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.

Advent Resources 2019

Already the sales have begun.  Retailers are beginning early to compete for our money, our time, our attention.  But the prophet Isaiah calls us to a different perspective of this time before the Christmas celebration. “The lord is coming,” says Isaiah.  “Prepare the way for him” (40:3). Clear out the clutter of your life.  Put aside those things that distract you from receiving God.

Blessedly, the church provides for us the season of Advent.  Advent calls us to slow down and take time to reflect on how we will receive the great gift of God coming to dwell among us.  Advent asks us to make room for him, to anticipate his coming with joyful reverence.

During this Advent season we invite you to engage one or more of the following resources as part of your preparation. Or simply determine to sit quietly for a period of time each day and consider what it means to receive Emmanuel – God with us.  

Advent begins December 1.


Prepare the Way Advent Study
This four-week study looks more deeply into the Old Testament readings for the Sundays in Advent. In this year’s lectionary readings, Isaiah calls his people to turn away from things not of God and instead “walk in the light of the Lord” (2:5). Through this Advent study, written by the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge, we become familiar with Isaiah’s words and call and apply them to our own lives. Subscribe to the study at www.christianformation-dwtx.org and receive a weekly post guiding you to that week’s lesson in text and audio, along with questions for reflection. The study is especially appropriate for small groups and individuals.
Find the study here.

Advent Word on Social Media
For the sixth year in a row, #AdventWord will gather prayers via a global, online Advent calendar. Virginia Theological Seminary is offering meditations and images that can be experienced with the #AdventWord website, direct daily emails, or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. American Sign Language videos will be posted on YouTube. This year, meditations will be available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.
Sign up to participate at https://adventword.org/en/home.


Digital Invitation Kit for Congregations (available in English, Spanish, and French)
Continuing the invitation to connect “The Way of Love, Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life” more deeply to the seasons of the year, The Episcopal Church has developed free and downloadable resources for congregations, dioceses, and communities of faith.  An Advent Digital Invitation Kit is available now to help congregations invite people to enter into this season of preparation.
The theme of the Advent Digital Invitation Kit is inspired by Mark 1:3 and Isaiah 40:3 “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” and includes: a customizable poster, postcard, and flyer; a social media-ready graphic; and a Facebook cover image.
Find it at https://episcopalchurch.org/advent-and-christmas-resources

Journeying the Way of Love Advent curriculum and Advent calendar (available in English and Spanish).This four-week Advent curriculum and Advent calendar from the Episcopal Church is pegged to readings and themes from the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke that incorporates Way of Love practices and the nativity/infancy narrative of Jesus to enable participants to grow spiritually during this season of preparation.
Find it at https://episcopalchurch.org/advent-and-christmas-resources