Minnesota Episcopal
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Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

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Lectionary Reflection

Year B, Advent 1
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Revised Common Lectionary
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading

Isaiah 64:1-9a (Standard)
Isaiah 64:1-9 (RCL)

[Both Start] O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence —
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil —
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered* us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity for ever.
[Standard Reading Ends]
Now consider, we are all your people.


Reflections on Isaiah 64: 1-9

  • by the Rev Dcn Helen Hanten

God does indeed speak through the creation in mighty deeds such as earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes, which we tend to call "acts of God", and admit we can not control. (Ask any insurance company!) God's presence is also made known in more ordinary events of nature for those who are discerning. However, sometimes we take for granted the gifts of rainfall and moving water of streams; the wind forming dunes in the deserts and gentle breezes that scatter pollen and seeds — seasonal changes and the renewal of growth in the spring each year. Sometimes we neglect to thank the creator for the paradise that is our planet. We need the "acts of God" to remind us that God is God, CREATOR GOD, and we are among the creatures invited to live lives in God's presence.

  • by the Rev Dcn Helen Hanten

The writer goes on to say that when God did awesome deeds that people did not expect, when the mountains quaked at God’s presence, the people did see and hear, and had not followed any other God, than the God who works for those who await him. How inclined we are to call a natural event a “disaster” and think that the flooding of a river in spring runoff, or the downing of trees in a wind storm, or the eruption of a volcano, or the shaking of the ground in an earthquake are somehow done against individual humans affected by them; actually those same natural events that have shaped the earth from the time it was formed, demonstrate to us the strength of the natural forces that from time to time have changed and shaped the earth itself. The power of these forces makes us aware of our dependence on the gifts of the earth, and aware how temporal and fragile each kind of living thing is in its environment.

Printable version


To Reflections on other RCL Readings for Year B, Advent 1:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Revised Common Lectionary
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading (this page):
Isaiah 64: 1-9a
Isaiah 64: 1-9
Psalm 80
Psalm 80: 1-7, 16-18
New Testament Reading
1 Corinthians 1: 1-9
1 Corinthians 1: 3-9
Mark 13: (24-32) 33-37
Mark 13: 24-37


The Rev Dcn Helen Hanten was a deacon at and an active member of St. Andrew's by-the-Lake Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN, when she originally wrote the first reflection in 1996 and the second in 1999. Helen and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to The Rev Dcn Helen Hanten 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.


This page last updated 2012-01-17.

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