For Faith

Preposterous

Jesus entered the big city, on a donkey, folks waving branches as he passed. This spectacle, they thought, would immediately begin a new world order. Weirdly, Palm Sunday makes me remember when Pope Francis visited President Obama. They greeted one another on a tarmac in front of their respective vehicles. The Presidential limousine, big, armored, powerful, is literally called “The Beast.” Beside it was the papal vehicle… a Fiat! Tiny, slow, laughable. I’ll never forget those clashing images. Worldly power meeting what seems preposterous. I imagine the powerful of Jerusalem laughed when Jesus rolled in that day with his donkey. I wonder if they’re still laughing now sitting with the King of Kings at that big picnic table in eternity.

Luke 19:28-40


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

Rob: Hi, everyone. This is Bishop Rob Wright and this is For People.

Today, we’ve got just a wonderful treat, we’re on with Diana Butler Bass. Welcome, Diana.

Diana: It is just so exciting for me to be with you.

Rob: Well, I’m delighted to have you here. I was recently with you in New York. And for those of you who don’t know, she is an award-winning author, speaker, inspiring preacher. She’s been called spontaneous and always surprising by Marcus Borg. She’s a wife. She’s a mother. She’s a pet owner. She bops around and talks to all kinds of folks behind the limits of denomination. And I just thought she’d be a fantastic conversation partner for us today. And she’s got a new book out called Freeing Jesus. Now, Diana, tell us why Jesus needs to be free?

Diana: Well, Freeing Jesus, I think that you’ll like this. It actually beings with an episode that happened to me in the Washington National Cathedral in 2013. I was working on a completely different project. I was having trouble with it. I live in the suburbs of DC. Sometimes when I’m kind of spiritually all jammed up, I would love going into the Cathedral and praying in there. It’s just such a great space. This one day I went to the Cathedral, I was praying in the chapel of the Holy Spirit, which has this gorgeous turn of the century mosaic/painting above the altar of Jesus. It is by N.C. Wyeth.

I was there and I was struggling. “God, why can’t I get this project done? Where are you God? I can’t hear my own voice.” And all of a sudden, I heard a voice that said, “Get me out of here.” It was so clear. I looked around and there was no one in the chapel, except for me. So, I went, “Okay. I’ll just keeping praying.” So, I went back to my struggling pray and a second time I heard the voice say, “Get me out of here.” At that point, I looked up at the painting and I said, “Jesus? Is that you?” And the voice responded a third time, “Get me out of here.” And at that point, I was so freaked out, I literally had no idea why Jesus was asking me to get him out of the Washington national Cathedral.

There was a Priest right then who was coming down the aisle. And I was just like, “I don’t want to deal with this with anyone who is ordained. Maybe they will hear the voice too. Who knows what is going to happen?” I literally bolted out of the Cathedral. I only told my husband about that episode for a couple of years. But when I got home and shared it with him, he laughed. And he said, “Gosh, it’s not everybody who Jesus asks to spring him from the slammer.”

Rob: Right. You’re right. What an important calling you got.

Diana: Yeah. I really have taken that episode and unrolled it. I wondered for years, what in the world was that all about? Was that some deep anxiety of my own about the Church or what have you? But I really think that it was certainly predictive of what was going to happen. A lot of people are leaving Church and having to meet Jesus in other places. So, in effect, the Church is needing to free Jesus back out of our buildings onto the streets. I think that’s definitely something that has happened.

I learned through writing this book, that there are certain things that had really bottled up my own relationship with Jesus, I needed to be freed from in order to meet with Jesus again. It winds up being a book that works on sort of two levels. One a cultural level, about the state of Christianity in particular and how people are still interested in Jesus but how so many people are angry at the Church. And then it also winds up being an invitation for people to explore the terrain of their own Jesus stories.

Rob: Yeah. You know that story sort of connects to the most recent survey that people are talking about all over the Church. Of people polled, who live beyond the Church doors, more than 80% of people still think Jesus is way cool. He’s enigmatic. He’s inspirational. He’s a moral and ethical teacher. He’s someone to know. When those same people are asked, how many of you go to Church? The number was below 40%. There is a gap there.

Just like Jesus wondering around in Galilee in his own time, he lived beyond sort of the narrow confines of the Synagogue. Real people received him, thought he was someone to have dinner with, thought he was someone to listen to, and the Church/Synagogue at that time, really struggled to fully embrace those ideas. I think you are on to something.

I have thought for many years now that we have sort of moderated the relationship. We might need to figure out another place to stand. This has a little bit more humility and more curiosity than we have a lot of times.

When I write, when I get an idea like that, not sort of a full-blown revelation, when I have the beginnings of something and I sit down and write, it begins to work it out. It begins to get clearer about what I was thinking about or what was sort of coming at me. What did you learn as you wrote? What was new? What was discovery for you?

Diana: This was one of the books that I’ve written where every single chapter had a discovery for me. I can’t say that is always the case. I have a PhD in Religious Studies. I have written about Church history, which is my field of expertise. I’ve written about congregational development, which is something that I’ve spent an enormous amount of time studying academically and personally. There are books that I have written that my job is to surprise my readers with some new information or hope or what have you.

But there are a couple of books that I have written, a book called Grounded. Really my last three books, Grounded, Grateful, Freeing Jesus, all three record my surprise in encountering something that was either deep within my own experience and I’m uncovering it for the readers as I’m uncovering it for myself. It really becomes a shared journey of surprise.

In Freeing Jesus, the more professional part fits in with what you were just saying about the Church statistics. I mean, I love Churches. I work with Churches all the time. I’m an Episcopalian. I have been since 1980, which means my very first experience in the Episcopal Church people kept talking about the new prayer book. And I kept wondering when it was going to show it. What? We are getting a new prayer book?

Rob: There is a commentary right there, right?

Diana: I was like one of the very first people that was brought into the Church under the new prayer book. I just thought it was the prayer book. I am a Church girl. I wrote a book that started with the line, “I am a Churchgoer.” I’m not one of those people who is like, “Yeah, leave Church. It stinks.” I am sad about those statistics. And I would love to see them turn around. But I’m also kind of a realist. I understand the ebb and flow of religion and different cultural settings. We are in a real ebb period right now. We can sit around hoping that people will come back to Church. And we can try things to get them to come back to Church, which I always encourage people to do. But the reality of the moment is that people aren’t.

If the stories of Jesus are to thrive in this culture, we have to move on.

Rob: That is what made me want to invite you to the Podcast. You were sort of embodying a way forward I think for the Church. When we were in New York together you were giving a lecture, a General Theological Seminary, The Paddock Lectures. You were telling your own story.

I was just talking to Cynthia Kittridge, who is the Dean of the Seminary of the Southwest. I went down to Austin, Texas a little while ago and did a little module. There were just these little real world snippets from my own life. Appropriate sharing but nevertheless sharing out of my own life how I had rediscovered new reliance on God, how I rediscovered wonder in God. And she was commenting on that. I was saying to her, “As far as I can tell, that’s the only way forward. And that is for you and I to give up a little bit of ourselves, about our real life with God, and to share the messiness of that with people so it can connect with the messiness of their stories. And maybe they can do some discovery.”

You did all of that in the lecture. You talked about your family. You talked about some examples of real girl power in your family, some of the women in your family. You talked about some other difficult intersections that your family stood at and had to make choices. Some we celebrate. Some we wish they would have chosen differently.

How did you get there?

Diana: It is interesting because the New York lectures, if anyone is interested in them, were the Paddock Lectures. Those are available online. I talked about the history of the Episcopal Church through this set of characters that no one knew existed, just regular people on the Eastern shore of Maryland in the 1680s and 1690s.

As you know, since you were there, I told the story about slavery, racism, quakers, and the Anglicans in that really important piece of real estate, what would eventually become the United States. It was about how one family started out so idealistically and then ended up owning slaves. And people loved the story. But as you already sort of gave away the store, at the end of the first lecture, I revealed that I was telling the story of my own family. And that’s how I found this little story about people that nobody had ever heard of. These are people that are not famous. They are just regular farmers.

The power of hidden stories was something that I really wanted to share there. And I also wanted to share why it’s so important for a denomination to recover those kinds of stories. Our stories that we tell about ourselves, shouldn’t just be about institutional development and, you know, don’t take this personally of course, it shouldn’t just be about people who hold high sorts of offices, like bishops, or when we built certain buildings, or when we passed certain kinds of resolutions. Because the texture of any community is really about the people who inhabit it. And how those folks shape it over generations.

The hidden stories are really the heart of who we are. And I think that is part of the problem that we are having right now communicating is that contemporary people aren’t very interested in institutional histories. They don’t want to sit down and study the development of all the different kinds of laws that Congress passes over the last decade and what that says about the American future. They are interested in is stories about how people struggle who are in government, what gets people to government. I think that Barack Obama becoming President on the back of writing of a memoir of his struggle to find his own father. What takes Barack Obama into the political arena was that the whole memoir he wrote, Dreams of My Father. He discovered something new about who he was. And in discovering who he was, he discovered what his story could mean for America. That whole vision of being a man who was biracial, a man who came from a family with a story of slavery, and a man with all of these different trends of world history in his blood, that he knew it was somehow kind of a microcosm of the American moment in which he was elected to Senate and then becomes President. That kind of story is compelling.

What I’ve been trying to do in telling history, in the way that I did at General, about slavery and race is not simply tell a story about why race is terrible. Racism is terrible. We all know that racism is terrible, you know, except for people who are supporting it and they just have to be convinced differently. But most of us, “I don’t want to be racist. Racism is a bad thing. I want to love everybody because God loves everybody.” I think people have really good intentions.

And so, some of the ways that we introduce these issues, like white supremacy, et cetera, sound more condemning. But when we enter through our own stories. You know, my story became a story that I was both proud of and there were parts of it that were shameful to me. And that gave me something to wrestle with that was personal and real. And I saw the sudden why these stories matter, to share them as honestly as possible. So, Memoir opens doors for us that normally wouldn’t be opened. Doors that sometimes we close by virtue of our own intellect. We open via the path of our hearts. And so, that’s why Memoir is so significant.

Rob: I was listening to you against the backdrop of our national conversation which is, we are trying to blunt any storytelling about our shared American journey. We are trying to stop it, trying to plug the holes, we don’t want to hear about it. We don’t want to hear about the journey we’ve been on to make this a more perfect union. We are shutting off a whole opportunity to understand the complexity of what it means to make a nation state. What we have gotten wrong and what we have gotten right.

I’m having that conversation in my head. You come to the room and telling your story and all the checkered nature of it. I was thinking to myself, maybe less of these big abstract ideas and certainly none of these acronyms that we’re sort of batting around now in the public conversation. But more about the stories. More about the stories. Maybe that is one way to free Jesus is to have a little more confidence in the stories. I’m aware when Jesus talks to the woman at the well, he knows her difficult story when it comes to marriage and relationships. He doesn’t count that against her. That is not counted against her either as a conversation partner and certainly doesn’t inhibit her as she goes forward to say, “Hey, I met a guy. You guys got to come meet this guy.” In many ways this guy sat with my whole story and still saw me through the lens of dignity.

We have to figure out how to do that more in the Church rather than be these sort of co-opted by the red or the blue and various talking points. Our message of good news and the messiness of human existence. We can’t persuade God to stop coming at us. God is just going to keep coming at us. That is the good news of Easter. No matter the mess, it is really the greatness of the gospel. When we round off the edges of that, I think we do ourselves a real dis-service. And I think it’s going to take personal courage.

Diana: Yeah. It’s really funny that we would be talking about both New York and freeing Jesus in the same conversation. Because they are demonstrations of something that I have become incredibly passionate about. You know, you hate to say this about yourself, but I think that my distinctive voice as a Christian thinker, as a person who stands in theological shoes, and as a personal who is looked too in the public arena as a voice for Christianity is that this whole idea of what I call memoir theology.

I write about it in Freeing Jesus. That is in the very end of Freeing Jesus. I tell the story, and then at the end, I did in New York as well, I sort of reveal what I’ve been about the whole time. What I argue toward in Freeing Jesus, it is my memoir, but it’s not my memoir told with sort of theological embellishments. What I’m really doing is I’m writing a story of Jesus, which is theology, it’s a real Christology about Jesus as a friend, teacher, Savoir, Lord, way, and presence. So, the emphasis is on Jesus. But I use my story as an entry point into this Christology that I’m shaping.

One of the reasons it is so significant is that Protestant Churches in particular, which Anglicanism is in the big family even though we consider ourselves both Catholic and Protestant, I understand that piece. But Protestantism and Liberal Protestantism, which is a deep theological tradition that has impacted the Episcopal Church, has gotten caught up over the last 100-years in this divide about Jesus. And it’s not really red and blue. But it is a really important theological divide. And I know that you are aware of it. It is the divide of Jesus as a figure in history or Jesus as the Christ, the figure that emerges theologically in the creeds and the liturgical life of the Church after third century.

And 100-years ago, a German Theologian, named martin Culler, talked about the Jesus of history versus the Christ of Faith. And for the last 100-years, basically Protestants and people shaped by Protestant theology, have been having this big argument about these two Jesus’. On one hand, over the last 20 or 30-years, we’ve had the Jesus Seminar. That is the extension of the Jesus of History School. Lots of my personal friends have been part of the Jesus Seminar. I have spoken at the Jesus Seminar. It’s a really interesting group of people with great work.

And then on the other hand, there is the idea of the Christ of Faith. That’s the Christ that is shaped by doctrine and dogma. One of the things that is fascinating right now in the Episcopal Church is that there is sort of a younger generation of clergy that are deeply committed to the Christ of Faith and actually hate the idea of the Jesus of History. Sort of the new argument is getting loaded over in towards the creedal space to the point where I have actually seen people on social media argue that no one should be even admitted for confirmation as a layperson until they formally confess that they believe in the literal teaching of the creed. So, like Jesus is born literally of a literal historical virgin.

Rob: Right.

Diana: So, you see the energy shifting there in this dualistic argument. My work suggests is that’s the problem. We have been shaped by a dualistic argument about Jesus. Both of these things are obviously windows to offer into who Jesus was and is. And do we have different language to talk about Jesus? That is where I begin to shape this book as the Jesus of Experience. The Jesus of Experience is of course the only Jesus we really know. Because the Jesus of History lived 2,000-years ago. All we can ever know that Jesus threw is evidence and history books and really smart work by biblical scholars. And really the Christ of the Creeds we can know. I say it in the book, there is a way that the Christ of the Creeds actually remains abstracted for us. When I stand in Church every Sunday and say, “God of God, light of lights, true God from true God,” all that stuff. It’s like, “What?” I mean I know what it means. I have taught it. I know exactly where it comes from. I know the philosophical backgrounds of it. I can give you a dazzling lecture on the origins of the creeds. But at the same time, it’s like, “Really, this is what we are talking about on Sunday morning?” It just feels distant.

Rob: I hope not. Let me just say, you know, that gest my cockles up because as a person who has education, like you and has been grounded and benefited from all of that, I get real nervous about us writing out a whole group of people who don’t have formal education and they don’t need all of that to come to Jesus. I get really worried that we end up setting up another Pharisee and Sadducees kind of situation, leaving so many people behind.

It was always interesting to me, as I read the scriptures, that Jesus was always heralded by the folks as someone who was not in either camp and, therefore accessible. And accessible not only in gentleness and radical teaching, wisdom teaching, but in compassion.

So, maybe this whole freeing Jesus is something that we should be talking about. I mean, we didn’t plan all this when we started talking today. But I think that is exactly it. How can we stop painting all of Jesus’ canvas and allow Jesus to be seen for who he is? I think a lot about that. I think about how we have to figure that going forward. We don’t really want to talk about it. But not everybody who left Egypt made it to the Promise Land. A remnant made it there. And when I think about where we are right now, and this will be controversial to some people, I think we’re moving into sort of a remnant situation with the Church. Not every Church is going to make it.

If we are honest, a lot of Churches are sort of bound up by generational practices and people don’t want to let go of those. I understand them. They are holy and good rituals and practices and they were the stuff that made us Chrisitan and the stuff that kept us Christian. It fed us and nurtured us. But these kids are different. While I realize something is passing away, I’m always trying to pay attention for what is being born. What plant is coming up through the cracked concrete and that excites me. When I talk to young people, I’m a father of 5. I’ve got young kids, some in college, some not quite in college, and some beyond college. What is fascinating to me is that human beings are going to always want to talk about, what is a good life? What is generosity? What is forgiveness? What is love? How do I know? Who cares? All of these sorts of things.

The conversation goes on and I think we’ve just got to stop being so flat footed and so bound up. We need to be able to have some conversations. I mean, I think this is what Jesus literally does in Galilee. He’s just up on the balls of his feet. He’s having conversations with people. He’s walking. He’s talking it. And I think people respond. And when I see people in the Church and beyond the Church doing that, I still see that they are meeting in need.


Absurdo

Jesús entró en la gran ciudad, en un burro, y la gente agitaba ramos mientras pasaba. Este espectáculo, ellos pensaban, comenzaría inmediatamente un nuevo orden mundial. Extrañamente, el Domingo de Ramos me hace recordar cuando el Papa Francisco visitó al Presidente Obama. Se saludaron unos a otros en el asfalto frente a sus respectivos vehículos. La limusina presidencial, grande, blindada, poderosa, se llama literalmente la «bestia». Al lado se estacionaba el vehículo papal… ¡Un Fiat! Pequeño, lento, gracioso. Nunca olvidaré esas imágenes antagónicas. El poder mundano se encuentra con lo que parece absurdo. Imagino que los poderosos de Jerusalén se rieron cuando Jesús entró en aquel día en su burro. Me pregunto si se siguen riendo ahora sentados con el Rey de Reyes en esa gran mesa de pícnic en la eternidad.

Lucas 19:28-40


Tags: For Faith

Conviction

The wildernesses of life aren’t simply intellectual phases or emotional seasons in life. The danger and disorientation of our wildernesses are visceral. There’s real pain. The threat of despair is real; the humiliation and the tears are real. In these seasons we’re forced to compare, contrast, purge and adopt our convictions so we can adapt, survive, and even thrive. We hear this idea in St. Paul’s letter to his friends in Philippi. He tells them that before his blindness and vulnerability his confidence was in his pedigree and accomplishments. But, in the crucible of his wilderness time, his confidence in those things burned away leaving him with something more enduring than earthly confidence. He’s convicted now that those things are “rubbish” compared with the, “…surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.” Now he’s convinced that all the “right” he could accomplish will never compare to the “right” God wants to do through him and us. Paul knows that there’s still more to learn about Jesus, but he’s convicted. He wants to “…know the power of Jesus’ Resurrection for himself, even though that means suffering and even death.” What about us? Wildernesses mustn’t simply be endured; that would be to squander profound learning and growing opportunities. What is too often labeled intellectually interesting about Christian spirituality often becomes insipid in our hands, whereas wilderness won convictions are compelling and propelling! The godly convictions that grow best in the wilderness are obedience to God, simplicity, compassion, neighborliness and liberty to name a few. In the wilderness of our country decades ago, Dr. King told us of his wilderness born conviction, he said, “I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great a burden to bear.” The secret work of Lent and our own personal wilderness is that the Holy Spirit is building an “Altar in the Wilderness” in us and out of us for the world. Convicted of that Spirit work in him Paul said, “I strain forward…I press on….”

Philippians 3:4b-14


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

Melissa: Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m your host, Melissa Rao, and this is a conversation inspired 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.

During Lent, Bishop Wright is doing a video series called Growing in the Wilderness. You can check that out at EpiscopalAtlanta.org.

Hey, Bishop, you called this week’s Lent and Devotion, Appreciation.

You name the two real dynamic of family drama. You highlight the joy of the father being reunited with the son who returned, which is juxtaposed by the enmity and bitterness that turns inside the brother who never went astray.

Rob: Yes.

Melissa: So, I’m wondering if you can share your overall thoughts about the truths hidden within this gem of a story.

Rob: All right. So, let’s back up a minute. So, what we’re talking about today really is the story of the prodigal son, which is an oldie but a goody, one of Jesus’ best. Some people know it as the story of the– the parable of the loving father, right? And you know, even secular society has some son of what the prodigal son story is all about. It’s a kid who goes out and squanders the money and ends up in a brothel and famine comes and blows the doors off of his life and he ends up being a hired hand and even eating with pigs, which was a terrible thing for a young Jewish boy.

And so, what I wanted to do in this story was just take a deeper drive. Because what people do is they get caught up, you know, in picking sides in the story. That is the trap of the story. There’s the younger son who is foolish, but there is the older son who is trapped in his cynicism, right? So, one, you know, he gets his epiphany because of lack of want of trouble. And then the oldest son never quite gets his epiphany because his eyes are blinded by privilege and bitterness.

So, you know, it’s just a great story to think with Jesus. You know, Jesus throws the story out. And he wants us– I mean, the point of Jesus’ story is that he wants us to know the mind and the heart of God. What is the mind and the heart of God? That you and I find our way home. That you and I find our way back. And if we ever take one step in that direction, God comes running down a dusty road towards us despite our misdeeds, misdoings, our bad decisions, our stupidity. You know, there’s this loving God running towards, not running away, not castigating, shaming us. And so, that’s the big deal. And so, I would just want to give people another lens to look at this story. The story through the lens of appreciation. So, what does it mean to appreciate in this story? And I make the case about that.

Melissa: Well, it’s lent, and so to me, it’s easy to put ourselves in the shoes of the prodigal son. Or, you know, to return to the father. Or even be in the shoes of the father to forgive someone who has wronged us.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: And yet, I’m maybe infatuated a little bit by the other son, you know, the brother. I’m sure many of us can easily identify with him, in his own unique way, who is also living in a sort of wilderness.

Rob: Yeah, sure. Sure, he is, yeah, right.

Melissa: And so, do you have any advice for those who identify with the other son?

Rob: No, I have no advice. I just tell you that the story is just absolutely delicious and so, you know, I have– You know, I think if we’re honest and we’ve lived just a little while, you know, we’ve been the younger brother. Like we’ve been foolish, right? We’ve ignored wise counsel. We thought we knew better than everybody else and then we ended up trapped in a prison, a wilderness of our own bad decisions, and need some help. So, that’s the one brother.

And then, some of us, and I have been as well, I have been the faithful, rule keeping, keeping it between the lanes older brother. Who gets up early and goes to bed late. I have been that dude who also wonders why in the hell other people can’t get their stuff together and if they were a little bit more like me, “Aw, wouldn’t the world be better.” And so, I know I’m not the only one who has had those thoughts, in the family, in the marriage, at the office. The older brother speaks in terms of them and those.

And even in this story, the older brother says to his father, about his younger brother, “Your son.” Which is an interesting move, isn’t it? Because he is disassociating himself with his brother. And it’s really interesting that the father doesn’t let him get away with that. And so, when the older brother, in his bitterness realizes that a party is going to be thrown for the younger brother and that he gets jewelry and a new pair of shoes, you know, and a barbecue in his honor, right, lavish party. This just throws the older son, you know, just sort of out into the stratosphere. And he says, you know, “Your son,” “Your son lived in desolate living.” “Your son,” you know, mixed it up with prostitutes. “Your son,” did all of that.

Of course, the father says to him, “Your brother was lost and now is found.” And so, you know, number one, part of the genius of the father in the story is that he’s trying to help the older brother appreciate the bond of being a sibling, right? The irreducible bond of being sibling. And so, that is true for us in our own lives with our own siblings. But it is also true in terms of the human family and that we’re all actually siblings and any distancing that we want to do for any good reason that we can come up with are really at odds in the mind of God.

And so, while we have a real good reason to say this or that or you know they’ve hurt me, they’ve disappointed me, and all of that is legitimate. The older brother’s pain is bitterness, understandable, and legitimate, but it gets stuff there. You know, the younger foolish brother at least finds his way back from the pig trough. And he gets an epiphany, he’s open to– He’s made to be open. And the limit of the parable is that we don’t know what happens after the banquet. We don’t know what happens to the older son’s heart after the father helps the older brother understand that, “Hey, man, this guy’s made terrible choices.”

Melissa: I don’t know, Bishop. I kind of feel like I don’t. This is a maybe a little bit meta. So, maybe the banquets heaven.

Rob: It could be.

Melissa: And maybe the bitter son, who can’t let go of his bitterness, is choosing hell over heaven.

Rob: I like how you’re working on it. I like how you are working on it. And isn’t that what we say about heaven, right? I mean, I’ve preached enough funerals to be able to say, we do say that. We do say that there is this wonderful banquet that is prepared for us, right? We will be reunited with those we love, and we will be in near and dear presence of God, in the welcoming arms of God. And what if that kind of graciousness and openness and welcome we can’t give our hearts to? What if we end up getting stuck in, you know, not a fiery pit in some sort of meta universe but maybe the fiery pit of our own sort of pride and judgmental nature.

Melissa: Right.

Rob: I think a lot about heaven and hell. And you know one of the things that I think I know now is that hell then can’t be any worse than hell now of our own isolation, our own brokenness, enmity. I’ve seen family strife close up. You know, the corrosion of families and marriages. I’ve seen contempt. I’ve seen how resentment can get as wide as river. I mean, hell can’t be any worse than that.

Melissa: Welcome back to For People. Bishop, I have banned phrase in my household. Like my children are not allowed to utter the words, “That’s not fair.” Because I feel like I’ve tried to teach that fair is often subjective, and it’s rooted in comparing. Which might very well be the catalyst for coveting.

And so, I’m wondering if you have any insights about ways people might recognize when they are falling into the trap of playing the comparison game.

Rob: We can work out whatever you feel like you want to do. Well, you know, it’s interesting. I think that’s part of the trap that consumes the older brother, right? That’s also where you see the elegance and the beauty of the father in the story. The father is able to try to meet each one where he is, right? He says to the older brother, “Hey, I see you. You’ve been here with me along and everything I have is yours, really.” And at the same time, he sees the lostness of the younger brother and runs down the road to say, “Hey, I see you.” But he doesn’t even use words. It’s just these wonderful welcoming gestures.

So, he does, I think, models for us something that is very difficult, which is not to try to succumb to this cookie cutter, boilerplate thing that we do with people, right? And try to find a way to meet people where they are and realize that my struggles may be easy for you, right? And your struggles may be easy for me. But I shouldn’t castigate you. You know, we shouldn’t castigate one another back and forth. So, he does that. So, at the same time, what the father does in this notion of the two sons is that he makes us know that there is something more at stake then to be right. And I think that is sometimes where the problem gets to for us. We put the ultimate bar on if we are right, right? And there are many marriages that have ended. And there is a lot of enmity in families when the bar, the gold standard is rightness.

What Jesus comes to tell us and model for us is there is another bar for us that is above being right. It’s not that we have any problem being right, it’s just not the top of the mountain. Why do we know that? Well, we know that because the Bible tells us when we were ye tin our sins, Jesus came to us. So, if it would have been about rightness, there is no such thing as Grace, right? There is no such thing as unconditional love. When Jesus has a conversation with the thief on the cross is that about rightness? Or no, he’s inviting a thief and a criminal who is justly being punished, according to scripture, into paradise with him.

So, all along Jesus keeps telling us these stories which sort of break the hard ground of our sort of default way to understand ourselves and the world. And it’s off-putting. Sometimes if we’re honest, we don’t like Jesus for some of these stories. You know, there’s a story that sort of in the spirit of this about some workers went out to work and they had been working long and hard. And then some workers came right at the end of the day and picked up the shovels and put on their hard hats before the whistle blew. And Jesus says they get the same pay as the guys and the girls who were there early and did the work. And we don’t like that. And perhaps we don’t like that especially as Americans, right? But what we have to ask ourselves is that, you know, is God an American? No, God is not an American. So, we are trying to figure out as Christians, right, above our national sort of loyalties and ethics, what is the mind and the heart of God? And this story releases that so much. If it was just about right and wrong, it’s a slam dunk. The story has no power. The older brother was right. The younger brother was wrong. And therefore, the father doesn’t have to run to him and give him any welcoming gesture. He can just bring him back, if he’s merciful, as a farmhand and he can live with the farmhand’s way down at the end of the property. And that’s the end of the story because that’s right and logical.

But there’s this other thing about love which is there’s something more at stake than being right.

Melissa: So, Bishop, you will often remind us of the importance of prayer. And you have a recommendation in this Devotion for praying for those who have heard us for 40-days, which you suggest may give us a new appreciation for those we love.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: And maybe even those we struggle to love.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: I’m wondering if you have a personal story you might share about maybe how practicing this transformed your own relationship or maybe a story of someone else you might know?

Rob: Well, I mean, that’s the thing about living with scripture, right? These stories come to your remembrance. You see yourself as you even have struggle and strife with people. You see yourself through the lens of these stories. So, there are times when I have been upset and I have been the older brother. And there have been times that I was pleading for mercy, and I have been the younger brother in my life, perhaps too numerous to list on the podcast.

I can tell you one of my favorite stories about the power of this story. Because I think that is probably one of the other great gifts here. We have these stories, and they live with us. Like water on a stone, they work on us. We live with them over many decades. We shift around in the story. We are one character one year and the other character another year and so on. I have been everything in this story but the fatted calf, you know, that ultimately becomes the barbecue.

But we’ve got to also minister the power of these stories. Because when sometimes we find in a relationship people are struggling it’s the gift of these stories that can sort of give them a great gift of grace and perspective. And maybe even healing. My favorite story about this is that I remember a very long time ago, I had dear friends– My wife and I had dear friends. They’re just sort of a mega power couple. They were on their way, gotten engaged, and all the fancy people were notified that we were going to have this big, wonderful wedding. Every side of it was delicious except there was an infidelity that came to light, even when they were engaged by the person’s confession, something stupid, something out of line with his sort of regular way to be in the world. But nevertheless, it came to light. And then the relationship spiraled out of control. The gentleman ended up on my couch. We tried to comfort, care, and listen to the confession and all of that. And you know, not to a lot of avail, I mean, he thought he lost the very best thing in the whole world, and it was by his own doing, his own foolishness. So, he was trapped in a terrible prison of his own making, that he had lost his wonderful woman.

Because we were friends, the woman called me, maybe days, weeks later, to chat with me. She’s a high-powered lawyer. And I was trying to tell her some stuff and give her some comforting pastoral advice, maybe platitudes, I don’t know. And she was batting them away like Serena Williams bats away tennis balls. She was handing my lunch to me. She could out logic me and out argue me. It was pitiful. In the middle of all of that exchange, I realize that I was losing real fast. And I prayed, even as we were on the phone, and I said, “Lord, I’m having my behind handed to me here. I’m trying to do something good here. You got to help me.” And the only thing that came to mind, for all my learning and training and all of my fancy education, the only thing that came to mind was this story of the prodigal son. Now what was interesting was the woman was not raised in Church. She had never really had this story on her playlist, if you will. So, I told her the story. It was amazing to hear someone hear the story, you know, fresh. All I can say is that at the end of that phone call, I felt like I had just lost the big game. It was a valiant effort. But lost the big game. And here I was, this poor little pastor, trying to give this 2000-year old story to a thoroughly modern woman who is as bright as the sun. I just lost the big game. So, we said goodbye and didn’t hear much about it.

Fast forward, we danced at their wedding. You know, their son is now best friends with my son. They are in college together.

The point being, somehow in the power of the story, both of them found a way back. And when logic wouldn’t do it, dry reasoning wouldn’t do it, and certainly being right wouldn’t do it, somehow in this dramatic story that Jesus tells about somebody who got it all wrong, and somebody whose heart was big enough to accept you even when you are wrong, made a difference in their real life. And so, I tell that story when I get around to talking about this story of Jesus because in the real world these stories still matter. These stories are still generative. They are still healing. They are still aspirational for us sometimes. Sometimes they produce conflict in our souls. But the Holy Spirit is still at work in these stories. And that’s why we have to know them. And be ready to not only live with them ourselves, but offer them to others.

Melissa: Bishop, thanks for that great reminder. And thank you for listening to For People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook @BishopRobWright. Please subscribe, leave a review, and we’ll be back with you next week.


Convicción

Los desiertos de la vida no son simplemente fases intelectuales o estaciones emocionales de nuestra vida. El peligro y la desorientación de nuestros desiertos son desconcertantes. Hay un dolor real. La amenaza de la desesperación es real; la humillación y las lágrimas son reales. En estas estaciones nos vemos obligados a comparar, contrastar, purgar y adoptar nuestras convicciones para que podamos adaptarnos, sobrevivir, incluso a prosperar. Escuchamos esta idea en la carta de San Pablo a sus amigos en Filipo. Les dice que antes de su ceguera y vulnerabilidad, su confianza estaba en su entendimiento de identidad y sus logros. Pero, en el crisol de su propio desierto, su confianza en esas cosas se quemó, dejándolo con algo más duradero que la confianza en lo terreno. Ahora está convencido de que esas cosas son “basura” en comparación con el “… superando el valor de conocer a Cristo Jesús”. Ahora está convencido de que todo lo “correcto” que podría lograr nunca se comparará con lo “correcto” que Dios quiere hacer a través de sí y de nosotros. Pablo sabe que todavía hay más que aprender acerca de Jesús, pero está convencido, quiere “… conocer el poder de la resurrección de Jesús para sí mismo, aunque eso signifique sufrimiento e incluso la muerte”. ¿Y para nosotros? Los desiertos no deben ser simplemente soportados, eso sería desperdiciar el aprendizaje profundo y las oportunidades de crecimiento. Lo que con demasiada frecuencia se etiqueta como intelectualmente interesante sobre la espiritualidad cristiana, a menudo se vuelve insípido en nuestras manos, ¡mientras que las convicciones ganadas en el desierto son convincentes y nos impulsan! Las convicciones piadosas que crecen mejor en el desierto son: la obediencia a Dios, la simplicidad, la compasión, el acompañamiento y la libertad, por nombrar algunas. En el desierto de nuestro país hace décadas, el Dr. King nos habló de su convicción nacida en el desierto, él dijo: “He decidido quedarme con el amor, el odio es una carga demasiado grande para soportar”. La obra secreta de la Cuaresma y de nuestro propio desierto personal es que el Espíritu Santo está construyendo un “Altar en el Desierto” en nosotros y fuera de nosotros para el mundo. Convencido de esa obra del Espíritu en él, dijo: “Me esfuerzo hacia adelante… Sigo adelante…”

Filipenses 3:4b-14


Tags: For Faith

APPRECIATION

The story of the Prodigal son is one of Jesus’ best. It’s probably better entitled, the story of the Loving Father. The father’s love, despite the resentment of one son and the foolishness of the other, holds the family together. Sometimes family division and bitterness can feel like we’re in the wilderness. This story tempts us to choose one son over the other and to validate one son’s pain over the other’s, that’s the trap! How can we use family wilderness times to grow in appreciation for one another? Jesus says we are to pray for those who have hurt us. If you’re in a wilderness with someone in your family, pray for them for forty days. Pray that God would enlighten both of you.

That both of you could claim your contributions to the brokenness of the relationship. The answer to these kinds of prayers will come in the form of a softer heart and a feeling of discovery of the other person and of yourself. There is more to be gained in these kinds of wildernesses than self-righteousness.
Excerpt from Bishop Wright’s Growing in the Wilderness Series | Lent 2022


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, and this is a conversation inspired 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.

During Lent, Bishop Wright is doing a video series called Growing in the Wilderness. You can check that out at EpiscopalAtlanta.org.

Hey, Bishop, you called this week’s Lent and Devotion, Appreciation.

You name the two real dynamic of family drama. You highlight the joy of the father being reunited with the son who returned, which is juxtaposed by the enmity and bitterness that turns inside the brother who never went astray.

Rob: Yes.

Melissa: So, I’m wondering if you can share your overall thoughts about the truths hidden within this gem of a story.

Rob: All right. So, let’s back up a minute. So, what we’re talking about today really is the story of the prodigal son, which is an oldie but a goody, one of Jesus’ best. Some people know it as the story of the– the parable of the loving father, right? And you know, even secular society has some son of what the prodigal son story is all about. It’s a kid who goes out and squanders the money and ends up in a brothel and famine comes and blows the doors off of his life and he ends up being a hired hand and even eating with pigs, which was a terrible thing for a young Jewish boy.

And so, what I wanted to do in this story was just take a deeper dive. Because what people do is they get caught up, you know, in picking sides in the story. That is the trap of the story. There’s the younger son who is foolish, but there is the older son who is trapped in his cynicism, right? So, one, you know, he gets his epiphany because of lack of want of trouble. And then the oldest son never quite gets his epiphany because his eyes are blinded by privilege and bitterness.

So, you know, it’s just a great story to think with Jesus. You know, Jesus throws the story out. And he wants us– I mean, the point of Jesus’ story is that he wants us to know the mind and the heart of God. What is the mind and the heart of God? That you and I find our way home. That you and I find our way back. And if we ever take one step in that direction, God comes running down a dusty road towards us despite our misdeeds, misdoings, our bad decisions, our stupidity. You know, there’s this loving God running towards, not running away, not castigating, shaming us. And so, that’s the big deal. And so, I would just want to give people another lens to look at this story. The story through the lens of appreciation. So, what does it mean to appreciate in this story? And I make the case about that.

Melissa: Well, it’s lent, and so to me, it’s easy to put ourselves in the shoes of the prodigal son. Or, you know, to return to the father. Or even be in the shoes of the father to forgive someone who has wronged us.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: And yet, I’m maybe infatuated a little bit by the other son, you know, the brother. I’m sure many of us can easily identify with him, in his own unique way, who is also living in a sort of wilderness.

Rob: Yeah, sure. Sure, he is, yeah, right.

Melissa: And so, do you have any advice for those who identify with the other son?

Rob: No, I have no advice. I just tell you that the story is just absolutely delicious and so, you know, I have– You know, I think if we’re honest and we’ve lived just a little while, you know, we’ve been the younger brother. Like we’ve been foolish, right? We’ve ignored wise counsel. We thought we knew better than everybody else and then we ended up trapped in a prison, a wilderness of our own bad decisions, and need some help. So, that’s the one brother.

And then, some of us, and I have been as well, I have been the faithful, rule-keeping, keeping it between the lanes older brother. Who gets up early and goes to bed late. I have been that dude who also wonders why in the hell other people can’t get their stuff together and if they were a little bit more like me, “Aw, wouldn’t the world be better.” And so, I know I’m not the only one who has had those thoughts, in the family, in the marriage, at the office. The older brother speaks in terms of them and those.

And even in this story, the older brother says to his father, about his younger brother, “Your son.” Which is an interesting move, isn’t it? Because he is disassociating himself with his brother. And it’s really interesting that the father doesn’t let him get away with that. And so, when the older brother, in his bitterness realizes that a party is going to be thrown for the younger brother and that he gets jewelry and a new pair of shoes, you know, and a barbecue in his honor, right, lavish party. This just throws the older son, you know, just sort of out into the stratosphere. And he says, you know, “Your son,” “Your son lived in desolate living.” “Your son,” you know, mixed it up with prostitutes. “Your son,” did all of that.

Of course, the father says to him, “Your brother was lost and now is found.” And so, you know, number one, part of the genius of the father in the story is that he’s trying to help the older brother appreciate the bond of being a sibling, right? The irreducible bond of being sibling. And so, that is true for us in our own lives with our own siblings. But it is also true in terms of the human family and that we’re all actually siblings and any distancing that we want to do for any good reason that we can come up with are really at odds in the mind of God.

And so, while we have a real good reason to say this or that or you know they’ve hurt me, they’ve disappointed me, and all of that is legitimate. The older brother’s pain is bitterness, understandable, and legitimate, but it gets stuff there. You know, the younger foolish brother at least finds his way back from the pig trough. And he gets an epiphany, he’s open to– He’s made to be open. And the limit of the parable is that we don’t know what happens after the banquet. We don’t know what happens to the older son’s heart after the father helps the older brother understand that, “Hey, man, this guy’s made terrible choices.”

Melissa: I don’t know, Bishop. I kind of feel like I don’t. This is a maybe a little bit meta. So, maybe the banquets heaven.

Rob: It could be.

Melissa: And maybe the bitter son, who can’t let go of his bitterness, is choosing hell over heaven.

Rob: I like how you’re working on it. I like how you are working on it. And isn’t that what we say about heaven, right? I mean, I’ve preached enough funerals to be able to say, we do say that. We do say that there is this wonderful banquet that is prepared for us, right? We will be reunited with those we love, and we will be in near and dear presence of God, in the welcoming arms of God. And what if that kind of graciousness and openness and welcome we can’t give our hearts to? What if we end up getting stuck in, you know, not a fiery pit in some sort of meta universe but maybe the fiery pit of our own sort of pride and judgmental nature.

Melissa: Right.

Rob: I think a lot about heaven and hell. And you know one of the things that I think I know now is that hell then can’t be any worse than hell now of our own isolation, our own brokenness, enmity. I’ve seen family strife close up. You know, the corrosion of families and marriages. I’ve seen contempt. I’ve seen how resentment can get as wide as river. I mean, hell can’t be any worse than that.

Melissa: Welcome back to For People. Bishop, I have banned phrase in my household. Like my children are not allowed to utter the words, “That’s not fair.” Because I feel like I’ve tried to teach that fair is often subjective, and it’s rooted in comparing. Which might very well be the catalyst for coveting.

And so, I’m wondering if you have any insights about ways people might recognize when they are falling into the trap of playing the comparison game.

Rob: We can work out whatever you feel like you want to do. Well, you know, it’s interesting. I think that’s part of the trap that consumes the older brother, right? That’s also where you see the elegance and the beauty of the father in the story. The father is able to try to meet each one where he is, right? He says to the older brother, “Hey, I see you. You’ve been here with me along and everything I have is yours, really.” And at the same time, he sees the lostness of the younger brother and runs down the road to say, “Hey, I see you.” But he doesn’t even use words. It’s just these wonderful welcoming gestures.

So, he does, I think, models for us something that is very difficult, which is not to try to succumb to this cookie cutter, boilerplate thing that we do with people, right? And try to find a way to meet people where they are and realize that my struggles may be easy for you, right? And your struggles may be easy for me. But I shouldn’t castigate you. You know, we shouldn’t castigate one another back and forth. So, he does that. So, at the same time, what the father does in this notion of the two sons is that he makes us know that there is something more at stake then to be right. And I think that is sometimes where the problem gets to for us. We put the ultimate bar on if we are right, right? And there are many marriages that have ended. And there is a lot of enmity in families when the bar, the gold standard is rightness.

What Jesus comes to tell us and model for us is there is another bar for us that is above being right. It’s not that we have any problem being right, it’s just not the top of the mountain. Why do we know that? Well, we know that because the Bible tells us when we were ye tin our sins, Jesus came to us. So, if it would have been about rightness, there is no such thing as Grace, right? There is no such thing as unconditional love. When Jesus has a conversation with the thief on the cross is that about rightness? Or no, he’s inviting a thief and a criminal who is justly being punished, according to scripture, into paradise with him.

So, all along Jesus keeps telling us these stories which sort of break the hard ground of our sort of default way to understand ourselves and the world. And it’s off-putting. Sometimes if we’re honest, we don’t like Jesus for some of these stories. You know, there’s a story that sort of in the spirit of this about some workers went out to work and they had been working long and hard. And then some workers came right at the end of the day and picked up the shovels and put on their hard hats before the whistle blew. And Jesus says they get the same pay as the guys and the girls who were there early and did the work. And we don’t like that. And perhaps we don’t like that especially as Americans, right? But what we have to ask ourselves is that, you know, is God an American? No, God is not an American. So, we are trying to figure out as Christians, right, above our national sort of loyalties and ethics, what is the mind and the heart of God? And this story releases that so much. If it was just about right and wrong, it’s a slam dunk. The story has no power. The older brother was right. The younger brother was wrong. And therefore, the father doesn’t have to run to him and give him any welcoming gesture. He can just bring him back, if he’s merciful, as a farmhand and he can live with the farmhand’s way down at the end of the property. And that’s the end of the story because that’s right and logical.

But there’s this other thing about love which is there’s something more at stake than being right.

Melissa: So, Bishop, you will often remind us of the importance of prayer. And you have a recommendation in this Devotion for praying for those who have heard us for 40-days, which you suggest may give us a new appreciation for those we love.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: And maybe even those we struggle to love.

Rob: Yeah.

Melissa: I’m wondering if you have a personal story you might share about maybe how practicing this transformed your own relationship or maybe a story of someone else you might know?

Rob: Well, I mean, that’s the thing about living with scripture, right? These stories come to your remembrance. You see yourself as you even have struggle and strife with people. You see yourself through the lens of these stories. So, there are times when I have been upset and I have been the older brother. And there have been times that I was pleading for mercy, and I have been the younger brother in my life, perhaps too numerous to list on the podcast.

I can tell you one of my favorite stories about the power of this story. Because I think that is probably one of the other great gifts here. We have these stories, and they live with us. Like water on a stone, they work on us. We live with them over many decades. We shift around in the story. We are one character one year and the other character another year and so on. I have been everything in this story but the fatted calf, you know, that ultimately becomes the barbecue.

But we’ve got to also minister the power of these stories. Because when sometimes we find in a relationship people are struggling it’s the gift of these stories that can sort of give them a great gift of grace and perspective. And maybe even healing. My favorite story about this is that I remember a very long time ago, I had dear friends– My wife and I had dear friends. They’re just sort of a mega power couple. They were on their way, gotten engaged, and all the fancy people were notified that we were going to have this big, wonderful wedding. Every side of it was delicious except there was an infidelity that came to light, even when they were engaged by the person’s confession, something stupid, something out of line with his sort of regular way to be in the world. But nevertheless, it came to light. And then the relationship spiraled out of control. The gentleman ended up on my couch. We tried to comfort, care, and listen to the confession and all of that. And you know, not to a lot of avail, I mean, he thought he lost the very best thing in the whole world, and it was by his own doing, his own foolishness. So, he was trapped in a terrible prison of his own making, that he had lost his wonderful woman.

Because we were friends, the woman called me, maybe days, weeks later, to chat with me. She’s a high-powered lawyer. And I was trying to tell her some stuff and give her some comforting pastoral advice, maybe platitudes, I don’t know. And she was batting them away like Serena Williams bats away tennis balls. She was handing my lunch to me. She could out logic me and out argue me. It was pitiful. In the middle of all of that exchange, I realize that I was losing real fast. And I prayed, even as we were on the phone, and I said, “Lord, I’m having my behind handed to me here. I’m trying to do something good here. You got to help me.” And the only thing that came to mind, for all my learning and training and all of my fancy education, the only thing that came to mind was this story of the prodigal son. Now what was interesting was the woman was not raised in Church. She had never really had this story on her playlist, if you will. So, I told her the story. It was amazing to hear someone hear the story, you know, fresh. All I can say is that at the end of that phone call, I felt like I had just lost the big game. It was a valiant effort. But lost the big game. And here I was, this poor little pastor, trying to give this 2000-year old story to a thoroughly modern woman who is as bright as the sun. I just lost the big game. So, we said goodbye and didn’t hear much about it.

Fast forward, we danced at their wedding. You know, their son is now best friends with my son. They are in college together.

The point being, somehow in the power of the story, both of them found a way back. And when logic wouldn’t do it, dry reasoning wouldn’t do it, and certainly being right wouldn’t do it, somehow in this dramatic story that Jesus tells about somebody who got it all wrong, and somebody whose heart was big enough to accept you even when you are wrong, made a difference in their real life. And so, I tell that story when I get around to talking about this story of Jesus because in the real world these stories still matter. These stories are still generative. They are still healing. They are still aspirational for us sometimes. Sometimes they produce conflict in our souls. But the Holy Spirit is still at work in these stories. And that’s why we have to know them. And be ready to not only live with them ourselves, but offer them to others.

Melissa: Bishop, thanks for that great reminder. And thank you for listening to For People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook @BishopRobWright. Please subscribe, leave a review, and we’ll be back with you next week.


Apreciación

La historia del hijo pródigo es una de las mejores parábolas de Jesús. Probablemente, sería, mejor titulada, la historia del Padre Amoroso. El amor de padre, a pesar del resentimiento de un hijo y de la necedad del otro, mantiene unida a la familia. A veces la división familiar y la amargura pueden sentirse como si estuviéramos en el desierto. Esta historia nos tienta a elegir a un hijo sobre el otro y a validar el dolor de un hijo sobre el dolor del otro, ¡esa es la trampa! ¿Cómo podemos usar los tiempos de desierto de la familia para crecer en la apreciación de los unos por otros? Jesús dice que debemos orar por aquellos que nos han herido. Si estás pasando por un desierto con alguien en tu familia, ora por ellos por cuarenta días. Oren para que Dios les ilumine a ambos. Para que ambos puedan descubrir cuáles fueron sus contribuciones al quebrantamiento de la relación. La respuesta a este tipo de oraciones vendrá en forma de un corazón más suave y un sentimiento de descubrimiento de la otra persona y de sí mismo. Hay mucho más que obtener en este tipo de desiertos que la propia justicia.

Tomado de la Serie Especial : Creciendo en el Desierto, por el Obispo Wright para la Cuaresma 2022


Tags: For Faith

INTIMACY

Before Moses becomes a deliverer of his people, he’s a felon in the wilderness.  What changes him from a rogue to a reformer is a new intimacy with God.  Out of a blazing bush, he hears God whisper his name and the name of his ancestors.  The story climaxes with God offering God’s name to Moses, “I AM.”  The exchange of names is the beginning of knowing and being known.  It’s the beginning of intimacy.  The exchange of names launches friendships, trusting partnerships, even marriages, and in Moses’ case, a history-changing revolution.  Does it transform you to know that God knows and is calling your name?  Does it change anything that God knows and has spoken with all of your forebears?  It’s not a coincidence that men and women who have made this world look more like heaven and less like hell speak of an intimacy with a loving God as their starting place.  In the quietness of the wilderness in life, we can grow in our desire for intimacy and of acceptance with God. 

Excerpt from Bishop Wright’s Growing in the Wilderness Series | Lent 2022


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.


Intimidad

Antes de que Moisés se convirtiera en el libertador de su pueblo, era un delincuente en el desierto. Lo que lo cambia de ser un fugitivo a ser un reformador de una nueva intimidad con Dios. Desde un arbusto en llamas, él oye a Dios susurrar su nombre y el nombre de sus antepasados. La historia se enmarca con Dios declarando su nombre a Moisés, “YO SOY”. El intercambio de nombres es el comienzo de una relación, del conocimiento y de ser conocido. Es el comienzo de la intimidad. Con el intercambio de nombres comienzan amistades, relaciones de confianza, e incluso matrimonios, y en el caso de Moisés, una revolución libertadora que cambia la historia de la humanidad. ¿Te transforma el saber que Dios te conoce y está llamándote por tu nombre? ¿Te impacta descubrir que Dios conoce y ha hablado con todos tus antepasados? No es una coincidencia que los hombres y mujeres que han hecho que este mundo parezca más cielo y menos infierno hablen de su intimidad con un Dios amoroso como el lugar de inicio de su misión. En la quietud del desierto en nuestra vida podemos crecer en el deseo de una mayor intimidad con Dios.

Tomado de la Serie Especial : Creciendo en el Desierto, por el Obispo Wright para la Cuaresma 2022


Tags: For Faith

Order

By baptism, and the order that comes with that, God has and is growing a colony of heaven on the earth. Lines on a map and petty political partisanship are too small to contain what God has planned for us, and wants to accomplish in and through us. Still, to be a citizen of heaven on earth is to feel like a resident alien. There’s a nagging sense of being out-of-place that accompanies being a heavenly citizen. No wonder the song says, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child a long way from home.” To attempt to find relief from this homesickness, we conform to the world, its ways and priorities, rather than stand up and stand out as we were born to do. We choose earthly order rather than heavenly order. But today all that can change. Today we can choose to come home to ourselves, to God and to one another. Today we can begin again.

Excerpt from Bishop Wright’s Growing in the Wilderness Series | Lent 2022


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.


Orden

Por el bautismo, y el orden que mana de ello, Dios tiene y está creciendo una extensión de la nación del cielo aquí en la tierra. Las líneas del mapa y el partidismo político son demasiado pequeños para contener lo que Dios ha planeado para nosotros, y lo que quiere lograr dentro y a través de nosotros. Sin embargo, ser ciudadano del cielo en la tierra es sentirse como un extranjero siendo residente. Hay una sensación irritante de estar fuera de lugar que acompaña al ser un ciudadano celestial. No suena extraño que la canción diga (con sus letras en Inglés): «A veces me siento como un niño sin madre muy lejos de casa». Para tratar de encontrar alivio a esta enfermedad doméstica, nos conformamos con el mundo, sus maneras y sus prioridades, en lugar de ponernos de pie y sobresalir que es la razón por la que vinimos al mundo. Normalmente, elegimos el orden terrenal en lugar del orden celestial. Pero hoy, todo eso puede cambiar. Hoy podemos elegir volver a casa, a nosotros mismos, a Dios y a todos los que nos rodean. Hoy podemos comenzar de nuevo.

Tomado de la Serie Especial : Creciendo en el Desierto, por el Obispo Wright para la Cuaresma 2022


Tags: For Faith

Clearer

God uses the wilderness to give you a clarity about who you are and whose you are. It’s a clarity that often eludes us in abundance and comfort. That’s Jesus’ story. He was in the wilderness. That was hard. He was interrogated by the devil there and in a weakened state to boot. That was worse! It wasn’t the devil of Hollywood movie fame who seduces us into sin, but the devil of the bible that comes to test us with his questions, so he and we can know the integrity and durability of the truths we claim. It was Jesus’ wilderness clarity that helped him know, trust and live the truth which continues to guide us into all truth. The timeless good news of life with God is, God does God’s best work in and through us in the wilderness. This Lent, I pray that your wilderness times help you to see clearer, hear deeper and claim your purpose in the service of Jesus Christ and neighbor.

Excerpt from Bishop Wright’s Growing in the Wilderness Series | Lent 2022


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.


Claridad

Dios utiliza el desierto de nuestras vidas para traer claridad sobre quienes somos y de quien somos. Es una realidad que muchas veces ignoramos en medio de nuestra comodidad y abundancia. Esta es la historia de Jesús. Él estuvo en medio del desierto y resultó sumamente difícil. En ese lugar fue tentado e interrogado por el demonio y fue empujado hasta el límite de su humanidad. Eso fue lo peor, no era el demonio seductor que Hollywood nos ha presentado, sino el demonio de la Biblia, el que nos interroga con preguntas íntimas para conocer nuestra integridad y la certeza de las verdades de fe que proclamamos. Jesús fue ayudado por la claridad que encontró en el desierto, esto le permitió conocer, confiar y vivir en la verdad que hoy nos continúa guiando hacia la verdad infinita de Dios. La verdad eterna de la vida con Dios es que Dios nos hace sus mejores proyectos en nuestras vidas a través de nuestro desierto. Esta cuaresma, oro para que tus tiempos de desierto puedan guiarte a ver más claramente, escuchar más profundamente y reclamar tu propósito en servicio a nuestro Señor Jesucristo y tu comunidad.

Tomado de la Serie Especial : Creciendo en el Desierto, por el Obispo Wright para la Cuaresma 2022


Tags: For Faith

Access

Jesus went up a mountain to pray. This simple practice gave Jesus all the clarity and connection he needed to face evil, find and carry out his purpose and even face death unafraid. So what is prayer? In our tradition, “prayer is responding to God, by thought and deed, with or without words.” We teach that there are seven principal kinds of prayer: adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession and petition. I wonder what your default prayer setting is? For lots of us it’s thanksgiving or intercession. As we approach the season of Lent, how about changing things up a bit? This Lent, I invite you to choose the most unfamiliar genre from the list above and pray that genre until Easter. Just imagine, what accessing God’s mind and power in new ways will mean for your friendship with God and with the human family. Prayer changed Jesus that day on the mountain, he heard God’s voice in a new way. It was knowing God in prayer that gave him the power to heal the world one sick soul at a time.

Book of Common Prayer Pg. 856-857

Luke 9:28-36, 37-43a


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.


Acceso

Jesús subió una montaña para orar. Esta simple práctica le dio a Jesús toda la claridad y conexión que necesitaba para enfrentar el mal, encontrar y llevar a cabo su propósito e incluso enfrentar la muerte sin miedo. Entonces, ¿qué es la oración? En nuestra tradición, “la oración es responder a Dios, en pensamiento y obra, con o sin palabras”. En la tradición Episcopal, enseñamos que hay siete maneras principales de oración: Adoración, alabanza, acción de gracias, penitencia, oblación, intercesión y petición. ¿Me pregunto cuál es el tipo de oración al cual siempre recurres? Para muchos de nosotros es normalmente acción de gracias o intercesión. Nos estamos acercando a la temporada de Cuaresma, ¿Qué tal si cambiamos las cosas un poco durante este tiempo? En esta Cuaresma, los invito a elegir el género de oración de la lista anterior que desconozcamos y oraremos utilizando ese género hasta la Pascua. Imagínese lo que significara para su amistad con Dios y con la familia humana entrar en oración de una nueva manera y poder entrar en contacto con a la mente y el poder de Dios de nuevas maneras. La oración cambió a Jesús ese día en la montaña, escuchó la voz de Dios de una manera nueva. Fue descubrir que Dios, por medio de la oración le dio el poder de sanar al mundo, un alma enferma a la vez.

Libro de Oración Común Pg. 856-857

Lucas 9:28-36, 37-43ª


Tags: For Faith

Closer

We continue to struggle to speak of and learn from our history. Increasingly, states and jurisdictions are banning the study of and conversations about slavery and the holocaust. At this pace, one wonders will we also ban conversations of woman’s suffrage? The vehemence of those determined to outlaw the truth only makes the need for the truth more evident and urgent. The rising opposition in accepting the most unflattering part of ourselves demonstrates our profound lack of sophistication with the truth. Shame and guilt are not the only two responses to tragic truths individually, communally or societally. The bible tells us, Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers and sold into slavery. And though Joseph is able to rise from that pit to power by providence, there is a more compelling story to be told. Joseph seems to learn that without confession and reconciliation, even incredible influence and affluence are hollow. Joseph says to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” Progress for our individual families, the American family and our human family, will not come through legislated avoidance of and distance from the hardest truths of our common life but when we find the grit and grace to draw closer, confess our sins and allow ourselves to be undeservedly forgiven.

Genesis 45:3-11, 15


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.


Cercanía

Continuamos enfrentando problemas para hablar y aprender de nuestra historia. Cada vez más, los estados y jurisdicciones prohíben la enseñanza y las conversaciones abiertas sobre temas como la esclavitud y el holocausto. A este ritmo, uno se pregunta ¿Prohibiremos también las conversaciones sobre el sufragio femenino? El ímpetu de aquellos decididos a prohibir la verdad solo hace que la necesidad de hablar la verdad sea más evidente y urgente. La oposición creciente al aceptar la parte más vergonzosa de nuestra historia demuestra nuestra profunda falta de sofisticación con la verdad. La vergüenza y la culpa no son las únicas dos respuestas a verdades trágicas individuales, comunitarias o sociales. La Biblia nos dice que José fue arrojado a un pozo por sus hermanos y vendido como esclavo. Y aunque José es capaz de levantarse desde esa fosa al poder por providencia divina, hay una historia más convincente que se debe contar. José parece aprender que, sin confesión y reconciliación, incluso la influencia increíble y la riqueza son huecas. José dice a sus hermanos: «Acérquense a mí». Y se acercaron. Él dijo: «Yo soy su hermano, José, a quien vendieron en Egipto». El progreso para nuestras familias individuales, la familia americana y nuestra familia humana, no vendrá a través de la evasión y distancia legislada de las verdades más duras de nuestra vida común, sino cuando encontremos la contienda y la gracia para acercarnos, confesar nuestros pecados y permitirnos ser perdonados inmerecidamente.

Génesis 45:3-11, 15


Tags: For Faith

Once

Each follower of Jesus remembers a “once.” That is, that first day, or unforgettable situation when the trustworthiness of God became crystal clear. The crowd wanted words from Jesus, he gave a few. But, no words he gave that day were more spectacular than, “leave the shallow water for the deep water and put your net out.” No pithy stories, just clear directions. Simon responds as we would, he talks about the reality of frustration and the impossibility of faith. Still, to Simon’s credit he does as he is instructed at least this one time. So many fish were caught that day that the nets nearly broke and new partners were needed to help haul in the blessings. Sometimes faith isn’t about what you readily believe will happen. Sometimes faith is obeying what you’re told will happen when you obey a faithful God. Because of this “once,” in Simon’s life, Jesus promotes him from fish catching to friend-making.

Luke 5:1-11


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.


Una Vez

Cada seguidor de Jesús recuerda “una vez.” Es decir, ese primer día, u ocasión inolvidable cuando se hizo evidente la confianza plena en Dios. La multitud quería escuchar las palabras de Jesús y les dio unas pocas. Pero, ninguna palabra de las que dijo ese día fue más significativa que “Deja las aguas poco profundas por las aguas profundas y saca tu red.” Sin historias concisas, solo direcciones claras.

Simón responde como nosotros hubiéramos respondido, habla de la realidad ante la frustración y de la imposibilidad de la fe. Aun así, debemos darle crédito a Simón, ya que hace como se le instruye al menos una vez. Tantos peces fueron capturados ese día, que las redes casi se rompían y necesitaron manos adicionales para ayudar a llevar las bendiciones recibidas. A veces la fe no es sobre lo que ustedes creen fácilmente que sucederá.

En ocasiones, la fe obedece lo que entiende que sucederá cuando se obedece a un Dios fiel. Debido a esta “una vez,” en la vida de Simón, Jesús lo promueve de capturar peces a crear amigos.

Lucas 5:1-11


Tags: For Faith

Exodus

We were made by a free God for freedom. The bible tells us that God is on a search and rescue mission for God’s beloved human family. Overturning anything that would limit, ensnare and dominate us is what God delights to do. The world with all its beautiful stuff can’t free you, You’ll just be a well-dressed slave. The worst enemy of true freedom is a little freedom. A little domination. A little captivity. But God doesn’t want us to settle for the crumbs of freedom. God wants more for us in this new year, nothing less than an Exodus. Every member of the human family has dignity, value and worth. So being dressed in freedom means we do not accept or cooperate with domination or oppression of any kind. Not for ourselves or for our human siblings. We resist! Freedom is a process. It took Egypt 400 years to put slave in the hebrew people and that didn’t go away with the miracle of the exodus. They brought the slave that was buried deep in them to freedom land. We have internalized “slave” so well that we can’t even identify it; it takes years to take the slave out of us. That is why worship for us is so important. In worship, we meet a free God and get a glimpse of the freedom possible for our lives and our world.

Excerpt from Imagine Church Winter 22 “Freedom Looks Good on You

Joshua 24


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.


Éxodo

Fuimos creados por un Dios libre, para la libertad. La biblia nos relata que Dios está en una misión de búsqueda y rescate por la amada familia humana de Dios. Derribando cualquier cosa que nos limite, capture y domine es lo que Dios se deleita en hacer. El mundo con todas sus cosas hermosas no puede liberarte, seriamos apenas esclavos bien vestidos. El peor enemigo de la libertad verdadera es la pequeña libertad. Un poco de dominación. Un poco de cautiverio. Pero Dios no quiere que nos conformemos con las migas de la libertad. Dios quiere más para nosotros en este nuevo año, nada menos que un Éxodo. Cada miembro de la familia humana tiene dignidad, mérito y valor. Así que estar vestido con libertad significa que no aceptamos ni cooperamos con la dominación u opresión de ningún tipo. No para nosotros ni para nuestros hermanos humanos. ¡Resistimos! La libertad es un proceso A Egipto le tomó 400 años poner esclavo en el pueblo hebreo y eso no desapareció con el milagro del éxodo. Trajeron al esclavo que fue enterrado profundamente en ellos a tierra libre. Hemos interiorizado «esclavo» tanto que ni siquiera podemos identificarlo – toma años sacarlo de nosotros. Es por eso que el acto de adoración para nosotros es tan importante. En la adoración nos encontramos con un Dios libre y vislumbramos la posible libertad para nuestras vidas y para nuestro mundo.

Tomado de Imagine Church Invierno 2022 “Freedom Looks Good on You” (“La libertad se ve bien en ti”)

Josué 24


Tags: For Faith

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