04 December 2022

Praying in Advent with Lichfield Cathedral
and USPG: Sunday 4 December 2022

‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’ (Matthew 3: 3) … walking along Cross in Hand Lane in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Advent began last Sunday, and today is the Second Sunday of Advent.

Later today, I hope to attend the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford. However, before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

During Advent, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, The reading suggested in the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced by Lichfield Cathedral this year;

2, praying with the Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’ (Matthew 3: 3) … the Dark Hedges near Gracehill, Co Antrim (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 3: 1-12 (NRSVA):

1 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”.’

4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

Saint John the Baptist in a stained glass window in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar:

Reflect on how Jesus gives his disciples a share in his work (ministry). Think about the opportunities we have to take up that work. What would it look like? What would my role be? How can we help one another take on a share in Jesus’s work?


O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power
and come among us,
and with great might succour us;
that whereas, through our sins and wickedness
we are grievously hindered
in running the race that is set before us,
your bountiful grace and mercy
may speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honour and glory, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

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.

Additional Collect

Almighty God,
purify our hearts and minds, that when your Son Jesus Christ comes again
as judge and saviour
we may be ready to receive him,
who is our Lord and our God.

USPG Prayer Diary:

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is been ‘Human Rights in the Philippines.’ This theme is introduced this morning with an excerpt from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) human rights report by USPG:

Human rights in the Philippines have been under threat for years. Perhaps the most appalling example of the stripping away of human rights is the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, which governed from 1965 until 1986. Marcos used martial law to increase the detention, torture and murder of students, journalists, activists and religious leaders who spoke out against the government. Over 3,000 people were killed, 35,000 tortured and 70,000 arrested by the Marcos regime.

The legacy of terror continued during the presidencies of Arroyo and Aquino before Duterte made things even worse. Ferdinand Marcos Jr has just been elected President of the Philippines and many are scared his regime will match the human rights record of his father.

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) is an independent nationalist church, formed in 1902. The IFI self-identifies as a church ‘for God and for country’, where their interpretation of country centres on the people of the Philippines, the poor and marginalised in particular. Consequently, the IFI have worked to protect indigenous people from the persecution perpetrated by successive governments.

To read more about the IFI’s human rights activism and what the international community can do to help the Philippines, visit: www.uspg.org.uk/human-rights-in-the-philippines.php

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today (Advent II) in these words:

O come, Prince of Peace,
and hear the voice of the oppressed.
Pull down the mighty,
exalt the meek
and bind up the broken hearted.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

‘In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea’ (Matthew 3: 1) … a mosaic in Saint John’s Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights, shows Saint John the Baptist with his parents Saint Zechariah and Saint Elizabeth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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

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