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December 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

 

 

 

A season of enduring hope and growing light

Dec 11, 2015

Advent_2015Dear brothers and sisters,

 

As I began to think about what to write during this Advent and Christmas season, I did what many of us do when looking for the words to say: I went back into the files. I noted that in the past few years, all was not calm. Last December I wrote of the need for reconciliation in the wake of the murder of two New York City Police Officers. Three years prior, I wrote of the sadness and lament we faced after the Newtown school shootings. Again, my heart feels heavy with so many names and places.

 

This year especially, it is hard to think of Mary and Joseph traveling without imagining also the Syrian refugees. I can’t think of Joseph protecting Jesus from Herod’s massacre without wondering how many parents feel hopeless in protecting their children from gun violence. Suddenly, the shepherds in the pastures, quaking at the sight of messengers from God, seem much more relatable. Not a day seems to go by without a news story that sends shivers down my spine. This December is no different. We are shaken by the violence, public bigotry, and fear mongering that seems rampant in both church and society.

 

In many ways, this year does not feel any different. We wait with deep and heavy anticipation for God to break into our world, to dispel the darkness, and allow us to sing glad tidings with confidence. But in this time of waiting, we are given signs. We see the radiant beams of God’s presence among us. We do see Jesus in the face of the stranger. We know Christ’s presence at Eucharistic and family meals. And we are reminded as we gather for worship that we are a part of God’s mission for the life of the world.

 

My hope for each of us this Advent and Christmas is that we remain aware of our active participation in God’s mission that seeks to dispel the darkness. By doing so, we provide the light of God’s presence to others.

 

Blessings in this season of enduring hope of growing light.

 

Sincerely in Christ,

 

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

 

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