Welcome to Around the Table, our new blog at St. Stephen’s. You’ll find weekly reflections from me and other voices, as well as occasional musings. Our hope is that this provides one more way for us to connect during these challenging times, along with Sunday worship and our weekly Zoom check-in.
Lift up your hearts!
This Sunday, we will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord. I’m not entirely sure why, but there’s something about feasts and special celebrations that feels particularly out of place in the midst of physical distancing. A kind of deep disconnect between the celebration we proclaim, and the reality we find ourselves in. An unsettling contrast between what we’re doing and how we’re forced to do it.
But when I read this week’s passage from St. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, I start to think that there’s always some of that dissonance at work. St. Paul writes that he hopes the faithful in Ephesus might be given wisdom and revelation, so that the eyes of their hearts might be enlightened. I think this has something to do with learning to see that there is more going on in the world that we can see. More going on in our lives, and in the lives of those around us, that we sometimes think. That our hope is not defined by our circumstance.
Because, St. Paul says, the work that God accomplished in Jesus changes everything. God took on our humanity, revealed the fullness of God’s love for us, suffered death but rose again, and ascended into the fullness of the glory that is heaven. That where he is, we may be also. Seated above all rule and authority and power and dominion – so that our ultimate reality in God cannot be shaken by anything that we experience in the here and now.
I think St. Paul’s prayer is important – that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened, so that we might know these things. Because we can’t always see it with our usual eyesight. We need God’s help to see in a deeper way, to trust in a more wholesome way, and to find our identity in the one who lovingly made us and still sustains us.
That kind of knowing, that kind of faith, is hard at the best of times. And these are not the best of times. So may the eyes of our hearts be enlightened. May we know the hope to which we have been called, which is truer and deeper than the things that afflict us. And may grace and peace be with us.