Friday, 11 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
13, Friday 11 December 2020

‘For John came neither eating nor drinking’ (Matthew 11: 18) … the entrance to Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

Advent is the Church’s mindful antidote to some of the diversion and consumerism of a modern Christmas. It prepares us to encounter Christ again in his joy and humility.

In ‘The Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar 2020,’ the Dean and community at Lichfield Cathedral are inviting us to light our Advent candle each day as we read the Bible and join in prayer.

This calendar is for everyone who uses the Cathedral website, for all the Cathedral community, and for people you want to send it to and invite to share in the daily devotional exercise.

This is a simple prayer and bible-reading exercise to help us to mark the Advent Season as a time of preparation for the coming of Christ.

It is designed to take us on a journey, looking back to John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Jesus; looking out into the world today, into our own hearts and experience; outwards again to Jesus Christ as he encounters us in life today and in his promise to be with us always.

You can download the calendar HERE.

The community at Lichfield Cathedral offers a number of suggestions on how to use this calendar:

● Set aside 5-15 minutes every day.

● Buy or use a special candle to light each day as you read and pray through the suggestions on the calendar.

● Try to ‘eat simply’ – one day each week try going without so many calories or too much rich food, just have enough.

● Try to donate to a charity working with the homeless or the people of Bethlehem.

● Try to pray through what you see and notice going on around you in people, the media and nature.

Friday 11 December 2020:

Read Saint Matthew 11: 16-19 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 16 ‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,

17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.”

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’

Reflection:

Think of times and occasions when you have really found belief baffling or deeply uncomfortable. What was learned?

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s evening reflection

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

‘Help us to overcome
the darkness of
prejudice and hatred’

A Menorah among items on display in the Monastiriotes Synagogue in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In my Friday evening prayers and reflections, I regularly draw on the Authorised Prayer Book, edited by the former Chief Rabbi, the late Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, and Service of the Heart, published over half a century ago in 1967 and prepared by Rabbi John Rayner and Rabbi Chaim Stern, who wrote or rewrote many of the prayers.

This evening is second night of Hanukkah, which began last night [10 December 2020] and continues until nightfall next Friday [18 December 2020].

Hanukkah (חֲנֻכָּה‬) commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.

The story of Hanukkah is one of resistance to hatred, prejudice, racism and anti-Semitism. It is a story that too many Christians are unaware of, both its narrative and its significance.

The theme of darkness and light is important in both Jewish and Christian traditions at this time of the year, and in the Jewish calendar, but is also a theme that resonates in a year of social and psychological darkness, swept in unexpectedly by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Service of the Heart, this reading is offered for the Sabbath in Hanukkah:

‘We thank you, O God, for the redeeming wonders and the mighty deeds with which you saved our fathers in days of old at this season.

‘In the days of the Hasmoneans, a tyrant nation rose up against our ancestors, determined to make them forget your Law, and to turn them away from obedience to your will. But in your abundant mercy, you stood at their side in their time of trouble. You gave them strength to struggle and to triumph, that they might serve you in freedom.

‘Through your spirit the weak defeated the strong, the few prevailed over the many, and the righteous were triumphant. Then did your children return to your house, to purify your sanctuary and kindle its lights. And they appointed these eight days of Dedication, to give thanks and praise to your great name.

‘Grant, O God, that the heroic example of the Maccabees may inspire us always to be loyal to our heritage and valiant for truth. May your holy spirit help us to overcome the darkness of prejudice and hatred, and spread the light of liberty and love.’

Shabbat Shalom

Hanukkah Sameach

Praying in Advent with USPG:
13, Friday 11 December 2020

‘Let us pray that in the midst of dealing with the effects of Covid-19, people will be able to distinguish between true and false information’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

I am one of the contributors to the current USPG Diary, Pray with the World Church, introducing the theme of peace and trust after Christmas.

The theme of the USPG Prayer Diary this week (6 to 12 December 2020) is ‘A Promise of Hope,’ which is the theme of USPG’s Christmas project this year.

Friday 11 December 2020:

Let us pray that in the midst of dealing with the effects of Covid-19, people will be able to distinguish between true and false information.

The Collect of the Day (Advent II):

Father in heaven,
who sent your Son to redeem the world
and will send him again to be our judge:
Give us grace so to imitate him
in the humility and purity of his first coming
that when he comes again,
we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Advent Collect:

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.

Matthew 11: 16-19 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 16 ‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,

17 “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.”

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s morning reflection

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org