Bishop’s Reflections

Reflections from Bishop Tim Smith

A New Beginning!

April, 2024

Few of you likely preached, and therefore few of you likely heard—even in this, the “Year of Mark”—the Easter narrative from Mark’s Gospel this past Sunday. Preachers remember from seminary that Mark’s original ending was…

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Reflections from Sabbatical

March, 2024

I’m a processor. Perhaps to a fault. While I can and do make some decisions that call for quick decisions, I much prefer to ponder, pray, simmer all possible perspectives in the pot—especially those not…

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Called to Sabbatical

February, 2024

Dear Ones, I am reminded of the best thing I did in the first year of my first call some twenty years ago. I noticed the fatigue and weariness of the lay leaders who had…

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The Peace Child

January, 2024

We, as North American Christians, take so much for granted. Most of us were born into a Christian home. Many of us had parents and grandparents who passed along the faith. Few have ever been…

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NovusWay Needs Our Help

December, 2023

I hope you’ve been reading about recent changes at NovusWay Ministries. We’re grateful for all Dick Peterson did as Interim CEO in Phase 1 of the interim plan, and now we’re extremely grateful that Mike…

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November, 2023

Lutherans have always loved a good paradox. In a world that would seduce us into either/or camps—us vs. them—we’ve always known that we are  saint AND sinner, already AND not yet, justice AND mercy, law…

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The World Is about to Turn

October, 2023

A couple of dozen bishops recently read the book by Gil Rendle titled Countercultural and discussed it at some length at last week’s Conference of Bishops in Chicago. It’s one of the more helpful and…

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Never Alone

September, 2023

Why? WHY? Anyone with a toddler knows how this question echoes—or anyone who practices science, philosophy, theology, politics, or just relationships in general. Why implies purpose, cause and effect, and meaning. When people don’t have…

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A Seed from that Fateful Apple

August, 2023

First of all, I know very little about Artificial Intelligence, or AI. I do know that I have bishop colleagues in other synods who have picked a random selection of lectionary assigned texts—let’s say the…

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God First

July, 2023

“This Is My Song” (ELW 887), a poem by Lloyd Stone set to the tune Finlandia by Sibelius, was one of my dad’s favorite hymns. In this time of emerging Christian nationalism and resurging American…

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Astounding Giftedness and Blessing

June, 2023

As I write this, the 2023 NC Synod Assembly ended just late yesterday afternoon. It was wonderful really. Lots of visiting between sessions and during meals, joyful worship, and presentations that were not only informative…

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Polity & Process

May, 2023

Maybe it’s because just a few weekends ago I led an intensive, nine hours of instruction on the riveting topic of “ELCA and NC Synod Polity and Governance” for our first cohort of SAMs (Synod…

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What Is a SAM?

April, 2023

So what is a SAM? It stands for “synod authorized minister.” Usually, it’s a layperson who applies to the synod’s program of lay preaching under the larger category of Advanced Lay Ministries and then goes…

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Your Voice Matters

March, 2023

One of the things I hear with disturbing frequency goes something like this: “This is a top-down church. The ELCA churchwide expression, the churchwide assembly, and the synod make decisions that are completely out of…

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A (Very) Personal Word

February, 2023

Sharing can be risky and can evoke undue anxiety in systems. So can not sharing. You’ve played “Gossip” or “Telephone,” haven’t you? The intended message gets altered, embellished, etc. One observation I’ve made through the…

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Holy Light, Holy Darkness

January, 2023

In the strictest sense, white is the absence of color. You can’t mix any colors together to get white. Conversely, black is the sum of all colors—what you obtain by mixing all colors on the…

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Jesus: Baby, King, Refugee

December, 2022

One of the dominant themes in all of what we refer to as the Old Testament is hospitality. And little wonder, since it largely recounts the story of the Hebrew people and their relationship with…

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Our Enacted Prayer for the Future

November, 2022

It’s that time of year again. Yes, the strange conflation of Thanks-oween-mas, but also election time. I’m always bewildered that so few people vote—almost always fewer than half of the eligible voters and often for…

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October, 2022

Isaiah 43:1-2 has long been one of my go-to verses. I do find it a personally comforting reassurance, but it provides a hopeful context in response to the giant “Why” questions when we suffer. Surely,…

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September, 2022

There’s a word that has resurfaced with a vengeance during COVIDtide and even more so in our gradual realization that we haven’t—and won’t soon, if ever—really emerged from it. The word describes a paralyzing and…

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Holy Spirit, Guide Us

August, 2022

Here’s a riddle for you. What used to happen every other year and lasted for a whole week or more but now happens every third year and lasts not even four full days? (Some of…

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God Bless America

July, 2022

“There are three kinds of patriots: Two bad and one good,” theorized the Rev. William Sloane Coffin while preaching at Riverside Church in New York. “The bad ones are the uncritical lovers and the loveless…

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Like a Family Reunion!

June, 2022

It was like seeing family for the first time in three years. Synod Gathering, I mean. Worship was glorious, and the required masks couldn’t stifle the songs in our hearts that finally, together, rose from…

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Jesus is Risen! The Church Follows

May, 2022

In 2019, we voted at our Synod Assembly to move to an every-other-year business synod assembly. We determined that since one of our guiding principles is cultivating whole and healthy leaders (lay and clergy), we…

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