Bishop’s Reflections

Reflections from Bishop Tim Smith

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Bishop’s Reflections2017-01-21T13:41:19-05:00

February 3rd, 2020|

Oil and a blessing

Greetings, partners in ministry across the North Carolina Synod! Since Bishop Tim Smith is currently on part one of his sabbatical, I have the opportunity as the acting bishop to share this month’s reflection.

Chrism Mass with Affirmation of Vows. What is it and why are we doing it in the North Carolina Synod? Chrism refers to the oil used for healing, baptism, confirmation, and commendation of the dying. Mass is an old word for worship. The roots of Chrism Mass are in the ancient Roman church when priests would gather on Maundy Thursday to receive the oils that had been blessed to anoint the catechumens before their baptism and on the newly baptized after their baptism. To this was added the oil for the anointing of the sick. This Mass was celebrated on Maundy Thursday so that the oils would be ready for use in the rites of Christian initiation at the Easter Vigil. (more…)

January 6th, 2020|

On turning 60

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. –Anne Lamott

Early in the morning of January 20, 2020 I will begin my seventh decade. While even as recently as 20 years ago that would have seemed ancient to me, I get that by today’s standards—especially in the church—that’s not such a big deal. Maybe what’s eating at me is that for about 10 weeks Sandra Cline and I will both be “in our 60s.” (more…)

December 2nd, 2019|

Word made flesh

Most of us will gather on Christmas Eve to hear the Christmas story from Luke. It’s understandable. Mark really has no birth story. Matthew is mostly genealogy. I can’t ever hear Luke without thinking of Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Linus, blanket and all, cuts through everyone’s commercial preparations with his moving recitation of the Lukan Christmas narrative, ending with, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Well, yes and no. That’s Luke’s version. John approaches it in an altogether different way. (more…)

November 4th, 2019|

Identifying Core Values

Some of you (I hope) will recognize what we’ve referred to as our Purpose/Vision Statement or our Guiding Principles for the NC Synod. To refresh your memory, here it is:

God calls the NC Synod of the ELCA to…

  • Cultivate and Celebrate Vital Congregations
  • Identify, Equip and Nurture Whole & Healthy Leaders
  • Embrace & Engage in Collaboration
  • Proclaim the Promise of the Resurrection with a Prophetic Voice

…all for the sake of the world. (more…)

September 30th, 2019|

Visiting Papua New Guinea

Over 1400 inhabited islands. Over 800 distinct languages. An independent country since 1975. Over 1,000 anthropological-distinct cultures. 27% Roman Catholic. 21% Lutheran. 11% other Christians. Along with the Amazon basin, home to some of the last remnants of Stone Age civilizations. Six degrees south of the Equator. Stunningly beautiful natural tropical paradise. Abundant natural resources including gold and oil. Crocodiles, snakes, and the Bird of Paradise—both the plant the the actual bird. High crime. Highest domestic violence rate in the world. Deep governmental corruption. Virtually non-existent infrastructure. 80% of inhabitants have no electricity or access to clean water. Unbelievingly hospitable people. Deep vulnerability to development and exploitation by businesses of other nations. These are a few of some of my amateur observations after spending a couple of weeks in Papua New Guinea (PNG) last month (plus another week of travel to/from). (more…)

September 1st, 2019|



“Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”

I wonder how many hundred times I’ve sung those words at camp, on retreats, and in contemporary worship services of the early 2000s. I’ll bet a lot of you know it and have sung it too.

“All who would like to help decorate the sanctuary for the season of Advent are welcome and encouraged to join the altar guild this coming Saturday from 10-2.”

“Please silence your cell phones before entering the sanctuary.”

“How many people will your sanctuary seat?”

All of these are phrases that, if you’ve ever hung around a Lutheran church, you’ve heard some variation of many times. (more…)

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