'In Christ There Are Many Members Yet One Body’
On Friday 6 March over 3 million people worldwide will be praying and worshipping together during an annual day of prayer, using a service prepared by Christian Women in Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea is a land of many ethnic groups and over 800 distinct languages of which more than half are unrelated. As a result, there is great cultural diversity, yet the women of Papua New Guinea have emphasised the oneness there is in Christ.
In spite of gender inequality, women in Papua New Guinea are beginning to take their place in professions previously closed to them. There are now women who are pilots, engineers, doctors, lawyers, judges, lecturers and also officers in the military forces. In this way, they make a very positive contribution to their nation. Further information and resources can be found on the Women’s World Day of Prayer website at www.wwdp-natcomm.org.
The symbol chosen for this year's Women's World Day of Prayer comprises the Cross and a bilum. Bilums are hand-woven string bags, which are widely used among Papua New Guinean societies. They are very strong and used to carry everything from food to a baby (who can see out through the holes in the bag!). Sometimes a bilum is suspended on the branch of a tree and becomes a cradle for a sleeping baby. Men also use bilums to carry heavy loads. Where cultures are so diverse, this simple string bag is common to many. By placing the bilum on the cross in this symbol, the women of PNG seek a unity where they are not merely held together as though they were gathered into a string bag. They seek a vibrant unity where love is genuine, and where the many, many communities of Papua New Guinea are of one heart and soul.
“In Papua New Guinea we are many and we are diverse. Our 800 languages represent as many cultures and traditions. Our rugged landscape can isolate us from one another but the love of God empowers us to embrace one another and to embrace you, our brothers and sisters around the world.”
Loving and merciful God, God of oneness and unity, though we have different cultures, languages, colours and traditions, we are one in your Spirit. Thank you for opening our inner hearts to see the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who has united us. Though we are many members, in Christ we are one body.
Let us go forth, empowered to make a difference so that people around the world will see and feel the oneness of Christ in this broken world, and be compelled to draw closer to God. May the source of oneness and unity bind us together with his endless love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from the WWDP order of service written by Christian women from Papua New Guinea)