In recent years, the Mennonite theological school Bienenberg Training Centre in Switzerland has offered a “Hot Topics” course, which gives voice to opposing perspectives on current hot topics in the churches. As they hear points they agree or disagree with, the attendees are invited to engage with their own sensibilities and convictions: to listen deeply and be willing to question their own responses. The sessions end with this prayer for unity.
Our God, Thank you... for the Word you have spoken to others before us and continue to speak to us today. We praise you, Lord!
Thank you... for the shimmer of your Word on our lives, on the Church, on the world – and for its power of transformation. We praise you, Lord!
Thank you... for the incarnate and ultimate Word that has taken on the face of Jesus, who opens the way to the kingdom of shalom. We praise you, Lord!
Forgive us... for our deafness to hear what you want to tell us through your Word, when it disturbs us... Lord, have mercy.
Forgive us... for the scuffles with others, caused by the hot topics between us. Lord, have mercy.
Forgive us... for the ferocity with which we seek to be right all the time, as well as for the cowardice that leads us to make everything relative. Lord, have mercy.
Please... teach us to know how to reconcile the search for the truth of your Word with love for those who understand it differently. Help us, Lord!
Please... gather your church with its many branches so that it may be a sign of unity, as you want it to be, by the means you want. Help us, Lord!
Please... lead your people, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to seriously practice love, as your Son has shown us, for the day when you will be all in all. Help us, Lord!
We pray together through Jesus, our Lord, Saviour and brother. Amen.
—Michel Sommer is a teacher at Bienenberg, the Mennonite Bible training institute in Switzerland. This prayer was previously published in Christ Seul, the magazine of the Mennonites in France.