Sunday, 3 December 2017
Praying in Advent with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(1): 3 December 2017
Today is the First Sunday of Advent (3 December 2017). Later this morning, I am leading the services and preaching in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (the Parish Eucharist), and Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry (Morning Prayer). In the evening, I hope to take part in the Advent Carol service in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.
Throughout the season of Advent this year, I plan to spend 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).
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.
Theologically, practically and financially, USPG encourages and enables churches within the Anglican Communion to act as the hands and feet of Christ. Together, they are working to improve health, tackle poverty, put children in school, challenge discrimination, nurture leaders, give voice to women, and much more.
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.
Introducing this week’s prayers, the Prayer Diary says: ‘Throughout Advent, as we remember the Nativity, we’re looking at how the world is reaching out to mothers and babies.’
The diary publishes this story from the USPG-supported PMTCT (Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission) HIV programme run by the Church of Tanzania:
In 2000, Sophia left the village of Mzula and moved to the capital Dar es Salaam in search of a better life. She found work as a waitress, then met a young man with whom she started a family.
Sophia had two children, but illness claimed their lives while they were very young. Then Sophia became sick, developing partial paralysis, and the couple separated.
In 2015, Sophia met another partner. But when she became pregnant, he abandoned her. Unable to cope, Sophia returned to her mother in Mzula.
When a mobile clinic from Mvumi Hospital visited the village, Sophia was found to be HIV-positive. She started attending the hospital’s PMTCT services, which showed Sophia how to care for herself and her unborn baby.
In June 2016, Sophia have birth to a baby boy, Shedrack, who was free from HIV. Sophia was overjoyed! She reported: ‘Without the support of this project, I would never have been tested or received support. I have regained the happiness I lost.’
The USPG Prayer Diary:
Sunday 3 December 2017: 1st Sunday of Advent:
O God, whose promises to faithful Abraham and Sarai
were fulfilled in the birth of Isaac:
bless all expectant mothers in Tanzania,
and bring their children to fullness of life.
Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Devotional Calendar:
Lichfield Cathedral’s Advent Devotional Calendar for 2017 suggests you light your Advent candle each day as you read the Bible and pray. It suggests setting aside five to 15 minutes each day.
Buy or use a special candle to light each day as you read and pray through the suggestions on the calendar. Each week there is a suggestion to ‘eat simply’ – try going without so many calories or too much rich food, just have enough. There is a suggestion to donate to a charity working with the homeless. There is encouragement to pray through what you see and notice going on around you in people, the media and nature.
The calendar is for not only for those who use the Cathedral website and for the Cathedral community. It is also for anyone who wants to share in the daily devotional exercise. The calendar suggests lighting your Advent candle each day as you read the Bible and pray.
Today’s suggested reading is Matthew 9: 27-31.
The reflection for today suggests going to Church and continues:
At the start of Advent, ask God for the gift of Spiritual sight. Pray for those deprived of physical sight. Ask for the gifts of attentiveness and perception.
Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, the Church of Ireland):
Isaiah 64: 1-9; Psalm 80: 1-8, 18-20; I Corinthians 1: 3-9; and Mark 13: 24-37.
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.