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Again this year I invite you to join with Christians across Canada and the world in 8 Days of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Over the next 8 days, I will be reproducing material from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity teams here on this blog site. It is my hope that you will join in this important prayer.

The daily themes, Scripture readings, reflections, discussion questions and prayers were prepared by the ecumenical team from Burkina Faso, facilitated by the local Chemin Neuf Community, and by the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Writing Team, and the Canadian Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Writing and Animation Team.

Exploring Our Canadian Context
When confronted with some of the deepest theological and social issues of his day, Jesus turned to the Scriptures of his people and, when pressed to explain, he often told a story. What is known as ‘the Parable of the Good Samaritan’ arose from one such situation.We know that all cultures have told stories. Stories are captivating. People relate to stories, remember them, and pass them on, often through many generations. People are deeply moved by good stories and 
inevitably end up sharing them.

As you go through these Eight Days of Bible study and reflection, ask yourselves: What story are you currently telling?

Story is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. One-on-one and in front of thousands, Jesus used stories to share his message. Matthew 13:34 reminds us that Jesus used stories when he spoke to the people. In fact, he did not tell them anything without using stories.

As you go through these Eight Days of Bible study and reflection, ask yourselves: How are you telling your story?

The 2024 WPCU Bible studies focus on one story – what we call the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This story arises from an exchange between Jesus and a lawyer over eternal life and how to claim it. It then turns its focus to answering a basic question: “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus told stories to help people understand big concepts and address big issues. His stories were about people that his listeners could identify with, and about how such people respond to the issues of the day.

As you go through these Eight Days of Bible study and reflection, ask yourselves: What question might you take to Jesus that would have him tell such a story in your context?

The story Jesus told arises from the issues common at that time and in the context of what people had to face in their particular situations: safety while travelling, lawlessness, responding to need, appropriate response, stereotyping (of the priests, or Levites, or Samaritans), nameless victims, hospitality and grace… And a story unfolds that is lamentable and yet grace-filled.

How would such a story begin in Canada in 2024? Who would be the oppressed and who would be the oppressors? Who are the powerful and the powerless in our society? Who has the opportunity and the ability to address current concerns and reach out to societal victims, and who yet do little or nothing? Who are the surprising people that take action and offer help far beyond anything expected?

Canada in 2024 is confronted with issues that have already stretched, and will continue to stretch, our understanding of “who is my neighbour.” Discrimination on the basis of race, Indigeneity, immigration status, sexuality, gender identity, and religious affiliation is one of the pressing concerns in the Canadian context.

As you go through these Eight Days of Bible study and reflection, ask yourselves: Who do you need reminding about that they are your neighbours?

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