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March 2011 Archive for Bishop's Message

RSS By: Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

Finding Faith in an Age of Terror

 

This time of year, in a culture facing terror of all sorts, many people are wanting to find faith. I think a better way to approach this is to be in places where faith can find us. I’m not simply writing to invite you to a mosque or synagogue or church – although it would be great to see you there. I’m inviting you to places where people of faith gather. And, just to be clear, those are by no means restricted to houses of worship.

 

To be sure, there are plenty of those places available. On Christmas Eve I expect churches to be full. And I expect many who will sing "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful" will be those who are simply wanting to be faithful, if only for an hour…or wanting to be more faithful because of what they are fearing. And that will be true not only of the Lutherans I represent.

 

The faith we seek to make available to people, the faithful community we will enter, are gifts from God. This faith and these people are marked by certain characteristics we need for the common good.

 

You may know that Lutherans are completing a year of grand celebrations surrounding the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. What I am hoping is that in the coming years we will move from that historic grounding we have commemorated toward greater cooperation with people of faith in ecumenical and inter-religious movements.

 

There is a great commitment among leaders of various communities of faith to engage progressive advances at the grassroots level, to promote tolerance, and to encourage people to flourish in a new and needed age of community. The amazing strides between Lutherans and Roman Catholics point to this.

 

There is a strong desire and willingness to work on welcoming all people in a spirit of generous hospitality. As a Lutheran I can say that many of my tribe are engaged in ministry with the LGBTQ communities. In our own Synod here in Metropolitan New York, we are working to address the systemic racism which is America’s original sin. We are strongly speaking out in opposition to the anti-Semitism and Islamophobia all around us. We are engaged with faithful people in our own country and around the world in addressing the abuses of power we see every day.

 

There are remarkable efforts at offering God’s welcome to immigrants and asylum-seekers and refugees, though we certainly look for more such opportunities in the face of governmental resistance. We will work actively to participate in inclusive welcome, as our Lord Jesus was himself a refugee.

 

There are local congregations in which people of faith are welcoming people of all races and nations, one of the great gifts of the amazing communities in which we live. We are striving to welcome the stranger without fear but with the same kind of faith that our ancestors experienced when they reached these shores and were welcomed by the first nations people.

 

There is a commitment to practicing a faith that is intimately connected with "peace on earth," the gift of wholeness that is truly the meaning of shalom.       

 

There is, in our churches and in many other religious communities, a welcome to the open table of God’s Reign where all can gather together.

 

And while we do not have all the answers, of course, we are faithful in responding to the terror all around, knowing that God is with us and guiding us into a new day of faith when war and hardship and suffering and oppression will be no more.

 

This is pious language. True words. What I am calling the synod I serve as bishop to do is to put these words into action for such a time as this. And I invite you to join me as faith discovers us together again and again.

 

 

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

Metropolitan New York Synod

 

 

 

Gifts to us

Mar 18, 2011

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I love the gospel readings for Lent, and especially those in this year A of the cycle. They offer what I consider to be fundamental stories, insights and gifts to us.

Take, for example, the story of Nicodemus’ visit to Jesus from John 3. I’m afraid we have heard this Gospel so much that we cease to marvel at it. What the church throughout the ages has called the great Paschal Mystery, and what many have come to know as the gospel in a nutshell, is the burning center of our life, proclaimed in this reading.

We need to marvel more at this gift. We need to stand with jaws dropped and eyes wide open before this mystery.

God gave. That’s a central fact of our life as Christians. And it takes the church’s year to unpack it. The gift was a baby sleeping in the straw, Son of God and Son of Mary. The gift was an adolescent going about his Father’s business. The gift was a man who scuffed the dust of Palestine because the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, anointed him to preach good news to the poor, sent him to proclaim release to the captives, give sight to the blind, and set at liberty the oppressed. The gift was God sold for silver by one of his friends, delivered to his enemies by a cowardly Roman ruler, whipped like an animal, crowned with thorns, pinned to twin beams of wood, and left to die between criminals. And the gift was raised by the power of God.

God gave, and what a gift it was and is!

A gift because we had no claim on Christ, did not deserve Christ. A gift born for you and me, lived for you and me, died and rose for you and me. The Bible says, God, who is rich in mercy, out of great love, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with him…For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.

To give us life. What a gift!

 

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

 

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