Sunday, 26 March 2017

Praying in Lent 2017 with USPG,
(29) Sunday 26 March 2017

‘Thank you for the beauty of creation’ … walking by the banks of the River Deel in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, last week (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

This is the Fourth Sunday in Lent (26 March 2017) and also Mothering Sunday. This morning I am leading Morning Prayer in Castletown Church, Kilcornan, at 9.45 a.m., presiding at the Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, at 11.15 a.m., and preaching at both services.

The readings in the Revised Common Lectionary for today are: I Samuel 16: 1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5: 8-14; and John 9: 1-41.

In my sermons this morning, I am planning to speak about the Gospel story in which the man who was born blind is given sight, but the people blame his condition from birth on thre sins of his parents. What struggles must his poor mother and father have had to endure in society from his birth? And how many mothers with children, including adult children, in distress, continue to wonder why they have to bear such problems?

The Lent 2017 edition of the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) follows the theme of the USPG Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life.’

I am using this Prayer Diary for my prayers and reflections each morning throughout Lent. Why not join me in these prayers and reflections, for just a few moments each morning?

In the articles and prayers in the prayer diary, USPG invites us to investigate what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life’ (available online or to order at www.uspg.org.uk/lent), explores the idea that discipleship and authenticity are connected.

This week, from today (26 March) until Saturday (1 April), the USPG Lent Prayer Diary is following the topic ‘A World of Injustice.’ The topic is introduced this morning in an article in the Prayer Diary by Professor Mathew Koshy Punnackad, Honorary Director of the Department of Ecological Concerns of the Church of South India Synod. He writes:

Creation is a symphony in which all creatures sing and worship the Maker in tune with the rhythm of God. The rhythm of nature reflects the rhythm of God, and teaches us about the path of the disciple – if we follow nature’s rhythm, peace and harmony will follow.

Jesus leads by example, showing us how to be a disciple by following the rhythm of nature. We read in the Bible that he spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness, a natural landscape essentially undisturbed by human activity. To try and disturb God’s rhythm, the Tempter said: ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ But bread is made of grain, made with seed grown in the earth; by contrast, turning stones into bread is unnatural and against the rhythm of nature.

During these 40 days, Jesus learned to see God in the rhythm of nature. This is why he could say with confidence: ‘Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them...’ Therefore, do not worry. The point is that when a disciple learns to read and follow God’s natural rhythm, harmony and peace will prevail.

Sunday 26 March 2017,

The Fourth Sunday in Lent:


Holy God, Father and Mother of us all,
thank you for the beauty of creation.
As a mother tenderly gathers her children,
so may we care for and respect all creation
.

Collects:

Lord God
whose blessed Son our Saviour
gave his back to the smiters
and did not hide his face from shame:
Give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time
with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God of compassion,
whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth,
and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself:
Strengthen us in our daily living
that in joy and in sorrow
we may know the power of your presence
to bind together and to heal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post-Communion Prayers:

Father,
through your goodness
we are refreshed through your Son
in word and sacrament.
May our faith be so strengthened and guarded
that we may witness to your eternal love
by our words and in our lives.
Grant this for Jesus’ sake, our Lord.

Loving God,
as a mother feeds her children at the breast,
you feed us in this sacrament with spiritual food and drink.
Help us who have tasted your goodness
to grow in grace within the household of faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection and prayer

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