First reading for the first Sunday of Advent

The prophet helps Israel and the Church know its place before the Lord.  
 
We are clay and he is the potter. He is one fine potter, but in us he does not seem to have the most promising material to work with.
 
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
 
And yet God is the potter and in his hands there is hope for the raw clay. We can become, – and when we look around, we see how of us some do become – something beautiful through God’s handiwork.

Advent is a season of hope, a season when once more the promises of the Lord warm our hearts and lives back to life….

Isaiah 63:16-17,64:1,3-8
First reading for the 1st Sunday of Advent  

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted) 

Prayer for Mercy
63.15  Look down from heaven and see,
from your holy and beautiful habitation.
Where are your zeal and your might?
The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion
are held back from me.

16  For you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us;
you, O LORD, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
17  O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways
and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.

18  Your holy people held possession for a little while;
our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary.
19  We have become like those over whom you have never ruled,
like those who are not called by your name.

64.1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—

2  as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!

3  When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
 
4  From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
5  You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
6  We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7  There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
 
8
 But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

9  Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
10  Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
11  Our holy and beautiful house,
where our fathers praised you,
has been burned by fire,
and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12  Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD?
Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2017, Allen Morris. Gladstone Pottery Museum

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