Church of the Resurrection

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Posts from: 02/2017

Why Confession?

February 21, 2017

Every year on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the Church takes a moment to pause and offer a radical opportunity to her people: the chance to confess personal sin to another person. The timing of this opportunity is no coincidence, as Ash Wednesday begins the penitential journey of Lent and Good Friday ends it. However, it can be hard to understand the value of verbally confessing something you're ashamed of to another person, especially since we're given the opportunity every week to confess directly to the Lord through our Sunday liturgy.

The answer lies in the understanding of confession as a sacramental act. Like the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, confession is meant to take us straight to the cross, where God's justice and mercy become one in the death of Jesus. When we stop and confess our sin, we give proper weight to the grievous hold it has on our hearts, minds, and bodies, and admit ourselves guilty in nailing Jesus to the cross. But immediately after that acknowledgment comes the assurance of forgiveness as we hear Jesus say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). After we confess our sins, we stand free in the gift of the Resurrection: freedom from being slaves to sin and healing joy in living life with Jesus. 

You may note that there is nothing new or surprising in this process for a believer. This is, in fact, the fundamental arc of faith: the realization of our sinfulness and desperate need for Jesus, and the receiving of his forgiveness through the cross. What is unique to confession, however, is the embodied act of confessing sin to another person.

When we stop and verbalize the sins that act as stumbling blocks in our walk with the Lord, we break one of Satan's chief weapons against us: isolation. Satan knows that we are the most vulnerable when we are alone with ourselves, stuck in sinful patterns and too embarrassed to admit them to anyone else. He whispers in our hearts that if anyone else knew the awful things we do or think or feel, they would reject us. Sometimes he even convinces us that Jesus will reject us if we admit the extend of our guilt to Him.

When you break that isolation and speak out loud the sins that weigh you down to someone else, healing flows in. The pastors who hear your confession are not there to judge and condemn, but rather to proclaim Christ's forgiveness in an embodied way. This embodied, concrete experience of repentance and forgiveness ministers more deeply the blessed assurance of the Gospel: that your sins truly are forgiven by the power of the cross, and that you can walk in the dignity of being a beloved son or daughter of Christ.  

This is why the Church offers confessions on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It is an opportunity to expose the sin that so easily entangles us within the community of the body of Christ, all the better to receive the fullness of our freedom in Christ on Easter Sunday.

Go to this webpage for more details about making confession on Ash Wednesday.

Caring for the Refugee and Immigrant

February 08, 2017

Click here to view this letter in Spanish.

Dear brothers and sisters of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest,

For over two decades, Church of the Resurrection has had a special outreach focus—our commitment to love and serve refugees. I still vividly remember driving my family to O’Hare seventeen years ago as we welcomed to our country six “Lost Boys,” children orphaned from the Second Sudanese Civil War who were being sponsored by our church family. In light of recent developments and heated conversations in our country around refugees and immigrants, now is an urgent time to reassess this focus. Of course there are legitimate fears and concerns about national security and the porosity of our country’s borders. I sympathize with some of these concerns. But since we serve a Lord who transcends our typical categories, we have to press into this critical question: How is the Church, and how are we as a diocese, called to love and serve the nations around us?

First, I’d like to highlight that immigrants and refugees already play a vital role in our diocesan family. In addition to three Latino congregations with members from Mexico and Latin America, our four Chicagoland university congregations serve immigrant and international students from countries as wide-ranging as Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Korea, Iraq, Iran, China, and Syria. We even baptized a Muslim student who has come to faith in Christ. Church of the Resurrection is currently welcoming new families through World Relief’s Good Neighbor Teams. Other congregations in our diocese, such as Church of the Cross in Minneapolis, also have a long history of welcoming refugee families.

As you can see, this is a church family issue more than a partisan political issue.

To those from immigrant and refugee backgrounds in our midst, we want to say that you are deeply loved by Jesus and by us. You are such an important part of our church family. We hurt with you in this time (1 Cor. 12:26). We need you and the gifts you bring to our diocesan family (1 Cor. 12:22).

To those who serve immigrants and refugees, including the many World Relief staff in our diocese, and others who are actively welcoming the strangers and sojourners, we want to thank you for the beautiful Gospel work you do. God will not “forget your work and the love you have shown towards his name” (Heb. 6:10).

To all of us in the Diocese, this is a key missional moment. We are all called to welcome the stranger and to love even those the world might call our enemies. This includes immigrants, refugees, Muslims, the poor and the unborn—all those whom the Bible calls the "widow, the orphan and the stranger" (Deut. 10:18). We belong to a new community, formed around Jesus Christ, which will radiate with redeemed people from every tribe and nation and tongue (Rev. 7:14).

Let me offer some practical ways you can respond. First, pray. In this regard, please see the excellent prayer resource from our Archbishop Foley Beach. Second, I encourage you to build relationships with the immigrants and refugees in our midst. You could start by visiting one of the immigrant or university congregations in our own diocese. (Please contact Pastor Matt Woodley at matt@churchrez.org, or Fr. Jonathan Kindberg at JKindberg@greenhousemovement.com if you are interested.) Third, I encourage you to support our longtime partner World Relief, and other organizations whose mission is to care for immigrants and refugees. I recently signed a letter that is being released by World Relief in the Washington Post; you can view details here.

As I said a few months ago about other complex and divisive issues in our country, no matter what happens, remember this: It is a great day for the gospel. It is a great day to rise up and be the Church of Jesus Christ. It is a great day to love our neighbors and share the good news of Jesus in word and deed.

With love,
Bishop Stewart E Ruch III (2013)

Bishop Stewart Ruch III

________________________

Spanish Version:

Queridos hermanos y hermanas de la Diócesis del Centro Noroeste,

Por más de dos décadas, Church of the Resurrection (nuestra catedral), ha tenido un enfoque especial de alcance, amor y servicio hacia refugiados. Todavía recuerdo con mucha claridad cuando manejé con mi familia hacia el aeropuerto de O’Hare hace diecisiete años para recibir y dar bienvenida a este país a seis niños huérfanos de la segunda guerra civil en el Sudán quienes nuestra iglesia estaba auspiciando. En vista de los acontecimientos recientes y conversaciones apasionadas en este país respecto a inmigrantes e refugiados, ahora urge reconsiderar este enfoque. Por cierto hay legítimos miedos y preocupaciones respecto a seguridad nacional y la porosidad de nuestras fronteras. Entiendo algunas de estas preocupaciones. Pero servimos a un Señor quien trasciende nuestras categorías normales, entonces debemos preguntarnos: Como Iglesia y como diócesis: ¿Cuál es nuestro llamado y como vamos a servir y amar a las personas de todo el mundo quienes nos rodean?

Primero, quiero resaltar que inmigrantes e refugiados ya juegan un papel muy importante en nuestra familia diocesana. Además de tres congregaciones latinas con miembros de México y Latinoamérica, nuestras cuatro congregaciones universitarias en Chicago sirven a inmigrantes e estudiantes internacionales de países como Pakistán, Somalia, Corea, Irak, China y Siria. Hasta hemos bautizado a un estudiante de trasfondo Musulmán que llegó a conocer a Cristo. Nuestra catedral, Church of the Resurrection, actualmente está dando la bienvenida a nuevas familias a través de un programa “Buenos Vecinos” de World Relief. Otras congregaciones en nuestra diócesis, como Church of the Cross, en Minneapolis, también tienen una larga tradición de dar bienvenida a familias refugiadas.  

Como pueden ver, esto es un asunto familiar de nuestra iglesia, más que un asunto político de un partido en particular.

Para los que son inmigrantes y refugiados en medio de nosotros, como obispo y como familia diocesana queremos decirles que son profundamente amados por Jesús y por nosotros. Ustedes son una parte tan importante de nuestra familia espiritual. Sufrimos con ustedes en este tiempo (1 Cor. 12:26). Los necesitamos a ustedes y los dones que ustedes traen a nuestra familia diocesana (1 Cor. 12:22).

A los que sirven a inmigrantes y refugiados, incluyendo los muchos que son staff de World Relief en nuestra diócesis y a otros que están dando bienvenida al extranjero y peregrino, quiero agradecerles por este trabajo tan hermoso del Evangelio que hacen. Dios “no olvidará lo que ustedes han hecho y el amor que le han mostrado al ayudar a los del pueblo santo” (Heb. 6:10).

A todos nosotros en la Diócesis, este es un momento misional clave. Todos somos llamados a dar bienvenida al extranjero y a amar aun a los que el mundo quizás llamaría enemigos. Esto incluye: inmigrantes, refugiados, musulmanes, los pobres y a los todavía no nacidos--todos los que la Biblia llamaría huérfanos, viudas y extranjeros (Deut. 10:18). Pertenecemos a una nueva comunidad, formada alrededor de Jesús, quien brillara con personas redimidas de todo tribu, nación y lengua (Ap. 7:14).

Déjenme ofrecer algunas maneras prácticas de como pueden responder. Primero, oren. Relacionado a esto les animo a ver el excelente recurso del Arzobispo Foley Beach aqui. Por segundo, les animo a desarrollar amistades con los inmigrantes e refugiados entre nosotros. Podrías comenzar con una visita a una congregación universitaria o inmigrante en nuestra diócesis. (Favor de contactar al Pastor Matt Woodley: matt@churchrez.org o al Pastor Jonathan Kindberg: Jkindberg@greenhousemovement.com si estás interesado). Por tercero, les animo a apoyar a World Relief y a otras organizaciones cuya misión es de cuidar y servir a inmigrantes e refugiados.

Como dije hace algunos meses acerca de otros asuntos complejos y polémicos en nuestro país, no importa que pasa, recuerda esto: es un gran día para el evangelio. Es un gran día para levantarnos y ser la Iglesia de Jesucristo. Es un gran día para amara a nuestro vecinos y prójimos y de compartir el evangelio de Jesús a través de palabras y acciones.

Con amor,

Bishop Stewart E Ruch III (2013)
Obispo Stewart Ruch III