From the Rector

“I am not ok today.”

This week, Serena Williams (yes – the retired tennis star, super athlete, entrepreneur, cultural icon, and mother of two) posted on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “I am not ok today. And that’s ok to not be ok. No one is ok every single day. If you are not ok today I’m with you. There’s always tomorrow. Love you.” It went viral.

There was no explanation for what Williams may have been going through when posting on November 28. There was no need for an explanation. Her statement made an important point all in itself (maybe, for someone, even a life-or-death point): it is ok to feel what we feel, including when we feel *not ok.* And it’s absolutely ok to be honest about our experiences, even when they may not be what others want to hear from us.

If anywhere should be safe enough for this to be true, it should be church.

We begin the season of Advent on Sunday. It’s a new church year and a fresh start in our spiritual journey. The word literally means “coming,” as we await the gift of God’s own self to come be with us in the world through Christ. Advent is a season of anticipation, of hope, of seeking light.

It is also a season of honesty: a time to be really real when things are not ok and when we are not ok. We can add our cares and cries and laments and longings with those hearts of countless others past and present. We can ask God to come to us and help us.

The first words we’ll hear from Scripture Sunday will set the tone: The prophet Isaiah cries out to God on behalf of God’s own people, “If only you would tear open the heavens and come down…” Isaiah will go on to describe the frustration of swinging wildly between hopefulness and despair, between God’s salvation and an overwhelming sense of judgment. The prophet is not ok. The people are not ok. We might not be ok.

And it is ok to say so.

I invite us to embrace a mode of personal and collective honesty this Advent. Be real with yourself, with others, with God. Lay it out when things are ok and when things are not ok. And be safe for others who are trying to tell it, too.

There’s always tomorrow. That’s what we’re hoping for, and it’s why we wait.

Love you.


The Rev. R. Scott Painter, Rector


A Note from the Rector

Dear Friends,

Portland area teachers and Portland Public Schools are now well into the second week of a strike, with schools remaining closed.

It is getting harder on everyone.

Prior to seminary and ordination, I was a public high school teacher in Texas. Teachers in Texas have no collective bargaining rights and limited ability to organize. Teacher “unions” are relegated to offering education resources, liability insurance, and some legal representation to their members.

I’ve been thinking about that dynamic, and what it was like as a Texas teacher: to be so vulnerable to political forces at work in state, local and district governing bodies (at best, often unsympathetic; and at worst, downright hostile).

In Oregon, teachers can unite their voices and exercise real power to demand better. They are doing just that. As I pass by picket lines and read updates on the negotiations, I appreciate the preciousness of teachers’ rights to demand safer conditions, resources for effective learning, and fair wages as cost of living rises sharply. I want St. Michael’s teachers and all school professionals to know we are praying with you: for God to sustain you during this stressful time and for a good and fair result that benefits you and your students and our whole community.

Students and families are also under pressure. Schedules are turned upside-down. Education is interrupted. And specific pressures unique to individual needs or circumstances are bearing in.

We are praying with our kids and families, too. Praying that God will bring peace to hearts and homes, that learning will continue, and that the grace of resilience be known amidst this time of disruption.

As negotiations continue and as schools stay closed, how can we support you beyond prayers? What do you need from your church family during this time? I invite you to reach out to myself or Leslie Sackett ( if you want to talk about it. We want to do what we can to stand with our teachers, our students and our families during the strike and beyond. Let’s talk!

                              God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over Portland area teachers and all students and families during this strike; preserve, protect and sustain them in the midst of uncertainty and disruption; fortify all in this community to stand in love and work for justice; and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted from a Collect at Compline, BCP, 134)

With you,

The Rev. R. Scott Painter, Rector


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