An Ecumenical Service of Unity


Leader Grace and peace be with you

Assembly Grace and peace be with you

L and A in the name of God our Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ.


The liturgical welcome is followed by an introduction of the communities represented in the gathering and of their leaders. It is an opportunity, as worship begins, to introduce each other and to engage with one another in fellowship and mutual welcome.

Introduction (could be based on the following)

As in many countries, a strong spiritual and missionary culture developed in Ireland, but the country also has a long and painful history. Political and religious aims and ambitions have torn communities apart and caused hurt on all sides. God has been present in the midst of the pain and has brought healing to many of the physical and psychological wounds inflicted. In small groups of two or three people and in great gatherings of many hundreds, the comforting and gracious presence of God has been experienced. For all these reasons, the Christians of Ireland have been able to centre their Christian belief on these words of Jesus: “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst of them” (Mt 18: 20).

God calls Christians to come together and he shows that love and forgiveness go together. The experience of Christ on the cross calls Christians to reach out and to forgive. In the villages, in the towns and in the cities the people of God are called to find a way forward, while confessing and recognizing the hurt and pain inflicted on people. With this understanding they can seek forgiveness and wholeness in the new way of Christ.

Litany of the Presence of Christ

L. Jesus, Risen Lord

All: We gather in your name.

L. Jesus, Good Shepherd

All We gather in your name.

L. Jesus, Word of life

All We gather in your name.

L. Jesus, friend of the poor

All: We gather in your name.

L. Jesus, source of all forgiveness

All We gather in your name.

L. Jesus, Prince of peace

All We gather in your name.

All Lord Jesus Christ,

You call us together in faith and love.

Breathe again the new life of your Holy Spirit among us

That we may hear your holy word,

Pray in your name,

Seek unity among Christians

And live more fully the faith we profess.

all glory and honour be yours

With the Father, and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.


Proclamation of the Word

Exodus 40: 1-4 and 34-38

(reflection on the presence of God in the wilderness wanderings of his people)

Psalm 78 (77): 1-8

(remembering God's deeds and a call to fidelity)

(to be read antiphonAlly)

Revelation 22: 1-5

(reflection on the supreme glory of the presence of God in the midst of his people when his kingdom has come)

Matthew 18: 15-22

(reflection on the tensions which exist in reality and acknowledging the presence of God in the midst of his people, no matter how small the gathering)

Sermon / Meditation

Nicene Creed or Apostles Creed

(If using the Nicene Creed, an ecumenical translation should be followed)

Act of Repentance

(congregation facing frontwards)

L. There are many ways to be unfaithful to what we have become through baptism, to our commitment and our obedience to God. We offer him now our prayers of repentance.

All: We confess to you, living God,

Our failure to live as brothers and sisters, and as your children.

We confess to you, loving God,

That we have not loved you as you have loved us.

Kyrie eleison

We confess to you, gracious God,
That we have doubted your word and failed to obey its teaching.
We confess to you, merciful God,
Our desire to own you and contain you within our doctrines and theologies.

Kyrie eleison

We confess to you, almighty God
That we do not acknowledge you as Lord of all the earth.
Forgive us and redeem us
For we have not Allowed your presence to shine among us.
Kyrie eleison

L. There are many ways in which we have failed in our commitment and obedience to our fellow men and women. We turn towards our neighbours and our friends and offer them our prayers of repentance.

In some assemblies – even the larger ones – responses could be made by two groups facing each other, and alternately. Such an arrangement itself acknowledges that we are sinners before God and our neighbour. Further prayers of repentance may be formulated as appropriate to the local situation.

All: Sisters and brothers in Christ, we confess to you
That we have not understood your way of life.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, we confess to you
Our shallow pride and self sufficiency.

Kyrie eleison

Sisters and brothers in Christ, we confess to you
That we have turned our backs on you in your need.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, we confess to you
That we have failed to see the risen Christ in the stranger in our midst.

Kyrie eleison

Sisters and brothers in Christ, we confess to you
Our desire for an easy life, a comfortable life, a life which makes no demands upon us.
Forgive us for failing to show forth the love of Christ
And for all that we have failed to do.

(Turn to the front)

L. May each of us hear the forgiving words of Jesus that we may turn from the wrong way and travel the path of friendship, love and unity shown by the Saviour. In harmony and peace we say the prayer he taught his followers:

All Our Father

L. What we have confessed with our lips let us make real in our lives. By sharing in the sign of peace we renew our commitment to a new way of life which makes our confession to God and to one another a turning point in each of our lives.

The Sign of Peace

At this point in the celebration some assemblies could move to another part of the church either around the Bible, or the altar/communion table. This movement is an expression of the inner and community conversion in the name of Jesus and in his presence. A suggestion: a reproduction of a Celtic cross might be carried in from the entrance to the front of the assembly at this point. Other gestures could be proposed here – members of the assembly might exchange a verse of scripture, a word of peace or grace.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

(two worship leaders/readers and the congregation)

Remembering God's gifts we pray together:

L. 1 Lord of heaven and earth, we have begun to listen to your Holy Spirit, calling us to unity in Christ:

All We thank you, O Lord

L. 2 May we be more attentive to your inspiration and more ready to listen to one another:

All: We ask you, O Lord.

L. 1 We have begun to dialogue with one another, celebrating our common faith and seeking to understand our difference:

All We thank you, O Lord

L. 2 May the patient work of pastors, theologians and Christian people continue to progress and bear lasting fruit:

All We ask you, O Lord.

L. 1 For the agreements reached on matters of theology and pastoral life:

All We thank you, O Lord

L. 2 That we may be able to face and resolve the difficult issues which still divide us:

All: We ask you, O Lord.

L. 1 For our annual gatherings of prayer for unity among Christians:

All We thank you, O Lord.

L. 2 That prayer in common may become a normal feature of our local congregations:

All We ask you, O Lord.

L. 1 For common witness in Christ which we have given in times of crisis, for justice, peace and humanitarian aid:

All We thank you, O Lord

L. 2 That our unity may one day become such that the whole world may believe in the Christ you have sent:

All We ask you, O Lord.

L. 1 For progress in inter-religious dialogue throughout the world:

All We thank you, O Lord

L. 2 That engaged in this dialogue, we may henceforth sense the urgency of full communion among Christians as a witness to other believers:

All: We ask you, O Lord.

L. 1 For all inter-confessional families: living witnesses of personal communion in the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

All We thank you, O Lord

L. 2 May their family life contribute to the Christian joy of the members of their churches:

All: We ask you, O Lord.

L. 1 For the immense progress made by our churches in their common realisation of God's word as the source of revelation, and for the progress already achieved towards a common celebration of the eucharist:

All: We thank you, O Lord

L. 2 May this hope of one day sharing the same table and drinking from the same cup, increase our desire to do your will so as to receive from you this gift:

All: We ask you, O Lord.

(Other prayers of intercession may be made as appropriate to the local context of the gathering.)

Sending Forth

All: Open our eyes to your presence.
Open our ears to your call.
Open our hearts to your love.
May we open our arms to others.
May we open our hearts to strangers.
May we open our doors to callers.
That we may be open to you, Lord
Open this day and for evermore.
(Flame in my heart – St Aidan for Today, David Adams, SPCK)

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with us All, now and forever. Amen.


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