Sunday, 1 March 2020

Praying through Lent with
USPG (5): 1 March 2020

The train tracks in Birkenau (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today [1 March 2020] is the First Sunday in Lent. Later this morning, I am presiding and preaching at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, at 9.30 and leading preaching at Morning Prayer in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry.

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 on 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 (1-7 March), the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on ‘Theological Education: a Key Pillar of Mission,’ with a particular focus on Bishop Gaul Theological College in Harare, which takes its name from Bishop Billy Gaul, an early SPG missionary from Ireland.

The former Bishop of Harare, Bishop Chad Gandiya, was recently appointed acting principal of Bishop Gaul Theological College in Harare, with effect from 31 December 2019. I got to know Bishop Chad when he was the Regional Desk Officer for Africa and the Indian Ocean at the USPG office in London, where he oversaw a wide range of projects, such as health, leadership development and education, including theological education. He has also been on the staff of the former United College of the Ascension in Birmingham, where I took a course in 1996. His decision to return to Zimbabwe in 2009, during difficult times, was a brave and heroic decision.

Introducing this week’s theme, the Prayer Diary provides this insight:

Bishop Gaul College is the national Anglican theological college in the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA). Since its establishment, the college has produced bishops and over 100 priests. It caters to students of the five dioceses in Zimbabwe and the Diocese of Botswana. More recently, the college has opened to students from countries outside CPCA; this has brought an international flavour and opportunities for students to think beyond their borders. Increasing students from the laity are now being trained. The impact of a wider range of people trained to spread the Good News and the salvation of souls is in line with the college’s objectives.

Bishop Gaul College is committed to the formation, training, and equipping of clergy and laity for the Christian ministries in the Church of the Province of Central Africa, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The college has substantially increased the number of students from the laity. It is the college’s intention to contribute spiritually and socially to the community by teaching the laity. There are currently 27 students. The college currently faces various challenges, including a reduction in the number of ordinands, a lack of water and rising running costs.

Sunday 1 March: First Sunday in Lent, and Zero Discrimination Day:

Holy God, thank you for treating us all equally.
Help us, both during this season of Lent,
and the rest of the year,
to stand against all forms of discrimination
and to love our neighbours as ourselves.

Readings: Genesis 2: 15-17; 3: 1–7; Psalm 32; Romans 5: 12-19; and Matthew 4: 1-11.

The Collect of the Day:

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.

With Bishop Chad Gandiya, the acting principal of Bishop Gaul College during his visit to Dublin as Bishop of Harare in 2011

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection

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