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Bishop's Message

RSS By: Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

The Rev. Dr. Robert Rimbo shares regular thoughts and reflections about our life together.

Advent 5

Dec 10, 2010

Dear Friends, Sisters and Brothers:

 

I write to you, the congregations of the Metropolitan New York Synod, to offer my greetings at this holy time. I write to you on December 16, the day on which our Mexican sisters and brothers begin Las Posadas, the annual enactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to rest in Bethlehem. So I am thinking about going home.

 

The reason why we’re not only merry at Christmas but also a little teary-eyed is that we think we really can never go home again. We’re all grown up. We have houses of our own. Life is not simple any more. “I’ll be home for Christmas, but only in my dreams.”

 

But we in the church have good news even as we wander with Mary and Joseph and then welcome the Child Jesus: that all of those visitors who will come among us in our churches this Christmas are Christ among us. We are honored to welcome them into our churches on Christmas and whenever else they come.

 

From all across this country and from places outside its borders, from all points on the compass and from down the street, people will gather in the churches of our synod.  I know they will really come to bring the new baby to grandma, or to be with their girlfriend; they will come because deep in their hearts they really want to see their uncle tease the dog or they know Mom simply could not survive without their kitchen help or to kiss Daddy under the mistletoe. They will come to be at home.

 

But until they walk through the door of your church on Christmas, they will not have truly been home yet. Because, to longtime member and seeking visitor alike, this place, your church, will be a welcome home for the infant Christ and for all those visitors.

 

The remarkable story will be told again: the child, the mother, the shepherds, the angels. The old story will be remembered again as one remembers a song whose words have become faint. We will remember the inn at the end of the road for tired minds and weary hearts, the manger which has become the locus of the world’s devotion, the cry of the Child. We will remember this story – the intersection of the will and way of Almighty God with our wills and our ways – as we tell it again in Scripture and in Song and in Sacrament at home in your church and in mine. 

 

This is its wild and wonderful message: God abandons heaven and comes to us, to be at home with us where life is never perfect, where people are often hurting and fearful, where even the most cherished rituals become empty at times.  God comes to us in the most unexpected ways, in the most unexpected people, in the most unexpected places...in the assembly of believers and in earthly things like words and songs and bread and wine which convey Christ’s living presence.

 

As the world turns again and again toward the worship of power, we worship by bowing before a baby.  We assemble not with the great and the mighty and the noble but with cows and sheep who were his company and with peasants who were his first congregation and with complete strangers who never otherwise darken the door of our church. This stable, this church, is the home of a different power…not the world’s power...but the mysterious power of God…for since that first Christmas night not a day has passed on which somebody would not have died for this baby who is the world’s ultimate hope, its only Savior, its true peace, its everlasting ruler.

 

That is why I say to you, “Welcome Home!” That is why I beg you to welcome Christ. That is why I urge you to see this Jesus in all those who will gather at home with you in your church. That is why I pray you will know his warm welcome as you kneel at the manger in worship.

 

Blessed Christmas.

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

 

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