As Poland prepares to host the European Football Championship in 2012, Christians in the country have put the meaning of "victory" and "defeat" at the centre of their reflections for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that will be celebrated earlier in the year.
Preparatory resources based on these reflections are already available in five languages on the website of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The theme "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ" is based on the apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians in the New Testament (1 Cor 15:51-58). It promises a transformation of human life, with all its apparent “triumph” and “defeat”, through the victory of Christ's resurrection.
Traditionally celebrated between 18 and 25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere), the week of prayer mobilizes countless congregations and parishes around the world. During that week, Christians from different confessional families get together and - at least on that occasion - pray together in special ecumenical celebrations.
"Rivalry is a permanent feature not only in sport but also in political, business, cultural and, even, church life" says the introductory text for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012.
Both football and Polish history, marked by military invasions and freedom struggles, have inspired the preparatory group to "spare a thought for the losers", coming to the conclusion that "There is room for everyone in God’s plan of salvation."
The production of the liturgical and biblical material for the week of prayer has been coordinated jointly since 1968 by the World Council of Churches (Faith and Order Commission) and the Roman Catholic Church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity).
Resources for the week are available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and include: an introduction to the theme; a suggested ecumenical celebration which local churches are encouraged to adapt for their own particular liturgical, social and cultural contexts; biblical reflections and prayers for the "eight days"; and additional prayers from, and an overview of, the ecumenical situation in Poland.
* More information on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/programmes/unity-mission-evangelism-and-spir...