Christian Unity Week
They showed us Unusual Kindness! -Acts 12:2
On Tuesday, January 21, we celebrated Christian Unity Week by hosting an Ecumenical Prayer Service for our local Palatine Churches. Rev. Karl Fay from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Rev. David Mercer from St. Paul United Church of Christ, Rev. Keck Mowry from the First United Methodist Church, Father Yohanna Naseef from St. Mary Coptic Church, Deacon Jim McDonough and Seminarian Eric Schreifels from the Rockford Diocese and our own Father Tom Rzepiela, joined us in prayer. Parishioners of some of the churches, including St. Thomas of Villanova, Prince of Peace Lutheran and St. Paul United Church of Christ also attended the Service. Our music was provided by Laura Kutcher and Christiana Bernardoni from St. Theresa Parish.
This year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was prepared by different Christian Churches in Malta, which is a small island halfway between Sicily and Northern Africa. In Acts chapter 27-28, St. Paul describes being shipwrecked and landing in Malta. The islanders showed the 200 plus people who had been shipwrecked unusual kindness. They built their new friends a fire and fed them. After several days when the ship was able to go back to Sea, the islanders even sent them back with provisions.
Our Service dramatically portrayed the ship being tossed at sea, landing on shore, and the fire built by the islanders. Pastor Karl Fay spoke how all of us experience storms in our lives. As Christians we are called to help those who are in need going through difficult times. The islanders were not even Christianized at the time St. Paul was shipwrecked, and yet they went over and above to show them hospitality, generosity, compassion, hope, love and community. Each of these virtues were depicted on an oar that was carried to the boat on our altar.
Following the Prayer Service all were invited for dinner. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know our guests!
Thy sea, O God, so great,
My boat so small.
It cannot be that any happy fate
Will me befall
Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me
Through the consuming vastness of the sea.
Thy winds, O God, so strong,
So slight my sail.
How could I curb and bit them on the long
And saltry trail,
Unless Thy love were mightier than the wrath
Of all the tempests that beset my path?
Thy world, O God, so fierce,
And I so frail.
Yet, though its arrows threaten oft to pierce
My fragile mail,
Cities of refuge rise where dangers cease,
Sweet silences abound, and all is peace.
Dear God, be good to me. The sea is so wide and my boat is so small.
-Winfred Ernest Garrison