25 December 2017

Praying at Christmas with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(1): 25 December 2017

The crib in the Lady Chapel in Lichfield Cathedral during last Christmas season (Photograph: Lichfield Cathedral)

Patrick Comerford

Today is Christmas Day. This morning I am presiding at and preaching at the Christmas Eucharist at 9.30 a.m. in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, and at 11 a.m. in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick.

Throughout the season of Advent this year, I spent a short time of prayer and reflection each morning, using the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar from Lichfield Cathedral.

I have decided to continue with this time of reflection and prayer each morning until the end of year, New Year’s Eve [31 December 2017].

USPG, founded in 1701, is an Anglican mission agency supporting churches around the world in their mission to bring fullness of life to the communities they serve.

Under the title Pray with the World Church, the current prayer diary (22 October 2017 to 10 February 2018), offers prayers and reflections from the Anglican Communion.

This week, the Prayer Diary visits the Holy Land, and this theme was introduced yesterday by Salwa Khoury, who is based at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Nablus on the West Bank.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Monday 25 December 2017, Christmas Day:

Give thanks, this day, for the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord. May all people know healing through his love.

As we light our Advent candles in anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child, USPG is inviting us to pray for mothers and children who are served by the USPG in the world church in Tanzania, Ghana, Bangladesh and Palestine.

The first candle on the Advent Wreath was the Purple Candle recalling the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, our fathers and mothers in the faith, like Abraham and Sarah, and so on. The second purple candle represents the Prophets. The third, pink candle, which we lit last Sunday, represents Saint John the Baptist. The fourth, purple candle represents the Virgin Mary.

The fifth, white candle, which is lit this morning, represents the light of Christ coming into the world. USPG suggests this prayer when lighting the fifth candle representing the Christ Child:

Jesus Christ:

Holy God, your only son was born with
no home and laid in a manger;
fill us with compassion for all in need today.
Bless your church as it works for dignity,
healing and peace across the world.
And give us generous hearts
to respond to your most generous gift,
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar:

The calendar suggests lighting a candle each day as you read the Bible and pray.

Today, the calendar suggests reading John 1: 1-25.

The reflection for today offers this challenge:

Celebrate! Enjoy the feasting and joy of this day. Pray for a new understanding of God’s love as it reaches us in the person of Christ.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow.

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