Washington (BWA)--In just a few days, on April 30-May 1, Baptists all over the world will rejoice to remember in their worship that they are one in Jesus Christ. Baptists will express this oneness in ways unique to each culture, but with sincere thanks for the gift of unity made possible by our Lord.
Since 1924, when the Baptist World Alliance called for the first Baptist World Alliance Day of Prayer, one day has been set aside every year to encourage Baptists to remember those who may live very different lives in various lands, but whose faith makes them brothers and sisters with us all.
Uniting Baptists in prayer and praise for the fellowship Christ brings, the BWA offers worship materials for BWA Day, and this year includes a suggested order of worship, notes on a suggested sermon topic, and prayers and readings in seven languages, all available by request or by downloading from our Internet website.
This year, the Rev. Myra Blyth of Regents College, Oxford University, in the United Kingdom, has provided excellent worship materials based on Luke 24, focusing in part on "Walking on the Road to Emmaus." Beginning with a song and a prayer of praise asking God to remodel us in the image of Jesus, Blyth provides a message for "Easter People in a Good-Friday World" that seems especially valid and vibrant for current times.
Blyth recounts the Emmaus story of disciples encountering the risen Lord without immediately recognizing him, the middle scene of three important encounters with Jesus after the resurrection. This story poignantly resonates with the BWA emphasis in ministry, "In Step with the Spirit," as we again entreat Baptists to do, in the power of the Holy Spirit, what Christ calls us to do in today's world.
Blyth, who prepared the worship materials before the recent tragedies in Japan, states, "Wherever and whenever tragic events disrupt people's lives, folks are disoriented and fragile. The events which capture our news headlines are consistently disorienting...the earthquake in Haiti, the mining disaster in Chile, the floods in Australia and Brazil, the drought in Ethiopia, all of these and many more within the last 12 months convey desperate scenes of pain and loss. Where, many ask, is God in the face of such loss and tragedy? Why do bad things happen to good people? Such questions are not easily answered and cannot afford to be ignored."
Offering a renewed hope, Blyth continues, "Human stories of kindness and courage (be they disaster relief on a mass scale or simply neighbourly kindness) resonate with the Emmaus story. Acts of compassion done in Christ's name can gloriously transform dark and desperate situations where suffering is so extreme that people are minded to assume that God is more absent than present."
This year, we ask all Baptists to spend one worship day thankful for the grace we have because of our unity in Christ.
As we prayerfully walk in step with the Spirit of the risen Christ, may we give sincere thanks for those who also walk in those footsteps, and may we begin to recognize Christ in each person, as we hope Christ will be recognizable in us.