Sunday, 27 November 2016

Praying in Advent with USPG,
(1): 27 November 2016


Patrick Comerford

The season of Advent begins today [27 November 2016], and later this morning I am presiding at the Cathedral Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, at 11 a.m., and taking part in the Advent Procession in the cathedral at 5 p.m. this evening.

The prayer at the lighting of the first candle on the Advent Wreath on the First Sunday of Advent recalls the Patriarchs and Matriarchs:

O God of Abraham and Sarai,
we thank you for your faithfulness throughout all time.
As today we begin our Advent journey
may the light of your love
surround your church across the world,
as we watch and wait for your kingdom.

The Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) has produced an Advent Prayer Card to accompany lighting the Advent Candles.

This year, as you light your Advent candles, USPG invites us to pray for mothers and babies in Tanzania and around the world. The four Advent candles remind us that the coming of Christ was anticipated over many generations. Each Sunday of Advent we remember faithful participants in that journey of faith: the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the Prophets, Saint John the Baptist, and finally the Virgin Mary. The fifth candle, lit on Christmas Day, reminds of the birth of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the World.

As we journey through this season of Advent, we are invited to pray for those who through their life’s journey are in need of a Saviour today. Throughout this time of preparation in this season of Advent, I am praying each morning and using for my reflections the USPG prayer.

USPG is also marking the time around the beginning of Advent, from 25 November to 10 December, as ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.’

In an article in the USPG Prayer Diary, the Revd Delmaine Petersen, from False Bay Diocese, South Africa, who received USPG-funded training in tackling gender-based violence (GBV), writes:

‘In my parish, many women are the victims of violence but afraid to speak out. I try to show them I am trustworthy. I wasn’t sure how to do this, but the training I received has helped greatly. I want women to know the church is on their side. Jesus himself was an activist on exactly these kinds of issues.

‘When I preach, I speak about love. Love, I say, is about having respect for one another, whoever we are, whatever we’ve done.

‘I am committed to the education of children and women, from the cradle to the grave, so to speak. Currently, the church is saying surprisingly little about GBV and I want this to change. The churches need to wake up. Tackling GBV is not an optional extra – it affects every area of life. We need to change the mindset of clergy. People need to know they belong to a greater community, which is God’s community; people need to know they are valuable and have a right to the abundant life that Jesus offers.’

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Sunday 27 November 2016: 1st Sunday of Advent:


Loving God, you long for us to live in peace, we grieve with you for the violence in our world. Help us to protect the vulnerable and all who suffer, offering with love a safe place to all in need.

Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, the Church of Ireland):

Isaiah 2: 1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13: 11-14; Matthew 24: 36-44.

Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

God our deliverer,
Awaken our hearts
to prepare the way for the advent of your Son,
that, with minds purified by the grace of his coming,
we may serve you faithfully all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Continued tomorrow

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