Bishop Denis J. Madden celebrated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 22 by offering the homily in an ecumenical service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Towson.
The urban vicar joined the leaders of several Baltimore-area Protestant churches to promote the coming together of various religions as a symbolic way of achieving world peace.
“We hear Christ speaking to all of us here, and all Christians throughout the ages, that we are to love, to live in love, not only with those we consider our neighbor, but truly even those we think to be our enemies,” Bishop Madden told about 50 people in the pews. “And if we don’t live this way, we would miss a splendid opportunity of life.”
It was the fifth year Christian leaders in Central Maryland joined together for the unity worship service, which is organized by the Ecumenical Leaders Group.
“We are called to preach the gospel of reconciliation, and we cannot do this without reaching out one to another and affirming both our unity and our common call to serve Christ together as sisters and brothers,” said the Right Rev. John Rabb, bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and chairman of the Ecumenical Leaders Group.
Representatives from Presbyterian, Christian Scientist, Catholic, Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches suggested that with so many lives being lost in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world, the need was even greater this year to pray for peace in a unified manner.
Bishop Madden noted the tradition of the Christian unity day of prayer began more than 100 years ago. He also quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s Jan. 20 remarks “knowing that divisions constitute an obstacle to the reception of the Gospel, (and that together we) implore the Lord, in a yet more intense way, for the gift of full communion.”
The great union between churches will help factions in the world understand one another and even if they don’t accept the dogma of one another’s religions, they will gain a deeper respect for their faith, he said.
“I think that with regard to ecumenism and peace building, it’s time for us to be dazzled by the divine light and not be led by current news accounts or past histories,” Bishop Madden said. “For already we are bound together by love, already there is a perfect unity among us, a unity of love.”