Saturday, 26 December 2020

Praying at Christmas with
Lichfield Cathedral:
2, Saturday 26 December 2020

Saint Stephen before the Council … a window by CE Kempe (1837-1907) in the south aisle in Lichfield Cathedral in memory of John Toke Godfrey-Faussett (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I have been using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

Advent is the Church’s mindful antidote to some of the diversion and consumerism of a modern Christmas. It prepares us to encounter Christ again in his joy and humility.

In ‘The Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar 2020,’ the Dean and community at Lichfield Cathedral have invited us to light our Advent candle each day as we read the Bible and join in prayer.

This calendar is for everyone who uses the Cathedral website, for all the Cathedral community, and for people you want to send it to and invite to share in the daily devotional exercise.

This is a simple prayer and bible-reading exercise to help us to mark the Advent Season as a time of preparation for the coming of Christ.

It is designed to take us on a journey, looking back to John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Jesus; looking out into the world today, into our own hearts and experience; outwards again to Jesus Christ as he encounters us in life today and in his promise to be with us always.

You can download the calendar HERE.

The community at Lichfield Cathedral offers a number of suggestions on how to use this calendar:

● Set aside 5-15 minutes every day.

● Buy or use a special candle to light each day as you read and pray through the suggestions on the calendar.

● Try to ‘eat simply’ – one day each week try going without so many calories or too much rich food, just have enough.

● Try to donate to a charity working with the homeless or the people of Bethlehem.

● Try to pray through what you see and notice going on around you in people, the media and nature.

After the busy rounds of Advent and Christmas Day, despite the disappointment of cancelled services, I am taking a little time this evening to pray and reflect using the Advent and Devotional Calendar from Lichfield Cathedral, which comes to an end today.

Saturday 26 December 2020 (Saint Stephen’s Day):

Read Acts 7: 51-60 (NRSVA):

51 ‘You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are for ever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. 52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. 53 You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.’

54 When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. 55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ 57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.

Reflection:

Reflect on the martyrdom of Saint Stephen. Jesus gave us life through death – eternal life. We remember that the world hates and persecutes the light – anything that calls into question its values and opinions. God’s light searches and judges. Pray for all who stand up for God’s truth and suffer as a result.

Yesterday’s evening reflection

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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