26 December 2018

Praying at Christmas with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(2): 26 December 2018

Saint Stephen Walbrook in London … Sir Nikolaus Pevsner lists it as one of the 10 most important buildings in England (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Christmas is not over … yet. Today is the Second Day of Christmas. But instead of expecting ‘two turtle doves’ today is the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr in the Church [26 December 2018].

Throughout the season of Advent this year, I spent 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 for 2018 being used in Lichfield Cathedral. I am continuing this practice for the next few days.

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.

USPG is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice.

Under the title Pray with the World Church, the current USPG prayer diary (7 October 2018 to 16 February 2019), offers prayers and reflections from the Anglican Communion.

The USPG Prayer Diary began this week with a reflection on Anglican Heritage by Bishop Dato’ Dr Charles Samuel, Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of West Malaysia.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Wednesday 26 December 2018, Saint Stephen, Deacon:

Give thanks that so many in our Anglican tradition are dedicating their lives to sharing God’s love around the world.

The Piazza Santo Stefano in front of the ‘Sette Chiese’ or Seven Churches in Bologna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017; click on image for full-screen view)

Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar:

Lichfield Cathedral’s Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar for 2018 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 10: 17-22.

The reflection for today suggests:

Pray for all who have witnessed to Jesus through suffering and death. Pray to have a share in their courage and their assurance of God’s love and purpose.

The readings in the Revised Common Lectionary as adapted for use in the Church of Ireland being are:

II Chronicles 24: 20-22; Psalm 119: 161-168; Acts 7: 51-60; Matthew 10: 17-22.

The Collect:

Gracious Father, who gave the first martyr Stephen grace to pray for those who stoned him: Grant that in all our sufferings for the truth we may learn to love even our enemies and to seek forgiveness for those who desire our hurt, looking up to heaven to him who was crucified for us, Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Merciful Lord, we thank you for these signs of your mercy, we praise you for feeding us at your table and giving us joy in honouring Stephen, first martyr of the new Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord..

Yesterday’s reflection.

Continued tomorrow.

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