26 February 2020

Praying through Lent with
USPG (1): 26 February 2020

‘De Profundis’ (1943) is Arthur Szyk’s haunting Holocaust tour de force … my choice for Facebook cover photograph this Lent

Patrick Comerford

Today [26 February 2020] is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Later this morning, at 11 a.m., I am presiding and preaching at the Ash Wednesday Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

During Lent this year, I am using the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections, and – because this year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Holocaust – illustrating my reflections with images reflecting this theme.

USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) 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. It was founded in 1701.

This week (23-29 February), the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on Saint John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca, which has become a spiritual home for displaced people.

On Sunday [23 March 2020], the diary published a reflection by the Rev’d Canon Dr Medhat Sabry, Chaplain of Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Casablanca. He writes:

St John the Evangelist was the first Protestant Church established in Casablanca. Consecrated in 1906, it is the oldest operating church building in Casablanca and one of the few official places of Christian worship in the city.

Over the past seven years, attendance at the church’s Sunday services has grown steadily. The new congregation members include migrants from East Asia (especially from the Philippines) and displaced people from sub-Saharan African countries such as Sierra Leone.

On 21 June last year, we celebrated in style when the church’s new community centre had its grand opening ceremony. With the community centre, we are aiming to offer training to help people develop personal skills, to provide a place for social and spiritual activities, to provide a subsidised hot meal twice a week for some of the displaced people, and a library for studies and after-school classes.

The community centre has also been used as a temporary home for the church, because the old church building is now too small to hold its ever-growing congregation. Our new, bigger church building opens on 28 March. Please pray for us.

Wednesday 26 February 2020, Ash Wednesday:

Lord, as we mark the start of the season of Lent today, help us to be mindful of all those around us, and seek to be a blessing to them.

Readings: Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58: 1-12; Psalm 51: 1-18; II Corinthians 5: 20b to 6: 10; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21.

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:

Almighty God,
you have given your only Son to be for us
both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly life:
Give us grace
that we may always most thankfully receive
these his inestimable gifts,
and also daily endeavour ourselves
to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Continued tomorrow

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