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
“Besides being wise, the Teacher also taught the people
knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs.
The Teacher sought to find pleasing words, and he wrote words
of truth plainly. The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like
nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings that are given by one
shepherd. Of anything beyond these, my child, beware. Of
making many books there is no end, and much study is a
weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been
heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the
whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into
judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. “
- Ecclesiastes 12:9–14
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite elementary school teacher. I had some really good ones. What made them good was not so much that they were knowledgeable. They were smart enough, but what taught me most was their humanity and wholeheartedness. Somehow they also saw me as a human capable of great things. Maybe they wouldn’t have articulated it exactly this way, but I believe looking back that they saw the divine image in me and helped me to nurture that part of myself.
It turns out that St. Bede, our patron saint, who died on the eve of Ascension Day 735, was a great teacher too. Surrendered to a monastery in Jarrow, of Northeast England at the ripe old age of seven by a noble family, Bede studied and lived there essentially his whole life, eventually becoming a priest and monk. Around the time he was 14, the black death came to the monastery at
Jarrow, killing all but two monks still able to continue singing the daily prayers. These two were Bede and his mentor who committed to carrying on the traditions until the monastery grew again to health. Despite this difficulty Bede persisted as a scholar, teacher and prolific writer. Among his greatest achievements was helping to establish the Christian yearly numbering
system as “the year of our Lord,” (anno domini). By far, his best-known work is the Ecclesiastical History of the English People, the story of God’s Church in England.
The passage from Ecclesiastes above from our reading for St. Bede’s day, extols the value of wise teaching. Certainly, Bede valued wisdom. The story goes that he loved nothing better than “to learn, to teach and to write.” The word.” The word μαθητη translated as “disciple” throughout the New Testament, literally means learner. The pursuit of all sorts of learning ultimately leads to God. Good teachers make disciples. This can’t happen unless, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, certain primary needs are met -- like food, shelter, and safety. We have been discussing how we might help our neighbors meet the primary needs in their life, especially with regard to shelter, lately at St. Bede. The next step is becoming a light of wisdom for our neighbors. In the great commission we are told to make disciples, which means essentially, to make learners. Learning brings light to our community because education is a tool for systemic change. How might we at St. Bede become an educational resource to our community? What if we continued to align ourselves with the gospel and our patron saint in such a unique way that St. Bede, Forest Grove becomes a light to learners, creating disciples in our community?
Speaking of learning, I recently met with Margaret Musgnung, who helps lead Godly Play at St. Bede and we decided that we would have a Christian formation theme again for the 2021-22 academic year because this past year’s theme “Scripture is my support.” was so meaningful. This coming year’s theme will be “Becoming beloved stewards,” which aligns very much with what we are learning as a community through supporting the “Feed My People” garden at the Ten Broecks. Look for more information about that as the year progresses.
Blessings on your teaching and your learning,