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 Pastoral Letter for the Anniversary of 9/11

Aug 11, 2016
911_16th_anniversary
 

Share opportunities to gather here. We will keep an updated list of services and observances here

 
 

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

 

On September 11, 2016, we will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the horrid destruction of the World Trade Center and we will again confront the raw wounds that will never be completely healed this side of heaven. I hope that you will have opportunity to gather in your congregations that day, perhaps with neighboring communities of various traditions, and mark this painful date.

 

We have much for which we need to pray and act. The reality of our world has not changed for the better since 9/11. In fact it is worse on the global scale. Add to this the political climate in our own nation today and I find myself driven more deeply into prayerful lament.

 

As often happens, this leads me to hymns, and one in particular by Jim Strathdee we sang in our chapel here after yet another tragedy in our world. It offers the theology of the cross on which we depend. You can find it at hymn 704 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Let me share the sad yet hopeful text:

When pain of the world surrounds us with darkness and despair,

When searching just confounds us with false hopes everywhere,

When lives are starved for meaning and destiny is bare,

We are called to follow Jesus and let God’s healing flow through us.

 

We see with fear and trembling our aching world in need,

Confessing to each other our wastefulness and greed.

May we with steadfast caring the hungry children feed.

We are called to follow Jesus and let God’s justice flow through us.

 

The church is a holy vessel the living waters fill

To nourish all the people, God’s purpose to fulfill.

May we with humble courage be open to God’s will.

We are called to follow Jesus and let God’s Spirit flow through us.

 

We praise you for our journey and your abundant grace,

Your saving word that guided a struggling human race.

O God, with all creation, your future we embrace.

We are called to follow Jesus and let God’s changes flow through us.

 

While there will not be a synod-wide commemoration, I invite you to pray with all of our churches these intercessions. They were written by Pastor Jonathan Linman, based on the appointed psalm for that Sunday, Psalm 51, and designed to use in the intercessions in our congregations.

 

Fifteen years to the day after the attacks of September 11, 2001, still our hearts cry out with the psalmist, "Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love." Heal the wounds that persist and those which are reopened on this day of remembrance and with each new terrorist attack at home or abroad. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Create in the human family a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit with us, that we may nurture the conditions within and among the nations that will one day put an end to terrorist violence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Keep us hopeful that the day of justice is coming when the whole human family will again hear of joy and gladness, and that bones that have been crushed by acts of violence and weighed down by grief may again rejoice. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

I pray that God will surround us on this anniversary even as I know it will be so. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you and with our world, not only on this anniversary but always.

 

Sincerely in Christ,

 

The Rev. Dr. Robert Alan Rimbo

Bishop