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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 6. 1965.

Christians Unite!

Christians Unite!

The sight of a Catholic and a Protestant making friends with each other is no longer news. The ice age of hostility and suspicion which has lasted over the past 400 years has begun to thaw. Already in both camps, there are people giving flood warnings, fearing that they will be swallowed up in the consequences of the warmth of this new-found charity. Others are holding out their own little enthusiastic flames to hasten on the flow. Things are happening today between the Churches, no matter what our attitude be to this thaw which we call the ecumenical movement. It is better for Christians to accept and ask God to show them what to do with it.

This is really the basis of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which lasts from Thursday, May 27 (Ascension Day) till Sunday, June 6 (Pentecost). The point of all this prayer is not to ask God to make everyone else like us and bring home all the lost sheep to Rome, or Canterbury, Geneva or Constantinople, but sincerely to ask Him to give us "that unity which Christ wills for his Church, when He wills it and by whatever means He wills it."

The only thing we are sure of is that God wants all his people not to go on living separate lives but to be visibly one family.

To do this means all Churches have to take a long look at the past, both the good and the bad, and to be really sorry for the latter. But our prayer does not leave us in the past. It points us forward to show to a twentieth century world as was shown once in the first century, "how much these Christians love one another." It was this that convinced people then of the power of Jesus Christ to make sense of life. It could do this again in our own day.

This Week of Prayer, as we have it, was begun by an obscure and rather unsuccessful schoolmaster priest, the Abbe Paul Couturier of Lyons, in 1936. Today it is observed by millions of Christians throughout every country and church. Here at Victoria we are holding three special meetings of prayer for all concerned with special speakers to set out the basic issues of unity and for the first time Catholics and Protestants will talk and pray together. The thaw has begun but there is an awful lot of thinking and praying to be done yet.

John Murray.