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September 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 Witness to Peace

Sep 28, 2015

911multifaithserviceThe visit of Pope Francis to Cuba and the United States was itself a witness to peace. And on Friday, September 25, it was my honor to represent the Metropolitan New York Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at a service of solemn grace and power. I know many from our synod watched as this multi-religious gathering with the Holy Father was live-streamed. It was a remarkably moving event and a symbol of the wonderful religious diversity of our metropolitan community. Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish and a host of other religious leaders participated.

 

The six-day visit to the United States was a holy time. This was even more strongly felt as we gathered in a holy place, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. There was a solemn spirit made more palpable by his presence. I did not have opportunity to greet Pope Francis personally, though he passed five feet from me as he exited the museum, smiled and raised his hand in greeting.

 

I have been captivated by his humility, humor, and humanity. His love for all people of all religions (and no religion) is clear. His affection for the young, the differently-abled, the variety of human beings, the creation, the victims of abuse in many forms, and his courage to speak truth to power was amazing. The simple act of his entrance into the museum was moving in itself and his words to the assembly offered a call to move beyond mere tolerance to respect for one another. It made me grateful for the honor of serving as your bishop in this remarkable time and place.

 

The Holy Father offered a prayer remembering those who died on September 11 here in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville. He prayed for those who continue to suffer from injuries and illness, grief and mourning. And he prayed for all of us: for comfort, strength, hope, courage, peace, and love. To say it was a moving service is an understatement.

 

My prayer is that the Pope’s will give us the will to work more closely together for the common good of all people and all creation.    

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