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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

 

 

 

With great hope

Dec 14, 2016

You might think I’m crazy to admit this, but sometimes the first thing I do in the morning, right before praying, is look at Facebook. This morning when I checked in I was met with three things that gave me so much to pray for.

 

First I saw the fourth anniversary of the Newtown Elementary School Shooting.

 

Second I saw the destruction and killing in Aleppo.

 

Third I saw that Dylann Roof’s confession of the Charleston church shooting.

 

Zechariah 8:1-17

The word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the LORD: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts shall be called the holy mountain. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the LORD of hosts? Thus says the LORD of hosts: I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.
 
Thus says the LORD of hosts: Let your hands be strong — you that have recently been hearing these words from the mouths of the prophets who were present when the foundation was laid for the rebuilding of the temple, the house of the LORD of hosts. For before those days there were no wages for people or for animals, nor was there any safety from the foe for those who went out or came in, and I set them all against one other. But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, says the LORD of hosts. For there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, the ground shall give its produce, and the skies shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. Just as you have been a cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.
 
For thus says the LORD of hosts: Just as I purposed to bring disaster upon you, when your ancestors provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the LORD of hosts, so again I have purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; do not be afraid. These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the LORD.

Having taken in the law, I looked for the Gospel by reading Zachariah 8. Take a moment to read it, looking for words of hope.

 

This text follows a series of visions from Zechariah and is during a period after the exile and destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Now this is how God responds to the prophet’s visions. As you can see, this is a passage filled with great promise to people who are yearning for restoration. There is great hope for the world.

 

Even though we are quicker to see jealously lead to anger and rage, God’s jealousy is leading to a deep passion for the people of Zion. There is hope in God being so jealous and passionate towards restoration, justice, and bonds of community.

 

In the news we see images from Aleppo of people standing in the streets in the midst of utter destruction and rubble. The images all look soft from the dust that clouds the air. It is a stark contrast to the prophet’s vision of a faithful city with men and women in the streets and children playing. It truly seems impossible.

 

Our world is full of vulnerable people and places. Children whose future will be unseen. Refugees who are seeking peace. And the faithful who seek sanctuary in the word of the Lord. We are constantly finding ourselves needing this message of hope and restoration in a broken world.

 

And here is my hope in this season: that we as a church and as individuals can find ourselves in the remnant people of Zion. I hope for the sowing of peace and the fruits that can be yielded for generations to come. I hope for us to not be afraid, but to have strong hands in working to build God’s vision here and now. We are the remnants that must bring a message of hope and peace to a world yearning to be restored. We must speak truths. Make peace. Love one another. And love the truth.

 

I hope for all of these things as we enter into a time unlike any other. Our hope seems impossible and bearing fruit seems improbable.

 

When we developed our theme for 2017, "Faith Not Fear", we didn’t know what lay ahead. But it is in our most vulnerable places that we need God’s word to not be afraid repeated over and over again.

 

"Faith not fear" is a sentiment that is full of challenge. We act very differently when acting out of fear versus faith. And it is out of faith that I hope we will all act. I hope that we can act with a clear passion for welcoming Christ into our lives and communities.

 

In this Advent and Christmas season I wish abundant blessings upon you and your family.

 

Rev. Dr. Robert Alan Rimbo

Bishop

 
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