05 March 2017

Praying in Lent 2017 with USPG,
(8) Sunday 5 March 2017

Military from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have water cannons at the ready on border with Greece following clashes with migrants who are feeling increasingly desperate and impatient (Photograph: USPG/Max McClellan)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the First Sunday in Lent (5 March 2017). Later this morning I am presiding at the Eucharist and preaching in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, and Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert, Co Kerry.

The Readings are: Genesis 2: 15–17; 3: 1–7; Psalm 32; Romans 5: 12–19; Matthew 4: 1–11. In my sermons, I intend to look at the Gospel story of the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness.

The Lent 2017 edition of the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) follows the theme of the USPG Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life.’

I am using this Prayer Diary for my prayers and reflections each morning this week and throughout Lent. Why not join me in these prayers and reflections, for just a few moments each morning?

In the articles and prayers in the prayer diary, USPG invites us to investigate what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life’ (available online or to order at www.uspg.org.uk/lent), explores the idea that discipleship and authenticity are connected.

This week, from today (5 March) until next Saturday (11 March), the USPG Lent Prayer Diary follows the topic ‘Introducing Discipleship.’

The topic is introduced in the Prayer Diary in an article by the Revd S Balasundram, a priest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, who is training with the USPG-funded Asian Theological Academy. He writes:

One of my hopes as a priest is to educate congregations in how a believer can become a disciple. I often say that a believer has not matured as a Christian until they have become a disciple.

Sadly, some Christians get stuck in the role of being only a believer – they accept Christ and believe, but we are also tasked by Jesus to be disciples.

When my congregations ask me what I mean, I explain there are many opportunities to participate in discipleship. We can challenge our government to give more support for education. We can urge our cities to become more environmentally friendly. We can make peaceful protests. We can write letters or articles. And so much more.

In one church, after I had preached, two women told me there had been a protest march against child abuse and they had participated. It was very moving to hear.

I am also one of the clergy in Sri Lanka who is not promoting prosperity theology. I don’t condemn the wealthy or rich, but I do challenge them, saying: ‘You are rich, you are blessed, but you also have a responsibility to share your blessings with others.’

Sunday, 5 March 2017,

The First Sunday in Lent:

Holy God, thank you for calling us to be disciples.
Help us in this season of Lent
daily to take up our cross and follow you
that our whole lives may be lived to your glory.

The Collect:

Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:
Give us grace to discipline ourselves
in obedience to your Spirit;
and, as you know our weakness,
so may we know your power to save;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post-Communion Prayer:

Lord God,
you renew us with the living bread from heaven.
Nourish our faith,
increase our hope,
strengthen our love,
and enable us to live by every word
that proceeds from out of your mouth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection and prayer

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