WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOCUSES ON WELCOMING STRANGERS
World Day of Prayer Services were held in churches all around the world, including in more than 2,000 communities across Canada, as always on the first Friday of March. The World Day of Prayer was founded by women and remained a women's movement for many decades and still primarily involves women although it was opened to men in recent years. The theme for this year's World Day of Prayer service was, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” and was written by the World Day of Prayer Committee of France.
In Wetaskiwin, the World Day of Prayer service was held this year in Immanuel Anglican Church, with participants also from St. John's ELCIC Lutheran Church, First United Church, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, the Salvation Army, and Grace ELCIC Lutheran Church. As always, the service was followed by tasty snacks, which this year included crepes and mini quiche as delicious examples of French cuisine.
The service included a number of Bible passages directing us to welcome the strangers among us and to treat them well, and Jesus' words indicating that what we do to others, we do to Him. The hymns centred around the inclusiveness of God's one family.
Rev. Hugh Matheson, newly come to Immanuel Anglican Church to serve as its minister, addressed the experience of being a stranger in France, the context within which the service was written and in which he has lived, the universal discrimination against women, and the prejudice and discrimination experienced by the successive waves of immigrants to Canada. He talked about the various reasons that we don't trust strangers and our history of seeing the Bible passages about welcoming strangers and letting our concern for self and safety get in the way of living the message of those passages. He talked about the way we let an emphasis on personal spirituality, an emphasis on our own relationship with God, get in the way of recognizing that God wants our relationship with Him to be expressed in the way we relate to other people by relating to them as though we were relating to Him. Matheson's message, the message of the service, the Bible's message, is that as we meet people with openness, justice, compassion and grace, we will meet Jesus.
Immanuel Anglican Church would also like to remind everyone that all are invited to the two more LENTON LUNCHES at noon on Tuesdays, March 12th and 19th. These lunches are an example of a place where the Family of God gathers to share food and fellowship and to hear from speakers from the various churches