December 3, 2017 - The First Sunday of Advent

You, Lord, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old.

No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.

Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways! Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind. There is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.

Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7

St. Paul will quote from this Sunday’s first reading in 1 Corinthians 2:29. (“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived are the things God has prepared for those who love him.”) I like it so much it is my license plate.

But the closing line catches my eye today. After bemoaning our limitations and shortcomings, Isaiah notes that we are not morally autonomous beings.  He calls upon God’s forgiveness and grace because we are causal beings, without free will, formed by our nature and nurture: “Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”