Myanmar Council of Christian Churches (MCC) and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) are observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from January 18 to 25.
The first day of the prayer service and the opening ceremony occurred at St. Mary's Cathedral, Yangon, at 5:00 PM on January 18.
In his welcome speech, Bishop John Saw Yaw Han of Kengtung Diocese said he appreciated the presence of members of different denominations.
In the opening speech, Yangon Archdiocese's head of ecumenism, Father Paul Eh Dho Kyaw, remarked that although we are different parts of Christ's body, our sins bring physical anguish and other repercussions. We messed up. Under severe oppression, we couldn't find justice. We ignored God's mandate to care for widows and orphans. This meeting make us reflect on what we had done and failed to do and urge us to continue doing good and searching for justice.
"We are to overcome our differences and ask for the grace of God to uproot all the systems that cause the divisions. We have come here to strengthen our unity. We are to open our hearts to look for the value that exists in the differences and to look for the fullness through the acceptance of others," continued Father Eh Dho Kyaw.
Father Hyginus Myint Soe, Parish Priest of St Mary's Cathedral, Yangon, led the prayer of forgiveness.
In his sermon, the Anglican Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo encouraged all to acquire the virtues and abandon the vices. He dreams of having a unity service among Christians and other members of different faiths, such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims.
"Unless the new Israelites (the Church Members) bring about a peaceful situation like in the beginning of the creation, how will it be possible to regain the peaceful and tranquil situation in our country," asked the Anglican Archbishop.
Based on Romans 7:15,19-20, the Anglican Archbishop reminded the participants to be careful of sin, which is powerfully dominant in human hearts.
"United Nations is a very good organization but has been encountering different sorts of problems due to the unchanged disposition of human hearts," he commented.
He continued that through a life in the Lord, who is the truth and the life, we are to bring about the new heaven and earth through Him, with Him, and in Him.
He said that God's chosen people, the Israelites, were stubborn and disobedient, and similarly, we are contrary to the call of God, through the prophet Isaiah, to take care of the poor.
About 200 participants from the Catholic, Anglican, and Baptist Churches took part on the first day of the week of prayer for unity.
During Covid 19 pandemic, the event was observed online. This event is the first time to have a week of prayer for Christian Unity in person after the pandemic.
Pope Francis also invited Christians to continue to journey together in seeking God boldly and in concrete ways and to keep our gaze ever fixed on Christ while remaining close to one another in prayer.
The Closing ceremony will be on January 25 at Holy Trinity Cathedral of Anglican Church in Yangon. - By Hubert Saw
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