ST. BEDE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
1609 Elm St. Forest Grove, OR
MESSAGE FROM OUR VICAR
We strive to know Christ more deeply and bring others to his redeeming grace.
By The Rev'd Marlene Mutchler, Vicar
“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know
what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have
made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”
- John 15:15.
What!? Friends with God? That’s impossible. Isn’t it? How could this be?
The word used for friend here as Jesus talks to his disciples is philoi,
which connotes a close, equal association with Jesus who loves his
friends enough to die for them. As Christ's followers this kind of
relationship is possible for us too. When something good like this
happens, we may ask ourselves, “What did I do to be so lucky?” The
phrase “Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something
good,” from the “Sound of Music” comes to mind. How else might we have
landed this amazing friendship with Jesus? Maybe I’m just that great, that
Jesus would want to be my friend.
Then again maybe not. I have not always been a good friend. Sometimes I
have been unfaithful. I remember saying bad things about a friend in Jr. High
when I thought she was out of earshot, but she wasn’t. Oh my. Sometimes I have not been a good listener either, and sometimes I have been impatient. I’m not sure that I am significantly worse than other human beings, unfortunately. What I am getting at is, walking in friendship with God is not something we have coming to us because of our good behavior or because we have paid it forward somehow, unlike so much of how the world works. Also unlike the world our relationship with Christ is not contractual. It will not end if we totally mess up our end of it, which I do, often. There is always a way back into relationship with Jesus. We are always held in the love of the Trinity in whose image we were created, a love that will never let us go.
This doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do to be a good friend to the Holy Three. Real friendship involves mutual love. Sin is the not often used word for the barrier that keeps us from love. Our Prayer Book reminds us that sinning is about what we have done and what we have left undone. It is not enough simply to refrain from doing evil to a friend. Friendship requires positive loving actions as well. This includes nurturing important relationships. For some of us maintaining friendships during the pandemic has been challenging. Normally friendship might mean sharing a hobby, or checking in with friends, scheduling a time to meet, maybe for a special meal. During COVID we haven’t been able to do many of these things and our friendships have suffered. For some of us our friendship with God too has been moved to the back burner.
I have heard parishioners say, “I just didn’t see the point in going to church on Zoom.” or “Worship seems to have an unreal quality that I can’t connect with,” and so people have stayed away or stopped praying or found something else to do. If this sounds like your situation, know that there is always a way back into friendship with the divine. God holds the door open, and calls us back into relationship. We’ve had a year of unexpected change that has interrupted our corporate worship. As a result it’s possible that we may be feeling like our friendship with Jesus has suffered. If that is the case, it is important to nurture that friendship by whatever means we can.
The Eucharist is one of the best ways to nurture our friendship with Christ. This unique form of prayer is central to our faith and will continue to be so. By taking in the Body of Christ we become what we eat. We connect with our friend Jesus in a deeply spiritual and mystical way. It may take some time for us all to feel comfortable enough to worship together again after what we have been through.
However, St. Bede’s continues to meet in person on the first Sunday of the month. So far we have had plenty of room for more signups. As more people feel comfortable meeting in person, we can expand. One of the only reasons we are meeting once a month is for lack of interest. The bottom line is that our COVID safety plan as it stands allows for more in-person worship. If you are feeling led to sign up, please do. If more people sign up we will adjust to accommodate, whether having slightly larger services or more of them. We strongly encourage vaccination for everyone eligible at St. Bede’s. (I am looking forward to my second shot on May 5.) We also will continue to practice COVID-19 safety protocols and meet outside when the weather
permits. Please see the weekly e-notes for information on sign ups and bulletins.
We are offered the amazing gift of friendship with God. Unlike the friendships of this world, the door is always open for us to come back.