Bishop Rob Wright For People Album
For People
Easter Gift

About the episode

Happy Easter! As we reach the milestone of our 200th episode, we are taking a moment to reflect on the journey that started as an experiment during COVID. And three years later, For People has reached all 50 states, over 100 countries, and 6,000 cities, It has been downloaded 300,000 times. This podcast has become a beacon of insight on following the teachings of Jesus in the real world.

In this episode, Melissa and Bishop Wright have a conversation about how Mary Magdalene’s story of steadfast faith in the resurrection narrative can inspire our lives. It’s about the small but mighty acts of love that can echo through our existence, shaping our approach to challenges and darkness, just as she did outside the tomb. They discuss our own Good Fridays, how God uses evil for good, and steps we can take to grow in our faith during the 50 Days of Easter. Listen in for the full conversation.

Before listening, read For Faith.


Bishop Wright: 0:00

God is trustworthy. What they meant as an instrument of shame and death and intimidation the cross. I like to say that God shows up as some kind of great jujitsu master using the force of evil against itself. Easter comes as evil’s master, but it doesn’t come for evil’s immediate obliteration. Come for evil’s immediate obliteration. Somehow in God’s economy evil stays around and God is trying to bring something even out of evil.

Melissa: 0:40

Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m your host, Melissa Rau, and today we are celebrating our 200th episode. Yay, Bishop. You will often say that this started out as a COVID experiment Right experiment. To date, we have been listened to in all 50 states, in 100 countries, 6,000 cities and this is just crazy. I have goosebumps 300,000 downloads later.

Bishop Wright: 1:19

It’s incredible, isn’t it? Wow, and the initial investment was about $1,500.

Melissa: 1:25


Bishop Wright: 1:26

Just on the equipment. It’s, you know, thanks be to God, right, just amazing. And people have responded and they have been, you know, just so supportive. And I go lots of places and people tell me they’re listening. And you know a lot of people are not even. You know. So I’m an Episcopalian and a lot of people tell me that they’re not a member of the Episcopal church but they’ve discovered us some kind of way and they listen regularly.

Melissa: 1:52

It’s really awesome, it’s amazing. Bishop, you know, it’s not just that. There’s a number of things coming down the pike that are just kind of like converging all together. I’m very excited that it’s Easter season.

Bishop Wright: 2:04

It is Easter, so happy Easter.

Melissa: 2:13

Happy Easter. And you were just. It was just announced that you are on the presiding bishop slate for the Episcopal Church, which is kind of a big deal, and so, before we get into any of that, I’m just letting our listeners know that we’re going to address all of that stuff. So how about we talk about Easter first? Is that okay?

Bishop Wright: 2:23

Yeah, first things first.

Melissa: 2:30

All right. So, bishop, you recorded an Easter message. It’s about three minutes long. It’s a video that you called Easter. Joy and it’s really just your encouragement for folks who are listening and watching, and I’m just wondering if you want to unpack a little bit about it. You highlighted Mary Magdalene and that she was diligent, even in the darkness.

Bishop Wright: 2:48

Yeah, I think that what we don’t need from preachers right now, given the state of the world and Gaza and the violence at home and abroad and all the caustic politics, is that we don’t need some sort of happy, clappy, pastel Easter that does not account for the real world and the misery in the real world and, at the same time, we need an Easter that is muscular enough, frankly speaking, to deal with the world as it is. And when you go back to that first Easter, Mary Magdalene, she went to provide love and care for what she thought was Jesus’s lifeless body. She was walking in the dark, she was diligent in the dark, she did her duty in the dark and it was in the dark that she discovered that God did God’s best work in the dark. And so what I love about it is is that somehow we sort of think that you know people. Mary in particular is sort of moving, grieving, no doubt. But it’s hard for me to believe that, having been with Jesus for three years, up close, Mary Magdalene, that she didn’t still have a sliver of hope that she was nurturing. When I hear her address Jesus in the empty tomb and in the garden, I don’t hear the recovery from despair. I hear a certain amount of relief in her words. I mean, this is a woman who watched Lazarus be raised from the dead, watched Jesus feed 5,000 people with a little boy’s lunch, watch Jesus cast out demons and confound the religious experts of his day, turn water into wine. This is the same Mary. So how can you live with Jesus and, even after his lynching, not believe, hold on to some sliver of belief that God will yet make a way? And so I think that that’s a wonderful example for us.

Bishop Wright: 4:50

Mary walking in the dark, Mary holding faith in the dark, Mary nurturing the sliver of hope that she has, you know, even in the dark. Here’s what we need to remember is this Easter is made up. This Easter is made up. Its ingredients are 49% of Easter is darkness, right. So you have to get through Good Friday to get to Easter Sunday, and the good news is this it’s that 1% I call it the trustworthiness of God, right. That gives us our hallelujah, that 1%. And so Mary does this. I think we need to have a Mary Magdalene faith as we look around the world right now, which is look. Here’s what we also know On most days being a Christian means doing one’s duty with dogged determination, right at home and in the world, just because of Jesus Christ, at home and in the world, just because of Jesus Christ. And so sometimes it’s not all magic, it’s not mysterium tremendum, it’s not all fairy dust no-transcript Right. And Mary has a faith that is that can slog towards the good news.

Melissa: 6:02

So, bishop, what does that mean for us? I, you know, I was listening to you and I was like OK, yeah, but doing the diligence in the, in the mundane, and trusting that, even though it might not seemingly matter to most people, love matters. And so sometimes we think love and displaying love and affection are the big grand overtures, and yet sometimes it’s just like the small, quiet things that we do to show up for one another.

Bishop Wright: 6:35

That’s right. Well, when Jesus is transfigured, when he goes up the mountain, he’s doing a mundane thing, he just wants to go and pray and that’s when the magic happens. Mary is just doing the mundane thing, she’s going to address what she believes is a dead body and the amazing happens. I mean, that is so much of life with God. We do the small things, we do the steady steps, the small, seemingly unnoticeable and unnoticed acts of good in the world. God makes out of that a life for us, a meaningful impact to others. We practice our prayers. When we do those small acts, we become our prayers. When we do those small acts, we become our prayers as we do those small acts. And this changes us. And if it changes us, then it begins to change the world.

Melissa: 7:27

Yeah. So what about you ended your video quoting the gospel writer of John? That light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Bishop Wright: 7:39

That’s it.

Melissa: 7:41

Would you say that that’s a constant theme, or is that sometimes untrue?

Bishop Wright: 7:47

No, I wouldn’t say it’s untrue, I would say that that is our lighthouse. For us, our lighthouse is this I don’t know who gave John literary advice, but John said that wonderful sentence. You know, in the first chapter of John. He gives the whole book away in the first chapter. Right, and what I love about it is in that simple sentence he tells us who God is, tells us who Jesus is, tells us who we are and tells us that we will always be up against overwhelming odds. But he also tells us in that same sentence is that we might be outnumbered but we won’t be outpowered.

Bishop Wright: 8:22

And so I think that the light shine in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome. It should be a beacon of hope for us, because whatever darkness we encounter, we believe through the eyes of faith and our hearts being changed and warmed by God’s Holy Spirit in us. We believe that that is true for us, and so that helps us to manage whatever darkness we confront. You know when our faith is wavering, when despair we’re flirting with ideas of giving up and despair, or worse. You know when there’s physical suffering for us or, as I like to say, if you’ve been trying to do right in a do wrong world and catching hell for it right.

Bishop Wright: 9:04

What keeps us moving is to know that the darkness will not overcome the light. The game will look close to us because we’re on the field, but it’s settled in God’s mind and so, you know, the idea of faith is to begin to eventually see as God sees, and so we keep that Bible verse to us very close. Darkness is reality, but it is not a superior reality. Light is the superior reality.

Melissa: 9:53

Yeah. So what of then the invitation? Is there an Easter invitation? Or how might an invitation be made towards folks who are not necessarily oriented to even seeing the light, or might feel overwhelmed or overcome by the darkness?

Bishop Wright: 10:09

Well, yeah, I mean, that happens to all of us, there’s no special subset. I mean, all of us have flirted right with giving up or becoming indifferent to growing increasingly in the spirit. We’ve been bought off by things or by holding on to sort of superficial notions of spirituality. And so I think that this is just Jesus’s invitation to us again and again, and again and again. It’s as if the scriptures are saying to me and saying to us you know, god really is trustworthy. That’s always the invitation at Easter. Right, god is trustworthy. What they meant as an instrument of shame and death and intimidation, the cross, god.

Bishop Wright: 11:01

I like to say that God shows up as some kind of great jujitsu master, right, using the force of evil against itself. Right, and so Easter comes as evil’s master, but it doesn’t come for evil’s immediate obliteration master, but it doesn’t come for evil’s immediate obliteration. Somehow in God’s economy, god and this is hard to hear sometimes evil stays around and God is trying to bring something even out of evil. For God, it appears, evil is some sort of building material. So St Augustine said it better than I just did. St Augustine said it seemed good to God to bring light out of darkness and good out of evil, rather than for darkness and evil to have never existed. And so in Easter, the Good Friday, the Silence of Saturday and the Alleluias of Easter Sunday, we see just that. We see God wringing evil out of evil. Good, and I think that is the Christian hope. And so what we can pray if we’re languishing in hope right now, and if we’re struggling right now, or we’re in our Good Friday season of our lives, even though the church is proclaiming Easter, we can go to God with that prayer Strength. Know, strengthen me God, help me to see your light even in this darkness.

Bishop Wright: 12:21

And I think the other thing we can do, which is always the tool for us, is to de-center ourselves, even when it’s dark. I mean, mary de-centered herself in the dark. Mary could have stayed where she was and been paralyzed by consuming grief. Mary could have stayed where she was and just been utterly disappointed and despairing. She could have done that, but somehow, in the midst of all of that legitimate grief and anguish, she focuses on Jesus and so, decentering her own feelings and moving toward Jesus, even when it’s dark, yielded for her not only an encounter with the Lord, a confirmation of her sliver of hope, but also won her the privilege of being the first disciple entrusted with the good news of the resurrection to the world.

Bishop Wright: 13:17

And so I realize that this gospel has a hard ask, and I realize that I’m echoing this hard ask. But that is the ask, which is to trust God even in the dark and move toward Jesus even though it’s dark, expecting Jesus to work with the dark and wring out of it not only light but life. Charles Spurgeon said this, a great preacher. He said to trust God in the light is nothing, but trusting God in the dark. Now, that is faith. And so how do we get to Easter faith? Well, we got to move through the dark and we got to trust God and get to know God even in the dark times of our lives.

Melissa: 13:59

Oh, bishop, I was going to ask another question, but I kind of feel like listeners would do themselves right to repeat that, like, go back, push the button 30 seconds, one minute, two minutes back and just listen to that again. I don’t think you have to say anything more about that, because I think it’s the darkness is really is like all right. What do people do in the dark? It’s all right. Yeah, lean in, lean in.

Bishop Wright: 14:21

Well, and it’s countercognitive and it sounds like it makes no sense, I mean, but very much of the faith, life is countercognitive, right? I mean, the whole point of this thing is to move from the intellectual ascent to these ideas down into the heart. You know, the biggest step of faith is the 18 inches between your forehead and your heart, right. And so if we can move it and make it life, that’s when it begins to yield powerfully. But if we keep it at an intellectual distance and don’t enflesh these ideas, right? That’s why the Bible says taste and see, right. It doesn’t read the label and see right. Taste and see. Isn’t that what we do in the grocery store? Let’s try this right, and I think that is the invitation here.

Melissa: 15:07

That’s great. Well, bishop, are there things that you would have us do or be or say? Are there small, little, tiny things of, I guess, action that folks might do as a result of that Easter hope, that Easter joy?

Bishop Wright: 15:23

Well, you know, one of the things that I encouraged in my Easter sermon this year was to not be bought off by the headlines, right? So if our faith only goes, if our faith stops at the headlines, then there’s more faith available. So I would say, number one if you’re struggling with your faith right now, now’s the season, this Easter season, to pray to God every morning. Or if you’re an evening person, every evening and ask God to show you an Easter faith and an Easter joy and an Easter grit, I think we ought to go to God. I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe the Holy Spirit is accompanying us and I believe sometimes we get in our own way. And so what would it be like to commit for these next 50 days, the 50 days of Easter? To pray each day for God to give you the faith and the sight to see Easter right in front of you.

Bishop Wright: 16:18

I think that’s number one. I think number two is that we ought not bear the burden alone If you find yourself in the darkness and you find yourself being overcome by darkness. I think this is when we reach out to people A good pastoral counselor, a good local church pastor, a good priest, a counselor, a therapist. We don’t bear these burdens alone. I hope you have a friend, someone you can talk through spiritual matters with, who has some good encouragement for you or even just a listening ear, and so Mary is on her journey here. But quickly other people show up right, and so we can’t contain, we can’t hold the darkness by ourselves and the light is too overwhelming and too good to even keep to ourselves. So we need people, you know, on this journey. And then the other thing I would say these are always the basics, right, the meat and the potatoes of the faith I like to say is that what would it be like if you brought the light to someone else sitting in darkness?

Bishop Wright: 17:21

I mean, I think we can get really consumed with our own situation, but there are people sitting in darkness and loneliness all around. I think about our senior population. This country is growing in seniors by leaps and by bounds. People are lonely. This country is growing in seniors by leaps and by bounds. People are lonely. There is a pandemic of loneliness all around. What would it be like to give a couple hours once a week to go and touch a hand and pat a back and listen to a story of someone, one of our seniors, somewhere in our midst they’re easy to find who would just do with a smile. You would be Easter to them by just bringing them a smile or some other piece of thoughtfulness. What would it be like to do that? I mean, it’s the other-centeredness, ironically, in God’s economy that gives us great joy. And if we can sort of de-center ourselves for a season, I think, then we see that the way forward is an other-centeredness which brings Easter joy not only to us but to others.

Melissa: 18:27

All right, bishop, so let’s kind of change the subject a little bit. Happy Easter.

Bishop Wright: 18:31

Happy Easter.

Melissa: 18:33

And congratulations on being named as a nominee for our next presiding bishop. So for people who aren’t familiar with what the presiding bishop is or does, what’s the specific work of a presiding bishop?

Bishop Wright: 18:48

Well, it has a huge administration component, right so, proclamation, right so you’re a chief communicator for the denomination for Jesus Christ. You are also colleague with you know basically 150, 160 other bishops throughout that jurisdiction and you’re working with them to develop ministries and to ordain and consecrate bishops and keep the systems of the church going. You’re also meeting with lots and lots of different groups to try to work on the most pernicious problems that we face in the church issues of justice, issues around poverty, and, of course, there’s always the formation piece, always the work of making disciples. Now, beyond all of that, there are an innumerable amount of meetings and speaking opportunities and all of that. But think primarily about proclamation, administration and formation. This is the work that the presiding bishop gets to do with a whole host of really talented people.

Melissa: 19:51

Fabulous Well, Bishop, how can we be in prayer for you and the other candidates?

Bishop Wright: 19:56

I really appreciate that. I think what is important first and foremost is that we pray for the church, right Beyond any individual. We pray for the church, that God’s will be done in this election process, that God’s will be done as people listen and lean in and discern how best to cast their vote and, when all the ballots are in, that all of us in the Episcopal Church can come together and agree on the work. And that is to reach out in old and established and perhaps new and imaginative ways, to a world that desperately needs the good news of Easter.

Melissa: 20:41

That’s great. Well, Bishop, you mentioned about a process and getting the ballots in. Is there a timeline?

Bishop Wright: 20:45

And so, on June 26th, bishops will gather for worship and prayer, and they will proceed to elect the 28th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Melissa: 20:55

Listeners, I’m sure you’ll be joining me in praying with and for our church and our presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Listeners, I’m sure you’ll be joining me in praying with and for our church and our presiding bishop candidates. Thank you for listening to For People. We invite you to continue listening and joining us every single week when we drop a new Forr People episode. 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.