So much of our media conversation these days is about sexual abuse and assault. The church is not immune from trauma. These things are not foreign to many of us at St. Paul’s. If we had a “#metoo” moment where folks stood up in church to witness to their abuse, many of us would be standing -- both women and men.
How do we understand what has happened to us? And if we have been perpetrators of such harm, how do we reconcile with it?
For both perpetrators and victims, the church is a place for healing. We understand that God’s grace is able to heal and restore us. Tapping into our spiritual place in the center of God’s love moves us from brokenness to wholeness. But it is not easy, nor is it quick.
I experienced sexual trauma as a child and so did my brother. One of the most healing things I've experienced has been entering into the “MeToo” conversation with others who have suffered. Laura Landgraf, a survivor and author, wrote some helpful advice in the Huffington Post: trust yourself, especially that younger self that experienced the abuse, listen to what your feelings and “triggers” are telling you. Allow yourself to feel and tell the story to a trusted friend or counselor. Your history does not define you unless you let it.
Jesus encountered a woman after sexual trauma. She had been pulled out of bed and dragged through the streets by a gang of men ready to do violence to her. Jesus had compassion on her. He held the men accountable - reminding them or their own culpability and humanity. Jesus restored all of them to a common way of being at peace together. This is our role as disciples as well. For Christians, #MeToo is an invitation for healing together.
--- Pastor Rebecca
Monday, September 17th was Hildegard of Bingen's Feast Day. If you've never heard of her, you are not alone. But she is a woman worth knowing! Born in the 1100s, Hildegard had a mystical experience of God beginning at an early age. As a Benedictine Nun, she cultivated her interests in Natural History, Scripture, Music, Science and Medicine. Hildegard led her order as an Abbess. She understood the value of women practicing autonomy from patriarchal orders. She was respected by the Pope and wrote deeply spiritual reflections based on her visions. She also wrote about nature and medicine. Here are some things she said:
The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.
The fire has its flame and praises God.
The wind blows the flame and praises God.
In the voice we hear the word which praises God.
And the word, when heard, praises God.
So all of creation is a song of praise to God.
We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.
One of the earliest morality plays still in existence is her musical, Ordo Virtutum. Below is a video of this play about the conflict between goodness and evil. The work of goodness is to protect the soul.
This Friday, the Anglican Communion joins the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, as well as some Protestant Churches in honoring Holy Cross Day. If you are like me, you don’t have any idea why or what that day is. I had to do a little research. Turns out, September 14 was the actual day that Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Roman Emperor, “found” the original three crosses on which Jesus and two others were crucified. This was back in 337. She and Roman clergy and historians had traveled to Jerusalem in search of holy relics, and they found them. Near the location where the crosses were found, the grave site of Jesus was determined. And there, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built.
My spirituality (or “piety” as we used to say in seminary) doesn’t really incline me toward veneration of the cross. However, my understanding and experience of the love of God and how it is articulated is found there. The cross is an instrument of torture and death. It’s hard for me to venerate it. But it’s also the means for God’s love and forgiveness to be modeled to the world. So, on Friday, perhaps we should reflect on what our “crosses” are and how well we are carrying them as instruments for love and forgiveness. And for sure, let’s thank God for the one Jesus bore.
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.