Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
25, Wednesday 23 December 2020

He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John’ (Luke 1: 63) … winter colours at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (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.

The last week of Advent is special: at Evensong (evening prayer) a special antiphon is sung or said before and after the canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Magnificat. Each begins with an ‘O’ and relates to some facet of Christ’s nature and ancestry.

17 December: ‘O Sapientia’, Wisdom
18 December: ‘O Adonai’, Lord of Israel
19 December: ‘O Radix Jesse’, Root of Jesse (Jesse was the father of King David)
20 December: ‘O Clavis David’, Key of David
21 December: ‘O Oriens’, Morning Star rising in the East
22 December: ‘O Rex Gentium’, King of all nations
23 December: ‘O Immanuel’ Immanuel – ‘God is with us’

As the week draws us to Christmas, so the note of longing love intensifies.

Wednesday 23 December 2020 (‘O Immanuel’ Immanuel – ‘God is with us’):

Read Saint Luke 1: 56-66 (NRSVA):

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John.’ 61 They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’ 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

Reflection:

Reflect on this story: God is shaping a new future and this new-born child will be the herald. Pray for the new-born – for all the hope and promise they bring, for parents wondering about their children’s future.

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

A plaque marks the site
of the former Erasmus
Smith school in Tarbert

The former Erasmus Smith School is remembered by a plaque in Tarbert, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Patrick Comerford

The Erasmus Smith School was once part and parcel of the life of Kilnaughtin Parish in Tarbert, Co Kerry. The school stood on a site just a few metres west of Saint Brendan’s Church of Ireland parish church, and the site is still remembered today, marked by a plaque erected on the wall earlier this year.

Erasmus Smith (1611-1691) from Husband’s Bosworth in Leicestershire acquired land in Ireland during the political turmoils of the mid-17th century. He used some of his new-found wealth to endow Grammar Schools in Irish towns, including the Erasmus Smith High School in Dublin, the Grammar Schools in Drogheda, Galway, Ennis and Tipperary. Later, other grammar schools founded on the same principles became known as Erasmus Smith schools.

The Erasmus Smith School in Tarbert was sanctioned in 1785, and was built in 1790 with a grant of £300 on a site donated by Sir Edward Leslie of Tarbert House.

Sir Edward Leslie (1746-1818) was a son James Leslie (1707-1770) of Tarbert House, Bishop of Limerick (1755-1770). Sir Edward, who was born in Durham, was the only member of his family to hold the title of baronet, which he received in 1787.

John Paul Jones (1747-1792) sought shelter for his ship at Tarbert when he was chased by the British navy during the American War of Independence. To confuse his pursuers, it is said, John Paul Jones sent men ashore to place lanterns in the trees, indicating he was still in the bay. Then, under cover of darkness, he sailed silently out to Valentia and on to the US where he founded the US navy. The story is said to have inspired the name of the Lanterns Hotel on the road from Tarbert to Glin.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) came to visit Sir Edward Leslie in Tarbert in 1771 as part of his efforts to rekindle trade between Ireland and America. Around the same time, Franklin also visited Erasmus Darwin in Lichfield.

Franklin presented Sir Edward with a type of rose which, when planted in the gardens of the house, became the inspiration for the famous Rose Pattern that was woven into the curtains that hang to this day in Tarbert House. The pattern has been used since then in curtains as far away as the White House by Nancy Regan, who also visited Tarbert House.

Wilson described Tarbert House in 1786 as ‘happily situated on an eminence commanding an extensive view.’

Leslie founded the Tarbert Regiment, the Tarbert Cavalry and Tarbert Infantry (Fencibles).

Daniel O’Connell was also a friend of the Leslie family and Tarbert House still holds a parchment that is a plea to the House of Commons in 1813 for Catholic Emancipation, signed by bishops, politicians and other notables, including Daniel O’Connell and his brother.

When Leslie died at Weymouth in 1818, his title died out. By then, Tarbert House had passed to his first cousin, Robert Leslie, who moved there from Leslie Lodge.

The Erasmus Smith school that Leslie helped to found in Tarbert was one of nine Erasmus Smith schools in Co Kerry that included: Ballybunion (1903), Blennerville (1811), Dingle (ca 1910), Killorglin (1902), Tarbert (1790), Tralee (1821), Valentia (two, 1776 and 1903) and Ventry (1903).

The Limerick-based architect James Pain (1779-1877) was involved in alterations to the school in Tarbert in 1833.

The school’s property documents have survived for the period 1866-1894, but the school seems to have been discontinued from 1894.

Jane Agnes McKenna established a co-educational inter-denominational secondary school on the site of the former Erasmus Smith School in Tarbert in 1940. Saint Ita’s College catered for the educational need of children from the Tarbert and Ballylongford catchment area until Tarbert Comprehensive Schooll was established in 1973.

A house now stands on the site of the former Erasmus Smith School in Tarbert, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Praying in Advent with USPG:
25, Wednesday 23 December 2020

The Birth of Saint the Baptist (see Luke 1: 57-66) … an icon from the Monastery of Anopolis in the Museum of Christian Art in Iraklion, Crete (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.

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

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 (20 to 26 December 2020) is ‘Christmas in the Holy Land.’ This week’s theme is introduced by the Very Revd Canon Richard Sewell, Dean of Saint George’s College, Jerusalem.

Wednesday 23 December 2020:

Let us continue to pray for peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East.

The Collect of the Day (Advent IV):

God our redeemer,
who prepared the blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of your Son:
Grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour,
so we may be ready to greet him
when he comes again as our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

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.

Luke 1: 57-66 (NRSVA):

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John.’ 61 They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’ 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

Continued tomorrow
Yesterday’s morning relfection

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