Bishop's Blog

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Word to Lent 2016

February 10, 2016

Author: Bishop John Roth
      We enter Lent confessing to God in the words of Psalm 51: “I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”  
      Also, we begin our Lenten journey to the cross, and from the cross to the empty tomb, with
these ominous words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
      There we have them: sin and death – the big two.  If our religion cannot adequately address sin and death, it is trivial at best and ultimately worthless.  This is why Lent’s laser focus on them is such a blessing.  The thematic thread running through Lent is that Jesus Christ went to the cross to free us from sin, to break the power of death. 
      Fleming Rutledge is one of my favorite writers.  I highly recommend her most recent (and most weighty) work, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (Eerdmans, 2015).  In an earlier work, she has this reflection on Romans 7:
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Word to Easter

April 5, 2015

Author: Bishop John Roth

“The good news of Jesus Christ is a thing of great comfort,” said C. S. Lewis. “But it doesn’t begin in comfort.  It begins in distress and despair and there’s no way to get to the comfort by bypassing the despair.”  Which is why the church has the somber season of Lent (all the hymns seem to be in a minor key) before Easter: we know that there is no way to get to the comfort by bypassing the despair. 

In particular, the great despair: death. 

This is where we need to start looking at belief in Jesus’ resurrection in another way.  It is the difference between belief as “OK, that’s true” and belief as “I entrust myself to you.”  Imagine a guest on the 5th floor balcony of a burning hotel clinging to the railing; the fire fighter on the ladder pleads, “Let go of the railing; I’ve got you; I’ll carry you; you’re safe with me.”  The guest needs to trust the fire fighter to live.  But the guest won’t let go.  In essence, out of fear or uncertainty or whatever, at that moment the guest has more faith in the railing of the burning building than in the fire fighter. 

To believe in Jesus’ resurrection is to entrust myself to God in Christ – in life and in death.  Anything else is the balcony rail of a burning hotel. 

I would guess that at least some of you say to yourself, “I wish I could believe in Easter.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Word to Ash Wednesday

February 18, 2015

Author: Bishop John Roth

     I was driving to an evening worship service this past Saturday when I heard the news that an early mentor of mine had died the night before.  His name was Otis Woodard.  When I was seminary student in St. Louis, Otis was the director of a Lutheran outreach ministry in a blighted area of north St. Louis.  You couldn't miss Otis when he was around the seminary; he was African American, in contrast to the predominantly white students and faculty; and he dressed in loud, colorful African attire; and he was exceptionally boisterous, jovial, and extroverted.  I did regular volunteer work at that outreach center; Otis made me feel responsible by giving me a key to his office (which was actually the first floor of the house he and his family lived in) the second week I was there.  Before I went around the ...                                   Click "Read More" for full blog entry.  

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Word to Ash Wednesday

Author: Bishop John Roth

Christian psychologist and author Paul Tournier observed that people who come to him for counseling typically display a internal tension. On the one hand, they want to talk with him; they want to tell him about themselves, disclose their fears, hopes, and longings, describe their behavior – they want to be open so that they can make a real connection with him. On the other hand, they resist talking with him; they want to hide pieces of themselves, not say too much – they want to keep their distance.... Click "Read More" for full blog entry.

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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.