Forward Today: Bountiful grace

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday’s Gospel brings harsh words from John the Baptist. You brood of vipers! Give up your material possessions! Stop cheating! In other words, if we’re going to try to repent, we have to…well…repent. Change. We have to change.

John the Baptist clears up the idea that we can be comfortable Christians. This life of faith, he says, must surely involve some tough changes. Dying daily to sin is not easy, after all.

So how are we to manage this? The collect for this Sunday has a lovely phrase, “because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us.”John the Baptist

Got that? We can’t do right on our own. We won’t repent on our own. We will fail at tough changes on our own. But thanks be to God, we have God’s bountiful grace and mercy. As we say in our baptismal promises, “I will, with God’s help.”

We’re around halfway through Advent. There’s still plenty of time to savor this season of repentance, preparation, and yearning. Perhaps you’ll join me in setting aside a few moments to think about how bountiful grace and mercy might make a difference.

What might John the Baptist say to you, if you met him on the street? Are you ready for his challenging message? Are you ready to turn away from evil and toward Christ’s light? Are you ready to accept the gift of God’s bountiful grace and mercy?

I don’t know about you, but I have some repenting to do!

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo: Flickr


Today’s Flash Sale: The Bible Challenge

The Bible ChallengeTake a great journey through the Bible, a year-long reading adventure, with The Bible Challenge. Each day you will be accompanied by a meditation written by a church leader or biblical scholar. More than one hundred archbishops, bishops, deans, priests, and scholars have contributed essays. The Rev. Marek P. Zabriskie, founder of The Bible Challenge and editor of this volume, believes that our lives of faith will be enlivened and expanded by a sustained encounter with God’s Word. If you never thought you could read the whole Bible, The Bible Challenge is a wonderful way to embark on a holy pilgrimage joined by others from around the world! Visit The Center for Biblical Studies for more information.

Regular: $18
Today: $13.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Spiritual Gifts for the New Year

For the Beauty of the EarthFor the Beauty of the Earth
Join watercolor artist Kathrin Burleson and diverse voices from across The Episcopal Church in exploring the wonders of Creation and the beauty of the Creator. Burleson’s Creation-inspired watercolors offer inspiring visualizations that enhance the book’s 365 daily meditations, written by authors like Minda Cox, Jason Leo, Mary W. Cox, Bishop Barry Beisner, and many others.


Note to SelfNote to Self
Discover what God has written onto your heart. What do you want for your life? Who do you want to be in your life, and how do you want to live? We humans need reminders, and when it comes to making a consistent effort to be better people, it’s important to have constant reminders. A “Rule of Life” is an ancient method for building soul memory, and offering reminders to ourselves of the person we hope to be—it is a practice of training your mind and soul to be kind and good.


Walk in Love
Take a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests – Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe. Walk through the liturgical year, the sacraments of the church, habits of daily prayer, and the teachings of Anglican Christianity. See how our prayer shapes our belief and our lives and how our beliefs lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Anden en amor
Anden en AmorEn este libro dos sacerdotes episcopales (Scott Gunn y Melody Wilson Shobe) nos hacen recorrer El Libro de Oración Común, la vida cristiana y las creencias básicas de nuestra fe. Este libro explora el año litúrgico, los sacramentos de la iglesia, los hábitos de la oración diaria, y las enseñanzas del cristianismo anglicano. Descubre cómo la oración forma nuestras creencias y cómo nuestras creencias nos conducen a una relación más profunda con Jesucristo.


Jacob's LadderThe Spy at Jacob’s Ladder
From the author who introduced you to The Spy on Noah’s Ark, this collection of stories, told from the inside out, are sure to stir up your heart and mind as you read along, meeting old friends and making new ones. You are invited to be a spy too at some of the most beloved stories of the Bible, placing yourself as participant and witness to God’s unfolding and unfailing grace and love. Ages 7-12—Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

More children’s books:
The Spy on Noah’s Ark
The Bible Spy Series
The Path: Family Storybook
Meet the Saints: Family Storybook


DevocionesDevociones del Pueblo de Dios
Este devocionario recoge unas trescientas oraciones, la mayoría de ellas del Libro de Oración Común. Son oraciones y devociones apropiadas para casi toda situación en la vida. Son válidas para todo hispano o latino de cualquier tradición. El devocionario tiene ocho secciones, devociones tradicionales (el rosario y el vía crucis); una selección de salmos; oraciones por los enfermos y en el momento de la muerte; por la nación, la sociedad y la creación; por la vida familiar y personal; y varias oraciones de acción de gracias, además de una letanía. Al inicio del libro, un amplio índice ayuda al lector a encontrar fácilmente la oración que busca.

Otros productos en español.
Alegra nuestro espíritu, haz seguro nuestro camino
El Movimiento de Jesús en la Iglesia Episcopal
Somos la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús (Etiquetas autoadhesivas)

A few more ideas:
For the practicing yogi in your life: Faith with a Twist
Reading the Bible in 2019?: The Path or La Senda
For Lent Madness enthusiasts: Saintly Scorecard and Lent Madness Bracket

 

Forward Today: Advent invites preparation, hope, and repentance

Dear friends in Christ,

Advent has begun. For me, it could not have come soon enough. Yes, I see the irony there.

I love the quiet of Advent, with its insistence that we make space to listen to the voice who cries in the wilderness. I love the hope of Advent, with its invitation to prepare our hearts and our lives to adore Jesus Christ at Christmas and when he comes in glory. I love the challenge of Advent, with its call to repent.

Sometimes we focus so much on the hope and yearning part of Advent, that we miss the other parts. Talk to anyone preparing for the birth of a child, and you’ll certainly hear about hope and yearning. But you’ll also hear a lot about preparation and work! From where I sit, Advent is penitential in that it invites us to change our lives to reorient us to look toward the dawning light of Jesus Christ coming among us. Advent challenges us to change.

It’s not that I think we over-scheduled people need one more to-do list. That’s the last thing any church needs to be doing, making people become busier than we already are. Quite the opposite.

What would it be like to unplug for a while? What would it be like to step off the treadmill of endless work and interruptions and just…be? What would it be like to treasure the joy of prayer, whether it’s us offering up fervent prayer or just spending time in silence, listening?

We’re still very early in the season. For those of you who keep Advent wreaths, we’ve only lit 25% of the candles! There’s still plenty of time to savor this season.

Looking for some help? Try the Advent Word on social media. Try Forward Movement’s newest Advent meditation book with meditations on the name of Jesus (get it as an ebook right now!). Try the Journey Through Advent app (iOS or Android) from Forward Movement with daily scripture and an Advent calendar you can color in! Try reading the Gospel of Luke in your Bible or online. Or just try daily silence.

However you use this gift, may Advent be a blessing to you as you seek and worship Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo: Flickr


Today’s Flash Sale: Walk in Love

Take a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests – Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe. Walk through the liturgical year, the sacraments of the church, habits of daily prayer, and the teachings of Anglican Christianity. See how our prayer shapes our belief and our lives and how our beliefs lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

 

New shareable Advent infographic

In a world that starts hawking Christmas just after Labor Day, it can be hard to explain that for Christians, something else comes first: the season of Advent.

Dr. Christopher Corbin, in partnership with Forward Movement, offers a wonderful solution: an easy-to-share (and understand) infographic about Advent. The infographic is designed to be both shared on your social media platforms as well as printed in sizes up to 11×14 inches. Download a PDF or JPEG

Corbin, missioner for transition and leadership with the Diocese of South Dakota, sees infographics as “an incredibly efficient and memory enhancing way of presenting information. We as a species are exceptionally well suited to interpreting and storing visual data. Somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of the human brain is dedicated to visual processing. As a result, information presented in a graphically relevant form can increase retention by up to 650% over a simple text presentation.”

Plus, he says, “They look really cool!” And we agree!

This infographic is our gift to you as we move into the season of Advent, a sacred time of waiting and preparing for the Christ child. We wish you every blessing this Advent.

Download the Advent Infographic: PDF or JPEG

If you’re interested in seeing more infographics or have ideas for topics, send us an email at rthompson@forwardmovement.org. We’d love to hear your suggestions.

Forward Today: Are You Ready for Jesus?

Dear friends in Christ,

Advent is nearly upon us. I love this season and its invitation to prepare our hearts to meet Jesus. Mostly, Advent is about getting ready for our celebration of Christmas. That’s certainly one way we meet Jesus. But Advent is also about preparing to meet Jesus when he comes again in glory.

The scriptures offer us dire warnings. The Gospel on the First Sunday of Advent tells us to “Be on guard” and to “Be alert at all times.” The idea is that we’re meant to be ready for Jesus, who might come to judge us at a moment’s notice. What will he find us doing on that judgement day?

When desktop computers were new, some games used to have a built-on “the boss is here” feature. You could be playing a game, press a few keys, and something that looks like a spreadsheet would pop up on the screen. You wouldn’t want the boss to catch you playing a game at work!

I’m not sure that Advent is meant to put us in a “the boss is here” mode. We don’t need fake screens, because Jesus already knows what’s in our hearts. The spreadsheet wouldn’t fool him. I think Advent is meant to invite us to prepare for Jesus by looking for him and by serving him. Surely, we ought to be concerned about the day of judgement, but we can be just as concerned about today.

On my way to work, I pass people on the street who have no homes. How do I serve Christ in them? The scriptures testify to God’s love, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Am I looking for Christ in the scriptures? The church offers the sacraments, and its members are the body of Christ. Am I tuned to be attentive to Christ in the church and to honor him in the sacraments?

There are lots of ways to make our hearts ready for Jesus Christ this Advent. Use this season well.

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director
Photo: Flickr


Today’s Flash Sale: The Social Justice Bible Challenge

Featuring forty days of reflections by spiritual leaders and writers from around the world, The Social Justice Bible Challenge is an extension of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with scripture and an exploration of the Word of God. Disciples wishing to spend more time engaging the Bible on topics from poverty, hunger, displacement, and the care of widows and orphans will have their cups filled over and over again by the words of Scripture and meditations from people across the Church who engage with these realities each and every day.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: Extravagant gratitude

Dear friends,

Tomorrow in the USA, it’s Thanksgiving Day. It’s rather remarkable that this day devoted to gratitude survives. We could have a fruitful exploration of the history of this day, or we could talk about the irony of people getting stressed out to cook massive meals on a day meant for giving thanks. But let us instead savor a day focused on gratitude.

We have so much for which to be thankful. Indeed, lots of scripture tells us to give thanks. The whole of the Christian faith is about grace, the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, and grace begets gratitude. It’s really that simple. Every blessing in this life and in the life to come are gifts from God. How can we help but be grateful?

If that all weren’t enough, we know that people who are grateful are happier. It makes perfect sense: if my fundamental disposition is toward gratitude, I’m less likely to become aggrieved when something doesn’t go just the way I want it to go.

One wise friend of mine devotes time every morning to thanksgiving. He names things – maybe 25, maybe 50 – that he’s grateful for. It’s a spiritual practice that builds up his ability to be grateful more often, I’m sure.

So I’d like to challenge us all to practice extravagant gratitude. Find some way this week – do not put it off – to express your gratitude. I was inspired by a story in the Washington Post about a man who invites strangers to Thanksgiving dinner. Do you know someone who needs a place to eat? Invite someone to join your family and friends for the day.

Or maybe you’ll thank someone in your life who it might be easy to take for granted. Thank a co-worker or a shop keeper or a service worker. And don’t just say “thanks.” Express your gratitude tangibly, extravagantly. Write a note. Give a gift.

Perhaps at your Thanksgiving Day meal, if you share it with friends, you’ll set aside a few minutes to express gratitude. It’s easy enough to go once around the circle and say the obvious things. Go around a couple more times and reach deeper for even more ways to express thanks.

Best of all, spend part of Thanksgiving Day in church, giving thanks to God for all that God has done for us.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend a few minutes each week reflecting on life as I write these Forward Today emails. I hope they’re helpful, at least occasionally, in your journey. Blessings, friends.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Forward Today: Find Patience and Comfort

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday brings one of my favorite collects in the Book of Common Prayer. The Rite I version is a bit better, and it goes like this:

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

There’s a lot in this prayer to savor. At the most basic level, I’m grateful for the reminder that through the scriptures we can more fully know Jesus Christ and the hope he gives us. I love the call to really, really dig into the scriptures. Don’t just read the scriptures. Write in your Bible! Make notes! Take in the scriptures—take them all the way in.

Of course, this all requires us to open our Bibles. It doesn’t really matter where you start or how you read. You can read the lessons each day as you say the daily office. You can use one of many scripture resources from Forward Movement. You can read your favorite Gospel. You can start at the beginning of 1 Samuel and discover a page-turner story that’s full of intrigue — and inspiration. You can pray the psalms. You can start wherever you want.

I invite you to engage anew with God’s word in the scriptures. It’s an invitation I issue regularly, because it’s one of the most important ways for we Christians to know the one whom we follow.

If you’ve never really read the Bible much before, I invite you to read just one chapter. Try it on for size. Grab a Bible, and look in one of the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Pick any chapter at random and read the whole chapter once or twice. It won’t take more than a few minutes. But it might change your life.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Faith with a Twist

Faith with a TwistFaith with a Twist seeks to bridge the gap between spiritual-but-not-religious by blending the ancient church’s wisdom and the spiritual practice of yoga. All too often attempts to blend yoga and Christianity have failed to do justice to both traditions —often sacrificing the wisdom of one tradition for the other. Faith with a Twist connects the traditional eight limbs of yoga with the church’s understanding and emphasis on living a holy life. This approach creates a unique blend of spiritual practices and religious wisdom that are perfect for the yoga novice and the experienced practitioner alike.

Regular: $16
Today: $12

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

No Longer Strangers

     

Forward Movement invites individuals and congregations to explore the difficult but important issues of migration and immigration in a new, free resource, No Longer Strangers: Exploring Immigration Issues. The downloadable booklet encourages discussion of migration and immigration through the lens of scripture and shared Christian values, presents opposing viewpoints, and invites people to talk about the issues with civility and respect. The booklet includes biblical references on hospitality, examples of migrations as they appear in the scriptures, and thought-provoking questions that can be used for both personal study and group discussion.

No Longer Strangers was developed by Forward Movement in consultation with staff from Episcopal Migrations Ministries and the Office of Government Relations of the Episcopal Church. For a free download, visit www.VenAdelante.org/NoStrangers.

As Christians, we must not shy away from discussing immigration. We are called to think and talk about it, in our homes, with our friends, and in our churches. Adult forums or formation classes should be places where we can address difficult issues and exchange opinions with love and respect.

Advent Resources

As the days grow shorter and we’ve reset our clocks, we know Advent is right around the corner. Perhaps you’re already wondering where you stashed your Advent wreath. Do I have candles left over from last year?

Here are our featured Advent 2018 resources.

O WisdomO Wisdom
Through meditations, art, poems, and photos created by people from across the church, this book offers space and time to embrace Jesus’ presence among us now—and await his coming in glory. Enjoy these prayers and praises throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Rejoice!


Advent CalendarSlow down. Quiet. It’s Advent!
Created by Susan Elliott with drawings and text by Jay Sidebotham, this 2018 calendar poster suggests ways to mark the days through the Advent season. The calendar offers ideas for prayer, helping others, and being thoughtful about the true meaning of Christmas. Take our advice to your hearts and to your walls: Slow down. Quiet. It’s Advent! Perfect for the whole congregation! Shrink wrapped in packs of 25, posters are 17″ x 22″, folded to 8.5″ x 11″.


I Witness: Living Inside the Stories of Advent & ChristmasI Witnes
Many of us have heard the story of Jesus’ birth, but have we lived inside it? Episcopal priest Kate Moorehead invites us to enter the story of salvation with our hearts and minds wide open, experiencing the miracle of Jesus through the eyes of witnesses: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and others. And Moorehead encourages us to bear witness ourselves – both then and now – to the marvel and majesty of a babe born in a manger, of Christ our King. These daily devotionals offer a companion through the seasons of Advent and Christmas and urge us to keep reading, keep listening, keep learning. The story of Christ’s birth can be both familiar and new in each re-telling. Come and see.

See all of our Advent resources–including books and pamphlets–here.

Forward Today: Campaign ends, work begins

Dear friends in Christ,

As I write this, I do not know any results for the midterm elections here in the United States. I do know it has been a very expensive and divisive campaign. I also know that important issues have been up for debate. I know that, whatever the result, some will feel the joy of victory and others the sting of defeat.

But there is another fact about the election. And it’s the most important one. Whoever wins, whoever loses, there is work to do. Whichever party has power, there is work to do.

As a follower of Christ, my hope is not that we establish a Christian nation, whatever that means. But as a Christian, I think participation in politics is essential to my faith. You see, as a Christian, I am commanded to love my neighbors. One important way to love my neighbors is to ensure that they have the opportunity to thrive as the people God has made them to be. Everyone deserves to have basic human needs met, security, and freedom.

Voting Stickers
We love our neighbors by supporting efforts to care for the most vulnerable members of society. We love our neighbors by working for a time when our government and our society are free of oppression, violence, and degradation. In a democratic society, we love our neighbors by voting.

In the Gospels, Jesus makes it clear that we will be judged by how we treat those who are the most vulnerable. I believe that means that we citizens will be held accountable for how our nations treat the most vulnerable.

No political party is aligned perfectly with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So whichever party is in power, our task as Christians is always to hold our leaders accountable to the high standards of our faith. Those high standards are clear: we care for the hungry, the widows, the orphans, and those whom society has rejected.

Dear friends, we’ve had an election. And now we have work to do.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: O Wisdom

Songs of thanks and praise, of lament and longing, of restoration and return have been on our lips for millennia. The verses of the ancient hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” explore and celebrate the many names of Jesus. Drawn from the book of Isaiah, the O Antiphons have been sung in churches and monastic communities since at least the eighth century. These beautiful and awe-inspiring phrases present a way for us to sing along with the story of God, to ponder and praise the many names of our Lord.

Through meditations, art, poems, and photos created by people from across the church, this book offers space and time to embrace Jesus’ presence among us now—and await his coming in glory. Enjoy these prayers and praises throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Rejoice!

Regular: $7
Today: $5.25

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time