In the beautiful Armenian church of St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, a celebration observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was held Sunday, Jan. 19. This event, in which a rich diversity of faith communities participated, focused on returning to the source of Christ's message: that of an "unusual kindness" that stems from love.
“Here we are to pray together for Christian unity and reconciliation in the world,” said in his introduction Father David Margaryan from the Armenian Apostolic Church in Canada, who was a celebrant with the United Church of Canada representative, Rev. Rosemary Lambie.
Representatives of the Anglican Church, the Baptist Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Orthodox Church, the Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Canada, as well as members of the Fraternité de Jérusalem, the Focolari movement, the Imani Family & Full Gospel Baptist Church, the Orthodox Church in the United States and the Lutheran Church were also in attendance.
The celebration revolved around readings of the Word of God, a psalm, songs interpreted by an ecumenical choir and an Armenian apostolic choir, who led the assembly into special prayers for the world. The event concluded with exchanges for peace between the participants.
Everyone was afterwards invited to partake of a meal and to share discussions. It should also be noted that one of this event’s most beautiful moments on unity was the group photo in which everyone gathered in the church’s sanctuary to smile!
“The natives showed us unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2)
Referring to Saint Paul’s shipwrecks with his companions in Malta where a people with different beliefs greeted them in an unusual way, it is under that theme that was held in the world all week long the Week of prayer for Christian Unity.
At the heart of Father David Margaryan’s preaching was the importance of not becoming indifferent and deaf to others, to mankind. Recalling “Jonas’s syndrome” in “our neighbourhoods,” potential places of encounters and solidarity, Father Margaryan underlined that “it hurts to see that very often among ‘urban remnants’ we see the face of many children and adolescents.”
Yet, let us not forget: “The Gospel came to [Montreal], to us as a new antidote against the globalization of indifference, dear friends, because one cannot stay indifferent to love,” he declared.
Walking with Christ
“[Jesus], recalled Father Margaryan, invites us to build new relationships, new alliances bearing eternity. […] We stand together, we are made strong through the bounds of perfect love of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“How will we bring back the hope the old prophets had? How will we face the future if we lack unity?” he said to the assembly.
He concluded by recalling the beautiful hope Christians bear: “God does not get tired. He will never get tired of walking to meet with his children. […] Rejoice, the Lord is with you. Your humanity is special and you can defy indifference. You can love wholeheartedly.”
All were sent back with a heartfelt call to “walk across the city” with Christ especially during the Week for Christian Unity: “He invites you to be missionary disciples and to be part of the great whispering taking place across our city.”