Entering into the Body of Christ

The letter to the Ephesians, like many early Christian letters, was a communal event, says the Rev. Daniel Strandlund in week two of our study. The entire Christian community would have gathered to hear someone read it and then would have spent many days discussing its contents. So reading Ephesians, says Strandlund, gives us an example not only of how to read the Bible but also how to live as part of the body of Christ, the Church.

We invite you to read Standlund’s reflection, with questions for thought and discussion and listen to a conversation with Daniel Strandlund and Marjorie George.

Go to the study.

A Good Choice

Bishop David Reed confesses that when he was choosing a diocesan theme for 2020, he was not thinking sweet thoughts. “I was growing increasingly troubled by the incivility, the anger and the divisiveness in American life,” he says, “and I wanted a theme that would call us to look higher and more deeply for the truth and beauty that’s all around us. I wanted to recall us to our higher calling as Jesus’ followers.”

The theme was announced at diocesan council in February, just weeks before a heretofore unknown virus overran our lives. But as 2020 unfolded, the bishop found that 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.”

Bishop Reed’s comments kick off the DWTX fall 2020 study on the theme for this year – “With the eyes of your heart enlightened” from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (1:18).

Read the bishop’s reflections on the 2020 theme and listen to an audio interview with him here. Each week for the next six weeks, another person from around the diocese will offer thoughts on the theme. Go here for the schedule.

We hope you enjoy this study and encourage you to leave comments.

With Hearts Enlightened

Our fall 2020 diocesan study begins October 12, featuring the 2020 diocesan theme – “May the eyes of your heart be enlightened” – from the Letter to the Ephesians (1:18).

In the letter, the apostle Paul offers a prayer for the believers in Ephesus:

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 (Ephesians 1:17-19).

We have asked six persons – men and women, clergy and laity – to reflect on this prayer. Each week we will offer a written reflection and an audio interview with one of the presenters as we take up Paul’s prayer for our own time.

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

In week 2, the Rev. Daniel Strandlund will consider how God’s wisdom and revelation point us toward the full coming of God’s kingdom.

Week 3, Liz Manning recalls an incident when she was able to see with the eyes of her heart enlightened that God would bring new life out of devastation.

In week 4, Drew Cauthorn will relate the hope he has found in the “men in white” in a Texas prison.

Week 5, the Rev. Reagan Gonzales will speak about our glorious inheritance among the 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.”

Each week’s session will arrive in your email inbox on Monday, beginning October 12.

If there are others you think might enjoy this study, invite them to subscribe to the Adult Christian Formation website at christianformation-dwtx.org.

If you have questions, email Marjorie George at marjorie.george@dwtx.org.

We welcome your comments.

Making the Psalms Our Own

The words of the psalmist slowly seep into the consciousness of those who pray them. “As David confesses his sins, those who pray with him confess their own.”

In our first apartment as a married couple, one of the things I set out on the living room coffee table was a book on the psalms. It was stylized as a kind of first-aid collection for the soul: “If you are feeling troubled, read Psalm 3. If you need forgiveness, read Psalm 51 . . .”

I was interested, at the time, not in actually learning from the psalms as much as convincing my guests of my religious acumen.  Besides, the colors on the book’s front cover fit right in with the rest of the apartment’s décor. 

Turns out, however, that my little flirtation with the psalms was not wasted. I did reach into the medicine chest from time to time, pulling out balm to sooth life’s wounds or applying a little peppermint for rejuvenation.  At the same time, the contours of my spiritual life were being formed by the weekly Sunday recitation of the psalms in church, whether or not I comprehended their full intent or knew from whence they came.

We frequently imitate that with which we become most familiar. That is why the ancient church prayed the psalms again and again, points out Renovare’s Chris Hall in The Psalms: Our Prayer Mentor. “As we pray the psalms, the dispositions of the psalmist become our own,” he says. Repetition of the psalms is a gift of the monastic community – where the entire Psalter is sometimes prayed every day – to the larger church. 

The words of the psalmist, says Hall, slowly seep into the consciousness of those who pray them. “As David confesses his sins, those who pray with him confess their own.”

Thus, the particular-ness of the psalms’ universality doesn’t just teach us; it shapes us.

The Psalter becomes the prayer of the individual who reads it, said Athanasius in his Letter to Marcellinus.  “In the other books of Scripture we read or hear the words of holy men as belonging only to those who spoke them, not at all as though they were our own; and in the same way the doings there narrated are to us material for wonder and examples to be followed, but not in any sense things we have done ourselves.” 

With the psalms, however,  “It is as though it were one’s own words that one reads; and anyone who hears them is moved at heart, as though they voiced for him his deepest thoughts.”

Furthermore, the Psalter can be likened to a garden with a panoply of specimens. The collection of psalms, says Athanasius, “Is a garden which, besides its special fruit, grows also some of all the rest.”   

 Let whoever reads this Book of Psalms take the things in it quite simply as God-inspired; and let each select from it, as from the fruits of a garden, those things of which he sees himself in need. For I think that in the words of this book all human life is covered, with all its states and thoughts, and that nothing further can be found in man. For no matter what you seek, whether it be repentance and confession, or help in trouble and temptation or under persecution, whether you have been set free from plots and snares or, on the contrary, are sad for any reason, or whether, seeing yourself progressing and your enemy cast down, you want to praise and thank and bless the Lord, each of these things the Divine Psalms show you how to do, and in every case the words you want are written down for you, and you can say them as your own.


This week concludes our study of the psalms.  However,  the study will remain on this site for the foreseeable future. On the main page of the study you will find links to each week’s session as well as daily reflections for Holy Week and a bibliography.  Find it here.

As always, we invite your comments and suggestions for future studies. Email to Marjorie George at marjorie.george@dwtx.org or leave a reply below.