10 December 2017

Praying in Advent with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(8): 10 December 2017

USPG: In partnership with the Anglican Church in Ghana from USPG on Vimeo.

Patrick Comerford

Today is Second Sunday of Advent, and we are beginning the second week of Advent.

This morning’s theme, as we light the second, purple candle on the Advent Wreath in many churches is ‘The Prophets.’ This theme may also run through the readings, hymns, prayers and sermons in churches.

Later this morning [10 December], I am preaching and presiding at the Parish Eucharist in Castletown Church, Kilcornan, Co Limerick at 9.30, and leading Morning Prayer and preaching in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale.

As we light the second, purple candle on the Advent Wreath, the Anglican mission agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) suggest this prayer:

O God of history,
who has spoken through the prophets,
we pray for mothers in Ghana
who have learned to protect their children from cholera.
Bless those who bring life-saving knowledge
and bless families whose children are now healthy and full of life.

Throughout this season 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 continues its Advent series, looking at how the church is reaching out to mothers and babies. This week, it says, ‘we look at a USPG-supported Anglican health programme in Ghana that has helped to eradicate cholera in parts of the Cape Coast.

In the Prayer Diary today, one beneficiary tells her story:

My name is Gloria. I have two children, aged three and one-and-a-half years old.

The health programme has helped me and my family. Before, I didn’t know I needed to wash my children’s hands with soap and water before they eat. They would be playing, but I wasn’t washing their hands afterwards. But now, because of the programme, I make sure I wash their hands.

Also, before the programme, whenever I bought fruit and vegetables from the market, I wasn’t washing them. But not I wash them with a soap and salt solution before I use them to prepare food.

Another thing I learned was that before breast-feeding my baby I first needed to wash my breasts. I learned that a child can contract diseases if I do not wash in this way.

Before the programme, I was not outing these things into practice and my children, in fact the whole family, would visit the hospital a lot because of diarrhoea and sickness. But now it is five months since we visited hospital.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Sunday 10 December 2017, Second Sunday of Advent:

O God, who spoke through the prophets,
we pray for mothers in Ghana protecting their children
from sickness. Bless those who bring life-saving knowledge
and give thanks for children now healthy and full of life.

‘Pray for light’ ... candlelight in the Choir Stalls in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar:

The calendar suggests lighting your Advent candle each day as you read the Bible and pray.

Today, the calendar suggests going to church and reading Matthew 17: 9-13.

The reflection for today suggests:

As Advent unfolds think of the muddle and confusion that stops us understanding God’s truth. Pray for light.

Readings (Revised Common Lectionary):

Isaiah 40: 1-11 Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13; II Peter 3: 8-15a; and Mark 1:-8.

The Collect of the Second Sunday of Advent:

Father in heaven,
who sent your Son to redeem the world
and will send him again to be our judge:
Give us grace so to imitate him
in the humility and purity of his first coming
that when he comes again,
we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Advent 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:

here you have nourished us with the food of life.
Through our sharing in this holy sacrament
teach us to judge wisely earthly things
and to yearn for things heavenly.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow.

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