Sunday, 31 December 2017
Praying at Christmas with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(7): 31 December 2017
We have arrived at the end of the year, and today [31 December 2017] is New Year’s Eve.
For the past week, I have continued a practice I began at the beginning of Advent. I am spending a short time of prayer and reflection each morning, using the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar from Lichfield Cathedral.
USPG, founded in 1701, is an Anglican mission agency supporting churches around the world in their mission to bring fullness of life to the communities they serve.
Under the title Pray with the World Church, the current prayer diary (22 October 2017 to 10 February 2018), offers prayers and reflections from the Anglican Communion.
This week, the Prayer Diary offers reflections from Pakistan. This theme is introduced this morning in an article prepared by a woman from the Church of Pakistan. USPG has decided to withhold her name for her own safety. She writes:
Pakistan’s 3.8 million Christians feel increasingly under threat in their daily lives. The laws applicable to religious minorities have shifted from neutral to blatant discrimination.
The persecution of religious minorities is in fact enabled rather than deterred by the state, and the alarming lack of condemnation of cases of persecution by government officials, combined with a weak judiciary and constabulary, has seen an increase in the number of those seeking asylum abroad.
The persecution of Christians is getting worse in every region where the Church of Pakistan is working. Christian girls are particularly affected. The list of abuses they face is shocking. The have been kidnapped, compelled to convert to Islam, and forced into marriage. There have been honour killings of girls who converted from Islam to Christianity. Rape is sometimes used to take the virginity of young Christian women, who are then forced to convert and marry their Muslim attackers. Christian girls have been physically abused for not covering their heads or otherwise dressing ‘provocatively’ in mixed neighbourhoods – a common form of attack is to have acid thrown in their unveiled faces. Please pray for us.
The USPG Prayer Diary:
Sunday 31 December 2017, the First Sunday of Christmas:
Holy God, your only Son was born homeless and laid in a manger.
Fill us with compassion for all in need today.
Bless your Church as it works for dignity, healing and peace,
and provoke us to respond to him, your most precious gift.
Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar:
The Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar suggests lighting a candle each day as you read the Bible and pray.
Today, the calendar suggests reading Revelation 21: 22 to 22: 5.
The reflection for today offers this challenge:
At the end of the year / brink of a New Year, pray that God may lead us into his future, that faith may give us vision and hope, that we can be confident in his love.