02 December 2018

Praying in Advent with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(2): 2 December 2018

‘Darkness into Light’ … taking part in the Advent Procession in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, on Advent Sunday 2017

Patrick Comerford

Today is the First Sunday of Advent [1 December 2018], the beginning of the Season of Advent, and the beginning of a new Church Year. Later this morning, I am leading the services and preaching in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (the Parish Eucharist), and Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry (Morning Prayer). In the evening, I hope to take part in the Advent procession and carol service, ‘Darkness into Light,’ at 7 p.m. in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.

Throughout the season of Advent this year, I plan to spend 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 being used in Lichfield Cathedral.

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.

Theologically, practically and financially, USPG encourages and enables churches within the Anglican Communion to act as the hands and feet of Christ. Together, they are working to improve health, tackle poverty, put children in school, challenge discrimination, nurture leaders, give voice to women, and much more.

Under the title Pray with the World Church, the current USPG prayer diary (7 October 2018 to 16 February 2019), offers prayers and reflections from the Anglican Communion.

We are in the middle of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, and the USPG Prayer Diary today includes an extract from a speech given at this year’s USPG Conference, ‘All Things Are Possible,’ in High Leigh by Jessica Richards, co-ordinator for Campaigns and Advocacy in the Church of South India:

‘One of CSI’s successful campaigns involves the girl child. In India, the girl child’s right to live is not a given: female foeticide is practised in many parts [estimates suggest hundreds of female foetuses and new-borns are killed every day]. Now, thanks to campaigners like CSI, girls are starting to march in the streets to assert their right to live.

‘Our girl child campaign trains congregations on children’s rights and abuse. We encourage churches to report cases of abuse to the state child helpline. We also run a campaign in schools and communities. We try to create spaces in which children can speak openly about abuse. We include children from all backgrounds, including street children and children with disabilities. The children take this knowledge back to their families and this initiates conversations – about the rights of girls – and we hope this will help society move towards the greater social inclusion of girls. This girl child campaign has been supported by USPG, for which we are very grateful.’

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Sunday 2 December 2018: 1st Sunday of Advent:

Lord Jesus, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
pour tour blessings on all women and children today,
especially those who face discrimination and violence.
Reveal to them their worth and dignity before you.


Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar:

Lichfield Cathedral’s Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar for 2018 suggests you light your Advent candle each day as you read the Bible and pray. It suggests setting aside five to 15 minutes each day.

Buy or use a special candle to light each day as you read and pray through the suggestions on the calendar. Each week there is a suggestion to ‘eat simply’ – try going without so many calories or too much rich food, just have enough. There is a suggestion to donate to a charity working with the homeless. There is encouragement to pray through what you see and notice going on around you in people, the media and nature.

The calendar is for not only for those who use the Cathedral website and for the Cathedral community. It is also for anyone who wants to share in the daily devotional exercise. The calendar suggests lighting your Advent candle each day as you read the Bible and pray.

Today’s suggested reading is Luke 21: 25-36.

The reflection for today suggests going to Church and continues:

We realise that life is complicated: joy & sorrow, pleasure & pain. Pray for trust in God’s purposes and for alertness to his love and presence.

The West Door of Lichfield Cathedral late at night in November (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, the Church of Ireland):

Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Psalm 25: 1-10; I Thessalonians 3: 9-13; Luke 21: 25-36.


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.

Post Communion Prayer:

God our deliverer,
Awaken our hearts
to prepare the way for the advent of your Son,
that, with minds purified by the grace of his coming,
we may serve you faithfully all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Continued tomorrow.

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