Biblical text for 2021
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
New Revised Standard Version
Introduction to the theme for the year 2021
Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit
(cf. Jn 15:5-9)
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 was prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp.1 The theme that was chosen, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the church and the human family.
In the 1930s a number of Reformed women from French-speaking Switzerland who belonged to a group known as the “Ladies of Morges” rediscovered the importance of silence in listening to the Word of God. At the same time they revived the practice of spiritual retreats to nourish their life of faith, inspired by the example of Christ who went apart to a lonely place to pray. They were soon joined by others who took part in regularly organized retreats in Grandchamp, a small hamlet near the shores of Lake Neuchâtel. It became necessary to provide a permanent presence of prayer and welcome for the growing number of guests and retreatants.
Today the community has fifty sisters, all women from different generations, church traditions, countries and continents. In their diversity the sisters are a living parable of communion. They remain faithful to a life of prayer, life in community and the welcoming of guests. The sisters share the grace of their monastic life with visitors and volunteers who go to Grandchamp for a time of retreat, silence, healing or in search of meaning.
The first sisters experienced the pain of division between the Christian churches. In this struggle they were encouraged by their friendship with Abbé Paul Couturier, a pioneer of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Therefore, from its earliest beginnings prayer for Christian unity was at the heart of the life of the community. This commitment, together with Grandchamp’s fidelity to the three pillars of prayer, community life and hospitality, form the foundations of these materials.
To abide in God’s love is to be reconciled with oneself
The French words for monk and nun (moine/moniale) come from the Greek μόνος which means alone and one. Our hearts, bodies and minds, far from being one, are often scattered, being pulled in several directions. The monk or nun desires to be one in his or her self and united with Christ. “Abide in me as I abide in you,” Jesus tells us (Jn 15:4a). An integrated life presupposes a path of self-acceptance, of reconciliation with our personal and inherited histories.
Jesus said to the disciples, “abide in my love” (Jn 15:9). He abides in the love of the Father (Jn 15:10) and desires nothing other than to share this love with us: “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (Jn 15:15b). Grafted into the vine, which is Jesus himself, the Father becomes our vinedresser who prunes us to make us grow. This describes what happens in prayer. The Father is the centre of our lives, who centres our lives. He prunes us and makes us whole, and whole human beings give glory to the Father.
Abiding in Christ is an inner attitude that takes root in us over time. It demands space to grow. It can be overtaken by the struggle for the necessities of life and it is threatened by the distractions, noise, activity and the challenges of life. In the turmoil of Europe in 1938, Geneviève Micheli, who would later become Mother Geneviève, the first mother of the community, wrote these lines which remain relevant today:
We live in a time that is both troubling and magnificent, a dangerous time where nothing preserves the soul, where rapid and wholly human achievements seem to sweep beings away … And I think that our civilization will die in this collective madness of noise and speed, where no being can think … We Christians, who know the full value of a spiritual life, have an immense responsibility and must realize it, unite and help each other create forces of calmness, refuges of peace, vital centres where the silence of people calls on the creative word of God. It is a question of life and death.
Abiding in Christ until we bear fruit
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit” (Jn 15:8). We cannot bear fruit on our own. We cannot bear fruit separated from the vine. It is the sap, the life of Jesus flowing through us, that produces fruit. Remaining in Jesus’s love, remaining a branch of the vine, is what allows his life to flow through us.
When we listen to Jesus his life flows through us. Jesus invites us to let his word abide in us (John 15:7) and then whatever we ask will be done for us. By his word we bear fruit. As persons, as a community, as the entire church, we wish to unite ourselves to Christ in order to keep his commandment of loving one another as He has loved us (Jn 15:12).
Abiding in Christ, the source of all love, the fruit of communion grows
Communion with Christ demands communion with others. Dorotheus of Gaza, a monk in Palestine in the 6th century, expressed this in the following way:
Imagine a circle drawn on the ground, that is, a line drawn in a circle with a compass, and a centre. Imagine that the circle is the world, the centre is God, and the radii are the different paths or ways people live. When the saints, desiring to draw near to God, walk toward the middle of the circle, to the extent that they penetrate its interior, they draw closer to each other; and the closer they draw to each other, the closer they come to God. Understand that the same thing applies conversely, when we turn away from God and withdraw toward the outside. It then becomes obvious that the more we move away from God, the more we move away from each other, and the more we move away from each other, the more we also move away from God.
Moving closer to others, living together in community with others, sometimes people very different from ourselves, can be challenging. The sisters of Grandchamp know this challenge and for them the teaching of Brother Roger of Taizé2 is very helpful: “There is no friendship without purifying suffering. There is no love of one’s neighbour without the cross. The cross alone allows us to know the unfathomable depth of love.”3
Divisions among Christians, moving away from one another, are a scandal because it is also moving further away from God. Many Christians, moved to sorrow by this situation, pray fervently to God for the restoration of that unity for which Jesus prayed. Christ’s prayer for unity is an invitation to turn back to him and so come closer to one another, rejoicing in the richness of our diversity.
As we learn from community life, efforts at reconciliation are costly and demand sacrifice. We are sustained by the prayer of Christ, who desires that we might be one, as he is one with the Father so that the world may believe (cf. Jn 17:21).
Abiding in Christ the fruit of solidarity and witness grows
Though we, as Christians, abide in the love of Christ, we also live in a creation that groans as it waits to be set free (cf. Rom 8). In the world we witness the evils of suffering and conflict. Through solidarity with those who suffer we allow the love of Christ to flow through us. The paschal mystery bears fruit in us when we offer love to our brothers and sisters and nurture hope in the world.
Spirituality and solidarity are inseparably linked. Abiding in Christ, we receive the strength and wisdom to act against structures of injustice and oppression, to fully recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters in humanity, and to be creators of a new way of living, with respect for and communion with all of creation.
The summary of the rule of life that the sisters of Grandchamp recite together each morning begins with the words “pray and work that God may reign”. Prayer and everyday life are not two separate realities but are meant to be united. All that we experience is meant to become an encounter with God.
For the eight days of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021, we propose a journey of prayer:
Day 1: Called by God: “You did not choose me but I chose you” (Jn 15:16a)
Day 2: Maturing internally: “Abide in me as I abide in you” (Jn 15:4a)
Day 3: Forming one body: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12b)
Day 4: Praying together: “I do not call you servants any longer … but I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15)
Day 5: Letting oneself be transformed by the Word: “You have already been pruned by the word…” (Jn 15:3)
Day 6: Welcoming others: “Go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16b)
Day 7: Growing in unity: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:5a)
Day 8: Reconciling with all of creation: “So that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11)
- See also the presentation on the community at the end of this booklet, as well as grandchamp.org
- The Community of Grandchamp and that of the brothers of Taizé in France are bound together first of all in view of the history of their origins, but also by the fact that the sisters of Grandchamp based their Rule on the book mentioned in footnote
- Frère Roger de Taizé, Les écrits fondateurs, Dieu nous veut heureux (Taizé: Les Ateliers et Presses de Taizé, 2011),
Biblical reflections and prayers for the eight days
Called by God
“You did not choose me but I chose you”
Gen 12:1-4 The call of Abraham
Jn 1:35-51 The call of the first disciples
The start of the journey is an encounter between a human being and God, between the created and the Creator, between time and eternity.
Abraham heard the call: “Go to the land I will show you”. Like Abraham we are called to leave that which is familiar and go to the place that God has prepared in the depths of our hearts. Along the way, we become more and more ourselves, the people God has wanted us to be from the beginning. And by following the call that is addressed to us, we become a blessing for our loved ones, our neighbours, and the world.
The love of God seeks us. God became human in Jesus, in whom we encounter the gaze of God. In our lives, as in the Gospel of John, God’s call is heard in different ways. Touched by his love, we set out. In this encounter, we walk a path of transformation – the bright beginning of a relationship of love that is always started anew.
One day you understood that,
without your being aware of it,
a yes had already been inscribed in your innermost depths.
And so you chose to go forward in the footsteps of Christ….
In silence in the presence of Christ, you heard him say,
“Come, follow me;
I will give you a place to rest your heart.”
The Sources of Taizé (2000) p. 52
you seek us, you wish to offer us your friendship
and lead us to a life that is ever more complete.
Grant us the confidence to answer your call
so that we may be transformed
and become witnesses of your tenderness for the world.
“Abide in me as I abide in you”
Eph 3:14-21 May Christ dwell in our hearts
Lk 2:41-52 Mary treasured all these things
The encounter with Jesus gives rise to the desire to stay with him and to abide in him: a time in which fruit matures.
Being fully human, like us Jesus grew and matured. He lived a simple life, rooted in the practices of his Jewish faith. In this hidden life in Nazareth, where apparently nothing extraordinary happened, the presence of the Father nourished him.
Mary contemplated the actions of God in her life and in that of her son. She treasured all these things in her heart. Thus, little by little, she embraced the mystery of Jesus.
We too need a long period of maturation, an entire lifetime, in order to plumb the depths of Christ’s love, to let him abide in us and for us to abide in him. Without our knowing how, the Spirit makes Christ dwell in our hearts. And it is through prayer, by listening to the word, in sharing with others, by putting into practice what we have understood, that the inner being is strengthened.
“Letting Christ descend into the depths of our being …
He will penetrate the regions of the mind and the heart,
he will reach our flesh unto our innermost being,
so that we too will one day experience the depths of mercy.”
The Sources of Taizé (2000) p. 134
May we receive in our hearts the presence of Christ,
and cherish it as a secret of love.
Nourish our prayer,
enlighten our reading of Scripture,
act through us,
so that the fruits of your gifts can patiently grow in us.
Forming one body
“Love one another as I have loved you”
Col 3:12-17 Clothe yourself with compassion
Jn 13:1-15 ; 34-35 Love one another
On the eve of his death, Jesus knelt to wash the feet of his disciples. He knew the difficulty of living together and the importance of forgiveness and mutual service. “Unless I wash you,” he said to Peter, “you have no share with me.”
Peter received Jesus at his feet; he was washed and was touched by the humility and gentleness of Christ. Later he would follow Jesus’ example and serve the fellowship of the faithful in the early church.
Jesus wishes that life and love circulate through us as the sap through the vine, so that Christian communities be one body. But today as in the past, it is not easy to live together. We are often faced with our own limitations. At times we fail to love those who are close to us in a community, parish or family. There are times when our relationships break down completely.
In Christ we are invited to be clothed in compassion, through countless new beginnings. The recognition that we are loved by God moves us to welcome each other with our strengths and weaknesses. It is then that Christ is in our midst.
“With almost nothing, are you a creator of reconciliation in that communion of love, which is the Body of Christ, his Church?
Sustained by a shared momentum, rejoice! You are no longer alone,
in all things you are advancing together with your brothers and sisters.
With them, you are called to live the parable of community.”
The Sources of Taizé (2000) pp. 48-49
God our Father,
you reveal to us your love through Christ and through our brothers and sisters.
Open our hearts so that we can welcome each other with our differences and live in forgiveness.
Grant us to live united in one body,
so that the gift that is each person comes to light.
May all of us together be a reflection of the living Christ.
“I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends”
Rom 8:26-27 The Spirit helps us in our weakness
Lk 11:1-4 Lord, teach us to pray
God thirsts for relationship with us. He searches for us as he searched for Adam, calling to him in the garden: “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9)
In Christ, God came to meet us. Jesus lived in prayer, intimately united to his Father, while creating friendships with his disciples and all those he met. He introduced them to that which was most precious to him: the relationship of love with his Father, who is our Father. Jesus and the disciples sang psalms together, rooted in the richness of their Jewish tradition. At other times, Jesus retired to pray alone.
Prayer can be solitary or shared with others. It can express wonder, complaint, intercession, thanksgiving or simple silence. Sometimes the desire to pray is there, but one has the feeling of not being able to do so. Turning to Jesus and saying to him, “teach me”, can pave the way. Our desire itself is already prayer.
Getting together in a group offers us support. Through hymns, words and silence, communion is created. If we pray with Christians of other traditions, we may be surprised to feel united by a bond of friendship that comes from the One who is beyond all division. The forms may vary, but it is the same Spirit that brings us together.
“In the regularity of our common prayer, the love of Jesus springs up within us, we know not how.
Common prayer does not exempt us from personal prayer.
One sustains the other.
Let us take a time each day to renew our personal intimacy with Jesus Christ.”
The Rule of Taizé in French and English
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Great Britain pp. 19 & 21
your entire life was prayer,
perfect harmony with the Father.
Through your Spirit, teach us to pray according to your will of love.
May the faithful of the whole world unite in intercession and praise,
and may your kingdom of love come.
Letting oneself be transformed by the Word
“You have already been pruned by the word…”
Deut 30:11-20 The word of God is very close to you
Mt 5:1-12 Blessed are you
The Word of God is very close to us. It is a blessing and a promise of happiness. If we open our hearts, God speaks to us and patiently transforms that which is dying in us. He removes that which prevents the growth of real life, just as the vine grower prunes the vine.
Regularly meditating on a biblical text, alone or in a group, changes our outlook. Many Christians pray the Beatitudes every day. The Beatitudes reveal to us a happiness that is hidden in that which is unfulfilled, a happiness that lies beyond suffering: blessed are those who, touched by the Spirit, no longer hold back their tears but let them flow and thus receive consolation. As they discover the wellspring hidden within their inner landscape, the hunger for justice, and the thirst to engage with others for a world of peace, grows in them.
We are constantly called to renew our commitment to life, through our thoughts and actions. There are times when we already taste, here and now, the blessing that will be fulfilled at the end of time.
“Pray and work that God may reign.
Throughout your day
Let the Word of God breathe life into work and rest.
Maintain inner silence in all things so as to dwell in Christ.
Be filled with the spirit of the Beatitudes, joy, simplicity, mercy.”
These words are recited daily by the Sisters of the Grandchamp Community
Blessed are you, God our Father,
for the gift of your word in Holy Scripture.
Blessed are you for its transforming power.
Help us choose life and guide us by your Spirit,
so that we can experience the happiness which you want so much to share with us.
“Go and bear fruit, fruit that will last”
Gen 18:1-5 Abraham hosts the angels at the Oak of Mamre
Mk 6:30-44 Jesus’ compassion for the crowds
When we let ourselves be transformed by Christ, his love in us grows and bears fruit. Welcoming the other is a concrete way of sharing the love that is within us.
Throughout his life, Jesus welcomed those he met. He listened to them and let himself be touched by them without being afraid of their suffering.
In the gospel account of the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus is moved with compassion after seeing the hungry crowd. He knows that the entire human person must be nourished, and that he alone can truly satisfy the hunger for bread and the thirst for life. But he does not wish to do this without his disciples, without that little something they can give him: five loaves and two fish.
Even today he draws us to be co-workers in his unconditional care. Sometimes something as small as a kind look, an open ear, or our presence is enough to make a person feel welcome. When we offer our poor abilities to Jesus, he uses them in a surprising way.
We then experience what Abraham did, for it is by giving that we receive, and when we welcome others, we are blessed in abundance.
“It is Christ himself whom we receive in a guest.”
The rule of Taizé in French and English (2012) p. 103
we desire to welcome fully the brothers and sisters who are with us.
You know how often we feel helpless in the face of their suffering,
yet you are always there ahead of us
and you have already received them in your compassion.
Speak to them through our words, support them through our actions,
and let your blessing rest on us all.
Growing in unity
“I am the vine, you are the branches”
1 Cor 1:10-13 ; 3:21-23 Is Christ divided?
Jn 17:20-23 As you and I are one
On the eve of his death, Jesus prayed for the unity of those the Father gave him: “that they may all be one … so that the world may believe”. Joined to him, as a branch is to the vine, we share the same sap that circulates among us and vitalizes us.
Each tradition seeks to lead us to the heart of our faith: communion with God, through Christ, in the Spirit. The more we live this communion, the more we are connected to other Christians and to all of humanity. Paul warns us against an attitude that had already threatened the unity of the first Christians: absolutizing one’s own tradition to the detriment of the unity of the body of Christ. Differences then become divisive instead of mutually enriching. Paul had a very broad vision: “All are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Cor 3:22-23).
Christ’s will commits us to a path of unity and reconciliation. It also commits us to unite our prayer to his: “that they may all be one. . .so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).
Never resign yourself to the scandal of the separation of Christians who so readily profess love for their neighbour, and yet remain divided.
Make the unity of the body of Christ your passionate concern.
vivifying fire and gentle breath, come and abide in us.
Renew in us the passion for unity
so that we may live in awareness of the bond that unites us in you.
May all who have put on Christ at their Baptism
unite and bear witness together to the hope that sustains them.
Reconciling with all of creation
“So that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete”
Col 1:15-20 In him all things hold together
Mc 4:30-32 As small as a mustard seed
The hymn to Christ in the epistle to the Colossians invites us to sing the praise of God’s salvation, which encompasses the entire universe. Through the crucified and risen Christ, a path of reconciliation has been opened up; creation too is destined for a future of life and peace.
With the eyes of faith, we see that the kingdom of God is a reality that is very close but still very small, hardly visible – like a mustard seed. However, it is growing. Even in the distress of our world the Spirit of the Risen One is at work. He encourages us to become involved – with all people of good will – in tirelessly seeking justice and peace, and ensuring the earth is once again a home for all creatures.
We participate in the work of the Spirit so that creation in all its fullness may continue to praise God. When nature suffers, when human beings are crushed, the Spirit of the risen Christ – far from allowing us to lose heart – invites us to become part of his work of healing.
The newness of life that Christ brings, however hidden, is a light of hope for many. It is a wellspring of reconciliation for the whole of creation and contains a joy that comes from beyond ourselves: “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11).
“Do you wish to celebrate the newness of life that Christ gives through the Holy Spirit,
and let it live in you, among us, in the church, in the world and in all of creation?”
Second promise made during profession at the Community of Grandchamp
Thrice-holy God, we thank you for having created and loved us.
We thank you for your presence in us and in creation.
May we learn to look upon the world as you look upon it, with love.
In the hope of this vision, may we be able to work for a world
where justice and peace flourish,
for the glory of your name.