News & Messages

Christmas Message from Bishop Lee

Christmas 2021

"The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:5
 
In our part of the world, Christmas is celebrated at the darkest, coldest time of the year. We celebrate the Light of Christ coming into this world — Emmanuel, God With Us — just when our physical surroundings are bleakest. This year, like last year, the bleakness might seem even more acute. Although there has been progress, the pandemic we thought, hoped, and prayed might be over is decidedly not. The unrest of the world seems as intractable as ever. Injustices flourish, violence plagues us, the earth itself is in turmoil. And still, we proclaim:
 
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it!
 
I ask you to join me in making this proclamation our way of life. Let us make it real. The darkness of the world is our opportunity to shine brighter than ever. Every act of hope and love, every decision to care for one another, every kindness and act of generosity, every work of justice, every prayer of thanksgiving — they are all proclamations of the truth at the heart of the Christian life:
 
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it!
 
In particular, I encourage every congregation in this diocese to refresh its commitment to the most careful practices we have adopted to keep one another safe. I have been informed by some congregations about their decision to suspend in-person worship at this time in the face of the Omicron surge, a decision I wholeheartedly support. For all of us, let us recommit ourselves to being fully vaccinated as appropriate, to wear masks and practice social distancing if and whenever we gather, to pay very close attention to matters of ventilation and spacing, and to provide virtual worship opportunities whenever possible.
 
Psalm 139 addresses God like this, "Darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day." This Christmas, let us rejoice that the Light of Christ shines in every darkness and that we live and move have our being in such a light. God is with us.
 
A holy Christmas to you all.

+Jeff
 
The Rt. Rev. Jeff Lee
Bishop Provisional 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

A Lenten Message from Bishop Miller

Dear Friends in Christ,

As we begin to walk the way of Lent this year, I found myself drawn to the words of the first two verses of Hymn #142.

Lord, who throughout these forty days for us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with thee to mourn our sins and close by thee to stay
As thou with Satan didst contend and didst the victory win
O Give us strength in thee to fight in thee to concur sin.

I hear in these words an echo of our Presiding Bishop’s Invitation for Lent 2020: A Call to Prayer, Fasting and Repentance leading to action. I encourage you to read his letter and consider its invitation.

 I also hear in this hymn a reminder that Lent is not first and foremost about guilt but rather sanctification. Repentance is re-direction, re-minding, and re-training under the guidance of the Spirit. The purpose of Lenten observance is not seasonal holiness but participation in God’s process of making us more and more into the people we are destined to be. We pray for grace to fight and conquer sin in our lives so that we may know the truth the Apostle Paul sets forth in the Letter to the Romans that “in all things we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The lessons we learn in Lent are meant to carry through to the Easter Life. The lessons learned in the Lenten desert are to empower us for service to God, just as our Lord’s forty days in the desert prepared him for his public ministry.

My prayer is that this holy season will be for us all a season of renewed faith and devotion.

Yours in Christ,

Bishop Steven A. Miller

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