19 Celebrating in a time of hardship
Psalm 100 The worship of God through all the earth
Philippians 4.4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always
Luke 1:46-55 The Song of Mary

To walk humbly with God means to walk in celebration. The visitor to India is
struck by the hardships and struggles endured by Dalits, but at the same time by
their sense of hope and celebration. There was a slum on railway land near
Bangalore that was inhabited largely by Dalits and other ―backward classes‖ who
were migrant workers from Tamilnadu who came to build the original railways
before Indian independence. After the community was threatened by expulsion by
the railway company in the early 1980s, the community—through its women‘s
leadership—organized itself in such a way that it was able to find new land, and
build permanent housing for nearly a thousand people. The community of Dalits
and others moved into their new homes in 2011, homes paid for by themselves.
This is but one instance of struggle against injustice carried out with great hope,
which calls forth celebration.
Hope and celebration occur together in today‘s biblical readings. The prophet
Habakkuk rejoices in the Lord at a time of drought and crop failure. Such
testimony that God will walk with his people in their difficulties is a celebration of
hope. The Blessed Virgin Mary walks to her cousin Elizabeth in order to celebrate
her pregnancy. She sings her Magnificat as a song of hope even before the birth of
her child. And from prison, Paul exhorts the Christian community at Philippi to
celebration: ―Rejoice in the Lord always.‖ In the Bible, celebration is linked to
hope in God‘s faithfulness.
The celebratory aspects of Dalit culture bear similar testimony to a gospel of faith
and hope, forged out of the crucible of the Dalit experience of struggle for dignity
and resilient survival. As we pray for Christian unity this week, we turn to the
celebration of life that we see in India with focus on the faithfulness of Dalits to
their Christian identity in the context of their struggles for life. Our celebration for
a unity among Christians which has yet to be achieved likewise occurs in hope and
struggle. It is grounded in hope that Christ‘s prayer that we may be one will be
achieved in God‘s time and through God‘s means. It is grounded in gratitude that
unity is God‘s gift, and in recognition of the unity we already experience as the
friends of Jesus, expressed in one baptism. It is grounded in the conviction that
God calls each of us to work for that unity, and that all our efforts will be used by
God, trusting with St Paul ―in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your
requests be made known to God.‖ The walk towards Christian unity requires that
we walk humbly with God in celebration, in prayer, and in hope.

Gracious God, may your Holy Spirit fill our communities with joy and celebration,
so that we can cherish the unity we already share, and zealously continue in the
search for visible unity. We rejoice in the faith and hope of peoples who refuse to
allow their dignity to be diminished, seeing in them your wonderful grace and your
promise of freedom. Teach us to share in their joy and learn from their faithful
endurance. Rekindle our hope and sustain our resolve, that in Christ‘s name we
may walk together in love, raising a united voice of praise, and singing together
one prayer of adoration.
God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.

 What are the struggles towards justice in your community? What are the causes
for celebration on the way?
 What are the struggles towards Christian unity in your community? What are
the causes for celebration along the way?

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.