Sunday, 3 January 2021

Joe Biden’s Irish ancestry is part of
a long tradition among US Presidents

A colourful street scene in Carlingford, Co Louth … Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle were married in Carlingford in 1839 (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Joe Biden is due to be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States later this month, in a public ceremony in front of the Capitol Building in Washington on Wednesday 20 January.

Already, links to the new president have been claimed by Co Louth, Co Mayo, and – more recently – Co Wexford. According to genealogist John Hamrock, all eight of Joe Biden’s great-great-grandparents on his mother’s side were born in Ireland in the first half of the 19th century and two great-grandparents on his father’s side were born in Ireland too.

Joseph Robinette Biden jr was born on 20 November 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His parents, Joseph Robinette Biden Sr and Catherine Eugenia (Jean) Finnegan, were married in 1941, and he grew up in a family steeped in Irish culture and values.

He once told RTÉ: ‘My grandfather and grandmother Finnegan, all my mother’s brothers, and my father told us about the courage and commitment it took for our relatives to emigrate from Ireland – in the midst of tragedy to distant shores, where they didn’t know what awaited them. It took great courage.’

His closest link to Ireland is his great-grandfather, James Finnegan, who emigrated from Carlingford, Co Louth, as a child in 1850, and his great-grandmother, Catherine Roche, who left Taghmon, Co Wexford, in the 1840s.

* * *

Saint Munn’s Church, Taghmon, Co Wexford … the hymnwriter Henry Francis Lyte was a curate while the Roche family was living in Taghmon (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

The family history research company Ancestor Network has carried out extensive research into the new President’s family tree. According to the genealogist John Hamrock, he has strong Irish roots. In the way Americans calculate or define Irish identity, President Biden is five-eighths Irish, with ten of his 16 great-great-grandparents born in Ireland.

John Hamrock’s research shows all eight of Joe Biden’s great-great-grandparents on his mother’s side were born in Ireland in the first half of the 19th century, and two great-grandparents on his father’s side were born in Ireland too.

Jean Finnegan was the daughter of Ambrose Joseph Finnegan and Geraldine Blewitt, who were married in 1909. Ambrose Finnegan was born in 1884, the son of Catherine (Roche) and James Finnegan, who lived in New York and moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Ambrose Finnegan’s parents, Owen and Jane Finnegan, were from the Cooley Peninsula, near Carlingford, Co Louth. Owen Finnegan was born ca 1820, and while no record of his baptism survives, his parents may have been James Finnegan and Mary White. Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle were married in 1839 in Carlingford. He emigrated to New York in 1849, and his wife Jane arrived a year later, with three children, James (7), Stephen (5) and Patrick (infant). Jane died in 1874 and Owen died in 1875.

Another son, Ambrose Joseph Finnegan, later married Catherine Roche, whose parents, Thomas and Roche and Bridget (née Fox), were from Taghmon, Co Wexford. Thomas Roche, who was born in 1813, was a stonemason. His daughter Catherine Roche emigrated from Taghmon in the 1840s; she later married Ambrose Joseph Finnegan, and they are great-grandparents of Joe Biden.

Paul Roche from Camolin, Co Wexford, uncovered Mr Biden’s connections with Taghmon and other parts of Co Wexford, going back seven generations to Maurice Roche, whose son Patrick married Mary Roche from Taghmon. Thomas and Bridget (Fox) Roche emigrated to America with their daughter Catherine, who married Ambrose Finnegan.

Sunset on the River Moy … Edward Blewitt was living in Ballina in the 1820s and 1830s (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

* * *

The Blewitt family also had strong Irish connections. Geraldine Blewitt’s four grandparents – Patrick Blewitt and Catherine (Kate) Scanlon, and James Stanton and Mary Arthurs – were all born in Ireland.

The Blewitt and Scanlon families were from Rappacastle, near Ballina, Co Mayo. Joe Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather, Edward Blewitt, emigrated to the US in 1851 on the SS Excelsior. He left Ireland with his wife Mary Mulderrig (sometimes given as Redington) and their seven children, including Patrick Blewitt, then 18, who is Joe Biden’s great-great-grandfather.

The Blewitt family from Rappacastle was living in Ballina by the 1820s. Edward Blewitt was a brickmaker, supplying bricks for the building of Ballina Cathedral in 1827, and his son Patrick Blewitt was baptised in Ballina in 1832.

Edward is thought to have worked with the Ordnance Survey in Mayo in the 1830s, and the family left Ballina for neighbouring Ardagh after an outbreak of cholera in Ballina, before moving to America.

Joe Biden also has Irish ancestors on his father’s side of the family. His great-great-grandparents, John Hanafy and Mary Ward, were born in Ireland. Mary Ward’s parents – Joe Biden’s great-great-great-grandparents – John and Mary Ward, were from Co Galway.

Today, Mr Biden’s Irish relations through the Finnegan family include the Ireland rugby internationals Rob and Dave Kearney. Their father, David Joseph Donald Kearney, is a fifth cousin of the president-elect, according to research out by Epic, the Irish Emigration Museum.

Kamala Harris and
an Irish slaveholder


The new Vice-President, Kamala Harris, has strong family roots in Jamaica through her father and in India through her mother. But Irish genealogists recently explored whether her great-grandmother from Jamaica, Iris Finegan, had another Irish link to match Joe Biden’s links with Louth, Wexford and Mayo and Louth.

However, if there is an Irish link in Kamala Brown’s ancestry, it is most likely through Hamilton Brown, who was from Co Antrim.

Her father, Professor Donald J Harris, is the son of Beryl and Oscar Harris, known to the family as ‘Miss Beryl’ and ‘Maas Oscar’. His paternal grandmother, Christiana Brown, was known as ‘Miss Chrishy’ and his maternal grandmother, Iris Allen or Finigan, was ‘Miss Iris.’

He has told how Miss Chrishy was a ‘descendant of Hamilton Brown, who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town.’ The Harris family was based in Orange Hill, Brown’s Town.

Kamala Harris’s great-grandmother Christiana Brown was born about 1881. According to Donald Harris, she was a descendant of Hamilton Brown, a slave owner and the founder of Brown’s Town.

* * *

The grave of Hamilton Brown in Jamaica … was the slaveowner from Co Antrim an ancestor Kamala Harris? (Photograph: Find a Grave)

Hamilton Brown was an Ulster Presbyterian and settled in Jamaica when he was about 20. He became a prominent plantation and slave owner, and was a lawyer and a member of the Jamaican Assembly. He was described as ‘an ignorant, brutish and fiend-like man, well calculated to be a member of the House of Assembly or any house disposed to uphold slavery.’

Hamilton Brown campaigned vigorously against the abolition of slavery and resented ‘the interference of the home government with their slaves.’ At the abolition of slavery in 1834, Brown was associated with compensation claims involving more than 1,000 slaves. He returned to Ireland to recruit new labourers in Ballymoney, Kildare and Limerick to replace the slaves on his plantations.

Brown died on 18 September 1848, and he is buried at Saint Mark’s Anglican Church in Brown’s Town.

Donald J Harris’s father, Kamala Harris’s grandfather, was born on 5 April 1914 and at birth was named Oscar Wilde Brown, perhaps as a tribute to the Irish writer. But his birth was re-registered as Oscar Joseph Harris in 1950. Meanwhile, the connection between Hamilton Brown and Kamala Harris remains unproven.

Biden’s links with
the Wexford Kennedys


The ‘Emigrant Flame’ on the Quays at New Ross, Co Wexford … the great-grandparents of John F Kennedy and Joe Biden may have left New Ross for America around the same time (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

Paul Roche was amazed when he came across discover Joe Biden’s links with Co Wexford. Already Co Wexford had one of the most significant connections with any American president in John Fitzgerald Kennedy, whose great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, was from Dunganstown, Co Wexford.

‘Where the Roches lived was only 18 miles from Dunganstown,’ he told the Wexford People. ‘Both great-grandparents possibly left New Ross around the same time for America.’

One genealogist said, ‘it’s fair to say’ that Joe Biden is ‘the most Irish of Irish presidents since John F Kennedy.’ The Kennedys were from Co Wexford and the Fitzgeralds from Bruff, Co Limerick.

Thomas Fitzgerald from Bruff emigrated to Boston and married Rosanna Cox from Co Cavan. Their son, John Francis (‘Honey’) Fitzgerald, was Mayor of Boston, and the father of Rose Kennedy, mother of the brothers John F, Bobbie and Ted Kennedy.

* * *

The John F Kennedy memorial and sculpture on the quayside in New Ross (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

In all, 22 US Presidents to date have Irish ancestry, from parents to seven times great grandparents and the children of immigrants. Although none was actually born in Ireland – if they were, they would not be eligible for the Presidency – many have come back to Ireland to visit their ancestral homes.

Andrew Jackson, the seventh President (1829-1837), was the first with Irish ancestry. He was born in 1767 to parents who emigrated from Carrickfergus just two years earlier with their two Irish-born sons. His father died at 29, just a few weeks before his birth.

James Buchanan also had Irish parents. His father, also James Buchanan, emigrated from Milford, Co Donegal, in 1783, and he raised James and his ten siblings in Pennsylvania.

Other presidents with immediate Irish ancestry include James Knox Polk, Ulysses S Grant, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, the Bush father and son, and – of course – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

As for Donald Trump, his only connection with Ireland seems to be his golf resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare. And that is probably more than enough.

The Trump golf resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare … Donald Trump’s only connection with Ireland (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

This feature was first published in January 2021 in the ‘Church Review’ (Dublin and Glendalough)

Captions:

Sunday intercessions on
3 January 2021,
Second Sunday of Christmas

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1: 4) … sunrise over the River Slaney at Ferrycarrig, Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Let us pray:

Wisdom says, ‘Over waves of the sea, over all the earth, and over every people and nation I have held sway’ (Sirach 24: 6):

Heavenly Father,
as we give thanks for the coming of Christ
at Christmas, into our lives, into the world …
We look forward to the promises of the Kingdom,
and we pray that Divine Wisdom may hold sway over all the earth,
and guide the rulers of the nations and every people.

We pray for all nations torn and divided by war and strife,
and we pray for all peacemakers,
for all who defend democracy and human rights,
for all who are working through this Covid crisis,
that they be filled with wisdom.

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

Wisdom ‘gave to holy people the reward of their labours; she guided them along a marvellous way’ (Wisdom 10: 17):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may be guided along your marvellous ways.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray this week for the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria
and the Most Revd Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis,
Archbishop of Alexandria and Bishop of Egypt.

In the Church of Ireland,
we pray this month for the Diocese of Armagh
and Archbishop John McDowell.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer, we pray this week
for the poor and the homeless,
that we may be moved to relieve their distress.

We pray for our own parishes and people and for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God’ (John 1: 12):

Holy Spirit,
we pray for ourselves, for one another as children of God,
for those we love and those who love us,
and we remember those who have brought love into our lives:

We give thanks for new life …
We pray for those in need and those who seek healing …
for those working for healing …
for those waiting for healing …
for those seeking an end to this Covid crisis …

We pray for those who are sick or isolated,
at home or in hospital …

Sylvia … Daphne … Declan …
Ajay … Ena … Eileen … George … Louise …
Ralph … Cait …

We pray for those we have offered to pray for …
and we pray for those who pray for us …

We pray for all who grieve and mourn at this time …
for Margaret, Nigel, Brian and their families …
we remember and give thanks for those who have died …
especially Allan …
and for those whose anniversaries are at this time …
including Kathy …
May their memories be a blessing to us …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer from the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) on the Second Sunday of Christmas:

Loving God,
May your grace shine upon us.
Give us a new revelation of your love
And help us be a light to the world.

Merciful Father …

The Anglican Cycle of Prayer prays this week for the new Church of the Province of Alexandria … Patrick Comerford with Archbishop Mouneer Anis at a recent USPG conference in High Leigh

These intercessions were prepared for use at the Parish Eucharist in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes on the Second Sunday of Christmas, 3 January 2021

‘The light shines in the darkness, and
the darkness did not overcome it’

‘In the beginning was the Word’ (John 1: 1) … an old typewriter seen in a restaurant in Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 3 January 2021, the Second Sunday of Christmas (Christmas II)

The Parish Eucharist

The Readings: Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 24: 1-12; Wisdom 10: 15-21; Ephesians 1: 3-14; John 1: 1-9, 10-18.

There is a link to the readings HERE.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1: 4) … light in the darkness in the courtyard in Marlay Park, Dublin, on New Year’s Eve last Thursday (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

The Book of Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon are unusual choices in the Lectionary for the readings this morning. Too often and too easily they are dismissed as Apocryphal readings, yet they bridge the gap between Jewish Wisdom literature and the ideas that are introduced in Saint John’s Gospel.

The author of Sirach, Jesus ben Sira, understood Wisdom as leading to prosperity, and in his opening words, he declares: ‘All wisdom is from the Lord, and with him it remains for ever’ (Sirach 1: 1).

This morning’s reading opens: ‘Wisdom praises herself, and tells of her glory in the midst of her people’ (Sirach 24: 1). For Jewish writers and thinkers, the created world is God’s, so faith and reason go hand in hand; learning about creation is learning about God; reasoning is done in the context of faith in God; and knowledge of God is seen as leading to wisdom.

The Wisdom of Solomon or the Book of Wisdom was written in Greek, probably in Alexandria in the mid-first century BC, and is part of the Wisdom literature in the Septuagint or Greek Jewish Bible, along with the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), Job and Sirach.

The central theme of this book is ‘Wisdom’ itself. Wisdom (Σοφία, Sophia) is the perfection of knowledge of the righteous as a gift from God, showing herself in action, and Wisdom is with God from all eternity.

In this book, Wisdom, the spirit of God, is personified as Lady Wisdom. This book also tells us that being made in the image of God includes sharing with God in immortality.

Earlier in this chapter, the author says Wisdom has been God’s agent in saving people in the past, and active in saving the people of Israel, through Moses. They are blameless, for they have been chosen and set apart by God (verses 1-14).

Now we are told that Wisdom has delivered a holy and blameless people from their oppressors. Wisdom entered the soul of the ‘servant of the Lord,’ and delivered the people, guiding these people by day and by night, on dry land and through deep waters.

In response to this, even the mute and small children could no longer be silent, but sang out God’s praises.

The Gospel reading this morning brings us back to Saint John’s prologue to the Fourth Gospel.

This is not just a traditional Gospel reading that many of us associate with Christmas morning, but it is a wonderful piece of classical Greek poetry, and it makes so many connections with the Wisdom literature that provides the two other readings this morning.

The Prologue is first and foremost poetry. It is a hymn – a poetic summary – of the whole theology of this Gospel, as well as an introduction to it.

The Fourth Gospel, the Gospel according to Saint John, is one of the great works of literature, and its opening phrase, Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ is one of the most dramatic opening lines in literature.

This is such beautiful literature that I have often though that the Greek poetry and drama of Saint John’s Gospel would be a major possibility if I ever thought about researching and writing another thesis in theology.

The Prologue is an introduction to this Gospel as a whole. It tells us that the Logos is God and acts as the mouthpiece (Word) of God ‘made flesh,’ sent to the world in order to be able to intercede for humanity and to forgive human sins.

The Prologue is of central significance to the doctrine of the Incarnation. This Prologue can be compared with Genesis 1, where the same phrase, ‘In the beginning …,’ first occurs along with the emphasis on the difference between the darkness and the light.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1: 5).

This Prologue is probably one of the most profound passages in the Bible. As simple as its language and phrases are, its description of Christ as the Logos has had a lasting influence on Christian theology.

The prologue prepares the reader for the rest of the Fourth Gospel. Important themes are signalled and Christ’s identity is established at the very outset through the use of Christological titles, divine portents or the manner of his birth.

Saint John’s is the only Gospel to speak of Christ’s pre-existence as the Logos and the only Gospel to include a poetic prologue.

What about Saint John’s use of the term λόγος or Logos (1-2) – most frequently rendered ‘Word’ in modern English translations?

This term is deeply rooted in Old Testament thinking (see Genesis 1, Proverbs 8). The role of the Logos in Saint John’s writings also parallels, in ways, that of personified Wisdom in a number of traditions within Judaism, including Sirach and this morning’s reading. However, Wisdom and the Logos need not be identified with each other, since Wisdom is a creation of God (Sirach 1: 9), while the Logos is pre-existent and Divine.

The Prologue introduces a number of terms throughout Saint John’s Gospel and his letters. They include ‘life,’ ‘light’ (verse 5), ‘believe’ (verse 7), ‘world’ (verse 9), ‘children of God’ (verse 12), and ‘flesh’ and ‘truth’ (verse 14). These concepts are introduced in relationship to the Logos, who is decidedly at the centre of all that is being said.

The single most influential thinker in the 16th century Jewish mysticism, Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), thought deeply about why evil and suffering exist in the world. In a poetic-like response, he told a story of Creation in which God who is unlimited brings into being a limited, empty space in which Creation can occur.

The Almighty is everywhere, and only by contracting into himself – like a someone inhaling deeply to allow another person to pass by in a narrow corridor – could God create an empty space in which the Creation could occur.

Luria imagines God retracting a part of the Eternal being into the Godhead itself in order to allow such a space to exist, a sort of exile. And so, Creation begins with a Divine exile.

A stream of light then flows from God into the empty space God creates. According to Isaac Luria, God created vessels into which he poured his holy light. These vessels were not strong enough to contain such a powerful force and they shattered. The sparks of divine light were carried down to earth along with the broken shards.

The light of God pours into Creation too, and every time someone does something good, according to Rabbi Luria, we rescue one of those holy sparks and restore it.

The day will come, Luria imagines, when we all do our part, and the entire remaining Divine Light is restored to God’s world. Without access to the Divine Light, evil will be unable to survive and will crumble away to dust.

For Luria, our task, our human endeavour, is the commandment tikkun olam, to repair the world, to reverse the shattering of the vessels, to restore the light of God.

For Luria and his followers, redemption is bound up with creation – to the idea of ‘retracing the path’ to creation and revelation, in order to return to the ‘unity and purity’ of the beginning of the world.

Luria’s key ideas gave voice to the impossible brokenness of the human condition. The pain of the Divine breakage permeates reality. We inherit it; it inhabits us. But redemption – the tikkun olam that will repair the broken world – remains possible.

In the words of Leonard Cohen, ‘there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’

In our frailty and our brokenness, we are open to redemption and to the light of the world.

As Saint John tells us in our Christmas message this morning, ‘The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world’ (John 1: 9).

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Saint John the Evangelist is often represented by an eagle … a carving on the pulpit in Saint Michael’s Church, Waterville, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

John 1: 1-18 (NRSVA):

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me”.’ 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1: 4) … the River Lee at night in Cork (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Liturgical Colour: White (or Gold).

The Penitential Kyries:

Lord God, mighty God,
you are the creator of the world.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary,
you are the Prince of Peace.

Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
by your power the Word was made flesh
and came to dwell among us.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day:

Almighty God,
in the birth of your Son
you have poured on us the new light of your incarnate Word,
and shown us the fullness of your love:
Help us to walk in this light and dwell in his love
that we may know the fullness of his joy;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Introduction to the Peace:

Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,
and his name shall be called the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9: 6)

The Preface:

You have given Jesus Christ your only Son
to be born of the Virgin Mary,
and through him you have given us power
to become the children of God:

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Light eternal,
you have nourished us in the mystery
of the body and blood of your Son:
By your grace keep us ever faithful to your word,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Blessing:

Christ, who by his incarnation gathered into one
all things earthly and heavenly,
fill you with his joy and peace:

Hymns:

652, Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us (CD 37)
166, Joy to the world, the Lord is come! (CD 166)
425, Jesu thou joy of loving hearts (CD 25)

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1: 4) … evening lights at Knightstown on Valentia Island, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

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

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

Saint John the Evangelist depicted on the Gate at Saint John’s College in Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

This sermon was prepared for Sunday 3 January 2021, and was part of a celebration of the Eucharist in Askeaton with limited attendance


Praying at Christmas with USPG:
10, Sunday 3 January 2021

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1: 5) … a street scene in Bologna (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.

I was one of the contributors to the current USPG Diary, Pray with the World Church, introducing the theme of peace and trust this morning:

Before this day starts, I am taking a little time this morning for my own personal prayer, reflection and Scripture reading.

The theme of the USPG Prayer Diary this week (3 to 9 January 2021) is ‘David and Goliath’, and is introduced by the Right Revd Shourabh Pholia, Bishop of Barishal Diocese in the Church of Bangladesh:

‘The 2020 monsoon season caused a lot of disruption in Bangladesh, and we are all experiencing various challenges as a result. Some people lost their lives and prolonged floods robbed many of their livelihoods, houses, crops and businesses. Some are at the verge of losing their faith.

‘When I was a child, I used to collect spare change, particularly the coins that were gold in colour. I would store them in a box to use it in time of need. I don’t remember now what I did with that money. But I do know how I would use it if I had it now. Friends, I would like to encourage you to start collecting spare coins again. Today they can buy a hungry child a meal, or a sick elderly person some medicine. They could give a desperate person a little seed to start a small business.

We all are familiar with the story of David and Goliath. David may have lived a long time ago, but the world still has Goliath-sized problems today: hunger, pollution, wars, injustice, corruption, human rights abuses, sickness. Just like David, we can do something about them.’

Sunday 3 January 2021 (Second Sunday of Christmas):

Loving God,
May your grace shine upon us.
Give us a new revelation of your love
And help us be a light to the world.

The Collect of the Day:

Almighty God,
in the birth of your Son
you have poured on us the new light of your incarnate Word,
and shown us the fullness of your love:
Help us to walk in this light and dwell in his love
that we may know the fullness of his joy;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Light eternal,
you have nourished us in the mystery
of the body and blood of your Son:
By your grace keep us ever faithful to your word,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 1: 1-18 (NRSVA):

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me”.’ 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

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