November 22, 2011

Nov. 22: Living with enlightened eyes

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By Chris Wood, associate professor of nursing
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 1:15-23 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
For me this is one of the most powerful and challenging passages in the entire New Testament. Although it is familiar, beyond being a concise synthesis of Paul’s teachings, it is also a summary of what Christian belief could be.

As a Catholic Christian who has been in religious life for over forty years, and who has most recently taught at a Mennonite college and studied at a Mennonite seminary, I cannot help but wonder how our church might be today if all parties involved in the Reformation had been able to fully embrace these verses. What if they had fully recognized God’s all-encompassing power and strength as the ultimate source of guidance for daily living? How might a different sort of embodiment of this belief united Christians rather than divided them?

Just because this did not happen hundreds of years ago, this does not preclude or excuse each of us today from praying and longing for the humility, wisdom and strength to live our lives “with the eyes of [our hearts] enlightened” so we may live in such a way as to acknowledge that Christ is truly the head of our church and we together comprise the body of the church, in which the fullness of Christ resides.

As both a student of history and a committed Christian, I pray that this season of Advent will be the occasion to recall what we Christians have in common, and how our God has been active in our lives and histories.

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 1:15-23 (NRSV)

15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

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Comments (6)

  1. Thank you! Meister Eckhart said that if the only prayer you say is “Thank you” that will be enough! Todays reading is a wonderful way to start my day. Thank you.

    John M Lederach November 22, 2011 |
  2. Thank you! You have me thinking about the implications of understanding that the church embodies the fullness of Christ. A sobering and exhilarating thought!

    Shana Peachey Boshart November 22, 2011 |
  3. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of prayer and work to gain unity in the Body of Christ. Your comments and selection of Scripture show that the wisdom, humility and strenght exist at Goshen and in the Roman Catholic Church. I am a Jesuit trained Episcopalian, and at a critical time in my formation, I found comfort and hope in the Mennoite communite at the Reba Place Fellowship. Pax, Bill

    Fr. Bill Pounds STM, PhD, DSC November 22, 2011 |
  4. Jesus prayed that all of His followers be one. I appreciate the reminder that Jesus Christ is the head of His church – in all its manifestations. May we increasingly recognize this and allow Christ to work within us to make us one body in spirit.

    Bill Samuel November 22, 2011 |
  5. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!
    I also am a serious student of history and an aspiring Christian. (“I have yet to receive the gift of faith”). One of the obstacles to finding this faith is my nagging question as to why the three monotheistic faiths are at such great odds even to the point of murder and terror. JESUS MUST INDEED BE WEEPING AGAIN!!!

    Lyle R. Page November 22, 2011 |
  6. This pasage cannot be “a concise synthesis of Paul’s teachings…also a summary of what Christian belief could be, as it does not mention Christ’s atoning death and our justification through faith in him.

    Victor Perry November 24, 2011 |