08 December 2022

Praying in Advent with Lichfield Cathedral
and USPG: Thursday 8 December 2022

The Virgin Mary stands with the Christ Child in the centre of the west door of Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We are in the second week of Advent. Today, the Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship celebrates the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a Lesser Festival.

This festival is celebrated on this day in both the eastern and the western Church. The feast, which dates from the seventh century, acknowledges the preparation by God of his people to receive their Saviour and Lord, putting ‘heaven in ordinary’ and showing that mortal flesh can indeed bring Christ to the world.

Before today gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

During Advent, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, The reading suggested in the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced by Lichfield Cathedral this year;

2, praying with the Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

A sculpture of the Madonna and Christ Child by Willi Soukop in the Church of Christ the Cornerstone, Milton Keynes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Luke 1: 26-38 (NRSVA):

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34 Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ 35 The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38 Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

The figures on the West Door of Lichfield Cathedral, carved by the Victorian sculptor Mary Grant, link Christmas and Easter, the Incarnation and the Resurrection (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar:

Consider the role Mary played in bearing Jesus. What do we learn from her example? What area of your life can you open up to God – offering space for God’s will to be done?


Almighty and everlasting God,
who stooped to raise fallen humanity
through the child–bearing of blessed Mary:
grant that we, who have seen your glory
revealed in our human nature
and your love made perfect in our weakness,
may daily be renewed in your image
and conformed to the pattern of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

God most high,
whose handmaid bore the Word made flesh:
we thank you that in this sacrament of our redemption
you visit us with your Holy Spirit
and overshadow us by your power;
strengthen us to walk with Mary the joyful path of obedience
and so to bring forth the fruits of holiness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

USPG Prayer Diary:

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Human Rights in the Philippines.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with an excerpt from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) human rights report by USPG.

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

Let us pray for people and organisations who work to confront the abuse of human rights. May they dare to protest and may we join in.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, in the style of the Italian ceramicist Lucca della Robbia (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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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