Bishop's Blog

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Pastoral Letter in the Aftermath of the Violence in Charlottesville

to the Central/Southern Illinois Synod

Author: Bishop John Roth

     As all of you undoubtedly know, Charlottesville, Virginia, became a flash-point for neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and white nationalist groups protesting the decision by the Charlottesville City Council to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.  The violence in Charlottesville was instigated by neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and white-supremacists in their confrontations with counter protesters.  People of various Christian traditions including the ELCA, both local and national, where among those who gathered in Charlottesville at that time to stand with the intended victims of racism and to provide a counter-witness in the name of the God of justice, mercy, and equality whom we know in Jesus Christ.  

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Word to Good Friday and Easter 2017

Author: Bishop John Roth
“Death is ugly, a rotten deal,” writes author and preacher Fleming Rutledge.  And it is still a rotten deal even when it brings relief from pain or incapacity. The translation of John 11:39 in the King James Version is a favorite of mine because it so vividly expresses what Martha says to Jesus at the tomb of her brother, Lazarus; Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days.  Jesus says, “Take the stone away from the opening,” and Martha doesn’t think that’s a good idea.  Martha says, “Lord...he stinketh.”
I remember clearly the first time I saw an unembalmed dead body.  Her name was Bobbie.  ...
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Word to Ash Wednesday 2017

March 1, 2017

Author: Bishop John Roth
The Scripture readings for Ash Wednesday seem to give us conflicting admonitions: on the one hand (if you are using the passage from Joel), the prophet Joel says to return to the Lord “with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning,” and on the other hand, Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel, “whenever you fast, do not look dismal…(instead) put oil on your head and wash your face.”  In other words, on the one hand, “do something public and explicit to show that you are devoting yourself to repentance and contrition.”  On the other hand, “disguise the fact that you are devoting yourself to repentance and contrition.”
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Word to Christmas 2016

Author: Bishop John Roth
On any given Sunday, but particularly around Christmas, someone is walking into a Christian church for the first time – someone who’s never been to a church service before – anywhere.  That Christian church – it could be one of our churches – may have terrific music in the service; but more than likely it wasn’t the music that tipped the scale to get that person to walk through church doors.  That church might have a pastor who is a dynamic preacher; but that visitor probably didn’t show up because of someone’s preaching reputation.  That a church might be the biggest church in town: bigness plays a role in where a person first tries out this or that church, but bigness doesn’t explain why a person tries out “church”.    That church might have a reputation for friendliness; friendliness, like bigness, influences where someone tries out church, but not why.  Meaning no disrespect to NASCAR or NASCAR fans, I’m not 
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Word to Good Friday and Easter 2016

March 27, 2016

Author: Bishop John Roth
    As we began Lent this year, I encouraged you to lift up in your own Lenten thoughts and reflections the apocalyptic dimension of the crucifixion of Jesus.  The word “apocalyptic” means “to make known” or “to reveal” and expresses a worldview that encompasses both the reality that we see and the larger reality that we do not see.  Effects of sin and struggles against sin play out in the reality we see; however, the larger reality that we do not see is where the decisive victory over Sin and Death is won or lost.  On the grand scale, Christ’s crucifixion ushers out the old age and ushers in the new age.  Now I invite you to take that cosmic perspective to your thoughts and reflections on Jesus’ resurrection.  
     In our churches, we exchange with one another the Easter greeting “Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!”  
     Without the resurrection, Jesus crucifixion is simply one more example of an unfair death, valiantly borne by the victim of that cruelty.  There is way too much death by cruelty. 
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Bishops Blog
S. John Roth was elected bishop of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in June 2011.