11 December 2022

Praying in Advent with Lichfield Cathedral
and USPG: Sunday 11 December 2022

Saint John the Baptist in a fresco by the Cretan iconographer, Alexandra Kaouki, in Rethymnon

Patrick Comerford

We are half-way through Advent, and today is the Third Sunday of Advent (11 December 2022), or Gaudete Sunday.

The day takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete (‘Rejoice’), the first word of the introit of this day’s Liturgy:

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob (see Philippians 4: 4–6; Psalm 85: 1).

Throughout Advent, the spirit of the Liturgy is one of expectation and preparation for Christmas and for the coming of Christ. Gaudete Sunday in Advent is a counterpart to Laetare Sunday in Lent, and provides a similar break about mid-way through the season of preparation, and signifies the joy and gladness as the Lord’s coming comes nearer and nearer. On Gaudete Sunday, rose-coloured vestments may be worn instead of violet or Sarum blue, and this is noted as an option in the Church of England in Common Worship. On the Advent wreath, the rose-coloured or pink candle is lit in addition to the two violet or blue candles, which represent the first two Sundays of Advent. The readings emphasise the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming.

Later this morning, I plan to attend the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford. But, before today 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.’

Saint John the Baptist with his mother, Saint Elizabeth, in a stained glass window in Dingle, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Matthew 11: 2-11 (NRSVA):

2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ 4 Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”

11 ‘Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.’

‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’ (1608) by Caravaggio in Saint John’s Co-cathedral in Valletta (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar:

Reflect on the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. Think about how the Church is the herald of Jesus’s message, how it points to him, helps to bring the world to him. Ask for the grace and blessing to help people find Jesus Christ, the true light, and that all the Cathedral community may play a part in mission.


O Lord Jesus Christ,
who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you:
grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world
we may be found an acceptable people in your sight;
for you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

We give you thanks, O Lord, for these heavenly gifts;
kindle in us the fire of your Spirit
that when your Christ comes again
we may shine as lights before his face;
who is alive and reigns now and for ever.

Additional Collect:

God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

USPG Prayer Diary:

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Walking Together.’ This theme is introduced today by the Right Revd Maria Grace Tazu Sasamori, who became Bishop of Hokkaido in Japan in April 2022. She shares her reflections on this year’s Lambeth Conference with Archbishop Justin Welby:

‘I was very nervous about coming to the Lambeth Conference; as the conference is conducted in English, I was very nervous about keeping up with the conversations that were happening all of the time.

‘Through the time I spent at the Lambeth Conference, I have really understood the diversity and breadth of the Anglican Communion. This diversity is one that at times involves pain and suffering. I have come to appreciate the value of this diversity and the way that bishops bring strength from their positions in their own dioceses and provinces to share the message of Christ. I hope that I can do this going forward.

‘All of the stories that I have heard and that we have shared over the course of the Lambeth Conference have had a great impact on me. When I return to Japan, I hope that I can take the following message: that even though we may have different stories and are part of different cultures, we can continue to work and walk together.’

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today (The Fourth Sunday of Advent, International Migrants Day) in these words:

Prepare our hearts to receive you, O Lord,
and open our hearts to receive one another.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow</b>

‘The Baptism of Christ’ by Paolo Veronese in the Church of Il Redentore in Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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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