Sunday, 5 April 2020

Praying through Lent with
USPG (40): 5 April 2020

Pebbles in memory of the dead on a Holocaust memorial outside the Jewish cemetery in Mitte, Berlin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today [5 April 2020] is Palm Sunday or the Sixth Sunday in Lent. This morning, in the normal course of parish services, I should have been presiding and preaching at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, and leading and preaching at Morning Prayer in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry.

However, these are not normal times. On the advice of the Bishop, all services have been cancelled for the past two weeks in these dioceses on the advice of the Bishop, because of the Covic-19 or Corona Virus pandemic. This situation continues to be reviewed and monitored with the bishop and the archdeacons.

Meanwhile, during Lent this year, I am using the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections. This year 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 (5 to 11 April 2020) is Holy Week, the last week in Lent. The USPG Prayer Diary takes as its theme this week, ‘The Right Time,’ which is introduced by the Revd Rana Khan, Rector of Crickhowell, Cwmdu and Tretower, in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, Wales:

‘Palm Sunday is a significant day for Christians including Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and many other denominations. It marks the start of Holy Week and the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem.

‘There are various traditions attached to Palm Sunday but the most common is to give and receive small crosses made from palm leaves. The Gospel of John only mentions palms in connection with Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. The emphasis of the gospels was not probably on tree or shrubs but on Jesus and his entrance, which wasn’t incidental. It looks planned as he gives instructions to his disciples to fetch the donkey from a certain place.

‘His entrance to Jerusalem raised concerns of those Jewish leaders who were seeing this procession in the light of the 200-year-old story of Simon Maccabeus. Sometimes certain patches of our personal experiences or communal history create fears and concerns and we don’t welcome Christ in our lives and societies. Christ is always looking for the right time but sometimes instead of allowing God to execute his plans, we react according to our human fears. Let us pray on this Palm Sunday that God gives us a fresh understanding of the restoration and change he wants to bring – both in and through us.’

Sunday 5 April 2020: Palm Sunday

Lord our God, help us to receive a fresh understanding
so that we do not always allow our past experiences to
become a hindrance for the restoration and change you
want to bring in and through us. Amen.

Readings: Liturgy of the Palms: Matthew 21: 1-11; Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29.

Readings: Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 31: 9-16; Philippians 2: 5-11; Matthew 26: 14 to 27: 66 or the shorter version, Matthew 271: 1-24.

The Collect of the Day (Palm Sunday):

Almighty and everlasting God,
who, in your tender love towards the human race,
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
Grant that we may follow the example
of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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. Amen.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,
you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant
and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation.
Give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection

Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday … a fresco in the Analpsi Church in the village of Georgioupoli on the Greek island of Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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