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This year’s Synodical Service of Prayer and Praise was hosted by Elmhurst (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church, the convening church of Synod 2009.

Delegates, staff, and many others joined to participate in a liturgy that presented and celebrated Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17—where Jesus prays for himself, for his disciples, and for all believers.

The communion service seamlessly blended traditional and contemporary worship elements and included dramatic recitations and even a rap video that summarized the successes and failures of 2,000 years of church history.

In his message, Rev. Bert DeJong, Elmhurst’s pastor, pointed out that “there are a thousand reasons why unity will not happen, and only one reason why it will: Jesus prayed it for us.” He asked whether the holy Trinity itself might be the model for our unity.

DeJong continued that “complete unity produces witness.” That happens not when “we pull out of the world into little groups, but the prayer of Jesus will be answered when we pull out of little groups into the world.”

DeJong left listeners with three questions:

“Can you believe that deeper understandings of God will bring us to greater unity? Then go for it, scholars!”

“Can you agree that if we prayed like Jesus prayed, the unity of the church might be advanced?”

“Is it possible we draw closer together when we admit there’s an inseparable bond between unity with Jesus and unity with believers?”

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