Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
17, Tuesday 15 December 2020

‘Our Lady who Brings Down Walls’ ... a display at the Elias Icon Exhibition in Lichfield Cathedral some years ago (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am 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 are inviting 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.

In addition, the Dean and clergy of Lichfield Cathedral are holding three vigils on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 13, 14 and 15 December, from 7 to 9 p.m. each evening, ending with Compline. There is a variety of places to stop, think, look, and pray, with places to sit, stand, kneel or rest. The focus this evening (15 December) is ‘Out of Bethlehem – A Cry.’

‘This is a special occasion to reflect on today’s City of Bethlehem and support its people. As we celebrate the place of Jesus’s birth each year, we reflect this year on today’s Bethlehemites. The Covid-19 crisis has taken its toll – record numbers of deaths, high levels of infection and total economic collapse, all aggravated by the failure to achieve a peaceful settlement for the Palestinian people. They live surrounded by a 28 ft high security/separation wall and under Israeli occupation and military law.’

The cathedral is inviting visitors to light bees wax candles made in Bethlehem, smell incense from Jerusalem, watch some short video clips in the Chapter House, listen to Palestinian music, meditate on pictures sent from the Bethlehem Iconographers, pray in front of the icon written on the separation walls, ‘Our Lady who brings down Walls,’ and read and endorse the Palestinian Church Leaders’ appeal to the world Church not to forget the people of Palestine and Israel.

Tuesday 15 December 2020:

Read Saint Matthew 21: 28-32 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said,] 28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” 29 He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Reflection:

How do we do good even when we don’t want to or find it burdensome? Can the examples of others help? Think about and give thanks for those examples.

Continued tomorrow

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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