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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

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Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations


Lectionary Reflection

Christmas I [all years]

Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading

Isaiah 9: 2-7
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness--
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.


Reflection on Isaiah 9: 2-7
by John G. Gibbs, PhD

If you light a candle under a floodlight, who cares? Where there already is a great light, who needs a flashlight, who wants a flickering wick of new light? Where Christmas has grown old, where the familiar rhythm of Christmas texts lulls people to sleep, where the light is taken for granted and there is no more great drama of faith there can any new thing happen, could a new light be seen if it came, would the birth of new life be possible?

On the other hand, "those who lived in a land of deep darkness" are specially prepared to "see" whatever light may seek them out. Christmas is a terrible time of "deep darkness" for many people who live alone, for they are outside the cozy combination of faith and family that seems to own Christmas. A divorced parent who also lives far from brother or sister or from father or mother, that person torn away from family knows all about walking in darkness.

Especially for that person the Christmas candle was lit and shines. Nobody owns Christmas, not families, not people of faith. And nobody is disowned by Christmas, not the lonely, not people of doubt and alienation. We all have darkness within us, which means that we all have potential to "see" that "endless peace" (9:7) with "justice and with righteousness" (9:7) that the Lord of the Universe has established as the order of our life.

The surprise of the Incarnation is the light it sheds on the whole landscape of our common life: "the way of the sea" and "the land beyond" wherever we are (9:1) are all "made glorious" simply because "a child as been born for us, a son given to us" (9:6). We all find ourselves caught up with that One Great People who "rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest" (9:3). Here is the Light that redefines "family," and reshapes our vision of what it means to belong to one another within the People of God.

Printable version

To Reflections on other RCL Readings for Christmas I (Primary Service), All Years:

Reflections available at the active links
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading (this page):
Isaiah 9: 2-7
New Testament Reading:
Titus 2: 11-14

John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attended Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 1998.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.



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