Members of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church hold placards displaying 12 sins that have caused Christian division on Jan 20.

Discrimination, intolerance and pride. These were some of the sins causing Christian division which were visually highlighted during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from Jan 18-25.

Other sins were lack of love, hate and contempt, false accusation, persecution, broken communion, religious wars, division, abuse of power and isolation.

At the Mar Thoma Syrian Church on Jan 20, placards were used to display each sin.

At the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Jan 18, these sins were displayed on white boxes and lined up to form a wall.

“Christian unity is a gift of the Holy Spirit,” said Msgr Philip Heng in his homily on Jan 18. “Our task as Christians is to accept this gift and make it visible to all,” he said, during the first of three services organised by the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Ecumenical Dialogue (ACCED).

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity had the theme Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us.

Participants of the Jan 18 service at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd pass on the flame of a lighted candle to symbolise Christ, the light of the world.

Msgr Heng encouraged participants to “respect one another, pray and work together for the service of the poor and needy. This way, our faith can be a sign of hope and truth to the world.”

During a segment encouraging reconciliation between Christians, the sins displayed on white boxes were laid in the form of a cross. The act symbolised lifting up the various sins to God and asking Him for help to heal Christian division.

To close off the service, lighted candles symbolising Christ were passed on to each participant until everyone had a lighted candle.

During the second service held at the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Rev Malcolm Tan from the Covenant Community Methodist Church delivered the homily.

Religious representatives pose for a photo after the Jan 18 service. From left: Rev Malcolm Tan, Sr Elizabeth Lim, Rev Gabriel Liew, Rev Martin Yee, Major Ruth Pascoe, Msgr Philip Heng, Fr Jude David, Rev Joshua Loo, Rev Ling Kin Yew, Fr John Joseph Fenelon and Rev Chan Mei Ming.

“All of us are connected to God, we are His branches,” he said.

He suggested three steps that could help promote Christian unity: “Recognise Christ in each other in spite of our differences, recognise Christ in each other’s churches and recognise Christ in each other’s calling.”

He added, “Remember that we are all ... connected to God.”

Participants from both events shared their thoughts with CatholicNews.

“I thought the sins depicted really told a true story about the relationship between the various Christian [Churches] today,” said Ms Sarah Matthews, from Toa Payoh Methodist Church.

Participating ministers giving the final blessing at the Mar Thoma Syrian Church. From left: Fr Abey Mathew Chacko, Rev Jason Phua, Sr Veronica de Roza, Rev Daniel Teo, Sr Elizabeth Lim, Rev John G. Mathews,
Rev Malcolm Tan, Major Ruth Pascoe, Sr Marianna D’Costa, Fr Sanu Mathew, Fr John Joseph Fenelon.

“Coming to terms with these sins that divide us Christians is a good first step. Hopefully our leaders can build on this to further strengthen Christian unity,” she said.

Mr Rajesh Kholsha, from St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, said he hoped to “see more people attending these services as they serve as a testimony of our one true faith.”

Mr Vincent Boon from the Church of the Holy Spirit, who attended the service with his wife Michelle Boon, said: “An important part about forging unity is dialogue. The service provided me an opportunity to speak to Christians from other communities and share about our faiths.”

The third service was scheduled to take place on Jan 25 at Covenant Community Methodist Church after CatholicNews went into print. 

By Jared Ng
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