For Faith

Beautiful

If we are a beautiful and complex American family as I believe us to be, then celebrations of Pride and Juneteenth this month belong to us all. How could I not rejoice especially when a family member formerly relegated to the shadows of life is now welcomed into the warm sunshine of visibility and affirmation? As a child, I remember my African-American mother would wear a “kiss me I’m Irish” button every St. Patrick’s Day. My sister and I thought she was peculiar for taking up this ritual but maybe she was on to something. She was onto something! I am not diminished by celebrating you in all of your particular wonderfulness. Funny enough, my dignity swells as I affirm your dignity. And, my dignity dissipates as I, by omission or commission, participate in your diminishment. And so Happy Pride, Juneteenth and Father’s Day, and a thousand more celebrations too. God rejoices when we celebrate the truth-that we were made for each other and for God’s glory. “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters and siblings to dwell together in unity.”

Psalm 133


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

Transcript:


Hermoso

Si somos una familia estadounidense hermosa y compleja, como creo que somos, entonces las celebraciones del Orgullo (Pride) y Juneteenth este mes nos pertenecen a todos. ¿Cómo no alegrarme especialmente cuando un miembro de la familia anteriormente relegado a las sombras de la vida ahora es bienvenido bajo el cálido sol de visibilidad y afirmación? Cuando era niño, recuerdo que mi madre afroamericana usaba un botón que decía “bésame soy Irlandesa” en la celebración del Día de San Patricio. Mi hermana y yo pensamos que ella era peculiar por asumir esto, pero creo que ¡ella era ingeniosa! No me disminullo al celebrarte en toda tu maravilla particular. Curiosamente, mi dignidad se enancha al afirmar tu dignidad. Y, mi dignidad se disipa a medida que yo, por omisión o comisión, participo en tú disminución. Y por esto te digo, Feliz Orgullo (Happy Pride), Juneteenth y Día del Padre y mil celebraciones más también. Dios se regocija cuando celebramos la verdad, que fuimos hechos el uno para el otro y para la gloria de Dios. “Qué bueno y qué agradable es para los hermanos y hermanas vivir juntos en unidad”.

Salmo 133


Tags: For Faith

Unmute

“The truth about God must be spoken. This is how God began creation, by unmuting God’s self and speaking life into existence. “Whatever the Trinity wants from creatures or creation, God does it through words-efficacious, non-violent words.” Words that destabilize and deconstruct old worlds and envision new worlds. That is what the prophets did when they unmuted themselves. That is what Jesus did walking around the neighborhood. He put his tongue in service to the new world of grace and love that he wanted to emerge. That is precisely why they crucified Jesus, they wanted to shut him up. And so we have a choice to make, as individuals and organizations – We can stay muted on matters of God, justice and neighborly love and collude with the attempt to silence Jesus on Good Friday or we can participate with God and break the silence of tombs and proclaim the ongoing and unfolding Easter with our full throat.”

An excerpt from Bishop Wright’s sermon to the Southeastern Synod of the Lutheran Church.


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

Transcript:


Rompiendo el Silencio

La verdad sobre nuestro Dios debe ser dicha. Así es como Dios comenzó la creación, rompiendo su propio silencio y pronunciando el yo de Dios, e invocar la existencia de la vida. «Lo que sea que la Trinidad quiera de las criaturas o de la creación, Dios lo hace a través de palabras eficaces, palabras no violentas». Palabras que desestabilizan y deconstruyen viejos mundos y/o imaginan nuevos mundos. Eso es lo que los profetas hicieron cuando rompieron su silencio. Eso es lo que Jesús hizo caminando por nuestro mundo. Puso su voz al servicio de la creación, de un nuevo mundo de gracia y amor que deseaba esparcir. Precisamente por eso crucificaron a Jesús, quisieron silenciarlo. Y, por lo tanto, nosotros necesitamos tomar una decisión, como individuos y organizaciones – Podemos permanecer en silencio sobre los asuntos de Dios, la justicia y el amor al prójimo. Este silencio se confabula con el intento de silenciar a Jesús el Viernes Santo o podemos participar con Dios y romper el silencio de las tumbas y proclamar la Pascua que se renueva en nuestras vidas a cada momento con voces llenas de valentía.

Tomado del sermón del Reverendísimo Robert C. Wright D.D.
Obispo Diócesis Episcopal de Atlanta, durante Sínodo Suroriental de la Iglesia Luterana.


Tags: For Faith

A Prayer for Uvalde

“Dear God, bind up the wounds of all that suffer from gun violence. Those maimed and stifled. Those left alone and grieving. Those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them Lord with your presence. Help them with your hope. Dear Lord, for all lives that have forever been changed and broken by the scourge of gun violence, for all who for malice or illness are instruments of violence and death, for all who have died today, and for those that will die tomorrow. God of tender mercy, please be with those that are overwhelmed, enraged, frustrated, and demoralized by the plague of gun violence. Give us all a sense of your presence. Plant with us the seeds of hope and the courage of love and resolve. For those whose hope for life in this world is shattered and broken, loving God, make us instruments of your peace. God of justice, help us your church. Help us as a country to find our voice to do what is right for the sake of life. For your dream is of a world where children are safe and where all live together without fear. All this we pray in the name of the one that offered his life so we might live, Jesus the Christ.”

The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
Prayer adapted from Bishops Against Gun Violence | Watch full prayer


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

Transcript:


“Querido Dios, sana las heridas de aquellos que sufren por la violencia provocada por armas de fuego; aquellos mutilados y traumados. A los que se quedaron solos y afligidos; aquellos que luchan por sobrevivir un día más. Bendíceles Señor con tu presencia y ayúdales con tu esperanza. Amado Dios, te pedimos por todas las vidas afectadas y rotas para siempre por el flagelo de la violencia causada por armas de fuego, por todos los que por malicia o enfermedad son instrumentos de la violencia y de la muerte; por todos los que han muerto hoy, y por aquellos continúan muriendo mañana a causa de este mal. Dios de eterna misericordia, por favor acompaña a aquellos que están abrumados, enfurecidos, frustrados y desmoralizados por la plaga de la violencia por las armas de fuego. Por favor bríndanos la seguridad de tu presencia. Planta en nosotros las semillas de la esperanza y de la valentía del amor y de la resolución. Te pedimos, Señor, por aquellos que piensan que la vida en este mundo está destrozada y quebrantada, amado Dios haznos instrumentos de tu paz. Dios de la justicia, ayuda a tu iglesia. Ayúdanos como nación a encontrar nuestra voz para hacer lo que es correcto por el bien de la humanidad. Porque tu sueño es tener un mundo donde los niños estén seguros y donde todos pueden vivir juntos sin miedo. Todo esto oramos en el nombre de aquél que ofreció su vida para que podamos vivir, Jesucristo Nuestro Señor.”

Oración adaptada de los Obispos contra de la Violencia de Armas de Fuego,
Obispo presidente y primado de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael B. Curry


Tags: For Faith

Filled

“One thing we can feel confident in is that we can have hope for our future. Regardless of what happens, God has given us a path to follow. It will be hard at times and emotional at other times, but it’s going to be filled with so many good things and blessings. Over the last 4 years, we’ve been internalizing experiences, love, and our communities, and now it’s time for us to put those experiences to work in the world. Every person in this diocese is a reflection of God’s love and we’ve been reflecting that love back into the world for years, and as we go to college, we’ll find new ways to reflect that love.”

An excerpt from Arabella Brown’s sermon to the High School Graduates of The Diocese of Atlanta. Arabella is a member of St. James Episcopal Church in Marietta and will attend West Georgia College in the Fall.


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

Transcript:

Melissa: Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m Melissa Rau. Bishop Wright and I are having a conversation based on For Faith, a weekly devotion sent out every Friday. You can find a link to this week’s For Fatih and a link to subscribe in the episode’s description.

Rob: Good to be with ya.

Melissa: It’s good to be with your Bishop.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: You shared an excerpt from Ms. Arabella Brown’s Sermon.

Rob: Yeah, yeah. Oh my god, oh my god, well, let me just say, I’ve been doing For Faith, which is my sort of weekly devotional that gets sent out. I’ve been doing it 10-years now, as a Bishop in the Diocese. And have never before used a sermon from somebody, you know, other than Dr. King, or some luminary, or some sort of Saint. But I was there celebrating with our high school graduates and I was so impressed with this young lady. And so, this is the first time ever, that we’ve done this. And what I loved about it was, that it wasn’t sort, oh, the adults have given me this task. And I’m going to sort of try to rip something off the top of my head about this. But I mean, it was really thoughtful. And you know, what I really want to underscore, if people get a chance to look at the text of this thing is, is that she has some understanding of the character of God that shows up in Scripture. And that is where I think relationship comes from. This is the God who is portrayed in Scripture. And she sees this God as friend as she goes off to college. And wants us to remember that this God is friend, even in transitions for all of us. It was fantastic.

Melissa: The other graduating seniors in the Diocese of Atlanta. And I have so many questions about that. But I have to say, like isn’t it a sweet thing when our young get it?

Rob: Yeah. Yeah.

Melissa: I know it. I know. And our youth do this a lot. They surprise us. So, I want to plug your For Faith because I know some listeners don’t read that and they just listen to the podcast. And I just feel like you’re missing out friends if you’re not reading For Faith, especially this week. Because it really is great.

Rob: Right.

Melissa: Well, Bishop, you named the excerpt then, Filled. Can you unpack that a bit for us why you chose that word?

Rob: I mean, as I heard her talk, you know, I heard her just fill her imagination field, I guess that’s what I want to say. I hear her imagination fill with who God has been. And that God has been with her through fellowship with other youngsters, with other young people. I see her, you know, if you read it, she’s talking about a God who fills our imagination and has filled her family and her home. I love that she doesn’t soft peddle anything. She recognizes that sometimes we feel lost and disoriented. And yet, you know, so we know empty is a season sometimes with God. But then God comes back around some kind of way and we are filled with fellowship.

So, I mean, that’s sort of where I was going with that. You know, as you know, I tried to pick one word in the meditation that sort of ends up being a bit of a clue to where we’re going. But can’t say enough good about this young woman.

And let me just say also, that, you know, there’s a lot of young people who are in seminary who are preparing to be priests, etc. And I think also, what struck me too, was that she had retained even though she’s a high school senior, she has in her possession what so many people lose. It’s like, now I am going to speak to you of God. And sort of this intellectual thing to try to legitimize the God talk. And she doesn’t do this. It is if she saying, hey, let me tell you about a friend of mine that I have learned that you can depend on.

Melissa: I love that. I love that.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: It’s all about hope and love.

Rob: Yeah, without a doubt. Without a doubt.

Melissa: And Arabella admits that there will be hardship just like you said. And that there’s really nothing that can, or should take hope away from us yet. Here’s the thing, like there are a lot of people that I know and love and I know you probably know and love who are feeling quite hopeless. And so, do you have a message for them?

Rob: Well, I mean, I have a message- I am a steward of a message that lots of people are a steward of. And that is, you know, the Buffalo, the City of Buffalo horrific event happens, life has evil in it. There are those who choose to use their strength and their bright minds to do harm to other people, but that doesn’t disprove God. And so, that’s our hope. You know, I said in a Sermon once, you know, the fact of winter does not disprove the fact of summer. It just proves that God has found a way to be involved with all of the seasons of life.

And so, you know, what Arabella’s sermon also calls to mind, for me at least is that, you know, hope is this thing that we have to share with each other. Because sometimes I’m running a quart low, you know. And sometimes I’m running the half a tank low. And, you know, this is this exchange that we have with one another, not that we fire platitudes at each other. But there’s this knowing, you know, in the community of faith and said, “Hey, I’ve been there. I know what that feels like. You know, despair for us, it might be a temptation but it’s not a real option for us.” As long as God is alive, there is no reason to despair. We can be tempted to it, I understand that. When you look at the news, when the seasons of life are difficult, bad news from the doctor. I mean, a lot of people are really sort of fretting right now. They’re looking at their finances and they’re looking at inflation, and they’re looking at, you know, the marketplace. They are really tempted to sort of fret and give up. Hope comes along and taps us on the shoulder and says, “Okay, now that you’ve had a good cry. I’m still.”

Melissa: Well, Amen to that. Thank God, right?

Rob: Exactly.

Melissa: Well, Bishop, it doesn’t escape me that this message of hope and love is from a teen. And I’m a huge fan of Gen-Z. I’m curious if you have identified any markers of this youthful generation that might set them apart from others before them?

Rob: Yeah. That’s an excellent question. I don’t know that I’ve seen any markers. But you know, I’m a city boy. I grew up believing that trees, you know, belong in parks. But as I’ve gone along in life, I’ve met a few farmers, and they’ve shared their wisdom with me. And, you know, I understand this notion of fallow time. And that is when a field has to be left alone for a little while and sometimes I wonder in the Church, if we haven’t had a fallow season. In other words, you know, things just sort of didn’t spring up. And all the things we tried didn’t necessarily sort of take off. And we’ve wondered if we’ve lost a whole generation of young people.

But then, there’s this group comes back around, who are trying to, you know, reach out to faith, reach out to God, reach out for one another, reach out for service in their own way and in their own idiom. So, not the ways in which the Church sort of is wanting them to or inviting them to, but nevertheless, sincerely saying there must be something better out there. And they want to be a part of that. So, when I hear people like this young lady and others who want to clean up the ocean, or who want to go to law school because they want to make a difference, that could go for the money, but they’ve decided to go for the service. When I see people who could go off into corporate America decide they’re going to go off into nonprofits so that they can fill bellies or get healthcare down into the cracks and crevices. It really, really encourages me. And so, I think that they are exactly what some of us older folks need. They’re dreaming these dreams and seeing these visions and sharing, you know, with us in their own way.

Now, they’re not going to be the Church that we have been. And so, some of us gray haired people have got to get over that. Right? They’re not going to sing the same hymns that we sang. But I think that they want to make Jesus known in their own way and I think we should be okay with that.

Melissa: That’s right. Amen. All right, friends we’ll be right back after a short break.

[Commercial]

Melissa: Welcome back to For People. So, Bishop, what are your thoughts about youth as leaders? And what’s the Diocese of Atlanta doing to help its youth cultivate and nurture leadership qualities? I mean, I have to say, I’m just curious about you giving platform to your graduates? So, what’s that all about?

Rob: Well, you know, I’ve said it before, you know, one of my favorite gospel lessons is John 5, Jesus walks up to a guy who has been on his back for 38-years and says, basically, “Hey, man, what do you want?” And I think that that is one of the most important spiritual questions that any of us can grapple with, what do you want? And one of the things I want is to in some way make myself obsolete or another way to say that is to use leadership so that it convenes and encourages other people to take leadership behavior. And so, what I want by giving people platforms, as the Bishop, not taking the microphone every three minutes, I want other people to, you know, get the microphone and to try on this thing called leadership.

I think, you know, our young people are really smart. They don’t want to sit and watch. They don’t want to, you know, they don’t want the equivalent of sit down and shut up and you’ll get your turn. They they’re walking around. They’re born with, in some cases, a supercomputer in their back pocket. They have seven times as much information as we had when we were kids, doesn’t mean they know everything but they are further along when it comes to just information.

So, what I want to do is, is that I want to give them opportunities and experiences that will begin to crystallize for them a way to live. A way to live, you know, where you are taking responsibility for the world. And not just simply sitting, you know, with your phone, or your laptop, critiquing the world. And so, to give people– I mean, I could have sort of insisted, I’m going to preach to high school, the Bishop has got something to say to you graduates, I would never do that. And when I go on a visitation to, you know, Churches on any given Sunday, I tried to do only what I have to do as the Bishop. And so, increasingly, I’m passing over to folks more and more and more to distribute communion, to read the gospel, to do various other things. Previously, you know, roles exclusively for clergy. Because I think that when you give those kids those opportunities, they see themselves in that role a little better, a little clearer. And then, they’re never going to forget that time when the Bishop said, “No, man, you preach.” Or you do this or that. And who knows that may be their Isaiah. Isaiah said, he got a glimpse of God, high, and lifted up. And who knows, maybe that’s the work you and I are supposed to be doing now is given these kids a glimpse at every turn. We’ve got to get over ourselves, I do think. We know we have something to add. So, I’m not saying that we don’t have anything to add, certainly we do. Certainly information is not wisdom. We have a role to play. We have to let these folks try some things out. And I think that the Churches that do that, are going to be making young people welcome in a way that they are not welcome everywhere and they are going to be giving them a glimpse of what leadership can look like. They may take that up down the road. For me, it’s always this notion of how do you pass the baton? How do you encourage? How do you develop this next generation?

Melissa: I love that. All right, so this generation still has a tremendous amount of things stacked up against them. You know, their college debt will preclude many, if not most, from ever owning a home. Because debt to income ratio is a thing. And they need to worry about the climate, and what global warming will mean for their own children if they choose to have them, and yet, they champion hope and love like a battle cry. I wonder– It’s incredible isn’t it.

Rob: Yeah, it is amazing, isn’t it?

Melissa: So, I wonder if you have any ideas about what our older generations might learn from these wise ones?

Rob: Well, you know, what can we learn? I think, we can maybe appreciate and get alongside them, because we were young and optimistic once as well. And I think maybe one of the things we ought to take up as a spiritual discipline is not to sort of pour, you know, a jug of cold water on their youthful ignorance and an optimism, right? I think. So, that’s our spiritual discipline for those of us who are a little older, which is equip them as much as we can, but realize they’ve got to learn. And how you learn, as you get out there you try, and you stumble. So, that’s one thing. So, I want to be in the business of doing that. It’s giving kids more and more opportunities to try some stuff out. I think this is how it happens.

But I am encouraged by them as a general matter. I mean, think about how hard it is to be hopeful. When you’re bombarded in a 24-hour news cycle with the stuff that we’re bombarded with. How do they do that? How do they do that? See, TikTok, see the worst of us, right? And Instagram. How do they see the worst of us again, again, and again? How do they see the news? How do they see these sort of warring political parties, the Republican and Democratic Party? How do they see this? How do they see the corruption, the lies, and all that? And at the same time, want to make the world better? I mean, we would almost give them a pass if they just wanted to stay home and give up. But yet more and more as I’m listening to these kids, they want to give it a try. They want to give it a try.

I was with a young group, you asked what we do in the Diocese of Atlanta, we started something called Steps to Lead, which was to get the conversation about leadership to a younger and younger group of kids. So, we’ve taken the Harvard Kennedy School level curriculum, and put it and pitched it to, you know, high school graduates, 11th graders, 10th graders, even in some cases. And get those ideas and those concepts to them as soon as we can, so that they can begin to sort of live that out at home, at school, at camp, wherever they find themselves. So, I’m always impressed.

One kid we asked to it we joined he joined this group called Steps to Lead. And he was talking to me about, he was going off to college and the college that he was going off to was in a small town in Georgia that had a really a pretty robust Ku Klux Klan sort of group in this college. And this kid happened to be a white kid. But he had a number of friends who were not white. And he could not stand the division. And so, his conversation to me it was about, how do I exert leadership in that context? Because he himself out of his own gut, knows and knew that, you know, this thing about Jesus is to be bridge, right? To recognize that we are all siblings. And so, I was so impressed that this guy got the message from this training, that he ought to go out and really try to run that experiment, you know, in the real world. And with some degree of risk that he would be that kid, that has black friends, and also has folks that he knows that are involved in the Klan and those hateful messages, and he was going to be sort of the bridge piece there. It’s just amazing when you think about it.

Melissa: Yeah, for sure. How long ago was this, Bishop?

Rob: This is an example from a couple of years ago. But I mean, but there are updated versions of that. We’ve got other kids who are, who were shamed, for instance, because of learning difference. And now, you know, based on the training and some of the conversations, they’re now going back to, you know, some hostile climates in their schools for kids who have learning differences, and trying to be those kids who create some space for some other kids who don’t have their voice just yet.

And what’s been amazing is that some of those very same kids, after sort of working with us, talking with us, now are pretty clear, are pretty clear now that they want to be teachers. So, they want to go right back into sort of the crucible that has given them, you know, pain and suffering and feelings of isolation. They want to go back now because they want to help somebody else.

You know, there’s a club in Carrollton, for instance, one of our congregations out there, where there’s a gay/straight alliance, where our young people are trying to do this kind of bridge building work. And so, this is really just amazing. They have looked at the news, they looked all around them, they realized where they don’t want to go, and who they don’t want to be. They find some inspiration in Jesus and the people who talk about Jesus. And they want to try to take this stuff on. This is the only way the world is going to get better. Is that Jesus said, I send you out like sheep among wolves to some degree and that is what is exactly is happening right now. These young people are saying, I see the odds, I see the danger, I have some sense of the risk. But I gotta try.

Melissa: Well, I have a bit of a skeptical question though, I’m sure–

Rob: You should.

Melissa: I do. Well, it’s really more about forming. It’s really more about, like if I were to hear Miss Brown’s Sermon, as the Sermons I had for our three youth who are graduating from our own Parish not too long ago preached, all of them preached fire. And you know what, not a single one of them could tell you what the Ten Commandments are. I mean, they could give you an idea of what they are, but it’s not like they’ve been formed in Sunday School classroom their entire life and had parents, you know. And so, I’m wondering then, how might we try to go about duplicating that, rather than getting caught up in all the minutia that actually doesn’t really matter, has mattered in the past?

Rob: Well, you know, you’re asking a really, an important question. What does formation look like for these young people going forward who are going to try to lead with love, right? And is this biblical literacy the same thing as adequate forming to do the work going forward?

Melissa: Yeah.

Rob: I think the answer is, maybe, you know. I’m not sure that a young person has to have a command of Deuteronomy to go out and try to love neighbor. I mean, this is why– What did Jesus say? I mean, he repeated the law, right? He’s like, all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two things, right? Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and neighbor itself. Hell, I think if we could just get that down into all of us, I mean, the world would automatically be, you know, measurably better. You know, with all due respect to Deuteronomy and Leviticus and all those other things, which can be certainly, you know, strengthening and they have been in my own personal life.

So, you know, I think that if we could really get Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John down into us, you know, the actual travels and words and teachings and example of Jesus, I think we’d all be a lot better off. I think if kids want to go forward and be teachers of the faith, I think there’s some prerequisites that have to happen. But, you know, I would love if they just–

I mean, think about the survey that was just taken recently, where, you know, some 80 some odd percent of people recognize Jesus to be some sort of persuasive, enigmatic, compassionate leader. Someone of moral authority, someone’s still to be reckoned with. Right? That’s who they know Jesus to be. And so, if we can just amplify that. I think we measurably change things, you know. Jesus, interestingly enough, is not really quoting scripture and beating people over the head with it as he makes his movement is he? I mean, he’s really interested in Isaiah. I mean, jeez, that’s his sort of go to, that’s on his top of his playlist. But he’s not beating people over the head with this stuff. You know, he’s lifting up the dignity of people. You know, he’s talking about who God is and that God is love and what that looks like, concretely, day to day with people. I mean, if we can just do that, and our young people get that, then we’ve done something, right.

Melissa: Amen. You know, our youth aren’t going to Church like the generation’s past. But let me tell you the spirit is alive and well in this generation.

Rob: Yeah, yeah. Well, maybe the last thing we should say around this, too, is that let us not underestimate how much music is getting into their heads and hearts. Now, there’s all kinds of music out there, yeah, I get that. But, you know, when I engage some of these young people, you know, there’s the crazy messages, we get it, there’s girls and drugs and cars and money and all that it’s always been around in one form or the other. But then, you know, you hear a lot of these kids who are actually thinking also about these other messages, right? About what is life? What does it mean to be generous? What’s a good life? What is love? You know, do I belong? All these really important sort of– And so that ends up being also an aspect of their spiritual formation. You know, you know, as I’ve said, you know, in other places, you know, Bano lead singer of YouTube said, that people give themselves to lyrics of songs like nothing before. And so, even as I listen to my own kids, quote back some stuff to me, I mean, in one instance, my daughter was quoting me something that a singer had said that was actually scripture. And, and she wasn’t exactly aware. And I was very tempted to tell her that it was, but I just left it alone. Because if she got the kernel of the truth of that thing, then that was good enough.

Melissa: I love that, Bishop. Thanks so much for sharing and listeners thank you to listening to For People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. Please subscribe, leave a review, and we’ll be back with you next week.


Llenos

“Una cosa en la que podemos sentirnos seguros es que podemos tener esperanza para nuestro futuro. Sin importar lo que suceda, Dios nos ha dado un camino a seguir. A veces será difícil y emocionante en otras ocasiones, pero va a estar lleno de muchas cosas buenas y de bendiciones. En estos últimos 4 años, hemos estado internalizando experiencias, amor y nuestras comunidades, y ahora es el momento de que pongamos esas experiencias a trabajar para el mundo. Cada persona en esta diócesis es un reflejo del amor de Dios y hemos estado reflejando ese amor de vuelta al mundo durante años, y al ir a la universidad, encontraremos nuevas maneras de reflejar ese amor”.

Tomado del sermón de Arabella Brown a los Graduados de la Escuela Secundaria de la Diócesis de Atlanta. Arabella es miembro de la Iglesia Episcopal de St. James en Marietta, GA y asistirá al West Georgia College en el otoño.


Tags: For Faith

Because

“… I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other. And God grant that something will happen to open channels of communication, that something will happen because men of goodwill will rise to the level of leadership.”

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
King Chapel at Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa
Oct. 15, 1962.


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

Transcript:

Dr. King’s Excerpt: Because we don’t know each other. Because we are afraid of each other. Because we’d rather be intellectually lazy and reduce one another to stereotypes. Because, because, because, therefore we take up these actions and we continue to injure one another.

This is For People with Bishop Rob Wright.

Melissa: Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m Melissa Rau. And Bishop Wright and I are having a conversation based on For Faith a weekly devotion sent out every Friday. You can find a link to this week’s For Faith and the link to subscribe in the episode’s description.

Good morning, Bishop.

Rob: Good morning, Melissa.

Melissa: There’s a lot going on in the world today.

Rob: A lot, a lot.

Melissa: This week’s devotion is an excerpt from one of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1962 address at King’s Chapel in Mount Vernon, Iowa. You named it, Because, and it’s Dr. King’s explanation for why men hate each other. So, I’m wondering if you can explain why this passage and why now?

Rob: Yeah. Well, I mean, we’re recording this just days after, you know, an 18-year-old boy walked into a grocery store and shot to death, largely senior citizens who are unarmed. He was armed to the teeth, dressed in tactical gear. And as far as we can tell right now, he drove 200-miles to accomplish this terrible act. And also, had put a lot of planning in it. And also, streamed it live as he was doing it. There was a white man in the grocery store who was cowering and thought that he would die, but the gunman apologized to him once he recognized that he was white. And continued to shoot black people.

And so, you know, as a Bishop, and as a public figure, so often people are looking for statements from people like me. And they’re right to look for some statements to help people make some sense out of things. On the matter of hate, because they’re labeling it a hate crime, on the matter of white supremacy and all of that. I wanted to invite Dr. King into dialogue with us.

And he’s been talking, I mean– You know, this little known lecture that he offered in 1962 in Iowa. I wanted to bring that forward to people so that they could have a real resource as they think about it. About how this is not a new thing, about how this is an old and insidious thing, about how it is enjoying, sadly, new attention and new sport, this idea of race hatred. And so yeah, just want to always try to give people the best I can.

And so, Dr. King, I think, is one of the best in trying to help us see, you know, how we are not the beloved community, and what the work is that is necessary to do so that we can become the beloved community, which of course, is God’s dream for us.

Melissa: Right. And tribalism is certainly not a thing that’s going to help us lead, you know, to becoming beloved community. And that is what we have a lot of right now.

Rob: No, no. Well, tribalism is a response to fear. And I think that that’s one of the things we have to talk about. It appears all this is preliminary. But it appears this youngster was fed, you know, a diet of fear that he was somehow smitten with this notion of replacement theory, where black and brown people or were sort of replacing white people in America, taking their country, and so that mobilized him to wage a war against, you know, black elderly people in a grocery store.

Let me just say something also here, it’s interesting to me at least, the cowardly nature of this. You know, you are armed with war grade weapons, you are armed in a war grade outfit, you’re waging war against 80-year-olds, octogenarians, in a grocery store who are unarmed and unaware, non-combatants. Being ex-military, this is a violation of honor. And so, it further proves, at least to me, how hatred, you know, grotesquely, mal develops us to where we think that grandmas, and great grandmas are the same thing as combatants. So, there is no honor here. There is cowardice here. There’s a grotesque sort of maladjustment here. And so, this youngster while he is responsible, who else is responsible? The rhetoric, you know, the doubling down on fearfulness. So, you know, it is individual actors. Yes. But there’s a community component to this as well.

Melissa: That’s right. I don’t know if we’ve talked about the book, Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson. But that And it’s sad to me, because I read that book, and it was so disturbing. But I’m sure Miss Wilkerson has predicted much of what’s happening right now because of that replacement theory.

Rob: Dr. Wilkerson, we share our undergraduate college. So, I’m awfully proud of her work. She and others are working on this idea, you know, looking back and also looking forward at what is our American future? Are we going to become seething, you know, sort of armed tribal camps? Or are we going to be the Republic that is interdependent on one another, celebrating one another’s gifts? Are we going to continue to be, you know, an imperfect American experiment, but nevertheless an American democratic experiment? Or are we going to descend into something which is going to be beneath our framers, the best of our framers hopes, and beneath God’s call to us?

And so, what is scary to think about when we think forward is that as America browns, as the color of America browns, we become increasingly black and brown. And we become more of a nation of minorities. You know, how will we be America?

You know, fiction writers, and, and people who make fiction movies have imagined one way forward, that is always apocalyptic. It is always gray and dark, and there’s lack, and there is suspicion. And we’re all armed to the teeth. And it’s an interesting thing, that God imagined something altogether different for us, that we find a way to be siblings, that we find a way to share, that we find a way to better care for creation. And so, what we have, every time we have one of these tragic events, not only in Buffalo. But in California, a man walks into a church because he hates Taiwanese people. He himself is Asian. But he hates Taiwanese people. So, he kills one doctor who bravely rushes to try to sort of save everyone else. And the congregation sort of acts heroically together. And they subdue him until law enforcement come.

But instance after instance after instance, people are being seduced by this idea that we’ve got to wage war against each other. And, you know, this is all in response to the American I think that is coming. Where white folks are, some white folks are feeling like the nation that they have built is being taken away now by some inferior species of people, black and brown. And this is the narrative that is sadly mobilizing some young people.

I think about Dylann Roof who walks into a church. Again, a cowardly act. Grandmothers praying on their knees. And this is the war fear that he thinks that is going to save America, etc. And so, we’ve got to acknowledge that people are sick, that there’s a sickness. And at the core of the sickness is a pervasive fear. It’s all fear. It’s fearfulness. This is why, you know, I chose this lecture from Dr. King, where he gives the reasoning for this. Because we don’t know each other. Because we are afraid of each other. Because we’d rather be intellectually lazy and reduce one another to stereotypes. Because, because, because, therefore we take up these actions. And we continue to injure one another.

Melissa: So, you know, he talks all about those because, but that he ties all of that to leadership. And you study leadership. And I’m wondering what resonates most with you regarding that theme?

Rob: Well, you know, for the people that know me, they know how happy I am that you are asking this question because as far as I can tell, it’s all about leadership. I think that leadership is a spiritual discipline. And leadership is driven by hope. And hope is energy. And energy comes from inspiration. And we are inspired because of Jesus’s example and teaching to do hard things. Leadership is among the most difficult things that you and I can do. Because it means that we’re going to mobilize people to address tough problems. Particularly and especially the problems they’d rather avoid. And so, one of the things we would rather avoid as Americans is the fact that we have this pervasive, systemic, multi-tentacled monster living in our midst called white supremacy and race hatred. And it’s been with us since 1619. The pilgrims come and 1620. But the first Africans come as chattel slavery, as chattel slaves and slave people, in 1619. So, it’s been part and parcel of who we are. And so, we need men and women of every color, of every ethnic background, of every class, of every learning discipline, to take up leadership. That is to say to the status quo, this is wrong. And what we know when things are the status quo, they are the air we breathe and the water we drink. It’s all in us.

But we in America, as James Baldwin has said, are addicted to this notion of innocence. And so, to say that white supremacy lives next door to us, and perhaps lives in our upstairs apartments, and you know, is very close to us, is not to condemn the nation. But it is to have the courage to critique the nation on the way to transformation and renewal. And so, when we see people stopping conversations about our complicated American history, they’re not doing the nation any favor. What they are demonstrating is their own fragility about facing the truth. And this is where the church can help. This is where the mosque can help. This is where the synagogue can help.

You and I, s we try to follow God and try to make God’s values our own values, what we are increasing in ourselves is an ability to look at the truth, the world as it is. And to bring real sensitivity to those narratives, to acknowledge when we’ve missed the mark, or our group has missed the mark, our people, our nation, our country, our county, our cities, have missed the mark. And not to be sort of condemned in that moment. But to understand that we all of us fall short and now the call is, what can we do about it? So, every time, you know, we have one of these heinous acts, and we ought to just say and tell the truth and love. Why so often are they often young white males? What is going on in our white families? What is going on with our white youngsters? What is going on there? Why are they mobilized in this way?

Now, people will say, well, these are just a precious few. But, you know, if you just do a quick search on Google, you will see any number of these kinds of horrific acts, and you will see each and every time that they are white males. And so, what’s going on? I want to know. I just want to be curious. What’s going on with these folks that they are being seduced by these ideas to be soldiers, you know, in a war that’s been concocted in the heads and the hearts of people who have prominent office? Who have, you know, positions in law enforcement, who have the microphone over various internet platforms, who think they are patriots. But they are really just pulling the fabric of this nation apart. So, I want to know about that. So, for us to engage this in any way, to address this, the scope of this, the scale of this, and the depth of this, people are going to have to exert leadership.

Melissa: We have to take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

[Message from the Producer]

Melissa: Welcome back to For People. Bishop, I heard a sermon not too long ago, where the preacher unpacked the nuances between discipleship and apostleship. Both of those are big fancy words. But the crudely summarize, disciples are followers, whereas apostles moved from student to teacher. And teachers are leaders. So, I used to think we have a discipleship crisis in our church, yet I’ve come to wonder if it’s really an apostleship crisis. I mean, we’ve got lots of students, but few who stepped out and up to lead. What are your thoughts on that?

Rob: Well, Jesus, you know, there’s nothing new under the sun. And so all of us fancy preachers with all of our sort of linguistic fancy footwork is always interesting to watch. But Jesus said a long time ago, “that the laborers are few”. He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” If we want to subdivide the leadership into disciples and apostles, that’s fine. I like the notion of apostle being someone who was a learner and because of accumulated experience and wisdom becomes teacher. I liked that idea.

But I think what we’re asking everybody to do is, you know, whatever you can do. You know, do all the good you can do, whenever you can do, wherever you can do is what we’re talking about. And leadership is not just a role. Just because I’m a Bishop doesn’t make me a leader. It’s just a role. Leadership is about action. And so, you know, my guess and my hope, is that in East Buffalo, men and women will rise up and exert leadership. You know, all kinds of folks, black folks, white folks, rich folks, poor folks. I hope they will exert leadership. I hope they will make action. I hope they will close the gap between what we say about ourselves and how we actually live.

I mean, you know, the thing is so deep and so wide. You know, why is that the only grocery store for 150,000-people in Buffalo? I mean, I live in a community in Marietta, Georgia that I can take a very short walk to two grocery stores and any number of other services. And so, what’s the history historic piece here where this guy could drive 200-miles and hunt, hunt for black people?

And so, you know, because there are no easy answers, that’s why leadership is required. Leadership is reserved for the most difficult things we face. And to face them, you got to begin to talk about them. And, you know, I think that there is a real reluctance to talk about things because I think that people are going to default to what I call the two cal-de-sacs. They are going to default to either just sort of blind rage, and I understand that. But nevertheless, you can get stuck there. Or you’re going to default to shame and guilt. And I understand that people can get stuck there. But neither one of them are going to move us forward. You know, just blind rage, a sad shame, is not going to move us forward. We are going to have to increase our capacity, all of us if we are going to move forward. So, this has everything to do with how we vote, this has everything to do with how we talk, this has everything to do with how we create climates and cultures in our businesses, in our schools, etc. So, this is a multi-faceted way to go.

Melissa: Well, really, I’m thinking about Martin Luther King’s, the whole excerpt. And he’s like, “Why do we hate? Well, we hate because we fear.” And my big question, Bishop, why do we fear? Is it because we don’t have relationship and so it’s other? And we are just unsure? So, where is that? Where is the rubber meeting the road in things that we can actually do to conquer our fear, to reach out, to bridge the gap, to do all the things to be in relationship with people who are different than us?

Rob: That’s right. You know, in America, especially around race, we walk around on eggshells with one another, black to white, Hispanic. You know, we have lots of things we say about other, and I find that when you talk to most folks, they haven’t actually spent a lot of time around the very person that they’re othering. So, I think there is a profound lack of knowledge of one another. I think in some cases, there is a track record with other that needs to be acknowledge and then therefore changed. I think about, you know, what are the people in East Buffalo now going to think about white males? You know, some 18-year-old white male is going to walk into a store and that’s going to cause somebody to think twice. You know, so I think, all of that stuff needs to be interrogated. We’ve all got to go the extra mile to reach across these divides.

Again, I think here’s an opportunity for churches to find ways to have conversations one to the other, the black church and the white church. I’m sure that makes God sad, that very statement, the white church and the black church. But nevertheless, to find ways to build connections that are not just on February, and not just in January, Dr. King’s birthday. But to figure out how we can continue to talk together. It is bigger than black and white. We also have to say too, we think about the synagogue where people were murdered in Pittsburgh, not too terribly long, you know, so there’s antisemitism. There are all kinds of, you know, gay and lesbian folks have been targeted. Asian folks. I’m in New York City right now recording this, and so the Asian people in our community have been given reason to pause because of this sort of monstrous hatred that is sort of stalking our streets and our hearts.

And so, you know, it’s multi-tiered work, but it comes from, I believe, a deep and abiding commitment to wanting to make sure that we understand that we are siblings, that we are neighbors, that is God’s dream for us. And everything else, that has us as warring, competing tribes is not of God. It is not of God. And so, we’re afraid and we have to deal with the fear.

Melissa: Well, I think it would be really appropriate Bishop if you close this out with a prayer. Would that be all right?

Rob: Yeah, of course. Let us pray. Gracious God, you’ve made us in your image, all of us, all of us. The young one and the old one, the black one, and the white one, and the Asian one, and the Jewish one, and the Muslim one, the gay one, and the straight one. You’ve made us all in your image God. And oh, how we have because of fear injured one another. We are terribly afraid. We demonstrate our fragility and our insecurity every day as we interact one with the other. And only you’re saving power, working through us and in us, can help to save us.

We pray for those who grieve right now who have lost family members. We pray for families who have been destroyed by hatred. We ask you, oh God, through the power of your Holy Spirit, to raise up in us a strength and a courage of fortitude that is for love, not the sentiment, but the sole force. Help us to face who we have been on the way to being who you want us to be, who you call us to be. Help us to find in Jesus an example of leadership, his teachings, and his availability to all kinds. Help us to deeply embrace that. Purge us of the sickness of hatred. We pray this in the wonderful name of Jesus who loves us all. Amen.

Melissa: Amen. Bishop, thank you. And listeners, thank you to listening to For People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. You can subscribe and leave a review. We look forward to be being back with you next week.


Porque

“…Estoy convencido de que los hombres se odian entre sí, porque se temen unos a otros. Se temen porque no se conocen, y no se conocen porque no se comunican entre ellos, y no se comunican entre sí porque están separados el uno del otro. Y Dios concederá que algo suceda para abrir los canales de comunicación, que algo sucederá por que los hombres de buena voluntad subirán al nivel de liderazgo.”

El Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
King Chapel en la Universidad de Cornell, Mount Vernon, Iowa
15 de octubre de 1962.


Tags: For Faith

Only

“The hateful and abusive can only occupy seats of power for a season. They know in their gut that the clock is ticking. That is the message of Easter. The great millstone of time turns slow but it grinds fine. That is God’s way. Easter isn’t a one time historical event, it’s an event that reveals the mind, heart and power of God-a God ever ready to make all things new. Only Real Power can turn night into day, weeping into laughing, despair into hope, the fearful into the fearless, and death into life. That’s real power! Only God can turn garbage into gold!”

Psalm 113:5


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

Transcript:

Michael Brown was 18 years old, a recent high school graduate, who was headed off into technical school within weeks. And these were millennials, the most educated generation in American history and they looked down at him and looked around at one another and saw that the idea of America which has built into it, social mobility had broken down.

This is For People with Bishop Rob Wright.

Rob: Hello, everyone, Bishop Rob Wright here, and this is For People. We’ve got a great treat today. We’ve got the Reverend Dr. Starsky Wilson, CEO and President of the Children’s Defense Fund. Reverend Dr., good morning.

Dr. Wilson: Good morning. It is great to be with you, Bishop. Thank you for having me and glad to be with the people.

Rob: Yeah, this is wonderful, a great treat. And as we’ll say in just a bit, you know, I owe so much to the Children’s Defense Fund. So, it’s great to meet its next CEO and President over this medium.

A little bit about Dr. Starsky Wilson, he is educated at Xavier University in Louisiana, Eden Theological Seminary, and Duke University. He is a Pastor, and some would call him a civil rights activist. And he is married to Dr. Latoya Smith. And they are the proud parents of four children.

And so, one of the things we’d like to get going on here, For People, how do you come to the work of caring for America and even the world’s children? How did you get here? How did God get you here?

Dr. Wilson: Yeah, God’s got away, indeed. My journey has really been always in service. I tell people who knew me in college, the only for-profit job I ever had was working at an overnight gas station for a period to put my way through school at Xavier. But other than that, come from a home with a mom that was our Youth Director, our Vacation Bible School director, and the Baptist Training Union Leader at my Church. And so, at Beth Eden Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas and Oakcliff parts of Dallas, Texas, we really kind of raised up in service in the church and formed for this work and set forth from it.

I point to particularly my mom’s service as a Youth Director, because for me, I see a lot of my work now as an enlargement of one of my earliest jobs, which was as a youth pastor, at the Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. So, in many ways, I tell people, yes, I’ve been by vocational much of my career. But the reality is, I think I’m just a youth pastor, again. I just got a really large congregation of about 74-million young people that I now have care to attend to.

Rob: Well, say a little bit about that. The Children’s Defense Fund is an organization and meant the world to me. When I graduated from Howard University, another HBCU, like Xavier, I took up an internship there to become a part of the Freedom School, the rebirth of the Freedom Schools, and the Ella Baker Child Policy Institute, which really put young college kids in contact with serving their community, particularly serving youth at what we would call marginalized communities. And that thing has just exploded over the years. And so, why don’t we slow up a minute and tell folks what Children’s Defense Fund actually does and why does it exist?

Dr. Wilson: Yeah, founded by Marian Wright Edelman in 1973, which is, just to date me and kind of talk about the work, which is three-years before I was born. The Children’s Defense Fund was built to become the only multi-issue child advocate, national child advocacy organization that works really at the intersection of racial justice and child well-being and is informed by direct service and community organizing to do public policy advocacy. I tell people all the time, this is the brilliance of Mrs. Edelman. She didn’t choose one lane. She understand that strong public policy work was grounded in direct service and community. That is what our freedom schools are. But that’s also organizing in leadership training which is a critical piece for sustaining movements. We are excited to be doing this work in 100-cities, 30-states across the U.S. from 10-different offices. And we’re pleased that, between the movement building, community organizing, the public policy work, and the CDF freedom schools that we’ve been able to touch lives for two generations. And next year will be our 50th anniversary. So, we’re really looking at the next generation of impact for the Children’s Defense Fund, training, sending fourth, nurturing leaders, there I say like yourself, who will transform the world. So, we’re really excited about that for America’s children. And I’m immensely honored, frankly, to be serving in this moment following Mrs. Edelman’s legacy.

Rob: Yeah, and for those who don’t know, Marian Wright Edelman, I mean, you really got to get to know who she has been. You know, one could argue that she is one of the last few lieutenants of Dr. King, still on the battlefield, that initial cohort, that have really helped to bend things in this country towards what we might call the beloved community. And I can say that the Children’s Defense Fund and certainly the Freedom School movement, changed me, helped me to understand how to bring out all this sort of what we call highfalutin God talk down into the cracks and crevices. It was my first glimpse of what community mobilization actually looks like, how to go into communities that are not your own, or even if they are your own, and begin to generate goodwill, and begin to identify gifts and strengths that already exist in the community, to begin to address the gaps in the community, particularly in service to the vulnerable, our young folks. And so, you know, one of the things I’ve been very proud about in my 10-years here in the Diocese of Atlanta is that we gave Georgia its first two Freedom Schools, one in Atlanta, a place called People’s Town and one in Macon, Georgia. I believe so much in that program. And it’s been exciting to watch those things flourish.

Some would say we are out of COVID, some would say we are not quite out of COVID, I think we are not quite out of COVID. But we know that a lot of groups have really had a difficult time in COVID, specifically our elderly and our children. What is your sense of how America’s children are doing right now?

Dr. Wilson: Yeah, COVID-19, the pandemic has been absolutely devastating. And I think we’ll have a decade’s long, if not generational impact, on America’s children. First and foremost, we saw the impact of the dislocation, displacement of children from the social networks in schools. Early on, we wrestled with the idea of whether they would be physically impacted by COVID-19, came quickly to the understanding that they would, but more so than anything else, we understand them to be socially impacted and educationally so. We recognize that taking young people out of routine had a critical effect and impact, especially for that first year. But also, we recognize the need to catch up with the contact time and classroom that has been lost. And really just this school year, our schools beginning to unpack the impacts thereof and the need for out of school time supports, like freedom schools, for additional summertime support.

But finally, I mean, we also have to identify this issue of the work that CBF has done for years from a policy standpoint has impacted child welfare. And there have been upwards of 120,000-children who have lost primary caregivers to COVID-19. And this will have an impact on the child welfare system, the Foster and Adoptive Care system in our kinship networks across the county as we seek to provide for these young people and help them to understand what this moment has meant in a next normal level, not including many cases their mothers, fathers, grandmothers, or grandfathers. So, here we have the work of community being called together again, to see how we care for those children’s specifically, but also again, a generation of children who will be marked by the social, emotional impact of at least two full years of mourning and loss.

Rob: It’s really amazing to think about and that we’re just starting, I mean at the very beginning of getting some sense of the impact of all of this. And we won’t know the full impact for some time because part of the work that you do is about policy. What policies are we working on right now that are beginning to get drafted and sort of generate some buzz about? What is going before Congress? What are we lobbying for?

Dr. Wilson: Yeah, there are a few things. And what has been interesting in this moment, the emergency, the crisis has called us to test to engage, to innovate, and to advance policies that we have known frankly that work in other settings but we have not built the will to do so. Things like the American Rescue Plan, where for the first time we fully expanded and made refundable and advance child tax credit, so that millions of Americans children have access to a monthly support for their families, when the bills came, when the grocery bill came due. We had a child tax credit that allowed people to claim it during tax season. But in this time, we were able to expand it to make it larger per child in a family and able to get it on a monthly basis.

I’ve got three boys in my house, the youngest is 12. The other two are teenage boys, I know how they eat. If you have those in your house, you can’t wait until April. You can’t wait until tax time to feed them. So, that a remarkable piece. We were able to get that, and it started last July. Distributors when through December on an emergency basis. But what’s interesting there is that other English speaking industrialized nations have a child allowance that is akin to what we had for those eight months here in America on a regular basis as a part of common public policy. And so, this is something where we’re working to expand it, we’re working to extend it, really pleased to have champions in the Senate, like Senator Warnock, Senator Brown, Senator Booker, and Senator Bennett, who are working on this to try to advance this cause. So, this is one.

But we’re also learning about the need to expand early childhood education. The President was very intentional about supports on both sides of the K-12 system, to say we need to reach down and expand support for early childhood education, down to ages four and three in our communities across the country. But we also need to reach up and recognize that through an associate degree or some type of credentialing beyond 12th grade, through community college systems, we also need to be expanding access to education, not just for the workforce and the workplace to get its appropriate development. But also, to make sure that we are caring for whole humanity throughout the development of human minds and brains. I tell people all the time, the human brain is forming, talking about young people, they are still forming through age 24. So, we ought to be educating up and through that point. So, we’ve also gotten to the point in the CDF where we have endorsed bills and continue to advance an agenda around comprehensive access to bachelor’s degrees.

So, this is a time where we’ve been able to take things that we have been working on for some time, get implementation, get a sense of evidence with things like the child tax credit, but also continue to push the envelope. Because we have known that these kinds of supports are necessary to make sure that children are well in our community.

[Commercial]

Rob: You know, it’s something that I go back to often is the genesis if you will of CDF, which came out of, in part, you know, Marian Wright Edelman being in contact with a young kid, you know, in the midst of the riots. And she had an exchange with that kid and the kid just had no hope for tomorrow. And I think that just sent– Well, I know it sent just lightning down her spine. And CDF was like I said, at least in part, born of that exchange, that our country should and can do better for her children. So, it used to be a healthy start, a moral start, what am I forgetting?

Dr. Wilson: Yeah, a healthy start, a moral start, a safe start. Making sure that young people get off to the beginnings that they need to be whole in life and in community. So, as much as we continue to talk about those things, they have also informed public conversation. So, when you hear people talking about, of course, head start, you’re hearing the popularization of ideas that were not just catch phrases, right? But you’re talking about the ability to sustain an effort to mobilize people around strong concepts of care over two now generations. And so, that mission for us, continues to be about making sure that every child has a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start, and a moral start in life. But also, in the passage to adulthood, with the help of caring families and communities. Because we recognize that, you know, children don’t grow up in programs. They don’t even grow up in classrooms. They grew up in homes, with families, and communities. So more and more we’re being thoughtful about those in the public health world talk about social determinants of health, right? So, what’s the environment around children? How might we support and advance them? And you can’t help a child out of poverty unless you help to get resources to the parents. For the children to be sustainable, unless you’re investing deeply in the schools. And those schools are not going to be well resourced, unless you got a tax, and a revenue analysis. So, Mrs. Edelman really champion that being thoughtful about that whole child approach. But the whole child and a whole family and a whole community, is the way we can sustain, the only way frankly, we can sustain the wellbeing and thriving of our children.

Rob: You know, what you’re talking about really, for me at least, is the center piece of what real patriotism means in this country. And real patriotism has got to mean, and it should be a bipartisan issue, has got to mean that we raise the floor height for our children. I was talking to Ambassador Young about all of this, and he was saying, you know, this should not be fodder for partisan debate. Because, you know, we really are talking about the future of this democracy. And if we don’t give all these kids a shot, you know, at a good life, a better life, a moral life, a fair life, etc., a healthy life. Then I’m not sure exactly how much, you know, Republic we’re going to have left for anybody. And so, you know, this is the work of now but it also the work of the future.

I also think about CDF in the context, you and I being both Preachers at our core, I think about Jesus pausing his busy enterprise, his busy ministry enterprise, and situating the child on his lap, pausing his work for the child, and helping the disciples understand that this is the work. That this is the work. We are not too busy to stop and care for the child. And so, you know, your work is emblematic of that.

You come to CDF from your work in Ferguson, Missouri. And of course, for those that don’t remember, that work really got ignited with the killing of Michael Brown. You began to link up with folks and began to do some work there. Say a little bit about that work that got started for you in Ferguson? And what is the status of that work now?

Dr. Wilson: Yeah. I appreciate this opportunity. In my ways these stories connect on the personal narrative piece. So, when Michael Brown was killed, August 9, 2014, I was serving as both the Pastor of St. John’s Church, the beloved community, UCC congregation in St. Louis, and as the CEO of the Deaconess Foundation, a church related health conversion focused on advancing child wellbeing through advocacy in the St. Louis metropolitan community. And I like to remind people that Michael Brown was 18 years old, a recent high school graduate, who was headed off into technical school within weeks, and that those who gathered around him, who arrested our attention, made us pay attention to yet another black body lying in the middle of the street, were young people themselves. Who saw themselves, who saw the idea of what they had been sold about America lying on the ground, this idea that if you defer gratification, you get an education, and you work hard, you can do better than your parents. And these were millennials, the most educated generation in American history. But also growing up in the context of and the responses to the Great Recession, 911, fissures, fractures, and disruptions, and they looked down at him and looked around at one another and saw that the idea of America which has built into it, social mobility had broken down. That they had been sold, in many cases, a bill of goods. And what one of them said that day was that we are going to the Ferguson Police Department, and we’re going to stand outside until somebody gives us some answers. And they stayed in the streets for over a year.

So, I began that narrative with those young people because this is indeed a youth movement that inspired and created enough space for many of us to find our way in, including clergy and faith leaders from across the country. And it became the first sustained early mobilization of what has come to be called the Black Lives Matter Movement. And so, I think that those are critical pieces for us to remember. And for me, it was a call to the streets.

Unfortunately, Bishop, when I saw Michael Brown’s body lying in the middle of his own life force, I was directly connected to images from a Courtroom where I saw my brother who was killed by community violence, lying in the same way. And so, I felt the need to bring whatever I had to bear to it and called by those young people. And so, you know, frankly, our church began to mobilize and served open up space to the Black Lives Matter Freedom Riots of Ferguson, the Foundation began to try to engage in philanthropic organizing to create spaces for folks across the country to invest in the movement that young people were leading. And ultimately, I was called by the Governor to Co-Chair the Ferguson Commission, to try to bring people together, to learn, to explore pathways forward, including public policies that could get us to a more just, a fair, a more equitable region, to develop a community plan for racial equity in this moment that addressed child well-being in the Courts and access for people to thrive economically. And to do that public work over the course of the year with thousands of citizens committing their time to it, to develop a vision for the future for our community.

And so, I’ve been really pleased to work with partners on that in St. Louis. And to be able to say that, I think I can sustainably say, that the work of organizing the community and the community’s response to it, has created the political will and a policy environment in the region to advance an equitable future that became because of the community organizing of partners around that table. It became the prevailing policy agenda to govern the election of every mayor since in the city, county executives in the county, especially prosecutors, including one who refused to bring charges against the officer who has now been deposed after 25-years in office. And so, I think it created a rallying cry.

But for me, what it also created was an opportunity to have these young people tell their stories. And so, I was given the opportunity to bring a group of young people to a Sojourner Summit in Washington, D.C. in 2015. So, they could tell leaders from across the country what was really going on and what was really motivating them. And it was at that Summit, that I met Mrs. Edelman. And got marching orders, as you’ve been around her enough.

Rob: She is very clear.

Dr. Wilson: She was very, very clear. And in that moment, frankly, not only did she meet those young people, she invited me to speak to some of the policy interns at CBS headquarters. And then she, after that meeting, began to map for me what my marching orders were. And assess how many freedom schools we had in St. Louis. We had had so many at one time, if we could rebuild that as a programmatic response, and guess what, I began to go back into St. Louis, sponsor build out a network of freedom schools. We built up five in our community. Oh yeah, you can connect with this scholar over at Washington University where the Henry Hampton archives are. “He is one of ours,” she said about Dr. Shawn Joe, because he had been active in the Black Student Leadership Network. So, I hooked up with Shawn and we started to figure out ways to help young people in our community, particularly black boys as a community response.

So, Ferguson has everything to do with my connection, story, and sending me forth in many ways into the work at the Children’s Defense Fund, including that very direct connection of listening to young people, creating space for them to be heard, and then responding. That’s how I got here. That was the story from Ferguson to CDF. And some of that is through Mrs. Edelman’s direct work.

Rob: You know, when we look at the Old Testament prophets, and even when we look at Jesus, what we see are men and women who refuse to look away from the facts on the ground. And too often, the Church wants to look away from the bodies on the ground, from the injustices on the ground, etc. But the prophet is not really that religious finger wagger, right? The prophet is someone who has an immense sensitivity for human suffering and just reuses to be bought off from talking about it.

Walter Brueggemann and I had a conversation about that one time and it reframed for me, this the sense of what prophetic ministry is. It’s not about being, you know, 24/7 angry, it’s not about any of those things. It’s just refusing to reduce God to some sort of private piety and it’s refusing to reduce neighbor from anything but my siblings. And, you know, I understand that some people, when they look at the work of places like Ferguson, or Black Lives Matter, they are shaken and concerned. And they wonder if this isn’t sort of, you know, rioting sort of gone mad. What do you say to those folks that don’t see, at a glance, see these as positive movements within our democracy? What do you say to folks who think these things are disruptions of another wise sort of orderly society?

Dr. Wilson: Yeah, I mean, one of the things I say is first and foremost, that it is the role, it is the responsibility of each generation to make democracy its own. And that requires than a questioning, an interrogation of that which has come before. What I say about eruptions, uprisings, in some cases, even not, I think appropriately note rebellions, like what people have seen in Baltimore and other places, is that these are first and foremost human emotion in response to tragedy. The first gatherings, the extended engagement in Ferguson was about mourning, it continues to be about mourning a loss. And then being thoughtful enough using, frankly, leaning into Walter Brueggemann, being thoughtful enough to create an alternative witness. And I invite people to look closely at these movements to see what is actually happening, right?

So, I love Walter Brueggemann. He made the move from Missouri, where he went to Eden Theological Seminary and taught there, of course, where I went to school and came down to Georgia to be closer you, maybe that was part of the attraction, I don’t know. But part of what he talks about in this prophetic word, work of prophetic imagination, in that critique of us noting that this old model of Prophet versus King, I think he says in one of the revised versions of prophetic imagination, is outmoded and increasingly difficult to pull off. That then the work is to creating an alternative witness. And what I have found in engagement with leaders in these movements is that they are creating a space of what king called the radical revolution of values to be lived out. And in many ways, whether it’s the creation and BLM of black joy celebrations, that look similar to ritual in the worship of the church, and it is about celebration. But it brings a different ethic, whether it is about the communal solidarity that is built. Here we have people who are critiquing the way the world is working out in their lives, the oppressions that they experience by creating a space, either for a moment in the midst of a protest, or for an extended place as they develop coops and homes where artists and activists live and work together. They’re creating an alternative witness to the systems of oppression. And those experiments, those creations of alternative space of innovation is how democracy comes to be. It is how the next social experiments come to be. It is what Paul is doing, in the early Jesus movement, in organizing people into communities because he believes that the empire will fall in his lifetime. And people need a way of living and organizing themselves. So, this is disruption in the way of the Acts of the Apostles. These movements are disruptions that evolve and advance society by giving us space to live out new ethics and values with one another. Frankly, in the way that we invite people every week when we preach.

Rob: Well, there it is. And you know, a text that has been very important, biblical text that has been really important for me recently, the Bible has a way of sneaking up on you, you know. The Holy Spirit, you know, as my mother used to say, something came to mind, something put me in the mind of is the way that the old folks say. I’ve been thinking a lot about Philippians, where Paul goes through this list of our foibles, our shame is in our glory, and our God is in our belly, and all of these sort of things. And then, he does this amazing thing, he reminds the community in Philippi, who they really are, where their primary citizenship lies. He says, “Your citizenship is in Heaven. You are a colony of heaven.” So, when I think about the mobilization of particularly young people to address social ills, justices, etc., historic injustices and begin to right those wrongs, give voices, shut up or shut out, I think in the best case scenario, we are trying to exert our heavenly citizenship. And that our American citizenship is really downstream for us, who happen to be baptized and followers of Jesus, it happens to be downstream of our heavenly citizenship.

So therefore, my American citizenship, something I take very seriously and that I am proud of, is then shaped by my baptismal identity. And not the other way. These are not competing issues. My American citizenship is not first and foremost, it is secondary to my heavenly citizenship. And it informs everything. It informs how I vote, how I share, the resources that I have, how I spend my time. But we have this America that is an unfolding, you know, sort of experiment.

So, you used a couple of words that I love. And one is the interrogation. We’ve got to interrogate, you know, what has become our status quo. And ask ourselves, “How are we doing?” And then, we have to run experiments across those gaps. And then lastly, I’ll just say, you know, it’s made all the difference in my own personal life and to be to be given marching orders by these Jim Lawson, Marian Wright Edelman, CT Vivian, Andy Young, and the list is too long, Otis Moss. To be given the baton, if you will, to now run your race, and make America live out her promise, and make sure that she takes care of all of children– This is one of the things that I love about CDF. CDF is not only about black and brown children. CDF is about America’s children. And, you know, I serve in Georgia, and so I’ve got rural white poverty all around. And so, you know, I always remind people, this is not just an urban conversation we’re having. We’re having a conversation about all the little cracks and crevices around this nation, where people are disaffected, where there’s gaps and services and education.

I guess we should wrap up. But you know, you’re a father of four. You and I are both fathers of three boys. And I can say, amen to how they assault the pantry in my house. I know about that personally. You and I both husbands, both graduates of HBCUs, both ordained ministers, both the products of public housing, as well as praying mothers. And I wonder, as you look at your family, look at our American family, with all you know and have seen, what is your prayer as you take on this heavy life of this work?

Dr. Wilson: Yeah. I speak a prayer all the time in a way of a poem. And I won’t say the whole poem. But I would invite listeners to find the words of Langston Huges, Let American Be America Again. Let it be the dream it used to be, let it be the pioneer on the plane seeking a home where he himself is free. I lean into that and opening stanza because of a refrain that comes up that I hear as an interruption and an interrogation of that prayer about America and its hopes. The refrain is, “America never was America to me.” And I hear a chorus of children, these 4-million children in American, now the majority of whom are black and brown, one in seven of whom live in poverty. 41% spike in poverty because we stopped that monthly allocation of the Child Tax Credit, right? 41% spike in child poverty in January. And so, I hear that poem as a prayer. The idea of America is not yet the reality of America to these children. And they are interrupting our religious practices, are indications of God about our hope for the future, and saying that this America never was America to them.

So, my prayer is that it will be, that ideas about economic mobility, and doing better than your parents can be. That I hope for healthy, hope filled futures can be. That neighborhoods where children can thrive and sing and dance as healthy hope field children do, can be. And that will only be with activated individuals and inspired institutions all over the country working to center children and youth and our public policy conversations. But also in our congregations, synagogues, and mosques. Also in our neighborhoods, centers, and communities. And so, that is my prayer, frankly, that we can prioritize children and then mobilize for them the will to invest in another generation long campaign. That is the way that I see the history of CDF. That first 25-years was largely animated, mobilized, by the inspiration of the Poor People’s Campaign. Mrs. Edelman’s work as the public policy director there. In the second generation was mobilized as you came around that table and innovation around CDF freedom schools, and what we call the black community Crusade for Children in the mid 90s, that serve kids like me, who was in high school at the time. And now, our challenge is to raise democracy through a new generation, investing in child wellbeing, and racial injustice, and citizenship education all at the same time, so that these children whom we have been protecting and providing for can fully participate, to live out the hope of that reframe, to make America, America for them.

This is my prayer and my hope, and frankly, my motivation for our time together for what I hope will be a significant impactful, or at least respectful to Mrs. Edelman’s legacy, tenure with the Children’s Defense Fund to raise democracy through this rising generation by investing deeply and changing the circumstances around their lives. This is my prayer.

Rob: Yeah, no, it’s clear to me that Mrs. Edelman’s work and legacy is in exactly the right hands. I just want to thank you for meeting us here and having this conversation. I wish you all of God’s blessings. Brothers and sisters, it’s been a delight. We’ve had the Reverend Dr. Starsky Wilson, CEO and President of the Children’s Defense.


Solamente

“Los odiosos y abusivos solamente pueden ocupar puestos de poder durante una temporada. Ellos saben en su interior que el reloj está marcando, su tiempo se acaba. Ese es el mensaje de la Pascua. La gran piedra de molino del tiempo se mueve lenta, pero muele bien. Ese es el poder de Dios. La Pascua no es un acontecimiento histórico de una sola vez, es un acontecimiento que nos revela la mente, el corazón y el poder de Dios, un Dios siempre dispuesto a renovar todas las cosas. Solo el Poder Real de Dios puede convertir la noche en día, el llanto en risa, la desesperación en esperanza, lo temeroso en valentía, y la muerte en vida. ¡Eso es el poder real! ¡Solo Dios puede convertir la basura en oro! ”

Salmo 113:5


Tags: For Faith

Jehovah Jireh (God is My Provider)

Jehovah Jireh

“You are Jireh, You are enough
And I will be content in every circumstance
You are Jireh, You are enough
Forever enough/Always enough/More than enough

I don’t wanna forget how I feel right now
On the mountaintop
I can see so clear what it’s all about
So stay by my side when the sun goes down
Don’t wanna forget how I feel right now

I’m already loved
I’m already chosen
I know who I am
I know what You’ve spoken
I’m already loved
More than I could imagine
And that is enough, oh-oh

If He dresses the lilies with beauty and splendor
How much more will He clothe you?
If He watched over every sparrow
How much more does He love you?

It’s more than you ask, think or imagine
According to His power working in us
It’s more than enough”

Jireh, Songwriters: Christopher Joel Brown / Steven Furtick / Chandler Moore / Naomi Raine

Jehovah Jireh is first seen in the Bible in Genesis 22:14 | Watch “Jireh” by Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music on YouTube.


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

Read the Transcript:

Rob: The truth of the matter is, is that Jesus would not be welcome in most Episcopal churches, period. Because Jesus had radical ideas and what we have done, is we’ve turned Jesus, the raging bull, into a milk cow. And we have done this for organizational sustainability and survival. We have done this so as not to offend.

This is For People with Bishop Rob Wright.

Melissa: Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m Melissa Rou, your host. And friends, this is Part 2 of celebrating our 100-eposides of For People. Thanks for being with us. And we’re especially grateful for our special guest, Winston Arthur, a priest in the Diocese of Atlanta. Welcome, Winston.

Winston: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be here. And, you know, I’m so grateful that I’m on the other side, I’m offering some comments or observations, rather than being a listener.

I am a Rector of a wonderful Church on one of the largest rocks in Georgia, Stone Mountain. So, my church is St. Michael’s and All Angels. And I’ve been there for the last five-years enjoying it, enjoying loving the people.

Melissa: Love that. And welcome, Easton, our producer. How’s it going, dude?

Easton: Hey, fam. It’s good. Like I said in the last episode, it’s funny to be on the other side of this. But I’m looking forward to chopping up some stuff from Bishop today.

Melissa: Yeah, so friends, just like we did our last episode. If you didn’t hear it, it was kind of like the greatest moments, if you will. And you know, we’ve got so many of them. So, it was hard to pick and choose. But what we did, we played a few sound bites, and then we unpacked them. And we’re going to do that this week only we’re listening to Bishop’s words. And we’re going to unpack them about the impressions that we’ve had listening to them. And so, Easton, how about you cut us up with our first.

[Sound bite]

Melissa: It starts inside of me. So, I feel like that was complicated stuff. Like that was a lot, right there. He’s talking about girl power. He’s talking about agency. He’s talking about standing up for what people believe in and following through. And so, Winston, what do you think about that overall thing? How does that sit with you knowing that you’re a leader of a congregation? What is your wish for them about how they use agency in what they do? Or how they live into their life as Christians?

Winston: Sure, yeah. So, if I could pivot a bit before we get to agency–

Melissa: Always.

Winston: The comment or the observation that Mary had girl power is so accurate. And I want to speak to the realistic presence of girl power in our church and in our community. You know, obviously, the focus is on Mary, but when we think about where women have been placed in the Bible and their roles within the Bible, girl power comes alive. You know, expanding upon that point, obviously, the story of Ruth, and the relevance of her actions and her commitment to offering hospitality and being committed to following the advice of Naomi. She played a huge role. And now she’s inserted historically in the genealogy of Jesus. Of course, Mary and the Magnificat and then Mary Magdalene, and having her confession, understanding the resurrection of Christ and his policies and resurrecting Lazarus. And then, what I mentioned to in my Easter sermon, talking about girl power and the importance of women in the Bible, about Mary being the first one to proclaim the rise in Christ. So, girl power is a thing. Girl power in our Churches, you know, is definitely a thing.

Melissa: Can I interject though, because I feel like some people would have women in the church just be wallflowers.

Winston: Absolutely not. You know, I mean, again, the Bible, yeah, it’s true. Well, the Bible cements the important role of women.

Melissa: Easton, you are a daddy of a girl, right?

Easton: Absolutely.

Melissa: So, how does that hit you as a father?

Easton: That’s what I love about so much of what he does on the segments anyways, right? He’s talking about leadership, right? And that we’ve all got it. And hearing this story, what is fascinating is it is how Jesus comes into the world and it’s also the ones that first come to the disciples to proclaim the good news that he has risen. So, that’s wild on both ends. But it certainly makes me think of, with my own daughter, how I want to walk alongside and that I know she can do anything that she wants to in the world. And we don’t talk about that enough. And so, I appreciate that we’ve got a Bishop who talks about girl power all the time.
Melissa: Yeah, I agree. All right friends well let’s listen to our next clip.

[Sound bite]

Melissa: You all, when I hear that, when I think of vertical and horizontal, I think of that old nursery, like that deep and wide, deep and wide. Anyway, but it is, about being deep and wide and being in right relationships. So, if we are in a right relationship with God, vertically, then it means we’re going to be living out right relationship horizontally with the people around us and our neighbors. Do you think that was summarizing what Bishop was getting at?

Easton: It’s really unique. Because I will tell you what it makes me think of and we’ve talked about this too. It’s heavenly citizenship.

Melissa: Totally.

Easton: We’re citizens of heaven, called to live out our walk with Jesus in the world for the world. And what he’s really doing here is challenging us to do that because that’s hard. It’s hard.

Melissa: Sure it is. Absolutely it is hard.

Winston: Yeah, and what Bishop Wright does extremely well in sharing the rumbling of the Holy Spirit within him is to create the imagery of a story. So, not only are there words, but there is imagery that you can associate with them. Let me explain. So, if we look at the vertical and the horizontal, if it’s declared, the Christology to cross, right? I first heard the explanation, which is so accurate, from Charlie Holt in reflections during Lent, and then spilled over to Easter. He was talking about forgiveness. And the ultimate forgiveness, of course, comes vertically and Jesus’ wonderful work on the cross, and our strength, our responsibility to wherever we have been wronged by others to offer that forgiveness to our brothers and sisters horizontally. I’ve also heard instances where that has been referenced, that vertical horizontal action model, by the way of blessings, around stewardship. We are constantly blessed from God, all that we have, all that we experience that brings us joy is from God. So, wherever we can pass that along to our brothers and sisters by offering time, talent, or treasure as well known, that we do offer that horizontally. So, the imagery and the model of a vertical and a horizontal relationship with God and others is critical in our faith in action.

Easton: What do you have, Melissa?

Melissa: It’s so darn practical. And it’s a really great illustration, you know, is it prophetic? I don’t know about that. What I think Bishop Wright has a really great gift for is making difficult things–

Easton: Accessible.

Melissa: Yes, you just finished my sentence. Yes, it’s accessible. And so, you know, when I’m living life, I can put on new lenses and remember, because of what I’ve listened to or I’ve heard Bishop Rob say, I can process and implement a new understanding and a new way of being because of the way Bishop distills things for us. And so, again, it’s already been said, right? I just think Bishop has a real knack for words and a real way of explaining things that makes it accessible and applicable for folks.

You got another one for us, Easton?

[Sound bite]

Easton: I’m just going to speak to a story. I had the privilege of volunteering to record a massive, diverse choir of young people this past weekend at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. It was a God inspired moment of seeing just praise, just praise for God. People trying to do the work of expanding God’s kingdom and reach on Earth. And it was in that moment that I saw something that told me, we’ve got to tap into this energy source in the Episcopal Church. We’ve got something unique that I think we can offer with music because of the way that we do music. So, how do we tap into that in a way that’s more accessible for people that need healing? Because we’ve got something unique to say in the Episcopal Church that I think is loving all people and really striving to love and respect the dignity of every human being.

I saw music as a bridge and catalyst to enter into hard conversations. And y’all we can do it. So, I was I was actually texting Bishop this morning. We really need to explore what it would look like to gather people to sing, and record that, and get it out in the world. I don’t know what else is going to happen with that, y’all. But let me just say that it was one of those moments where I was like, I’m touched by God, by the Spirit, right here, right now. Let’s do something with the energy.
Melissa: And yet, so when we have these kinds of mountaintop experiences– When we experience things that are out of the ordinary and just lovely, sometimes it is easy to crack us open and we can experience God in a new major way.

And you’re a Rector, so that’s a fancy word for senior pastor for our non-Episcopal listeners, so you are tasked with creating or curating a space where people can worship, be moved, and be recommitted. And I’m wondering how much time or thought goes into that process, in your role for helping people see God’s major newness in their lives through worship?

Winston: Melissa, you have teed this up perfectly. No, seriously. I will tell you why. Because I wasn’t going to comment necessarily on the question that Bishop Wright asked. But the process of him leading people into the sermon which ties into your question. But I think what is unique about Bishop Wright is that he asks good questions. So, he may say, he did some training, post-graduate training and asking questions, but is really a gift to ask the right question to lead someone into deeper discernment. So, anytime you leave Bishop Wright, listening to his podcast and he asks a question, it’s never a question that you can answer immediately. It calls for deep thought, reflection, and an awareness of where you are. So, that is his gift.

So, to answer your question, how do we move past the usual liturgy, the usual process of Christian formation that is known in Episcopal Church, is by inviting individuals as led by Bishop Wright, and asking good questions. And Jesus was a master at asking good questions. I mean, there are so many. Who do you say that I am to the disciples, to the man at the well, do you want to be healed or cured? I can go on and on and on. But the process of asking good questions is an invitation to a deeper discernment that you might not immediately experience in going through the usual ritualistic forms or structure of the Episcopal Church. I just wanted to touch on how unique that is and that isn’t an art that you can acquire easily. It is something that’s gifted by God. I think that is his true git to ask the right questions and invite God into space in a way that you don’t get anywhere else.

Melissa: Yeah, I really appreciate that. I am wondering about the practical thing, it’s so funny that we spend so much time about teaching people how to answer questions. And not enough time in seminary, just on the art of asking good questions, right? So, that is a really great point.

All right, Easton, any other thoughts you got for us, bro? Or should we move to the next clip?

[Sound bite]

Melissa: That was a big one, y’all. It was kind of deep. He is talking about community, relationship, and authenticity. I’m curious, how did that hit y’all?

Easton: Y’all we’ve become, and I am a millennial. I remember what it was like to grow up and be in closer proximity, like to people that are actually around you, right? So, when we think of proximity, you think of your neighbors and actually spending time with them. We don’t do that anymore. I feel like in my neighborhood that I live in, these people that I’m actually in proximity close to, we don’t spend time with. And so, I think my question for Bishop Wright is, why have we become a society that spends zero time with the people that are in proximity to them? Why aren’t we doing a neighborhood dinner or something?

Melissa: He mentioned authentic and about Thurman, so one of my favorite Thurman prayers is called, Open Unto Me. If it’s okay, I would like to share it with you all right now.

It’s open unto me light for my darkness. Open unto me courage for my fear. Open unto me hope for my despair. Open unto me peace for my turmoil. Open unto me joy for my sorrow. Open unto me strength for my weakness. Open unto me wisdom for my confusion. Open unto me forgiveness for my sins. Open unto me love for my hates. Open unto me thy self for myself.

You know, that whole idea of open. You know, I don’t know that this is the answer or why, but maybe we just become closed off. We’ve forgotten to care about the simple things and we’ve become insular. We know it’s wrong, but it just doesn’t feel great. And I would see your why and I would raise you a how? You know, how do we turn it around? How do we turn it around?

Winston: Yeah. When Bishop Wright references the importance of being authentic, it reminds me of a quote that Howard Thurman used. I tried to speak to and I think it answered your question a bit, Easton, in terms of where is the interests, or the joy, or the appetite is that you can direct individuals to become more involved in their community, or speak to or get engaged in difficult subjects. I remember Howard Thurman, there is a version of this, don’t ask what the world needs, asks what makes you come alive and go and do that thing. The world needs people who have come alive. Something to that extent. And when we find what interests’ people, what brings them joy, you can’t be more authentic than that. It can be seen in the faces, it can be analyzed and observed in their energy, and of course people are present. If you are going to be authentic, you have to be real and honest and say, “Look, this area of ministry, reconciliation, social justice, Chirstian formation, outreach, whatever that is, or sing it, brings me joy. And I will come alive. Or a gathering in a community, in a community building brings me joy, and I will come alive. That’s when you really see someone express the authentic self.

Melissa: And that’s my great worry. I have to say, I’m really thrilled that Churches are really stepping into that online, digital, the virtual space, however you refer to it. I do worry about authentic connection. I’m all for online worship, as long as it can turn into authentic connection in your own milieu, your own context. If that’s what you need, great. And I just pray to God that we’re not doing it at the cost of connection.

Winston: Well, Melissa, so true, so true. And as you know, especially in this, I don’t want to say post-COVID world, but as we learn to live with COVID, we absolutely have to meet people where they are. And so basically, people are interested in something. The world has not ended. There is engagement in some activity. And to carry the message of the importance of the why to be involved, to be active, to be present, or to speak is to meet them wherever they are, wherever that source of enjoyment is. So, that’s the how first is. We spoke earlier about agency, an agency is action or intervention. And intervention is getting up and saying, “Hey, I see you are present here, let’s talk about these fundamental issues.”

Melissa: Great. Well, Easton, do we have one more clip?

[Sound bite]

I would say, the truth of the matter is, is that Jesus would not be welcome in most Episcopal churches, period. Because Jesus had radical ideas. And what we have done is we’ve turned Jesus the raging bull into a milk cow. And we have done this for organizational sustainability and survival. We have done this so as not to offend. And so, I have to look at myself and others have to look at themselves at, in what ways have I colluded with that? But I think that Jesus would not be welcome in most churches, right? We’ve made Jesus in our image. Jesus is not an English speaker. Jesus is not from America. Jesus is not an NRA member. Jesus is not from South Georgia. Jesus is a very small, swarthy, wooly haired Jew, who’s daddy was a day laborer. And whose birth was suspicious.

Melissa: Talk about being real. You know, Bishop, he’s got a way with words, right? He just gets right down to it. And gosh, how many people in our churches make Jesus out to be in their image? If they’re passionate about something, well, then darn it, Jesus was too. And rather than being passionate about what Jesus was passionate about, we put Jesus into a box with preconceived notions about what we think. I don’t know, you guys, it’s hard for me. It’s hard for me when people say, “Well, we can’t talk about politics in church.” Guess what? Bullshit. Just saying. I don’t know that we can be at church if we’re not talking politics.

Bishop Wright is very clear. We don’t talk politics. We don’t talk partisanship. That’s the whole kicker, right? We’re not endorsing candidates. We’re not doing that kind of thing. But Jesus was political. And so, we have to be political. And I just wonder what you think about that whole raging bull versus the you know, the little tiny, the milk cow. Oh, my gosh, so funny. So, I’m going to shut up now and I’m turning it over to y’all. What do you think?

Winston: You know, I remember observing in a forum, I’m not going to say where, but observing a forum where someone mentioned, you’re a good preacher, just don’t talk about politics and you’ll be fine. I always laugh at that. So, you know, this is my observation, that church for many people, and I can only speak within my contacts and experience, sees church as a place, like a safe haven. It’s a place where they can be refreshed, renewed, made to feel loved, made to feel comfortable, exchange the peace with so much joy. So, it’s an escape from a cruel world. Harmony. I mean, you can offer so many platitudes and descriptions. Absolutely.

But really, the message of the gospel is one of triumphant love or hate, of life over death, yes. But it’s also inviting us to hold us the standard of living and viewing our brothers and sisters, which can be quite hard and challenging in this world. So, it is a difficult message. But a message must be told. And it is a message that dependent on the lectionary, dependent under circumstance, might make parishioners uncomfortable. But it’s a difficult message, but a message that needs to be shared. So, you know, it’s just a view of church, what church represents for many people, but what is more important? To make people feel comfortable 100% of the time or to proclaim the truth of the gospel.

Melissa: Yeah, I think Will Willamond called it maladjusted in his episode. We should be going to church to be a bit maladjusted to think, well, I’ve never thought about it that way, I think is what his quote was. And, you know, when we talk about the political things, oftentimes people I talk with, whether or not we’re on the same side of the political spectrum or whatnot, we typically agree that a problem is a problem. We just often disagree with, how we’re going to fix it. Let’s bring up the topic of illegal immigration. Many people stop at the fact that people are crossing the borders illegally, and they stop there. But because they’re not curious, or asking questions, the solution isn’t very easy. So, is the solution taking it, and bringing in, and meeting people where they are? Or is the solution further upstream? Gosh, wouldn’t it be amazing if people didn’t feel scared that they had to leave their home in the first place? You know, why? Why are people feeling the need to leave their home in the first place? Well, they’re living in places that are deplorable. They don’t feel safe. They’ve got drugs and violence. And that’s why they’re fleeing. And so, what would it look like for the Christian community, or all people, to help them, everyone? Reimagine how we can help people feel safe? And I’m not saying that’s the answer. There’s no answer there. It was just a question. But again, we’re not curious enough. We are not asking the right questions.

Winston: You are right. And also with illegal immigration, I mean, you referenced some issues, political, socioeconomic issues in a place of origin. But what about the cost of legal immigration?

Melissa: Heck yeah, come on.

Winston: So, you know, you can say, “Well, this is the pathway.” You adopt the right pathway. But there is a financial burden. And it’s also quite timely as well. It can take three to five years. It can be longer for other individuals. So, when you think about issues in the place of origin where some immigrants started their journey, yes. But holistically as well, not to just say, “Why are they coming to the United States for a better life?” There is some human issues there, experiences that might be jarring for why they do not go the legal route. Well, yeah, there is a path, it is expensive, it requires many time legal advice, and it’s quite lengthy. What do people do the in the meantime in terms of sustaining themselves while they adopt the legal road? So, you are right, it’s a very complex issue. And can only be actively and accurately discussed if people are curious to ask the right questions.

Melissa: Thank you for that. Well, friends, Easton, do you have any other thoughts? This has been a joy. I just have to tell you personally a walking alongside Bishop and having the privilege to be a conversation partner the last two years has been an absolute gift for me. And I know that there are many people who listen and share these with other people because something spoke to them. So, we are inviting you to continue listening with us. If you have any ideas or thoughts and you’d like to be in touch with us, Easton what’s the best way for people to be in touch with with you or Bishop Rob or For People?

Easton: Continue to find us on social media, Bishop Rob Write. Shoot us a message if you’ve got an idea. We’ll be in touch with you pretty quickly.

Melissa: Well, thank you. And thank you Winston for being with us. I was just thinking, and I would say when you are preaching, you had some firey stuff yourself my brother. I was like dang, you know what, that Diocese of Atlanta has got some pretty fine clergy in it. So, we’re grateful for you. We’re grateful for all of your gifts. And we’re thankful that you listen.

Winston: Yeah. And I just want to, you know, I can’t speak on behalf of all the listeners, but for myself, I express tremendous thanks and appreciation for hosting. Melissa you are asking some wonderful questions and challenging and inviting Bishop Wright to go deeper. I usually listen to the podcasts on my drives or my rides to or from work, and it often fills me up, fuels my spirit, where I feel challenged when empty. So, you know, I’m sure to other listeners, too, are equally charged after listening to your exchange. So, it has been a blessing. I hope it continues. So, thank you very much.

Melissa: Friends, thank you so much for listening to For People. As always, we’re grateful for you and we’re especially grateful for the gift that this is, this For People is for the church. Thanks for listening and follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. Please subscribe, leave a review. And we’ll be back with you next week.


Jehová Jireh

“Tú eres Jireh, Tú eres suficiente
Y yo estaré contento en cada circunstancia
Tú eres Jireh, Tú eres suficiente
Para siempre suficiente / Siempre suficiente / Más que suficiente

No quiero olvidar cómo me siento en este momento
En la cima de la montaña
puedo ver tan claro de qué se trata
Así que quédate a mi lado cuando se ponga el sol
No quiero olvidar cómo me siento en este momento.

Ya soy amado
Ya estoy elegido
Sé quién soy
Sé lo que has hablado
Ya soy amado
Más de lo que podría imaginar
Y eso es suficiente, oh-oh

Si El viste los lirios con belleza y esplendor
¿Cuánto más te cubrirá?
Si Él velaba por cada gorrión
¿Cuánto más te amara a ti?

Es más, de lo que pides, piensas o imaginas
Según Su poder obrando en nosotros
Es más que suficiente”

Jireh, Compositores: Christopher Joel Brown / Steven Furtick / Chandler Moore / Naomi Raine
Jehová Jireh es visto por primera vez en la Biblia en Génesis 22:14


Tags: For Faith

God’s Way

“Just when it appears that we’ve done our worst- or the worst in us has won… Easter! You can’t kill God! The message of Easter is a defiant message. Easter, accurately rendered is more like, you can’t kill God, na na, na, na na na! Why do we kill the things that try to teach us love? Why do we kill the things we should love? That’s a part of the human condition. That part of us needs Easter- a power for us, working in us, coming from beyond us. God took our worst and made God’s best out of it. That’s Resurrection! And if you can’t kill God as we sing and say, then that means, God is going to get God’s way. As one southern poet put it, “Love is revolting against everything that is not love.” That’s God’s way!”

An excerpt from Bishop Wright’s Easter Sermon -> Watch on YouTube.


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

Melissa: Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m your host, Melissa Rao. This is conversation inspired by Bishop Wright’s For Faith Weekly Devotion sent out every Friday. In this episode we’re celebrating our centennial episode. This will be our 100th episode. And we are celebrating over 2-parts, this part and next part. Today, we are going to be listing to a number of more popular and really provocative guests. Bishop Wright and I are going to unpack them a little bit for you. And then next week, our friend, Reverend Winston Arthur from the Diocese of Atlanta, myself, and producer Easton Davis are going to be listening to some of Bishop Wright’s more fiery quotes. So, we are really hopeful that you will take a listen and be inspired to share this with your friends, people who need to hear it.

Bishop, before we start and listen to our first soundbite, I’m wondering if you can share just a little bit about how you think we’ve gotten here with For People?

Rob: Happy anniversary we have to say, first and foremost. Happy anniversary, 100 episodes, no small thing. How we got here? What we believe is that when COVID hit and people sort of stopped reaching out and were encouraged to stay home, away from congregations and lots of public spaces. There was fear everywhere. We said, “Now is the perfect time to find a way to reach out.” We had always talked about doing a podcast, but it never made its way to the top of our list. We always had lots of other things to get done. But Easton Davis and I really just said, “Now is the time. Now is the time to reach out and find a way.” We had listened to podcasts personally, neither of us really knew what it meant to establish a podcast and get it done. This podcast represents iterative learning. We decided to try and we believe giving your best and that’s what God wants from us. He wants us to give our very best. And to be kind of ourselves as we iterate and learn how to do things. We got the word out and people seem to list it. And so, we are here.

And we began to invite people to join us, talk about the intersection of leadership and faith. And nobody told us no. They kept saying yes. New York Times best-selling authors, presiding Bishops, Governors of the State of Georgia, the Head of the Supreme Court in Georgia, State Senators, they kept saying yes. Professors, practitioners, clergy people, laypeople. So, we built up a little bit of momentum. And we hope that it’s become a space for people, as a drive, walking the dog, whatever they are doing, they can just overhear a conversation that has heart to encourage people to live faithfully and make a difference in the world.

Melissa: Well, I mean it has reached a lot of people. And I’m wondering if our producer Easton Davis might have some stats for us to celebrate.

Easton: You all normally just hear my voice when it says, Welcome to 4 People with Bishop Rob Wright. That’s great, that’s perfect.

I’ll start with this, the first episode we dropped, I remember about noon that day Bishop Wright, we jumped on a quick call. He’s like, “How are we looking,” on day one? I’m like, “I don’t know. We’ve got 350-downloads. That sounds okay I feel like for our first go at this.” So here we are two years later and we have over 120,000-downloads. We average 11,000-listens an episode. We’ve been in 102-countries and over 4,000-cities. In the last five episodes, which is a really good indicator of what your listenership is, we’ve had close to 7,000-downloads in 15-countries and 600-cities. We are really reaching.

And that’s also in the comments that we get. I’ve been at lunch with Bishop Wright just in Marietta, you know, chopping some stuff up, and a couple came up to us and said, “You are Bishop Wright?” He said, “Yes, I am.” “I listen to your podcast every week.” That’s the first thing that she said. It has been a path for people I feel like especially during these harder times. It’s been, certainly even for me, a spiritual practice that I know every Friday morning I’m going to be in my gym and I’m going to put on 4 People. I’m going to have some time to reflect.

Rob: We have been surprised, pleasantly surprised, right? So, the Holy Spirit can use a good try. On several occasions, out of the blue, people have said, “You know, I listen. I’m a regular listener.” Whether it’s in South Georgia, where I have been, or in other places, or even in other states that I’ve been, people are like, “I’m listening. I like this episode. I like when you said this. I used that in a sermon that I wrote.”

Easton: You got a letter from Texas, handwritten letter.

Rob: I got a handwritten letter from Texas, this lady was saying, “Hey, I don’t know anything about Episcopal, I don’t know anything about Diocese, I don’t know much about Bishop, but I can tell you that you’ve encouraged me through some difficult days.” That’s been amazing to hear that kind of feedback. And to hear people say that they feel like the conversation that you and I are having, Melissa, is earnest, authentic, and sincere. There is laugher. We don’t shy away from hard stuff.

Part of what we are celebrating in this 100th is we are thanking God for what has been and then also sort of thinking about what do we do for the next 100-episodes? Who do we need to be talking to? Who would be great conversation partners that would be difference making for listeners?

Melissa: I love that. Well, I know that the six-guests that we are going to be highlighting today have been difference makers for me. I’m really excited to get started. Easton, can you play us our first clip by Barbara Brown Taylor?

[soundbite]

Melissa: Holy cow, it gave me goosebumps. Bishop, what do you think about that? That people come to Church to feel good and aren’t given permission to be real?

Rob: Yeah, I mean, Barbara has done such a good job with this subject. She’s talking about something that she calls Full Solar Theology, which is, you know, a happy, clappy, everything is okay with me, I’m all good. I’m walking towards the light and all is well. What we know, if we live a little while, that is not real life. So, what Barbara has done and this comment is all about, as she reads her Bible, she sees that God does some of his best work in the dark. We can take our darkness and our dark times and dark places to God and we can trust that God will work in those places. God is present in those places. We don’t have to be afraid of those places, ashamed when we walk into houses of worship, that we are not sort of happy, clappy, and that there is joy on the tip of our tongue. What she is doing is so important. She is recovering half of Christian theology, which is, yay, do I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me, right? She’s reclaiming that. And it has to be said again because I think that naively sometimes we are lifting up only one side of life with God. And that’s like lifting up only one side of life with a spouse or one side of anything. It’s just not complete. The complete part is that we have a friend in darkness and we can trust that God is at work in darkness. Our dark times are not aberrant. They are part of life.

Melissa: Yeah, they are real.

Rob: That’s real. And if that is real life and we have a real God who works on that, why be ashamed? And account for it, create space for people.

Melissa: I love that, creating space.

Yeah, they’re real. They’re real part of life. Yeah. Well, our next guest is Diana Butler Bass. She had really, really great two-part series when you had her on. I just love listening to both. But my favorite clip is the one we are about to listen too.

[soundbite]

You know, Bishop, one of the things that I often will say, and it’s almost aliment, I think so often in Church we’re so concerned with what people know about God and we’re not as concerned with how people feel about God. I don’t think it’s exclusive, one or the other. I think it’s both and. And I really love what she had to say about maybe the vehicle through that head and heart connection is through story.

Rob: Right. Yeah, I mean, it’s amazing that we had these two amazing authors. And through the miracle of technology, we’ve been able to bring them in the podcast and into conversation with one another. And the throughline, of course, is our real life story is what she is simply pointing us back too. Jesus told stories. There was a man who had two sons. He told stories of goats, sheep, fig trees, wooden bear, and told stories. This connected people in their real life. I think that is what we have to do. You know, one of the things we have done in western, modern civilization is that we have overintellectualize stuff. We’ve overintellectualized God and we are embarrassed about the visceral parts of what faith is.

Faith is pulling down the God story into my story. Pulling down the God story into how I bring up my children, how I use my money, how I connect with my neighbor, and how I use my time. So, yeah to tell the story. And the stories of when I thought there was no way I wanted to give up, I was in despair. Somehow a left turn happened or my experience of prayer in my real life, have I found it affected? When have I doubted? That makes real life. I like to say that grandmas are the best evangelists in the Church and the world.

Because what does grandma do? I love you baby and she tells you some stories and she gives you something yummy to eat, right? And as she is doing all that, she’s telling you a story, downloading to you ethics, morals, and direction. It comes from this trusted source and we use that story to attach our stories too. So, I love the way that Diana does that and that’s at the center of what Barbara is talking about.

Melissa: How can we reclaim that? I feel like, yes, you are. Because she said, the most expert storytellers make the best preachers. And yet, what you just said about grandma, we all need to lean into storytelling and the way we are integrating our faith into the way we are living and downloading that to our generations beyond us. So, what do you think about that Bishop? How can we lean into that more?

Um, how can we reclaim that how I mean I Yeah just I feel like yes, you are because what she said the most expert storytellers make the best preachers and yet what you just said about Grandma we all need to lean into storytelling and that we were.

Rob: Well, when I think about that in this thing called the Church, I think about one of the first things that has to happen is we have to commit to courage, right? Because my story is not clean and tidy. I can tell you manicured stories with happy endings, but that’s not my real life.

So, there have been stories of pain and despair. Like I’ve said, there’s been stories of joy. There are stories about things that I’m still carrying around that are unfinished. There are stories that I have that I don’t know what the answer is going to be. And so, we’ve got to find an appropriate way and courageous way to begin to tell our stories. I think that congregations are a great place to sort of begin to increase people’s capacity to do that. What if we found a way to do that? When I was a Senior Minister of a Congregation one time, we had a video project where we told stories about our lives in this congregation. And it was amazing to see how these people had come over this threshold for 30, 40, 50-years. They had buried husband, buried wives, baptized children, and been married, so on so forth. These stories were about what this place meant to them in their real lives, right? It was just transformative. We wanted toll roll out strategic plans and do all of that and develop fancy spreadsheets. And all of that’s important. But what really moved the needle on that community willing to embrace the changes that were up ahead was to go back first and tell the stories about what the place had meant to them. Somehow when we valued those stories, the people felt valued and more open to moving forward. And a deeper sense of community was built because people shared their stories. When one person was courageous to share their story, then others shared their story. Then it became a thing. Then it became what we did.

Melissa: It might be apropos for our next guest, Sheffield Hale, who we had on to talk about the monuments, national monuments. And it’s interesting, a story is always shared through the lens of the storyteller. And stories aren’t always necessarily true. They are truthy. But they are always, always told through the lens of bias. And so, I learned a lot from our next guest, Sheffield Hill. Easton, do you want to play that clip?

[soundbite]

Melissa: Wild. I have to say, Bishop, how does that hit you today?

Rob: Oh my God, so what we have to remember, the people that don’t know Sheffield Hale, he is an executive director of the Atlanta History Center. So, literally an organization who for decades have been charged with telling the story of Atlanta, of Georgia, and of the South. So, you know, Sheffield Hale is a member of our congregations. I met him and he’s an all together cool dude. I invited him to the podcast. I knew he would bring this kind of nuance and insight to the conversation about storytelling. And at the time that we recorded the podcast with him, all the rage in the news and so on, was about moving memorials and monuments to the Confederacy, to men to note who happened to be slave holders, etc. So, Sheffield Hale, with all of his brilliance ended up helping people all around the country to begin to figure out, what do we do? In Richmond, what do we do with Monument row? What do we do with all of these statues? It was incredibly divisive and still is. I think what he does is he puts his finger right on the button, right? So, we are remembering what we want to remember. And in that case, we don’t want to remember that we were actually were secessionist and we lost.

Melissa: But wait, wait, wait, who is we?

Rob: Right, exactly.

Melissa: Right. Because he points out that 50% of the South was not for the War.

Rob: That’s right. So, some portion of men and women who lived in the South adopted a narrative called The Lost Cause, and claimed something called Southern Heritage and didn’t want to or don’t want to attach in polite society that with the horror and the brutality of American Slavery. And here is a storyteller, Sheffield Hale, who wants to remind us that we have a complicated American story. And it is more than a soundbite. That’s what I love about him. He gives this nuance. He helps us understand that while 40% of Southerners were enslaved people, another 10% who were against the secession for other reasons, and I would argue that there is another percentage of poor white folks, who were dirt farmers, scratching out a living, who weren’t slave holders at all. There was a lot of nuances in those conversations as well. So, who are we talking about? Again, it goes to the power of story.

Here you and I find ourselves in a moment in America right now, where in fact in Georgia today, the Governor banned certain books. There is a movement across the country right now to ban certain parts of our American history. We want to keep, as Sheffield is talking about, keep the mythology and bury some of the nuance which is actually true and makes it a much more nuance conversation. Same with Barbara. We want to, you know, chuck the dark and only keep the light. And in Diana, you know, we want to just take a little bit when the fullness of it all is really where life is.

Melissa: Yup, I love it. Just one more time, nostalgia, kind of like heritage is history with all the bad parts left out.

Rob: Yeah, all the bad parts removed. That’s right.

Melissa: And it’s not true. It’s not true.

Rob: Yeah. Wasn’t it Stephen Colbert who gave us that word truthy? So, there’s a truth. If we don’t have the capacity to square our shoulders and face the truth, then we will settle for truthy, right? I think that’s what is happening in America. Women are saying no more with the truthy. I think people that were formerly marginalized are saying, “No more with truthy. Here was are. Big and bold.” I think that’s what is happening.

What feels so scary about it all is that we have erected this glass house of truthy. There are people walking around with hammers. And they have decided to not take mythology. And I can sympathize on both sides because for the people, for whom the glass house has served, they feel like the whole thing is crashing. But the lie and partial truth has served them well, whereas it has diminished others.

Melissa: Well, let’s talk about something that can bring us all together. Our next guest, Gregory Ellison, had something to say about really well-crafted questions.

[soundbite]

They walk on the surface of the soul.

Rob: Yeah. That is our dear friend, Dr. Gregory Ellison, from Canler School of Theology. You know someone who spends his life trying to increase the fearlessness in people to have dialogue. What I love about that is, in my own head, I had an amazing paradigm shift. You know, we grew up thinking that we ought to have the answers to questions. We got gold stars on our hands when we were kids. We raised our hands with enthusiasm. At least, I was that kid. I also had my hand up, you know. I got older, I’m really good at playing Jeopardy, you know. It’s about knowing lots of stuff and having fast retrieval of those facts. And then you get into real life. And you realize in the intersections of real life, we don’t have all the answers. Especially someone that tries to exert leadership. We realize, really fast, when we face things like COVID, unknowns, economic unknowns, uncertainties, you realize that the only way forward is to become a better question marker. The MIT Sloan School calls that catalytic questions. Questions that take you right down, as Greg would say, to the bedrock of the soul. And he was quoting Howard Thurman who developed 8-questions for leadership. One of those questions, what do I really want? It’s sort of a piercing question. We have to get past our own veneers, right. And get down to what I really want, really?

It’s funny that we didn’t really build a podcast in this way. But this is the contour of the conversation that we’re talking about story, the story leads to question, and questions, real good questions, not interrogations but real good, gentle, and catalytic questions can actually lead to transformation. And Jesus does this time and time and time again. Either in response to questions or as he makes questions, you know. He asks the man, one of my favorite passages, John the 5th chapter. Asked the man laying by pools of water for 38-years, what do you want? Would you be healed? I mean, these are questions that if we really let them penetrate, they can change direction. They can change marriages. They can change jobs. They can change approaches to life. They can change despair into joy.

Melissa: Yeah. You know what they also do is they crack open wonder. Is if we are more inquisitive, more wondering, then we are less judgmental. We are less about the other person. So, approaching life through the lens of question versus answer, I think, might give us the capacity for compassion. More than not, you know. I don’t know. What do you think?

Rob: Well, I mean, I think about questions and how probing questions can be, really important questions, because I know that’s going to take a season for me to really square up to those questions in my own life, having had that experience, I hope that I’m a little bit more patient with other people as I understand that they are trying to square up to important questions in their own lives, do you see what I mean?

And I think what I would also say about questions, I think Greg is right, he had a little module that he used to hold up in Emery. It wasn’t sort of a proper Church service but would invite people in, they would sit down, and there’d be little rules on the table about how we’re going to conduct ourselves in terms of speaking, questions, and a meal. A lot of time was over when you did these modules, it was amazing to me that very busy people lingered. And they almost wouldn’t go home because the questions had got something going, an energy, an authenticity that people were really enjoying. There was no homily. There was no sermon. There was no biblical teaching. It was just some really well-crafted questions that got people close to each other and I think close to the truth.

Melissa: Love it. Well, let’s listen to our next clip by Natasha Reid Rice.

[soundbite]

Melissa: So, Bishop, I don’t know about you, but when I listened to Natasha’s story, there were so many things that came to my mind and truths that I had that I was able to put my own self in certain circumstances that I have lived. And it was just because of the power of story that Natasha was sharing that I was able to even, you know, come to my own conclusions about my own life that actually had nothing to do with Natasha. I’m wondering after your conversation with you her, along with the rest of our clips that we’ve listened to today, I’m wondering if that hit you any new way?

Rob: Well, as a general matter, I have to tell you this podcast, over these 99-episodes, and now our 100th, have been a blessing to me personally. Because they have allowed me to chat with people. They have allowed me to draw near to some people’s stories to see what is really going on in their life, to use some of their wisdom, learn some of their wisdom, how it was earned. To learn from them and I can’t tell you the ways in which these conversations have helped to shape me. I think that’s what we do in real Christian fellowship and real fellowship with on another. We are shaping each other. I’m sharing my bit of truth with you, you are sharing your bit of truth with me. Natasha Reid Rice is a Harvard trained lawyer. She was a classmate with the soon to be Supreme Court Justice Jackson. She’s a brilliant woman, lawyer, and a brilliant woman of faith. We found out that we shared together through her candor and fearlessness, was that both of us are biracial. Both of us, so African America so to speak, have white mothers. And the trauma of that and what it was like growing up being both and the benefit, the superpowers to all of that, the perceived liabilities to all of that. So, I have really appreciated her courage. While not being an Episcopalian minister, she nevertheless serves at one of our congregations in Midtown Atlanta. And has brought her perspective to a group of people who are very different from her and it has been really amazing to watch how they are benefiting from hearing another side of the story. So, yeah, I think that this is the way forward. One of the reasons I’m really proud about this podcast is that to the extent that we continue to keep people’s stories front and center. Some information, yes. But keep the stories moving. I think it will continue to be a benefit to people.

Melissa: Yeah. I agree. Because everybody has a story. And yet, Bishop, it strikes me how many people will listen to other people’s stories and have the gull not to believe them. What the hell, man? I’m just saying. Anyway, we don’t have to talk about that. I feel like there are two sides to every story, right? It’s not just this and that there is always one person’s side and the truth. But some person is bringing their lived experience into a space and being brave and sharing. I just hope and pray that we can get better at receiving that and seeing that it is another human’s experience.

Rob: Yeah. I hope so too. I thin that, you know, cynicisms that we bear, we have to interrogate what that is about ourselves?

Slightly off of that, I can tell you one of the first times that I was invited into the House of Bishops, I was a brand new Bishop. You know, someone preached a sermon and we were supposed to divide up in groups of 3 or 4 and work through some questions. I thought to myself, I have sort of been here, done that, got the coffee mug. I think when you get into those groups, immediately, everyone goes into their brain, what can I offer that sounds sort of relevant but is safe? At least, that is how I was thinking. This one Bishop, told a story of the broken nature of his relationship with his daughter. And I’m just sitting there with my mouth open. She’s a young adult, her choice in boyfriend has really caused a major break in the relationship. They used to go out for sushi regularly. You could just tell there was such love and affection there that had been ruptured by not only their relationship but other factors. And at the end of telling the story, he said, so I’m asking you to pray for me and my daughter and our reconciliation. I never forgot that. Immediately because of his vulnerability and his courage, I had to immediately think about offering more of myself in that group. And I would have never had that thought because I’ve been in those kinds of groups, icebreaker conversations thousands of times. You know, you want to get out of that unscathed. You want to get out of that without making any contribution. But this man changed the temperature of our fellowship with his authenticity and I still see him. And I ask him about his daughter.

And so, the essence of Christian fellowship is not just being in a building together with people for an hour and a half. Or you know, me giving the soup bowl and you giving the soup in a soup line, right, as we feed people who need a meal. But it’s something much, much more. It’s sharing the texture of your life. And you know I hope that’s what the podcast is doing. You know, some information and the texture of this thing called the Christian Journey. I think that is what we are supposed to be doing with one another because that changes things.

Melissa: Yeah. Well, let’s listen to our last clip, Will Willamon.

[soundbite]

Melissa: Wow, so Bishop, there was clearly two different parts of Will Willamon’s episode, kind of schmooshed together, I think. Because both of them had really, really fantastic parts.

I have to say, let’s take the second part first. That was fire for me. I listened to it, I was like dang, that was fire. Our response to undocumented people, our response to illegal immigration, is baptism. That was like mic drop moment for me.

Rob: Yeah, if that was a basketball event, that would have been a 360 reverse high flying acrobatic slam dunk. Few people, in my opinion, show you how crazy it is to live for Jesus as clearly as Will Willamon does. I mean, I think that’s what he is saying, most people think that I’m going to be a Christian, that means I’m going to have the full support and affirmation of society, and I will be a nicer person, somehow the nation will be incrementally better because heaven is just like a regular democracy on Earth, right? And here is Willamon just running a sledgehammer through that plate glass window saying, “If you want to be Christian, and you’ve got some concerns about people without papers, and immigrants, well, there is enough love in the gospel of Jesus Christ to make them family. And we have a normative response to that, that is called baptism.” I love it.

Melissa: I love it too. I thought, you know, what an inconvenient truth?

Rob: Oh my God. Oh my God. You know, it’s Simon and Cyrene’s response to helping Jesus carry his cross, right? It’s the woman, who brings spices to the tomb, and said, well, they killed him. But I’m going to give him dignity in death. So, I guess what we might say, if there is a line through, we can say, if the God story somehow touches your story in a powerful fashion, then you should send out to make a different in somebody else’s story. That’s what he is saying. He is saying the whole baptism story we tell, the little kids, the Cherubic little kids, that has power to change national policy. And on the way to national policy, you and I get to take a stake in that, a role in that. Oh my God. That is why they used to kill Christians. And that is why they assassinate people like Martin Luther King. Because when the love of Christ looms so large in your life, it begins to affect society and you really realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t make you adjusted, it makes you maladjusted. Then usually the societal response is to marginalize you, fire you, and ultimately kill you. Because that response, making undocumented people family, is frowned upon by the status quo. Now, you are at the intersection of, “I love Jesus so much. That I’m going to point out to the country that I love where she is a stray from the gospel.” Now, you have a recipe for disaster.

Melissa: Well, Bishop, it sounds like you’re talking about politics.

Rob: Well, I am, because the gospel is political. But the gospel is not partisan. So, politics means about people. So, when Jesus is talking about people, he is talking about politics. He just doesn’t have a party in mind.

Melissa: I hope you picked upon that sarcasm there. I’m not really good about it.

Rob: I do of course. Of course. But for anybody who is still struggling at that intersection, where they somehow want to divide the universe or country into neat baskets, we’ve talked about this before, our first and foremost citizenship is in heaven. That is what is drives us to live out our Earthly citizenship. It’s not my Earthly citizenship that drives my heavenly citizenship.

Saint Paul was very clear about that. Willamon is talking about, in Christ, there is no East and West. No North and South. He’s talking about no slave, no free, no male, no female. He’s talking about this radical notion of me belonging to you and you belonging to me and God making us siblings.

Melissa: Amen. Well, gosh, Bishop, this has been an incredible conversation. I’m kind of sorry that it’s over. But we know that we’re back every week. We have more and more of these conversations. And yet, I’m curious, what would you have us do, have our listeners do because of the way they are leading their lives because of this podcast?

Rob: Yeah. Well, I hope that in some ways it’s a great support to people who are endeavoring to try to live at the intersection of faith and leadership, whether we’re talking about family, or work, or congregational leadership, or business leadership, whatever it is. We hope that this is a great support to you, a seasoning on your Christian life already, on your faith life already. And so, what we hope is that if this is working for you, share it. If this is good news for you, share it. Why wouldn’t you share good news? And I understand that you know sometimes we’re a little coy about sharing. But I’m asking you to share it. We don’t charge for this. You know, there’s no sort of sales pitch here. But we just believe that people who have been positively impacted by something, sharing something makes all the difference in the world. And so, we’ll continue to do hard work and good work on this end. And we’re asking you to join us, be a partner with us in this work, by commending this good work. And if you are the praying type, we ask that you pray for us. Pray for myself, Melissa, and Easton, as we try to do the work of God for the people of God.

Melissa: Amen. Well, Bishop, thank you as always. And listeners, we thank you for listening to For People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. Please subscribe. Leave a review. Share this with others. We look forward to being with you next week.

Rob: Happy 100!


Así es Dios

“Justo cuando parece ser que hemos hecho lo peor – o lo peor en nosotros ha ganado… ¡Pascua! ¡No puedes matar a Dios! El mensaje de Pascua es un mensaje desafiante. Pascua, cuando se interpreta con precisión es definido con la frase, no se puede matar a Dios, ¡no no no! ¿Por qué matamos a las cosas que nos enseñan a amar? ¿Por qué matamos las cosas que deberíamos amar? Eso es parte de nuestra condición humana. Esa parte de nosotros necesita la Pascua, nos empodera, trabaja en nosotros, ve más allá de nosotros mismos. Dios tomó lo peor de nosotros y con eso hizo lo mejor en sus manos. ¡Eso es Resurrección! Y si no puedes matar a Dios, como profesamos y decimos, entonces esto significa que Dios va a conseguir su plan de salvación. Como dijo un poeta sureño: «El amor se está rebelando contra todo lo que no es amor». ¡Así es Dios! ”

Tomado del Sermón de Pascua del Obispo Wright


Tags: For Faith

More Easter

“You THINK you have this death thing right. You think that life is a small pebble in the dark river of death. You are wrong. Death is a small pebble in the raging river of life. You are going from earthly life to a better life, and death doesn’t consume very much of that journey. Celebrate the victory, don’t be afraid of death, and pour a little out for death….say goodbye–because it isn’t YOUR worry anymore. Jesus took care of it!”

Author unknown


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

For People Transcript

Melissa: Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright, I’m your host Melissa Rau. This is a conversation inspired by Bishop Wright’s, For Faith Weekly Devotion, sent out every Friday. You can find a link to this week’s For Faith and a link to subscribe in the episode’s description. Happy Easter, Bishop.

Rob: Happy Easter, he has risen.

Melissa: He has risen indeed.

Rob: Amen.

Melissa: It’s good to be with ya.

Rob: You too.

Melissa: You didn’t write this week’s devotion. Instead, you highlighted a passage of an unknown author and it’s really about life and death. I love the first few sentences. It says, you think you have this deathing right. You think that life is a small pebble in the dark river of death. You are wrong. Death is a small pebble in the raging river of life.

So, It’s really about the juxtaposition between life and death and how it’s viewed. And so, I’m curious when you stumbled on this, was it named More Easter or did you bestow that title upon it?

Rob: No, I named it More Easter. I have been writing brief devotions for more than 20-years and someone sent me that, that I had written in 2012 or that I quoted in 2012. And I said, I’ve got to refresh this and give this to folks now. So, what I love about it is that it says exactly what we say. Life has overcome, swallowed up death in Jesus Christ. This is what Easter screams today, on Sunday. But for the next series of weeks, we are in a season of Easter, not a day of Easter. So, that season, that day, that 2,000-year ago day gave birth to a paradigm shift in a season that you and I get to enjoy, you and I get to proclaim, and you and I get to live out. So, that’s the good news. And it flips the notion that life is small and death is big. It’s the opposite. As we said last week, with Diana Butler Bass, I mean, Jesus’s crucifixion was a blip on the screen of life and life abundant. But yet, we get so hyper focused on that. So, that’s why I wanted to bring that quote back.

Melissa: Yeah. And it talks about being afraid to die. Not being afraid to die if we know what we know about life over death, that we shouldn’t be afraid to die. I am not afraid to die, I’m just afraid of how I’m going to die.

Rob: I think that is true for most folks.

Melissa: Exactly right. Anyway, you know, Bishop, given the difference between Easter of 2020 versus last year, though it was a little less restrictive, it was still bound by things. But this Easter felt a little like more of what we were used to before the pandemic.

And I know that the Diocese of Atlanta decided to get some sound clips of folks’ reaction to the joy of this Easter. So, I’m wondering if we can listen to the first sound byte.

I love this, I love this so much. She said some really cool things. She said, you know, it felt like an awakening from a deep silence and that this Easter, with the bells ringing and the gratitude for Jesus’s resurrection has marked a new season in our Parish and a renewal in faith to love like Jesus loved us. And so, I’m wondering if you have any thoughts or comments about this season of renewal of this year versus maybe previous years?

Rob: Yeah. You know me, I always got thoughts and comments. So, you never have to worry about that. So, I mean I think it is beautiful. And what’s interesting is that from over the last two years, if you will, you’ve been in a bit of a liturgy, that is the word we use in Church to talk about how we build the service out, how we build the moments of the service out, the ups and downs of it. We were fearful. We were really afraid at the very beginning. We were less afraid a year later. We had some responses but only partial, we were still uncertain, still trepidations, still reluctant, we were bound, right? And then on this year it broke open, the mask restrictions have calmed down, the vaccinations have come up, boosters have come up. We’re feeling more comfortable with one another. We know more about COVID-19 and were able to sing and sing beside one another.

And in some ways, it mirrors the lesson for this last Sunday’s Easter, which was the silence was broken by two dazzling strangers, we’ll call them angels. When the ladies came to dress Jesus’ dead body, they were looking for the living among the dead and the angels broke the silence by saying, he’s not here. The cemetery can’t confine him. So, in some ways, this Sunday’s Easter, this Easter Sunday, with less limitations, more comfort, more freedom, it felt like the genuine article. It felt like we were experiencing that moment. We got the surprise and the long-awaited hallelujah, you know, with our full throat. I guess that’s what I would really say, this felt more full throated than the last two years. We were able to really get back to saying, hey, there is some good news. I’m all in. We need it. We need it and it’s been so difficult. We’ve lost lives and livelihoods.

We are a pretty fortunate nation. We had the money, we had the medicine, and there a lot of other places that don’t have it. So, even as we say hallelujah with our full throat here, we have to be mindful of other neighbors. And maybe responsive neighbors who don’t have these benefits. But yeah, Sunday morning felt great. With the singing, flowers, bells, and all of that, and the hugs, handshakes, it felt like the real thing.

Melissa: Yeah. I have a worry though. I have a worry that it’s a mountaintop experience. And you know what people say about you know, going up the mountain and then coming down off it, that it’s just business as usual. And I do wonder if there is a way that we might capitalize, or how do we leverage that joy going forward?

Rob: Well, you know, the thing about joy is, where was there, I think a product? I think it was a hair care product that if you were turning gray, you put a little dab in your hand and combed it through your hair. It would make the gray go away and say a little dab will do you. I don’t know what the hell that product was. Yeah, my hair is turning white for sure. It is behind reversal.

But a little dab will do ya. Authentic Easter joy is like nitroglycerin. It’s an amazing force and power. So, when we have the genuine article, I mean not the performance of sort of optimism, radical optimism one Sunday a year. But actually realizing that all creation knows the real and truest song of God. And that is life, bias for love and life. So, when we get really sort of persuaded again, it is an invitation. These enigmatic moments that we’ve had in our lives, that are distant memories for some of us, which are ultimately positive where we felt loved and accepted, they don’t go away. You may have to brush the dust off of them sometimes. But they don’t go away. So, I say that is what we have to stay with and remember to keep that on the desktop of our heart, of our memories. And just realize that death doesn’t win and hatred can’t win and abuse can’t win. It has a finite season. That’s life. It doesn’t prove the absence of God. It just proves that this is a particular way that God wants to be God. And how God wants to be God is to overcome death with life. And you know, God will submit God’s elf to our inferior powers and our arrogance for a season. And then comes Easter and then comes resurrection.

We just have to make sure that we keep the main thing, the main thing. That is always the struggle for us, isn’t it? We get so distracted with the minor things and we can even major in minors, which is tragic. But to major in the majors is life wins, love wins. Full stop. And even when it doesn’t seem like that, it is still true.

What I said on Easter Sunday at the Cathedral at Saint Philip here in Atlanta, was that you know evil, hatred, and abuse, even brutal tyrants like the one we have in Russia who is trying to keep his foot on the neck of Ukraine, all tyrants come for a season and have a season. But ultimately, they know in their gut that the clock is ticking. That is the message of Easter. So, hatred, abuse, evil doesn’t disprove God, right? Neither does winter disprove spring, right? So, we just have to remember that. And I hope keep heart in that way. Because that’s what it is really about. It’s being a good steward of Easter. Easter comes. The joy animates us. Gives us buoyancy. But then, ultimately, we are the inheritors of this gift, as well as the executors of this gift, right? We have inherited it, it’s a gift, we didn’t do anything to deserve, can’t deserve it, right? But at the same time, the invitation is, if you know something that is good, why don’t you share it? And God is good. Just God is good in Easter and here we see it better than anything that you and I could have designed is God’s Easter.

[break]

Melissa: Welcome back to 4 People. Let’s listen to our next sound clip.

Melissa: All right. I love this one Bishope because I love how he goes, unbelievable.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: That with the beauty of the flowers, the music, and that this year it was something unbelievable. And that word, in and of itself, is kind of striking to me. What are your thoughts on that?

Rob: Yeah. It’s funny enough that the words mirror the words of the disciples when the women, shoutout to the women, last at the cross, first to the tune, first evangelist in the Church, shoutout to the women. The ones that kept the faith, keep the vigil, shoutout to the women. Their good news that they calm, this surprising thing, this blessed interruption, the guys wonder out loud, scripture says, if this is an idle tale. And idle meaning, is this worthless? And so, here we are where he is saying the same thing. It’s unbelievable.

And of course, it’s unbelievable to our rational, our mind, can God do this? Can God through a birthday party at funeral? I mean, how do we do this? And so, we remember that scripture says, God’s ways are not our ways, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. So, I’d like to say that we don’t talk nearly enough about the defiance of Easter. So, it’s unbelievable in that God would be that gently defiant. You know, we try to give God a hint, we try to murder God, we try to bury God in a tomb, we betrayed God. All these sorts of things, we flogged God. We put him on a tree and lynched him in front of his mother, right? It is unbelievable that God would just sort of gently get up out of the grave and say, good try. But I’m right here. I’m going nowhere.

It’s almost like Jesus is saying, you know, na, na, na, nan, you took your best shot. It’s almost like the devil gets a real sucker punch right in the chin. It’s like, you thought you had me? You thought you won? Great, here I am. And not only that, just to show you who I really am, I am going to go back to the room where I had my last supper and I’m going to slip through the locked door. I’m going to recollect and reconcile all the fragments of our brokenness together. I’m going to forgive those who betrayed me. I’m going to comfort those who were cowardly in the face of the trial. I am not only going to do all of that but now I’m going to say, hey, see my hands? See all of this? I’m back. Now, will you help me go forward now? I love it. It’s unbelievable. Yes, of course it’s unbelievable. And that’s what makes it so wonderful that God could do this with us.

Melissa: I love this so much. I’m reminded of the devotion that you have. I’m a Gen Xer or some might call me an exenial, right? Both of my parents are living and are very much baby boomers. I also live in an area with a high demographic of retirees. And I’ve noticed that the different of the way that some people view life and death matters. Some people want to live out the rest of their life with a sense of meaning, impact, and purpose. While others are fearful and clingy so tightly to life that they are forgetting to live it.

So, I have a question for you Bishop. What would your Easter be to both of those groups?

Rob: That is really a wonderful question. I would also add a third piece there. I would say that there are some people that are hunkered down and afraid. And then, there is another group of people that give themselves over to hedonism, of lots of different kinds. They say, let us eat, drink, and be merry, tomorrow we die. So, there is that piece.

One of the great sort of wonderfully counter-intuitive bits about resurrection, when you take the sting of death away, when that good news penetrates your heart, then you don’t have to do sort of these desperate acts of one sort or the other. You realize that death is a season in life. But ultimately it gives way to life. Ultimately, we are raindrops returning to the ocean. That is all that happens. I get the fear of pain, loneliness in those hours. I get it. I have stood at many bedsides. I have held many hands. I understand and don’t want to fear shame anybody. But what I want to say also is that I’ve stood at other bedsides and seen the genuine article of faith in people’s eyes and on their lips when they breathe their last. If you have ever seen the difference, seen the latter, I tell you, you want to be that. You want in your last moment rest in something that is real. We are not getting any more money, any more years, we are not getting any cuter. All that stuff is perishing. All of that stuff is going away. It is nice when you have it for a little while but ultimately it is temporal. And to see people really rest in their faith, not as deluded bedtime stories. You know, people that live under delusion or living out some sort of fantasy, but people who have an abiding and real rich faith. They realize that they are going to go to sleep on this side and wake up in glory. I have been fortunate. I have been at those bedsides. It freed me and helped me dislodge the fear in me to see the genuine article.

I want to be that for someone else. I want to die wonderfully. Pope John Paul who died, he declined in front of our very eyes. And in some way he gave us a great gift. We saw him in his strength, in his eloquence, and in his power. And we saw him weak and feeble. Ultimately, he went to sleep and died. He didn’t shield us from that.

Desmond did the same thing. This wonderful, beautiful man of faith and joy declined and battled cancer. He did it in front of us with all of the shaky and sad moments, and then died. He was a Prince among us. He wanted to be buried in a plain wooden pine box with no adornments. There are examples, over and over and over again, of people who are betting everything on Jesus and his resurrection. And who know that we have this life and that is the good news. We have this life and we are not to live in fear. We are to enjoy every moment, every moment is a gift. We don’t always do this well. I don’t always do that well. But nevertheless, that is our truth. And then this part of life will die. I love how we say it in our funeral liturgy. Life is not ended, life has changed. I love that beautiful Episcopalian poetry, life is not ended, life has changed. And if we can get that down into the molecules of us, I think life will look better. We don’t have to be so desperate and so sad chasing after something we can never catch. We can age gracefully.

I’m a baby boomer. I’m the last year of the baby boomers. Shoutout to the baby boomers, right? And we are coming of age here. Now, they are building 55-year old plus communities now. Good Lord, I never thought I’d live to see that. And so we are reminded all around us that the time is short. I have more out of the back window than I have in front of me now. That is a lot of us. So, you can be tragically trapped in fear of that or you can say that this is a season. How shall I live?

Melissa: We have one more clip and I love to listen to it.

Melissa: So, Bishop, before we played this clip, you were kind of talking about living life in a way that, I kept thinking of singing Hallelujah as a swan song. And she talked about what it meant for her this Easter to say when the Priest says, Hallelujah, the Lord has risen. And with that acclamation and response, it gave me goosebumps just listening to her recounting that. And I’m curious what you think about people who can live their Hallelujah from day to day.

Rob: Well, remember, funny enough we are talking about Easter. But you know, it’s funny enough we are talking about life and death, which is appropriate I suppose. And when you ask about Hallelujah’s in the face of all of this, you are quoting our funeral service. One of the most defiant things that the Priest gets to say with the ashes, the Earthly remains or the body in front of him or her, is even at the grave, we make our song, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah. Not just once. But defiantly. You say it one time, that’s cool. But if you keep saying it, you are making a point here. And the point we are trying to make is that even at the grave, as we go down to the dust, because that’s where we started as dust. There is something bigger than us. I think this is the other thing too, we have put ourself at the center of the wheel perhaps too much. We are all a little bit narcissistic, right? Maybe that is how we are designed. But the real work is to work yourself out of the center. And when I realize that I’m out of the center, I’m one among the Saints in light, right? And I will be one among the great cloud of witnesses. I will be one, I pray to God amongst the heavenly host, right? Then I am one of lots. I am one raindrop returning home to a big ocean.

So, it’s not just about me and my small little whatevers, it’s about me joining the mind, the heart, the plan of the universe, God, right? So, that is really enticing for me to thing about. I have lived my season like a beautiful flower. I hope that I have bloomed. I have given life to other things. And then, I go the way of all flowers. I go the way of all trees. I go that way.

But on that side of things, I am contributing also. I pray to God, to a larger life, God’s imagination. The Bible says that God’s mercy endures forever and ever, right? And so, in other words, we live now, we are alive to God in a new and interesting way. None of us know about that. So, we take that through the eyes of faith. But I want some more of that. I want to know more about that. I want to be reconciled to some people and be a part of that community. I am a party of this community here. We call that the Church Militant, the Church still at work. The Church still living out it’s calling. The Church still opposing evil and injustice. The Church still trying to close the gap between heaven and Earth. That’s the Church militant. But at some point, we will be reconciled and be called up to the Church triumphant. And that is the Church that already knows that the battle is already won. That love wins all. And so, I want to be on that part. I like the notion that we say, especially in the black Church about living with the ancestors and being enfolded and enveloped in their love and embrace, etc. That wonderful image that we use in terms of that great morning with the great family reunion on the other side. That’s not scary to me. But you are right, it’s the pain that we might endure on the way.

I think that if we tease this out, I think a lot of people will be less afraid of dying and more afraid of how they die. That’s a whole other conversation about pain and suffering and those sorts of things, right? Let us not burying the headline here. The headline is that Jesus rose. Raise Jesus from the dead and that you and I are called to live an Easter life even though we encounter Good Fridays abundantly.

So, how do we do that? We stay close to Jesus and his message. And that is, I’m a companion for you in the chaos. I’m a mentor for you in the mysteries of life. You can count on me in your terrible hours and your terrible late nights. You can count on me because I’m a God who doesn’t sort of send a memo, don’t send a fax, you know, I don’t send a text or a tweet. I’m right there with you. I know about it personally. We talk about Jesus as my friend, I can only use friends that know where I’m going and where I’ve been. Everybody else is an acquaintance. But my friends, yeah. Jesus can be my friend because he knows something about what it feels like to be left behind, left out, lost, disoriented, betrayed, you name it. That is how he can be a friend for us even in this Easter season.

Melissa: Well Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah. Bishop as always, we’re grateful. And listeners, we’re grateful for you for listening to 4 People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. Please subscribe, leave a review, and we’ll be back with you next week.


Más Pascuas de Resurrección

“Piensas que tienes este asunto de la muerte bien definido. Crees que la vida es una pequeña piedra en el río oscuro de la muerte. Estás equivocado. La muerte es una pequeña piedra en el río furioso de la vida. Vas de la vida terrenal a una vida mejor, y la muerte no consume mucho tiempo en este viaje. Celebra la victoria, no tengas miedo de la muerte y saca de tus preocupaciones a la muerte… di adiós, porque ya no es TU preocupación. ¡Jesús se encargó de ello!”

Autor desconocido


Tags: For Faith

A Prayer for Good Friday

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


For People with Bishop Rob Wright

The podcast expands on Bishop’s For Faith devotional, drawing inspiration from the life of Jesus to answer 21st-century questions.

For People Podcast

Diana: So, what if they table is the real intent of the whole action of holy week and that Good Friday is the moment in which Rome decides that it’s going to destroy the table? And so, Rome introduces the cross to stop the feast from ever going any further than that upper Rome.

Rob: You have a great quote out there, why does the choice always seem to be between intelligence on ice or ignorance on fire when it comes to Church choices, right? And it seems like Jesus finds the middle there. He is on fire when he needs to be. He’s informed by his tradition. And yet, he is not bound by it. He’s moving out and beyond. So, I think that’s the way we have to try and model that. How we actually get these congregations, institutions, groupings of people, just sort of embrace that whole cloth, I don’t know. Do you have any thoughts about that? If you do, that book will be a New York Times bestseller.

Diana: I’m certainly not alone in trying to wrestle that question to the ground, you know. I have written some about it. Just this last month I have been working with a good friend of mine by the name of Tripp Fuller, who’s a Baptist and he teaches at the University of Edinburgh. And he’s a science and religion guy. He is really, really smart. And he’s 40. He’s a good bit younger than I am.

We have been talking about some of these issues and he has recently been reading Andy Root. I believe he is at Luther Seminary. And Andy has been writing about the future of the Church in this moment, how we imagine the life of clergy going ahead, what spiritual practices look like, what congregations look like, what will be the shape of religion in the coming decades. And it goes right to this question that Tripp and I sort of picked up from Andy, Andy points out that in the middle ages and a bit later, early modern period, perhaps in as late as even the early 19th century, people got inspired in Christian circles. Regular Christian’s got inspired by reading mystical literature, devotional literature. The books beyond me, there is an entire bookcase I have that is nothing but sort of spiritual classics, mystical classics, and I have read them all. I’ve taught classes on a lot of them.

Mystical literature was the way that people apprehended God. But then Root makes this really interesting claim, and he says, “But we’ve switched that up in the last hundred years. And instead of mystical literature being the primary source of inspiration, memoir has become the primary source of inspiration.” So, the example that I just gave of Barack Obama is one that is in the political realm. But that’s about more than politics. It’s about all those things you just talked about. It’s about meaning, about personhood, about the deepest sense of who oneself is, what is fair, and what is just? All of these timeless questions.

Rob: Right, right.

Diana: All of this together and the work that I’ve been doing over the last two decades, which is very memoir driven, Phyllis Tickle said that when she worked at Publishers Weekly about 15-years before she died and when she first found my work, she literally thought I had invented a new genre of work which linked the academic and the sort of predictive trend orientation that all my work has with memoir. This has been something I’ve been pursuing for two decades now as a writer. But this idea of memoir being the driver of bringing us closer to God as individuals is very strong in my work. But what if the Church reimagined itself as storytelling community. So, instead of it being a community that teaches people about the historical Jesus, instead of it being just a community that recites the creeds, it has those things, we have all that in our history, we have all those resources. What if now the primary calling is to enable people to understand the stories of Jesus, the stories of their own lives, and to be able to frame and tell those stories to one another within the community.

But also, then to be able to tell those stories whenever they’re called to in any other situation. And so, the idea of storytelling, being central, to somehow the Church’s life going forward, I do not quite think that the Church has grasped it quite as strongly as it should as a central practice. But it’s hinted at so beautifully. If you think of some of the best voices in the Episcopal Church, they’re incredible storytellers. Barbara Brown Taylor, I mean, what else has she been doing but shaping story and memoir in particular, as sort of the central point of Christian identity. You think of someone like Anne Lamont who is Presbyterian, but nevertheless, very much the same impulse. Naida Bolts Weber, Lutheran, same thing. Rachel Held Evans, sadly we have lost her, but she became an Episcopalian. And I know from my personal friendship with her, a big part of that was not just because we said the creeds and had the eucharist, it wasn’t just because you could explore any question about Jesus as an intellectual endeavor. Somehow every week the community that she entered into embodied a story that she wanted to be a part of. As a writer, she could enter into that story, and she was helping to shape it so that people could understand the story more fully.

If you start looking across the Episcopal Church, one of the things that you see in particular, and I think our best Preachers do this, I think that the presiding Bishop is doing this. It’s mostly women and people of color who have really been leading the charge about the power of memoir and the power of our stories to be the place of cohesion, the place where we can really enter into Anglican identity to share and speak our deepest poetry into the world. And to me that’s what Anglicanism always has been. Anglicanism, in my sense, is not really a systematic theology. What Anglicanism is a poetry of a way of life.

Rob: That’s wonderful. And look that prayer book. Whether you call it the new book or just the book, I think that is what people see in the words of the prayer book. They see beautiful words that are trying to point at a wondrous God who continues to intervene personally and corporately.

We’re sort of recording this, you know, and Easter is not too far. We are recording just before Palm Sunday, so Easter is out not too far away. Is there any idea, thought, words, story you are holding on to given the pandemic and life over the last two years? Is there something about this Easter for you as we sort of get towards it?

Diana: This Lent, I have been thinking about the story of the Table on Thursday. The narrative of Easter has shifted for me very strongly in recent years. That is, I keep wondering why it is that we treat the table as it’s nothing more than a prelude to what happens on Friday. I’ve been writing a number of pieces and preaching on the centrality of Maundy Thursday to the whole story. And what I really believe at this point is that Maundy Thursday is a hinge of history. The gathering around that table is the last supper of the old world in which the Roman Empire has power. And it becomes the first feast of the Kingdom of God.

There was this old line talking about Anglican poetry, CS Lewis used it I believe in the 50s to talk about the cross as the wood between the words. Which is lovely. There is the Anglican poetic notion in full force. But that might be true, but what if instead the emphasis was less on the wood between the worlds and more on the hinge of history? If you really pay attention to the table and what’s happening on that Thursday, I think there is a revolution that is occurring. There was a Baptist theologian woman who died a few years ago, in her 80s, by the name of Beatrice Berto who wrote a book called The Holy Thursday Revolution. It was published by Orbis Press. That book might be one of the single most influential books in my thinking that I have read in the last decade. And she really makes this incredibly strong case for this thing that she calls the Holy Thursday Revolution.

What if the table is the real intent of the whole action of Holy Week? And that Good Friday is the moment in which Rome decides that it’s going to destroy the table? The table is the threat. And so, Rome introduces the cross in the execution to stop the feast from ever going any further than that upper room. So, then the cross becomes Rome’s know to the vision of the Kingdom of God. You go through Holy Saturday, the question is, “Oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen here? Has Rome had the last word?” And then, you get the story of the garden.

Rob: And then you get the answer.

Diana: Right. And what I love, I wish the lectionary text didn’t divide the John account up into two Sunday’s. Because first we get the story of Mary Magdalene in the garden and Jesus turns around and says, “Mary.” And she sees Jesus and says, “Oh, Raboni.” And there are people saying that it is basically her confession. Oh my gosh, look at that, you’ve risen. And she goes and runs off and tries to tell the disciples.

Well, the next week we usually read what happens immediately following that. But it’s all one story in the text. So, what happens in that story, she runs off, she tells the disciples, they don’t believe her, and they are holed up and scared of what’s going to happen, are the authorities going to come and get them, Roman’s going to put them on crosses next. And what happens, they are in the upper room. They are not at the hill where the cross was. They are hiding out in the upper room. The first resurrection account that isn’t to an individual, but rather to the whole group of disciples, is Jesus returns to the very table where he last sat with them on Thursday. Which just goes to show to me, that is Jesus sort of underscoring the point of this action. It’s not a tritium. It’s a quadrilateral.

Rob: Right.

Diana: And it’s like, oh my gosh, all the emphasis falls on Friday. I think this misses the point of the two stories at the wings, the table and then Jesus returned to the table. The table is the point.

Rob: I think you’re on to something here. I mean, with all due respect to CS Lewis, I think it’s not the wood– What is it, the wood in the worlds? It’s the table that holds the two worlds together.

Diana: Yeah. So, that is what I love about the hinge of history. It’s really the turning. So, it’s not like the cross that is the wood between the worlds. And in fact, you know, that sets the cross up as something that is between the worlds that you can never get back too. It’s a permanent liminal space. And I think that if you understand a hinge of history, you understand that it’s less of something that’s between two things and more of a door on hinges. It’s a real opening. The table isn’t just some far off hope or some sort of thing that happened on a hill 2,000-years ago. But it’s an actual continual open door toward community, toward the Kingdom, towards feasting, a table where everyone is seated, and all are fed. And to me, that is the story that the world right now is literally starving for. So, that’s the way that I’ve been telling the story this year. I don’t think I have had such a sparkling Lent in terms of its spiritual insights for my own life as I’ve been tracing through and preaching in each successive week’s passages. And I’m literally to the point where I just can’t wait for Maundy Thursday.

Rob: Wow, that is absolutely wonderful. As they say, that will preach. That will preach and that will teach. And it just goes to show you how it can really get so captured in the violence of Good Friday that we miss the hospitality and the grace that happens on both sides of that thing. And in some ways, it decenters that and offers something larger to us. I think that is the whole point of resurrection, right? That we are being offered something larger that we can’t even imagine.

Diana: I’m just so glad to hear you say that because that’s always my fear when we shrink the weekend to the Friday, Saturday, Sunday action. It really does wind up sort of lifting up the violence and the suffering aspect of it, which is obviously there and really important for us to talk about. But it reifies it in such a way that it has turned it into the point. What you just said was just gorgeous, as a way of telling my story in your language. And I love how you did that. The story of hospitality that is on either end of the violence is the real story.

Rob: It’s the real story, we don’t want to go too far with this, but in some ways this Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday becomes a real Rorschach test for us, doesn’t it? What we see and what we don’t see. And that we see the brutality, the horror, all of that is essential. And again, not to diminish it, that we don’t see the graciousness on either side, even Jesus from the cross giving away, you know, see your son here and see your mother here and see you have each other even as I go. Or today, to the thief, you’ll be with me in paradise. I mean, all of the graciousness gets consumed really by the nails, the crown of thorns, etc. And we just sort of miss it all.

Diana: I hate to give you something else to do Bishop. But maybe the Church needs a new service. I mean, it seems like we continually miss the idea of what happened on Easter night when Jesus returned to the table. So, maybe we need a need liturgy for Easter night with a return to the table liturgy.

Rob: There you go. There you go. Look, if that has to go on my to do list, that’s a good to do.

Diana: The Clergy are going to kill me, give them one more liturgy to do that weekend.

Rob: I think in our conversation, we have actually, truth in advertising, you’ve talked about freeing Jesus and I think we’ve maybe freed Jesus today a little bit. At least in how we understand Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Diana Butler Bass thank you so much. This has been a great treat, a delight.

Diana: Well, thank you for having me on. You are doing wonderful work. And the conversations you are hosting, the hospitality you are offering is a way really of taking these stories into the world that makes a difference.

Rob: Thank you so much. God bless.


Dios de Poder Inmutable y luz Eterna

Mira con favor a toda tu Iglesia, ese maravilloso y sagrado misterio; por la operación eficaz de tu providencia lleva a cabo en tranquilidad el plan de salvación; haz que todo el mundo vea y sepa que las cosas que han sido derribadas son levantadas, las cosas que han envejecido son renovadas, y que todas las cosas están siendo llevadas a su perfección, mediante aquél por quien fueron hechas, tu Hijo Jesucristo nuestro Señor; que vive y reina contigo, en la unidad del Espíritu Santo, un solo Dios, por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

Libro de Oración Común, p. 200 Edición Español


Tags: For Faith

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