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Easter Message 2020

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Dear Friends in Christ,

I find myself drawn this week to stories of Jesus and his disciples in the Upper Room. One image is, of course, that of Maundy Thursday — Jesus’ last meal with them when he took and broke the bread and blessed the cup and gave it his disciples. Like many of you, I have a longing to gather at the Lord’s table and receive the blessed sacrament. There is a hunger inside me to eat the bread and drink the cup.

Coupled with that image is the image of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and the new commandment he gives, which gives the day its name. “A new mandate I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Across America we see this commandment being lived out in new ways — with acts of social distancing and self-quarantine, the wearing of face masks in public, and countless acts of kindness and graciousness and hospitality. All this reminds us that, for Christians, love is action, love is lived. As the apostle James reminds us, “faith without works is dead.”

But it is the scene in the Upper Room on Easter evening recorded in John’s Gospel that draws me most. “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19)

As we stay safer at home, I suspect many of us are wrestling with fear and anxiety as we wonder what might happen next and what the future will look like. There is a desire for things to return to the way they were, but also a knowledge that it will never be the same again. There is a deep feeling of loss and grief as planned events are canceled or changed.

I am sure the disciples were feeling much the same way. They had gone from witnessing miracles and shouts of Hosanna to cries of rejection, Jesus’ crucifixion and death. They were looking for a kingdom, for freedom and liberation, and their hopes were dashed in what could only be viewed as a disaster.

And then into their midst comes Jesus standing among them and saying to them, “Peace be with you.” You know the rest of the story. Their lives were changed. They saw the truth about God, love, and the world clearly. They were given new life. Peter, reflecting on what happened many years later, wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy, we have been born anew by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

It was not only the disciples who were changed. The whole world was changed as well. It was changed because the disciples having received Christ’s peace heard and heeded his words, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you. Go and make disciples.”

This Easter Jesus comes to us as we are behind doors. My prayer is that each of you will hear his greeting, “Peace be with you,” and that his peace will abide in you as we move through the days and months ahead. May his peace give you grace and confidence to face whatever challenges may come your way.

The Rt. Rev. Steven Andrew Miller
Bishop

A Message from Bishop Miller on the Status of Public Worship

To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Milwaukee
 
Dear Friends in Christ,
 
Grace to you and peace in this week when we draw near to the holiest days of our Christian faith. This year we will recall the events of Holy Week through a lens we could not have imagined. Like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, we wish and long for something different – take this cup from us. And yet like Jesus, our prayer must be not my will but thine be done.
 
I write you again today as your bishop, chief pastor and canonical overseer, as promised. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of my decision to extend the pastoral direction that clergy and churches of the Diocese of Milwaukee suspend public worship until at least May 1. On April 27, I will reassess this situation in light of developments and give directions for the future. This directive applies to all our congregations, clergy and licensed lay ministers.
 
What I wrote to you last month remains true, it pains me to make this decision but I believe it is for the best of all. Loving our neighbor requires giving up for the sake of others.” I wish we would have been able to open our churches for Holy Week and Easter. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It is even possible that it might be necessary to extend this directive into June and perhaps even longer.
 
Like many of you, my days are now spent in Zoom conferences, webinars, and phone calls. It is a very different way to do ministry. What has not changed is the comfort I find in the daily offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, which has been the anchor of my prayer life for over forty years. I am pleased to see so many of our congregations gathering for the Daily Office through the internet. Many of my colleagues have remarked that the Office is said with more frequency than at any time we can remember. Just as important are the ways that we are reaching out to one another in both new and familiar ways. We are staying connected in new ways — online Bible studies, coffee hours, book studies, prayer groups — while continuing to use tried and true methods such as phone trees and personal phone calls. I dare say we are more connected to one another in real-time than ever before. Theologically, we are never unconnected because we have been joined to one another in Christ through baptism. These gatherings manifest that truth at a time we need to remember it the most.
 
Please know of my prayers for you all as this pandemic continues to unfold. If you would like me to pray for friends and loved ones who are working on the front lines of this pandemic, please send their names to me at  , and I will add their name to my list. I ask you to pray for me as I seek to minister faithfully at this time. Pray for all our clergy and people.
 
Grace to you and peace.
 
+Steven


The Rt. Rev. Steven Andrew Miller
Bishop

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A Message from Bishop Miller: The Annunciation, March 25, 2020

March 25, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

Grace and Peace to you on this most holy day when we remember the Good News, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” That word showed us the way to walk in love by giving ourselves to and for one other as the heart of our way and love.

Out of love and compassion for each other, we have ceased worshipping together in our parishes for the duration of the Safer at Home order. Out of that same love, compassion and care, we are gathering to worship as one diocese so that our clergy and lay leaders can focus on essential ministries of care and compassion.

We invite you to come together as a diocese to worship with us on Sunday mornings. At 10 am, we will livestream a Liturgy of the Word service through YouTube and Facebook Live. These services will feature officiants, preachers, readers, and musicians from throughout the diocese. We will also have bulletins available for you to follow along at home.

We look forward to coming together as a diocese to worship and pray with you. Please join us.

+Steven

The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller
Bishop of Milwaukee

 

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