Introducing the Fall 2020 Bible Study: With Hearts Enlightened
By Marjorie George, Adult Christian Formation
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 (Ephesians 1:17-19, NRSV).
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 incivility, 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 – through written reflections and an audio interview. Click here to read and listen each week.
- Week 1, October 12 - The Rt. Rev. David Reed will speak more about the choice of this verse to guide the diocese in 2020.
- Week 2, October 19 - The Rev. Daniel Strandlund will consider how God’s wisdom and revelation point us toward he full coming of God’s kingdom.
- Week 3, October 26 - Dr. Liz Manning will recall an incident when she was able to see with the eyes of her heart enlightened that God would bring new life out of devastation.
- Week 4, November 2 - Drew Cauthorn will relate the hope he has found in the “men in white” in a Texas prison.
- Week 5, November 9 - The Rev. Patricia Riggins will offer a definition of a saint as "someone who expresses Christ's presences in their lives."
- Week 6, November 16 - The Rev. Reagan Gonzalez will reflect on how the Church is called to manifest God's power in these times; Clark Hendley will remind 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.”
Bishop Reed will share a psalm that he wrote in response to the scripture theme and study reflections, as well.
A Psalm based on St. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians
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.
-the Rt. Rev. David Reed
We welcome your comments. If you have questions, email Marjorie George, at email@example.com.