We strive to know Christ more deeply and bring others to his redeeming grace.

MESSAGE FROM OUR VICAR

ST. BEDE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

1609 Elm St. Forest Grove, OR

May 2021

By The Rev'd Marlene Mutchler, Vicar

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there,
with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish
that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and
hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them;
and though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
-John 21:9-12a


Jane Besse+ and I recently came back from Diocesan Clergy Conference where the focus was on trauma informed care. The bottom line is that we have all been through a lot lately. Normal life itself is not a picnic, but we have had more than the typical share of challenges in the past couple of years from shutting down churches and schools, fear of getting sick or infecting others, isolation, loneliness, increased political division over approaches to dealing with COVID-19, racial divisiveness, and environmental concerns. All of these big challenges come with exponential other challenges, such as child care, visiting with extended family, and relearning how to engage socially. This is not trivial by any means though we may tire of being reminded of or just become inured to it as “the way it is.”

Bishop Akiyama told a story about having gone to the orthopedist to talk about hip surgery. When asked by the doctor how things were going she said she was doing OK. Then her doctor turned to her husband Michael and asked him if she were doing OK and he shook his head no. The orthopedist explained that he liked to have a significant other present to give another perspective because the patient has often gotten so used to the pain and trauma that she adapts and avoids rather than continuing to experience it. To be healed Bishop Akiyama had to come to a reckoning with the degree that she was suffering.

There is value in what our presentation leader at the conference called “name it to tame it.” Naming it means that trauma becomes an externalized object that might be controlled. Otherwise trauma can become so ubiquitous, we fail to notice it, like the air we breathe. By acknowledging the state of things – instead of perhaps spiraling into frustration, or anxiety over our own and others' current heightened frailties we might give ourselves and others grace. I like how one airline in the midst of a sea change over mask mandates advocated being intentionally and especially kind to one another. As I like to say to people, during transitions, “We will have to love one another through this.”

As our Christian story tells us, where there is death, there is also resurrection. Thankfully resurrection is God’s gift, not our own construction. Conference colleagues identified many ways that the experience of the last few years has been redemptive. Maybe one of them is that we are better at adapting and more flexible. Knowing how life works, this is not the first trauma of our lives and won’t be the last. 

The disciples in this scenario had been through Hell. Not long prior to this passage they were locked up in the room together when Jesus appeared to them, bid them peace, and sent them to be his hands and feet in the world. Now indeed we see them out trying to put their lives back together, going back to work much like many of us are trying to find a new normal, if not completely post pandemic, a more endemic pandemic. There we might see one another face to face and less masked and maybe also the face of Jesus as the One who lived and died and rose again for us. This is the same One who now offers us care so that we can care for others. I love that what Jesus does for the disciples after the trauma of their experience is to come lovingly and fix them breakfast. This Eastertide I hope you will give yourselves and others extra care too. That starts with giving yourself extra care.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!