28 April 2024

Daily prayer in Easter 2024:
29, 28 April 2024

The True Vine … an icon in the parish church in Piskopianó in the mountains east of Iraklion in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Easter is a 50-day season that continues until the Day of Pentecost (19 May 2024). This is the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Easter V), although this is still the Season of Great Lent in Greece, and today (28 April 2024) is Palm Sunday in the calendar of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Throughout this Season of Easter, my morning reflections each day include the daily Gospel reading, the prayer in the USPG prayer diary, and the prayers in the Collects and Post-Communion Prayer of the day.

/> Later this morning, I hope to be present at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church in Stony Stratford. Before this day begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

‘Fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink’ … grapes ripening on a vine in Platanias, near Rethymnon in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 1-8 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 1 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.’

‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ … autumn grapes and branches clinging to vines at the Hedgehog on the northern edge of Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Sunday 28 April 2024):

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘The Sacred Circle.’ This theme is introduced today with a programme update adapted from the Autumn edition of Revive magazine:

On the banks of Lake Couchiching in Ontario, Canada, the Sacred Circle gathered last year. Amongst the number were local partners of the Anglican Church of Canada; The Most Revd Marinez Bassotto, Primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil; and The Most Revd Don Tamihere (Pihopa o Aotearoa) of the Māori strand of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. All had come to the four-day event to learn, share and partner with the Indigenous community of Canada.

Around the Sacred Circle, many shared some of the challenges they faced. For centuries, European colonial exploits have been branded as conquests, and their legacies ignore the emotional and spiritual dislocation caused to local people who first occupied and stewarded the land. Tragically, the resulting generational trauma is reflected through high rates of depression, low access to opportunity and, worst of all, suicide rates amongst First Nations communities that total twice the Canadian average. Whilst formal apologies from church leaders regarding the historic abuse and neglect of Indigenous peoples have been welcomed, conversations – be they around a fire or a table – are productive spaces of partnership and learning.

The Anglican Church of Canada has demonstrated a clear commitment to ensure that the voices, histories and perspectives of Indigenous communities are heard and respected within the Church. From this flows the engagement of Indigenous elders and theologians in decolonising the church’s theology, liturgy, music, artwork and governance structures. For the Sacred Circle, all land, waters and people are seen as relatives, who all owe their existence to the Creator God of the Bible. As a result, in the place of dominance, there is stewardship. Instead of consumption, preservation.

It is essential to partner with our Indigenous brothers and sisters, our ‘relatives’, and walk, listen and witness to the same unifying Gospel. Just like Archbishop Linda Nicholls of the Anglican Church of Canada, may we say of the Sacred Circle: ‘The rest of the Church needs you’.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (28 April 2024, Easter V) invites us to pray thinking about these words:

‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25: 40).

The Collect:

Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help
we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

Eternal God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:
grant us to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Additional Collect:

Risen Christ,
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued Tomorrow

A Mediterranean village vineyard … grapes ripening in Tsesmes, near Rethymnon in Crete (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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