14 December 2018

Praying in Advent with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(14): 14 December 2018

‘… this generation … is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn” …’ (Matthew 11: 16-19) … (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today the calendar of the Church remembers Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591), the Spanish Carmelite friar and mystic and friend of Saint Teresa of Ávila. He was a major figure in the Counter-Reformation and a mystic, and is also recognised as a Doctor of the Church. Born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez near Ávila, he – like Saint Teresa – was a member of a converso family, descended from Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity at the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Throughout the season of Advent this year, 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 for 2018 being used in 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.

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 an article by Paulo Ueti, a Bible scholar and theologian in the Anglican Church of Brazil.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Friday 14 December 2018:

Give thanks for the support of USPG for gender justice programmes run by churches in the Anglican Communion in Asia and Africa.

‘Spend 10 minutes in silence’ … silent figures in a yard in Torcello in the Venetian lagoon look forgotten and forlorn (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

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 11: 16-19.

The reflection for today suggests:

Pray for real wisdom and discernment in the way you lead life today. Spend 10 minutes in silence.

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

Isaiah 48: 17-19; Psalm 1: 1, 8-13; Matthew 11: 16-19.

The Collect:

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.

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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