News & Messages

Holy Week and Easter Greeting from Bishop Jeff Lee

We are looking forward to welcoming Bishop Jeff Lee to the Diocese of Milwaukee later this week. Bishop Lee will begin serving as our provisional bishop designee on Thursday, April 1.

Bishop Lee has recorded his greetings to you for Holy Week and Easter.
 

We wish you all a blessed Holy Week.

~The staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee

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

Easter Message 2019

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” (Luke 24: 5b-9)

Dear Friends in Christ,

We hear these words quoted above in our Easter liturgies this year. The angelic question at the beginning of this verse is one that I have reflected on many times. I hear the question, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” as a wake-up call, a call to order my priorities in line with God’s priorities, and my desires with God’s desires. It is an invitation to self-examination, repentance, and prayer. Sin is, after all, missing the mark and looking for fulfillment in that which cannot fulfill. The angelic call to the women and to us is a call to turn and look in the right places.

But what struck me this year, despite all the rich meditation reflecting on this phrase can bring, is that if we stay here we have missed Luke’s call. Remember, Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Spirit, a two-part work about the Spirit at work in Jesus and the same Spirit at work in Christ’s continuing body, the Church. To focus on the angelic question is to look inward when the women provide us the example of what our response to the news of the risen Jesus must be.

“They remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.”

We, too, are called to leave the tomb and go forth and proclaim that Christ is Risen. To remember Jesus’ words and proclaim his resurrection is our call not only on this Easter Day but every day. We are called to remember all that Jesus taught us — to love our neighbor by actions of love and compassion, and to forgive those who would or have harmed us — and then do it.

By God’s grace, the early Church grew because the first Christians availed themselves of that grace and power to live lives that showed they were followers of Christ. People were drawn by the love they showed and lived. They could do so even in the midst of difficult times, even in the face of death because they remember Jesus — his life and words — and sought to be like him. They could do so because they knew as do we that Jesus is Alive and we live in him now and will live in him forever.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s call to a way of life. Let us proclaim this way with our lips and lives.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

+Steven
Bishop of Milwaukee

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