08 December 2018

Praying in Advent with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(8): 8 December 2018

The shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, is in the style of the Italian ceramicist Lucca della Robbia (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Today, the Church Calendar remembers the Conception of the Virgin Mary [8 December] or, in the Roman Catholic tradition, the Immaculate Conception. Throughout the season of Advent this year, I am spending 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 for 2018 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.

USPG is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice.

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 begins this week with 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.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Saturday 8 December 2018:

Pray for understanding among men and women so that we might see each other as created by God and deserving of a full life.

The Virgin Mary in the Annunciation icons by the Bethlehem Icon School in the nave of Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

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, the Church Calendar in Common Worship celebrates the Conception of the Virgin Mary. Today’s suggested reading is Luke 1: 26-38.

The reflection for today suggests:

As you write Christmas cards and messages, think about Mary received good news from God. Give thanks for all who’ve brought good news into our lives.

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

Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26; Psalm 146: 4-9; Matthew 9: 35 to 10: 1, 6-8.


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.

Yesterday’s reflection.

Continued tomorrow.

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