Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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January 2015 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

 

 

 

Safety during the storm

Jan 26, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

 

Walking with you in the light of Christ during these Epiphany days, I write with regard to the terrible weather we are projected to experience. I realize that I am not writing anything you don’t already know, but I want to encourage you in your ministry.

 

If projected snowfall totals and weather conditions are anywhere near being accurate, the level of disruption will be difficult for the typical family who is prepared and ready to hunker down. For the elderly, those living alone, or those without a place to even call home, this weather has the potential to be an insurmountable and deadly catastrophe. We must do all we can to help our neighbors who may be literally trapped in their homes or worse.

 

I invite you--pastors and lay leaders--to use social media, phone outreach, and any other means to engage the elderly, frail, and other neighbors in our communities who might be isolated. Please make sure that they are safe during the storm. 

 

We are committed to serving the community and doing God's work with our hands. Key to meeting that commitment is being a good neighbor and helping those who are in need. This unprecedented storm is set to place many in a position of vulnerability.

 

I hope we can provide help at this time, making it clear to those in need that they are not alone, that our pastors, lay leaders and concerned members are standing by to provide the assistance they need.

 

I pray for you and your ministry, especially in this time of crisis.

 

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

 

disaster relief
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