Tragedy, Trauma, and Change

Tragedy, Trauma, and Change


Rev. Johanna Hattendorf is an ordained UCC pastor living in Danvers MA.  She is also a trauma survivor who has a ministry of healing working with trauma survivors. 

Scripture: Acts 9: 1-6 (NRSV)

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.

Reflection: Tragedy, Trauma, and Change

Some change comes slowly,
Creeping in as we saunter along in our life,
Other change comes in an instant
Turning our lives upside down and inside out.
Some changes we control:
“I’ll eat less junk, more whole foods,
I’ll exercise more, get out, take a walk
Get a new job, move to a new home.”
Other changes are thrust upon us,
A sudden death of a loved one,
A car accident, a shooting, a pandemic,
A sudden tornado or firestorm,
Those changes, those thrust upon us--
The ones beyond our control--
Those are the ones that shake us--
That challenge us to our very core
These are the trauma’s and tragedies
That ones that are too much, too fast,
or go on for too long.
These changes shatter us--
Who we think we are,
How we are in the world,
--All of it gone.
And we are left to wonder:
who and how will  we be?
This is the situation that Saul finds himself in.
He knows who he is--a lawyer--a very good one--
And he knows his job:  to prosecute, to persecute, to imprison.
That’s who he is. 
That’s how he is.
But, suddenly, in an instant, his life is changed.
He is “Blinded by the light.”
Dropped to his knees.
Shaken to his core.
This sudden blinding casts everything into doubt.
Who he will become
And how he will be
Knowing is replaced with confusion,
In moments of trauma, all we can know
Is that what went before
Won’t work anymore.
How we used to be, won’t help us now.
In his confusion, Saul is given direction,
A clear mandate:
 “. . .get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." (vs.6)
Of course, we know the end of Saul’s story.
And he only needs to wait 3 days for his instructions.
Annanias come to heal him.
He changes his name to Paul
He changes his job from prosecutor
To a new job of preaching, teaching, spreading the good news.
Those of us who have lived through trauma know—
This is how it is.
Healing takes time (usually a lot longer than 3 days!).
And we need a lot of help.
We cannot just get up and go on with life as it once was.
We cannot just go forward.
We must wait.
Wait to see what will come.
Wait, pray, hope that the change that follows
Will somehow be better
That the future will hold something worthwhile,
Even if it isn’t how it used to be.
As individuals, nations, even as the world,
We are in a time of tragedy, trauma, and change.
As we struggle with everything that is “too much, too fast, and has been going on for “too long”,
I pray that we all find words of love and support,
Helpers willing to be with us in the confusion,
And the Light of God to help us to find the way forward.


Gracious and loving God, thank you for your guidance and presence through all the changes and challenges of our lives.  No matter what confusion or doubt we find ourselves in, please show us the way to go.  Lead us on the path of healing.  Bring us guides, and wise ones who are willing to lead us forward. Encourage and support us.  And help us always to serve you.  Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war
  • For those grieving or suffering due to mass shootings, including 6 shootings this weekend which left 6 dead and 22 wounded
  • For the family and friends of Rev. Dr. Erwin Bode, former ACM and Interim Conference Minister for the Massachusetts Conference. Rev. Bode died April 9.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For friend gatherings and reunions
  • For peaceful morning walks
  • For flowers blooming as spring finally seems to arrive

 This Week in History:

April 30, 1993 (29 years ago) Tim Berners-Lee, a former CERN engineer, released the source code for the first web browser, then called Mesh. This was the first royalty-free, easy-to-use means of browsing the WorldWideWeb, which revolutionized the way information is shared and accessed across the globe. Two years prior, Berners-Lee had developed key technologies that are essential for the Web network: HTML, HTTP, and URLs (technologies you are using to read this right now!). He published the first website in 1990 on the CERN network - it was an explanation of how to use a browser and set up a web server.

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

April 25, 2022
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