08 December 2017

Praying in Advent with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(6): 8 December 2017

Tanzania is one of the countries most severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with an estimated 1.4 million people living with the virus, of whom more than half are women

Patrick Comerford

This is the first week of Advent, and in many parts of the church today [8 December] is Feast of the Conception of the Virgin Mary, or the Immaculate Conception.

Later this evening [7 p.m.] I am taking part in the Service of Carols and Lessons in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry, followed by refreshments in Tarbert Community Centre.

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.

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.’

This week, the diary follows the theme of the story told yesterday from the USPG-supported PMTCT (Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission) HIV programme run by the Church of Tanzania.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Friday 8 December 2017:

Pray for an end to discrimination levelled at those with HIV and AIDS in Tanzania and around the world. Give thanks for the work of the church to combat HIV-related stigma.

Today is Feast of the Conception of the Virgin Mary ... the colourful triptych that forms the reredos in the Lady Chapel in Lichfield Cathedral tells the full Christmas story (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’s suggested reading is Luke 1: 26-38.

The reflection for today suggests:

As you write Christmas cards and messages think about how Mary received good news from God. Give thanks for all who’ve brought good news into our lives.

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

Isaiah 29: 17-24; Psalm 27: 1-4, 16-17; and Matthew 9: 21, 27-31.

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.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow.

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