13 December 2020

Praying in Advent with USPG:
15, Sunday 13 December 2020

‘The Christmas television schedules will probably include at least one of the two blockbuster Paddington Bear movies’ … but ‘the world is full of real-life Paddingtons’

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.

I am one of the contributors to the current USPG Diary, Pray with the World Church, introducing the theme of peace and trust later this month.

Today (13 December 2020) is the Third Sunday of Sunday, also known as Gaudete Sunday, and I am planning later this morning to celebrate the Parish Eucharist in Castletown Church, Co Limerick (9:30 a.m.) and to lead and preach at Morning Prayer in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick (11:30 a.m.).

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for my own personal prayer, reflection and Scripture reading.

The theme of the USPG Prayer Diary this week (13 to 19 December 2020) is ‘Reflections on Migration.’

Introducing this week’s theme, Richard Reddie, Director of Justice and Inclusion, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, writes:

‘The Christmas television schedules will probably include at least one of the two blockbuster Paddington Bear movies. For those not familiar with this fictional animated character, Paddington was forced to leave his home in Peru due to family circumstances and ends up at the eponymous train station in London, where he is rescued by the Brown family.

‘The world is full of real-life Paddingtons: men, women and children who are forced to leave their homelands due to war, persecution, climate change, poverty and now disease. The question is, how many will receive the warm welcome extended to Paddington? Are they more likely to be treated with apathy at best, or outright hostility at worst?

‘In a season we associate with ‘tidings of comfort and joy’, it is important to focus on those who will struggle to experience the peace, love and hope of Christmas. This is also a moment to hold in our prayers (and support) those Christian organisations working to provide sanctuary and hospitality to those in need of Christ’s care and compassion.

Dear Lord, we bring to you those who have been forced to flee their homelands for a variety of reasons. May they experience your protection on their journey, and receive sanctuary at their destination. Amen.’

Sunday 13 December (Third Sunday of Advent):

Lord, you welcome the stranger
and urge us to be welcoming.
May we take your words to heart
and extend hospitality to those in need.

The Collect of the Day (Advent III):

O Lord Jesus Christ,
who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you:
Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world
we may be found an acceptable people in your sight;
for you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.

The Advent Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

John 1: 6-8, 19-28 (NRSVA):

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ 21 And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ 22 Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ 23 He said,

‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord”,’
as the prophet Isaiah said.

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ 26 John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s morning 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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