Minnesota Episcopal
Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

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We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

Annual Special Projects


Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations



Lectionary Reflection

Year B, Lent 5
Revised Common Lectionary
Year B, Proper 13
Revised Common Lectionary

Psalm 51: 1-13

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your
loving-kindness; *
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.
2Wash me through and through from my wickedness *
and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I know my transgressions, *
and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you only have I sinned *
and done what is evil in your sight.
5And so you are justified when you speak *
and upright in your judgment.
6Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth, *
a sinner from my mother's womb.
8For behold, you look for truth deep within me, *
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.
9Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; *
wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.
10Make me hear of joy and gladness, *
that the body you have broken may rejoice.
11Hide your face from my sins *
and blot out all my iniquities.
12Create in me a clean heart, O God, *
and renew a right spirit within me.
13 Cast me not away from your presence *
and take not your holy Spirit from me.
13 Give me the joy of your saving help again *
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.


Reflection on Psalm 51: 1-13
by the Rev Dcn Helen Hanten

Psalm 51 is a lament by someone who has sinned greatly, and is praying for cleansing. It is a psalm ascribed to King David, written when the prophet Nathan came to him, after David had taken Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, for himself. The story about how all this happens is found in 2 Samuel, just before the passage appointed for today's Old Testament reading. David has been deceitful in getting Bathsheba pregnant, but has tried to make it appear that her husband has fathered the child, although Uriah has been away from home with the army the whole time. David has arranged to have Uriah killed in battle, and then takes Bathsheba to be his wife. A later child of this union will be King Solomon.

If this was, in fact, written by King David, it is hard to imagine a lament and guilt stronger than is expressed. But one important thing, he is not just asking God's forgiveness for his sins, but also a cleansing of the heart. Verse 6 says: "You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart." And in verse 10: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me." It is a prayer for a new way of thinking, a new way of being.

These verses form a model for prayers by those people who profess to care about, and care for the earth. It is not enough to say we have been careless in the past, and ask God's forgiveness. It is not enough be diligent in adding up carbon credits and measuring tons of paper recycled. Our whole way of thinking about God's creation as a sacred gift has to become the "wisdom in our sacred hearts."

When this has happened, our own commitment as well as our teachings will help others understand the fragility of this planet Earth, our Island Home, and honor with thanksgiving God who has provided it.

Printable version


To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Lent 5

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Revised Common
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Psalm 51
(this page)

Psalm 51: 1-13 (this page) or
Psalm 119: 9-16

New Testament Lesson
Hebrews 5:(1-4) 5-10
Hebrews 5: 5-10


To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Proper 13

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Revised Common
Semi-Continuous Track
Gospel Theme Track
Old Testament
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
2 Samuel 11: 26 – 12: 13a
Psalm 78:1-25 or
Psalm 78: 14-20, 23-25
Psalm 51: 1-13
(this page)
Psalm 78: 23-29
New Testament Reading:
Ephesians 4: 1-16

The Rev Dcn Helen Hanten was deacon emeritus at and an active member of St. Andrew's by-the-Lake Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN, when she originally wrote this reflection in 2012. 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 2012-07-31.

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