22 March 2020

Praying through Lent with
USPG (26): 22 March 2020

The Holocaust Memorial in the centre of Corfu town in Greece (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Today [22 March 2020] is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Later this morning, I was expecting to lead and preach at Morning Prayer in Castletown Church, Co Limerick at 9.30 and to preside and preach at the Parish Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick. But the Cornoavirus or Covid-19 pandemic means all services in the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe have been suspended.

Despite this, during Lent this year I am continuing to use the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Holocaust, so I am illustrating my reflections each morning with images that emphasise this theme.

USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) 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. It was founded in 1701.

This week (22-28 March 2020), the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on Pakistan, human rights, slavery and the churches in Myanmar and Morocco.

These themes are introduced in the Prayer Diary today by Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters, Bishop of Peshawar Diocese and President Bishop, Church of Pakistan:

‘This year marks the 80th anniversary of the passing of the Lahore Resolution and the adoption of the first constitution of Pakistan, which paved the way towards making Pakistan the world’s first Islamic republic.

‘Today, Christians are a religious minority in Pakistan (making up about 3% of the total population of 220 million people). Yet the Church in Pakistan enjoys a well-earned reputation for its services in the field of education and health. Along with these traditional roles, the Church has entered into some new areas. These include: interfaith harmony, strategies for peaceful coexistence, injustice fuelled by prejudices and discrimination against minorities, growing urbanisation, poverty, brain drain and the church also desires to work for the climate justice and water preservation. Through these initiatives the Church wants to maintain its existence, sustain its survival and also safeguard its identity through its diaconal approach with a focus on stewardship for the total Pakistani community.

‘The Church in Pakistan will always maintain our Lord and Saviour’s mission: to proclaim the Good News, strive for the freedom for the prisoners, recovery of the sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Sunday 22 March 2020: the Fourth Sunday in Lent, World Water Day and Mothering Sunday (Mother’s Day):

Almighty God,
May your peace be upon all mothers today,
And help us to share your living water with all who thirst.

Readings: I Samuel 16: 1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41.

The Collect of the Day (Lent IV):

Lord God
whose blessed Son our Saviour
gave his back to the smiters
and did not hide his face from shame:
Give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time
with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Collect of the Day (Mothering Sunday):

God of compassion,
whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth,
and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself:
Strengthen us in our daily living
that in joy and in sorrow
we may know the power of your presence
to bind together and to heal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Post-Communion Prayer (Lent IV):

Lord our God,
you feed us in this life with bread from heaven,
the pledge and foreshadowing of future glory.
Grant that the working of this sacrament within us
may bear fruit in our daily lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Post-Communion Prayer (Mothering Sunday):

Loving God,
as a mother feeds her children at the breast,
you feed us in this sacrament with spiritual food and drink.
Help us who have tasted your goodness
to grow in grace within the household of faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

An image using one of my photographs created by the Pakistani writer, Sheba Sultan, who was a speaker at the USPG conference in High Leigh in 2015

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection

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