24 December 2018

Praying in Advent with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(24): 24 December 2018

‘The dawn from on high will break upon us’ (Luke 1: 78) … the light of a winter dawn on Beacon Street in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Today is Christmas Eve and we have arrived at the end of the Advent season. Christmas begins later this evening [24 December 2018], and I am celebrating the Christmas Eucharist this evening at 8 p.m. in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry, and at 10 p.m. Castletown Church, Kilcornan, Co Limerick.

But we are still in Advent, this time of anticipation and waiting for the coming of Christ, this morning.

Throughout the season of Advent this year, I have been 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 yesterday’s reflection on Anglican Heritage by Bishop Dato’ Dr Charles Samuel, Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of West Malaysia.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Monday 24 December 2018, Christmas Eve:

Give thanks for 200 years of the Anglican Church in Malaysia and for its influence throughout the Anglican Communion.

‘To give light to those who sit in darkness’ (Luke 1: 79) … lights on a dark winter night on Bore Street in Lichfield last month (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 Luke 1: 67-79, which is familiar to many as the canticle Benedictus. The priest Zechariah, father of Saint John the Baptist, is filled with the Holy Spirit, has his voice restored and speaks the prophecy that concludes, ‘By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’

The reflection for today suggests:

As we prepare for the joy of tomorrow, pray that God’s healing light and love may be revealed in the darkest places.

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

II Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-11, 16; Psalm 89: 2, 19-27; Acts 13: 16-26; Luke 1: 67-79.

The Collect (morning):

Almighty God,
Make us glad with the yearly remembrance
of the birth of your Son Jesus Christ:
Grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer,
we may with sure confidence behold him
when he shall come to be our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Heavenly Father,
you have given us a pledge of eternal redemption.
Grant that we may always eagerly celebrate
the saving mystery of the incarnation of your Son.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection.

Series concluded.

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