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Bishop's Message

RSS By: Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

 

 

 

"Bridges Not Walls" 

 

"Puentes No Fronteras"

 

 

Grace and peace to you in the Name of Jesus as we enter 2018 together!

 

We are on the bridge - on many different bridges, to be frank. Transitions and changes surround us. So, I invite you to look back with me at two parts of our life together as a Synod that will have lasting impact. 

 

The Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, "Reformation 500: Committed to Unity in Christ", on November 1 and in a variety of other events, marked this great year. At this Eucharist, we turned a page in our ecumenical and interfaith relationships. The response from various communions has pointed to a desire to join us on this bridge and work at tearing down walls that divide. I am pledged to lead us in these efforts drawing on the great spirit experienced at our remarkable commemoration. 

 

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The second part of the new vision I have coming across the bridge into 2018 is our renewed and renewing commitment to various issues of immigration and welcoming of all people into our country and our churches. The SENT Committee is working hard at making the renewal happen and I pledge to be at the center of these efforts. Not only are we called to build bridges; we are also called to break down divisions by active participation in our communities at all levels. Lutherans have been central to the work of immigration justice for decades; it is an even greater need today. 

 

These two gifts from 2017 will continue to guide our efforts in 2018. Our unity as a Synod is a tremendous gift from God and together we will, by God's grace and power, cross these bridges into a bright future together.

 

A blessed New Year to all of you!

 

 Rimbo

+ Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

Metropolitan New York Synod, ELCA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 regarding racism

Dec 08, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

 

"A voice says, ‘Cry out!’

 

And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’"

 

Isaiah, in chapter 40, wasn’t the last person to ask that question. It’s a haunting, even troubling question in these particular Advent days. It’s hard to cry out when you can’t breathe.  

 

The events of these last days have come especially close to home. The decision surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was one thing. I left the response to that sadness to our presiding bishop. But this decision, about the homicide of Eric Garner, was local, made by a grand jury on Staten Island, close to home, so close it is hard to breathe.   

 

What shall we cry?

 

"Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God," to be sure. But no matter whether we all agree on the question of justice in these cases, I think it is time for us to stand up, breathe deeply together, and stop simply talking about the racism that is profoundly present in our lives, our cities, our world, our church. It is time for us to lift up our voice with strength, as Isaiah says, but to do more than just talk about it. It is time to do more than simply cry.

 

This past Saturday, December 6, the Sent Committee of our strategic plan was in conversation with me about how that action in our synod might start. Next Tuesday, December 16, I will encourage our Synod Council to consider what next steps we should take. It is clear that the first step will be a Service for Justice the afternoon of January 17, 2015. The place is yet to be determined but we will announce that as soon as possible. This will be the first of a series of events designed to gather any and all members of our synod to take bold, new steps to address the horror of racism.

 

In the meantime, as your bishop and on behalf of our synod, I will participate in public forums to act and speak for racial justice. I invite you to let me know when such opportunities for public witness are scheduled. I realize that not everyone will agree with my stance; I believe I must act now.  

 

The closing verses of the first reading for the Second Sunday in Advent (Isaiah 40:1-11), encourage action: get up, lift up your voice, do not fear, say, see, feed, gather, carry, gently lead. That’s what we will do. I hope you will join me.

 

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

 

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