With Hearts Enlightened

A Bible study from the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas,
Fall 2020 

With the Eyes of our Hearts Enlightened

A Psalm based on St. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, from Ephesians 1

by the Rt. Rev. David Reed

Give me,  O Lord of all creation
a Spirit of wisdom and revelation;

So that my heart might be light and enlightened
in leaden and darkened days*
with your light filling the eyes of my heart. 

Give me, O Lord of my life, a heart wide open*
that dares to embrace the hope to which you have called me;

So that I might take hold of the riches of your Son’s glorious
bold to claim love’s redeeming work met in mercy and grace.

And in the greatness of his power*
give me the heart’s humbleness and the hand’s strength
to hold loosely to his riches and give them away.

So that I might awaken and see the share I have in his life*
and in the gathering up of all things in heaven and on earth 
in the One who fills all in all.

(Ephesians 1:17-19) I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

When Bishop David Reed chose the diocesan theme for 2020 from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he had no idea how this difficult year would unfold.  Mindful of the uncivility, anger, and divisiveness that had been growing increasingly more prevalent in our society, Bishop Reed says he wanted “a theme that spoke of vision, of looking out from our present circumstances to a God-promised future.” He found it in Ephesians 1:18 : “With the eyes of your heart enlightened.”

“As 2020 has unfolded (or careened out of control),” says the bishop, “the durability of this gentle theme has been amazing. For me, its effect has been almost like a church bell, calling us to stop and turn our attention to the Lord and giver of life. To see with the eyes of our hearts enlightened helps us find our way through the relentless noise and clutter, living with hope and trusting that the Spirit is leading us to a new day.”

The Apostle Paul called the early Christian believers in Ephesus to this same orientation as they continued in the faith they had received. In the early verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the apostle prays that God will bestow on them a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Through this, he asks that they may know
the hope of God’s calling,
the wealth of the glory of God’s inheritance among the saints,
the immeasurable greatness of God’s power. 

And in all this, Paul prays that the believers will see “with the eyes of their hearts enlightened.” – that is, see by the light of Christ’s spirit – which they have been given by virtue of their acceptance of Christ as the Lord of their lives.

In this six-week study of the 2020 diocesan theme, we will look at each of Paul’s petitions in our own day. We have invited six people to reflect on Paul’s prayer – men and women, clergy and laity from around the diocese – and each week will include their written reflections and an audio interview.

In week 1, Bishop David Reed speaks more about the choice of this verse to guide the diocese in 2020.

Read Bishop Reed’s written reflections on the theme.

Listen to Bishop Reed discussing why he chose this theme for 2020.

Week 2, wisdom and revelation: God’s wisdom, says the Rev. Daniel Strandlund, is a kind of vision – the power to see things clearly. For us, wisdom is recognizing who Jesus really is and in what circumstances we might expect to find him.

Read Daniel’s reflection on wisdom and revelation, including some questions for reflection.

Listen to a conversation between Daniel Strandlund and Marjorie George.

Week 3, with hearts enlightened. Liz Manning recalls an incident during a controlled fire-burn when she was able to see that God would bring new life out of devastation.

Read Liz Manning’s story of working as part of a fire team and what it taught her about beauty. Reflection questions included.

Listen to a conversation with Liz Manning as she relates her story and the lesson learned.

Week 4: Drew Cauthorn invites prisoners in the Torres Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections to reflect on hope. Read their reflections of hope found in the darkest of places and how Drew came to have a relationship with them.

Read how Drew Cauthorn came to start a letter-writing relationship with some “men in white,”and how it strengthens his own faith. Questions for reflection included.

Listen to a conversation with Drew about the hope prisoners have found through their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Read excerpts from letters written by “men in white” on the hope they have found.

If you are interested in joining Drew Cauthorn in this prison ministry, email him at drew@CauthornLaw.com.

In Week 5, The Rev. Patricia Riggins offers one definition of a “saint” as “someone who expresses Christ’s presence in their lives.” This week we explore Paul’s prayer that the Ephesians would realize the glory of God’s inheritance among the saints.

Listen to a conversation with the Rev. Patricia Riggins that may change your definition of saints and how you recognize them in your life.

Consider some questions for reflection generated from the audio conversation.

Read a companion article by Marjorie George that considers the Communion of Saints.

In the final week, Clark Hendley reminds us that we call on the power of God daily even as we pray “for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.” The Rev. Reagan Gonzalez adds that Jesus’ power isn’t measured in humans standards.

Listen to a conversation with Clark Hendley that emphasizes what we mean by God’s power.

Clark Hendley’s essay discusses the difference between the secular idea of power and God’s “immeasurable greatness.” Questions for reflection included.

Listen to a conversation with the Rev. Reagan Gonzalez on how the Church is being called to manifest God’s power in these times and what that means.

In her essay, the Rev. Reagan Gonzalez maintains that the Church is one of the last places in our society where people of diverse thought can come together in love. Questions for reflection included.

Our study begins October 12 and continues through November 16.

We welcome your comments. If you have questions, email Marjorie George at marjorie.george@dwtx.org.