For People with bishop Rob Wright

Look, Touch, Lunch

Bishop Rob Wright For People Album
For People
Look, Touch, Lunch

About the episode

Peace be with you! These are the 4 words Jesus says when he enters the room to see the disciples for the first time since his death and resurrection. Jesus enters the space with grace. He says look. He says touch. And then He breaks bread. He shares peace over a meal.

In this episode, Melissa and Bishop Wright have a conversation about this first gathering with Jesus and his disciples after his resurrection. They draw parallels to the peace Jesus brings and how it is the peace we must seek to share with others in our world today. A peace that sees other, strive to touch/understand other, and gathers community – because to take up peace as Jesus did is to be in close proximity to neighbor.  Listen in for the full conversation.

Before listening, read For Faith.


Bishop Wright: 0:00

And so that’s about proximity, right, that’s about being close enough, that’s about some sort of intimacy that we can have with each other as human beings. Right, touch my story, know something of my story. I’ll touch your story, I’ll know something of your story. Your wounds can be talked about. My wounds can be talked about. I can trace some of the scars with you, and you can trace some of your scars with you and you can trace some of your scars with me. We can do that.

Melissa: 0:40

Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m Melissa Rau and this is a conversation inspired by Four Faith, a weekly devotion sent out every Friday. You can find a link to this week’s devotion and a link to subscribe in the episode’s description. Hey Bishop, this week’s devotion you called Look Touch Lunch. You based it off of Luke, chapter 24, verses 36b through 48, where Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection. Their response is fear, and you know there are a number of themes in this, this whole devotion thus the title, and I’m wondering if you can highlight your key takeaways for us from this passage.

Bishop Wright: 1:24

Well, I mean, the key takeaway is is that Jesus now is appearing to the 11. According to Luke, he’d appeared to a few, but now he’s got the whole entourage, save Judas, and he finds his way in the room there. And, first and foremost, I just want to call out the fact that Jesus stood among them. I mean, before he opens his mouth, he’s there. And it strikes me as important is that these are the very people who couldn’t be or wouldn’t be with him in his hour of need, right, these are the people who lied and betrayed and ran away. And so I’m immediately struck at the graciousness of Jesus. I mean, would these be the people that we would go first to right? And so we get a sense of His graciousness? And then, you know, as we read Jesus and we’re struck by His graciousness, we’re invited, you know, by His act more than His words, to be gracious, especially to those who have lied, ran away or betrayed us, perhaps even an hour of need. Jesus enters this room and he’s big, you know, and big spiritually, I mean, and I think that’s one of the invitations I think we get from Scripture that we need to be mindful of now, you know, as I look around the world we’re being invited to be increasingly smaller. Smaller and I’m not talking physical stature, obviously, I’m talking spiritually smaller, smaller in our kindness.

Bishop Wright: 2:54

And Jesus shows up in the room and he’s big and he’s a colossus spiritually and he’s not there to dwarf or disparage anybody. He’s there because he wants to live out his own virtues. I mean, the brutality did not lower his ceiling height for being kind, and we have to flag that because so many of us, I think, have been beaten back from our biggest and best self by the brutality of the world. We feel a bit stupid, frankly speaking, being kind to people who are unkind to us, being gracious to people who are ungracious to us, and so here’s this invitation before Jesus says a word, here’s this invitation to be gracious in response to Jesus’s graciousness. Right, and that immediately changes the spiritual temperature, you know, of the room To that they are terrified, they are startled, they’re a whole mix of emotions. But he doesn’t come in the room with any condemnation at all. He actually comes in the room with these four words and that is peace. Be with you.

Melissa: 4:03

So can we frame that a little bit? How do you think peace is best framed for professed followers of Jesus, and are there ways that you think we, or society in general, are missing the mark?

Bishop Wright: 4:16

Well, yeah, so I entitled this meditation Look, touch, lunch and preachers love. Three points right, because it’s three points in a poem, which is how most sermons on Sunday are built. And so we can talk about peace. And we can talk about peace not being simply the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice, god’s own presence among us, god’s resolve living through us. We can talk about peace being our anchor in storms. We can talk about all of that.

Bishop Wright: 4:48

But there are three movements that Jesus actually does that, I think, create peace. So the first thing he does is to say look, right. So he is not trying to delegitimize or make small what actually happened to him, right? And so he’s trying to get some reality in the room. So our way to peace is getting some reality in the room.

Bishop Wright: 5:09

Avoidance doesn’t create peace, but a lot of people want to try to avoid the most difficult times, circumstances, injuries that they’ve either done or that they themselves have suffered. And he doesn’t do that. He says look. I mean look at what we’re doing right now in the nation. We are making policies that are going to force educational institutions to look away from some of the chapters in American history. And for what reason Is it because we don’t believe in reconciliation? Is it because we want to tell half-truths to our children and grandchildren? What is the reason? No real reconciliation came from avoidance.

Bishop Wright: 5:47

So peace is produced by an absolute dogma determination to look. It’s not to say I’m going to be ashamed, it’s none of that. It’s not about being guilted, it’s none of that. It is. But let us look. Look what we’ve done to the Native Americans in terms of creating this republic. Look what we’ve done to other groups. Look at how we’ve treated women. Women still make pennies on the dollar. Look at it. Let’s look at it. Right, and I think that’s a mark of maturity to look.

Bishop Wright: 6:17

So Jesus says you know, I would say Jesus is saying with his actions, this is the way you create some peace here. Saying with his actions, this is the way you create some peace here. You do the hard work of resolution, and part of resolution is to look. And then he says touch, right. And so that’s about proximity, right, that’s about being close enough. That’s about some sort of intimacy that we can have with each other as human beings. Right, touch my story, know something of my story. I’ll touch your story. I’ll know something of your story. Your wounds can be talked about. My wounds can be talked about. I can trace some of the scars with you and you can trace some of your scars with me. We can do that.

Bishop Wright: 6:59

We’re refusing to touch. If you look at the media these days, we don’t talk about the poor at all. Right, we don’t want to touch that reality. Right, we want to feed ourselves with nostalgia, we want to feed ourselves with some sort of grotesque American triumphalism and we don’t want to touch what is real that the majority of this country white and black, gay and straight is hurting. We are hurting and the outcomes for young people look very different, by and large, than the outcomes that many of us who are my age have enjoyed. This sort of upward mobility. It’s getting strained, it’s getting harder for them. So we’ve got to have some sort of commitment to touch them, to understand wounds, vulnerabilities, triggers, et cetera.

Bishop Wright: 7:45

And then what Jesus does is this last movement right, which I love. Right, jesus is Episcopalian as far as I’m concerned. Right, because Jesus never saw a dinner party or a lunch party that he didn’t want to join. Right. So, even after the resurrection, with all of his wounds, with all of his scars, with the hell he’s been through right and the glory that God has shown him by resurrecting him and rolling the stone away. The disciples are troubled, they’re startled. The text says that they sort of have this combination of emotions they’re startled, they wonder if he’s a ghost, they’re afraid. And it says and they have joy, right. And so to that sort of very complex, you know, cob salad of emotions, let’s call it. Jesus says hey, have you got any food here? You know, now scholars want to say that what Jesus is doing is that he wants to show them that he can bodily ingest food so that he’s not an apparition, to prove that he’s not a ghost, that he’s here, living in true.

Bishop Wright: 8:48

And I get that, because who needs faith to be simple, intellectual assent to an apparition? That’s not faith. I don’t know about you, but I am made stronger and my faith is confirmed. When I know that Jesus knows something about suffering, I can take my suffering to him. When Jesus knows something about pain, I can take my suffering to him. When Jesus knows something about pain, I can take my pain to him. When Jesus knows something about enduring people bearing false witness against him, I can take that. When I have those experiences, I can take that to them. I can take that to Jesus. Yeah, excuse me, so it’s not just hey, let’s eat some fish here. They gave him broiled fish. Hey, let’s eat some fish and have some lunch. No, I think Jesus is showing us a practical way towards peace, and that is for us to find our way to a lunch table, breakfast table, dinner table with someone we may struggle to love, struggle to agree, and that person may be in our own home, that person may be at our work, that person may be in our church or wherever we worship. And so here we find out this thing again, the genius of this thing the shared meal as a place where we share our humanity. And so we don’t have to lean in with the big issues of the day, neither do we have to placate one another and perform niceness, but we can start at a dinner table or a lunch table or a breakfast table and get together and share the intimacy of a common meal and see where we can go from there.

Melissa: 10:19

I love that. Well, on that note, though, let’s take a really short break and we’ll be right back.

Melissa: 10:43

Welcome back, Bishop. I don’t know if you’ve read it, but there’s a really popular book by David Brooks called how to Be a Good Person, which the tagline is the art of seeing others deeply and being deeply seen.

Bishop Wright: 10:56


Melissa: 10:57

And David Brooks. He quotes George Bernard Shaw by saying this the worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them but to be indifferent to them. That’s the essence of inhumanity Knowing things and having faith in something. And as you were saying it, I thought oh, all right, we can have faith in Jesus because Jesus knows what we have known, because he’s experienced that right, and so Jesus shares peace with us. For us, I guess, to extend and share peace with others and you’re suggesting we do that over a meal. I’m just still struck by the fact that people don’t feel seen and feel like they’re being overlooked or undervalued or underappreciated or, worse, just cast off altogether. What do you think being seen or being able to see matters in the grand scheme of offering peace?

Bishop Wright: 12:02

Well, I think we have to do something that’s very hard, which Scripture commends, and that is to de-center ourselves. Right, I think that’s number one. I think I’ve said this before on the podcast. I think it bears saying again.

Bishop Wright: 12:16

When I was in New York City, I worked at the Cathedral of St John the Divine and I would meet all these brilliant Columbia kids, columbia University kids, who would come down and they’d find themselves in freshman year or sophomore year and a little disoriented and a little overwhelmed by everything the academic rigor, you know, new York City, the whole thing and really were there at my office to talk to somebody about this crisis of meaning and this sort of chronic so-what-ness. Right, and I would always and I believe it was the right advice I would always ask them to find the poorest elementary school they could find and to offer their brilliance in that place, whether that was tutoring a kid or sweeping up or helping out some teacher, being a teacher’s aide, et cetera. Just volunteer, all volunteer, no fanfare, no program, just one human to the next human. And I got a sense over the years that that was exactly the right advice or counsel to give folks, which is, I think, we can be consumed by our own bubble, make ourselves, you know, the center of the universe, and I think that will never, ever be satisfying.

Bishop Wright: 13:29

I think this is what Scripture does. It points us towards the wisdom of the ages, and that is is that we find life not when we say we’re worth nothing and therefore let me hide in good works. No, in fact, you are quite something. You’re made in God’s own image, and to really experience what that feels like with full force is to go and be mindful and care for neighbor. I think that gives us peace, because what we do know and I think the clinicians will agree is that an obsessive amount of self-focus will never, ever yield what we say we want, which is a real sense of who I am, right I am, my virtues, my values, how I offer, how I care, how I stretch myself out and offer myself, and I think Jesus is doing this. I mean Jesus could have been indifferent. I mean, when he’s resurrected and the stone is rolled away, he could have said I’m out of here, y’all.

Bishop Wright: 14:30

He could have said peace out or I’m going to find I’m going to find 12, you know deserving folks, right? Uh, and I’m going to reboot the. I’m going to reboot the little startup company and try again. Right, he could have done that. But he goes to these folks and he sees them, and I like the way that Jesus sees. Jesus sees us warts and all right, and so he’s not looking for religious performers. Jesus isn’t. He’s not looking for perfect people, he’s not looking for people who get it all right. Right, and I like to say that, you know, in God’s gracious economy, our liabilities can really become a great dividends in the hands of the Lord. Right, we can become a profit center for the world, and I think this is why Jesus continues to walk with these folks, because he knows that. You know, john says the door was locked. Jesus knows if I can find my way through that locked door. That’s a direct route to making someone a disciple. When they get a sense that my love is more than your worst day, deed or decision, and that that is absolutely sacrosanct and solid, then that tends to have an effect on people, right? And so when we meet that peace in Jesus, that absolute resolve to be alongside of us. Somehow we begin to gain some peace and we begin to offer peace to other people. It’s not that this is the solution to the problem in Gaza, or it’s not like this will return the hostages that Hamas has taken. That’s not what this is. Peace starts small and grows.

Bishop Wright: 16:09

I’m reminded of a great friend of mine who was a little boy. He tells a story when he was a little boy he heard a preacher just really ripping it. I mean, this preacher was just preaching. This little boy got confirmed and inspired and he said to his grandmother you know, grandma, I want to change the world. And his very wise grandmother said to him Honey, I don’t know about changing the world, but you can change three feet in front of you, in every direction.

Bishop Wright: 16:32

And so when Jesus starts off on this peace campaign to the people who don’t have peace, who are terrified, who are startled, who are wondering if the whole thing wasn’t a hoax, that he was a ghost, just simply an apparition, but he gives them his infectious piece, which is to know that God is an anchor, no matter what you’re going through, then that begins to radiate out. Now, what’s so difficult about this is that it doesn’t sound like it meets the cognitive measurement test. In other words, if this piece is so great and Jesus is so great, why don’t we just sort of liberally apply this over the world and change everything? And oh God, how I wish that were so. But it doesn’t seem like that is the plan. It seems like God is determined to work one to the other, to the other, to the other. It seems like this increases in increments of one, two, three, four, five, I mean, as it goes on.

Melissa: 17:26

Well, that leads me to a question, though, and it’s about proximity. Right, that’s the lesson that you just shared with us about the grandmother who told her grandson you know the three it’s about proximity, and there’s something gracious in that, right. So Jesus came to the people who doubted, who were fearful, who could have, and maybe should have known better. Right, he has to give them peace, but doesn’t just stop there. He goes a step further and lets them touch and see and whatever. And you can’t do that work unless you are in proximity with one another, right?

Bishop Wright: 18:01

That’s right.

Melissa: 18:01

There’s grace in that big time, so where’s the Easter joy in that?

Bishop Wright: 18:06

I think the grace is that who is this God, who is the master of all the worlds, for whom a global eclipse is a plaything? And yet this God is close enough for us to touch, and this God wants to be touched by us, and this God submits God’s self to our pitiful cries for a touch. Who is this God who loves us so much, who would, as they say in another church, who sits high but looks low? That ought to get you going right there about who God is. See, here’s what the other part about peace is that I’m thinking a lot about. I think the peace that showed up in that room besides the looking and the touching and hey, let’s have lunch was that Jesus is great, and what I mean by that great in terms of vast and deep. And so I think the invitation to be peace and to live peace and commend peace and create peace comes out of our sense of being in relationship with a great God. And so because God is great, greater than the problems I face, greater than the cancer I’m facing, greater than the marital strife I’m facing I mean, the list is as long as your leg because God is that great, right Now I have some sense that I’m tethered to something that is absolute. And when I have that sense right not arrogantly, not like this Christian nationalism that’s infecting our nation, not like that but when I have a sense that I’m connected to a great God, it ought to call a couple things out of me. One it ought to call humility out of me, that a great God wants to be in relationship with me and that I’m free to respond however I respond. But the response that’s being called out of me is to serve this God and this God’s greatness. Right. So that gives me peace, because now I know that, I know that, I know right, and that’s enough for me.

Bishop Wright: 20:22

Whether I’m on my deathbed or whether I’m heading off to the ninth grade in high school, that’s enough for me to somehow know that I’m actually with the one who calls the waves toys Right, who put the big in the well, as I like to say, and the busy in the end. So there’s a piece that comes with knowing God is great. You know, I love how Psalm 8, psalm 8 is one of my favorites talks about this God who, with God’s fingers, hung the moon, the stars, the planets in their courses, and then that Psalm concludes with how excellent is your name in all the earth, god? I mean, you can just see the psalmist just get caught up in it, and not just a poetic caught up in it. But this God is really something and is begging me to cohere my life over these contours, these contours that are trustworthy. So I can just imagine being a disciple in that room, after I’ve done my worst, that this God has given me his best and not only that says now I want you to go share that peace with other people.

Melissa: 21:37

Thanks be to God for that. Thank you for listening to For People. Friends. 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.