Forward Today: Revive

Dear friends in Christ,

I have a confession. When new folks step up to serve on the vestry or another key leadership role in the congregation or diocese, I pray for them. Of course, I pray for God to grant them wisdom and patience as they steer the church. But I also pray this: Dear God, let them still want to be a part of the church when their vestry term is complete.

Seeing how the sausage is made isn’t pretty. Because churches are institutions with human beings, they have all the foibles and flaws of humans. We might expect (and hope and pray) that church folks will extend grace and see Christ in one another—and many times, we do. But as humans, we also have the capacity to be mean-spirited, petty, territorial, and stubborn. And when this happens in our churches—places that we hope will be a sanctuary from this type of behavior—we can become disillusioned and disheartened. I should know. After nearly two decades of working for church organizations and as the wife of a priest, I have been there, broken-hearted and soul-weary.

Small group praying

That’s one of the reasons I am so excited about the work of the Rev. Canon Dawn Davis of the Diocese of Niagara in the Anglican Church of Canada. She recognized that the administrative functions of church leadership—making sure the bills are paid and the facilities are maintained—often become the focus for church leaders, and spiritual growth and nurture fall to the wayside. It’s easier to mark off tangible items on a to-do list than to engage in the messy, non-linear work of strengthening our spiritual lives.

And yet, without our connection and relationship to God, we are simply social service agencies that meet on Sunday mornings. When we don’t have the time or energy to respond to the deep calling of God, we eventually become empty vessels, unable to keep leading effectively and aching for everlasting water.

Dawn spent time with church leaders and began developing a response that she has shaped today into Revive. This small-group discipleship program celebrates the faithful service of lay leaders and offers them the gift of exploring their faith journey and discerning their calling.

Over the course of ten months, lay leaders experience different ways to pray and study God’s word as well as learn how to confidently lead groups in prayer or Bible study. The program invites participants to explore and discover spiritual practices that will feed them, so that once nourished, they might go and help others grow in love of Christ and neighbor.

Having spent significant time with the resources of Revive, I believe they can transform the experience of church leadership so that at the end of service on a vestry or diocesan committee, leaders might not feel drained and exhausted but rather reinvigorated and revived, fortified by a deeper relationship with God and with each other and ready for new opportunities to serve and be served.

Yours in Christ,

Revive logoRichelle Thompson
Deputy Director and Managing Editor

Revive is now available. 


Today’s Flash Sale: A Journey with Luke

Journey with LukeA masterful storyteller with the compassion of a physician, Luke paints a picture of Jesus as healer, full of mercy, forgiveness, and love. The Gospel of Luke features the lovely Magnificat, Mary’s love song to God, and the nativity story heard in Christmas pageants around the world. Luke includes three parables not heard in any other gospel: the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, and the unjust judge. Luke, also believed to be the author of the book of Acts, emphasizes prayer as central to the life of faith.

Join the journey with Luke with fifty days of scripture readings, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from around the world. A Journey with Luke is part of a series of fifty-day Bible studies and is an extension of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with the Word of God.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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

Forward Movement releases Revive, a small-group discipleship program for lay leaders

A new program offered by Forward Movement seeks to inspire and reinvigorate lay leaders of the church. Created by the Rev. Canon Dawn Davis, Revive is a small-group discipleship program that celebrates the dedicated service of lay leaders and helps them grow into deeper relationship with God.

“Attending to the spiritual health of lay leaders is vital,” said Davis, faith formation coordinator for the Diocese of Niagara in the Anglican Church of Canada. “So often, our lay leaders are focused on the practical needs of the church, making sure the building is in good shape, the bills are paid, and the various ministries run well. Revive is a gift for these devoted leaders, a time for them to explore their faith journey, learn about themselves, and discern their life’s calling.”

The program is designed to run over the course of ten months, bracketed by opening and closing retreats. While the sessions work independently, the program is most effective when there is consistent membership in the small group for a ten-month period.

Each session includes a video presentation and/or live talk from the facilitator. Downloadable guides for the facilitator and participants support the journey through topics that include experiencing and learning how to lead a variety of Bible studies and prayers. By the end of the program, participants will have developed their own personal Rule of Life and become more confident spiritual leaders.

Two dozen churches in the United States and Canada already have participated in the pilot phase of the program, and they report a renewal and transformation within the lay leadership and their congregations. Revive joins other Forward Movement resources, including RenewalWorks, in responding to a spiritual hunger and desire for growth, both in relationship with God and in community with each other.

Revive is more than a program,” said the Rev. Catherine Thompson, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in Lewisville, Texas, one of the pilot congregations. “Revive is a guide for establishing a meaningful rule of life as a follower of Christ. It is useful for people who are new to Christianity as well as those who have been Christians their whole lives. Revive is a true gift for both the leaders of ministries, as well as the churches in which they serve, as their capacity for spiritual leadership grows.”

Another pilot congregation found that “Revive not only helped us grow in our prayer life but also in fellowship as the group shared their faith stories for the first time,” said the Rev. Hillary Raining, rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. “Revive is a great tool for congregational growth and can be used to help take members deeper in their walk with God and each other.”

The full Revive program costs $299, but an introductory price of $100 runs through the end of March. Order online at ForwardMovement.org or 800.582.1712.

Learn more about this transformational discipleship program at Revive.Forwardmovement.org.

Inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists around the globe every day, Forward Movement has been producing excellent, innovative resources to encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations for more than eighty years.

Interviews and high-resolution images available upon request.

Forward Today: A Morning Resolve

Dear friends in Christ,

As I scrolled through Facebook on New Year’s Day, A Morning Resolve appeared in my feed. In my quiet house where everyone else was sleeping, I read the prayer to myself as if I’d never read it before. I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking… It’s easy to see why so many people start their day with this beautiful prayer. Imagine what our world would be like if we all sought to achieve the intentions set in just one or two phrases of this prayer, let alone the whole thing.

The part that stuck with me most was the second sentence: In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right. After re-reading it a few times, I thought about the practices of the Way of Love that Bishop Curry calls us to follow each day: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest. No matter how many days I have where I feel I’ve worked hard to follow the practices, it’s easy to feel as though I’m falling short. I forgot to say grace before breakfast. Our family Bible study didn’t happen. My day off didn’t include the kind of restorative rest God intended.

A Morning Resolve Prayer

Thankfully, the prayer isn’t over yet. And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The hope of this promise that God, Son, and Spirit embody my being allows me to believe each day in the hope of success. My prayer for us is that the God we worship and praise, the Son with whom we walk, and the Spirit that lifts our bodies, minds, and hearts into action abides with us as we enter into this New Year.

Perhaps you will commit to reading more scripture each day. Maybe you need to focus on making prayer a more consistent discipline. Taking a true sabbath day might be an accomplishment God calls you to achieve. Whatever your intentions for this year, please know that we at Forward Movement believe in you and pray for your success.

Let’s resolve each day to make God’s dreams for us come true.

Peace,
Miriam McKenney
Development Director, Forward Movement


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

 

Forward Today: Christmastide is just starting

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy Christmas! I hope your Christmas is off to a wonderful start. Of course, today is the second day of Christmas. If you’re going along with the famous Twelve Days of Christmas song, you’ll be thinking of two turtledoves today. We still have ten more days of Christmas festivity ahead.

I love celebrating Christmas as the world has moved on. Perhaps Valentine’s Day items will be up for sale before we finish Christmas. And that’s just fine. You see, when we celebrate Christmas for the full twelve days, one of the gifts is that there’s no peer pressure. The Muzak and the mall aren’t forcing you into faux cheer. If you’re filled with Christmas cheer today, it’s because you want to be keeping the full feast.

Keep singing Christmas carols. Today, tomorrow, and right up through January 5th. It’s wonderfully countercultural. Spend time in these coming days in the silence—which is easier to find now than in the days leading up to Christmas—giving thanks for the great depth of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.

As for me, I’m giving thanks for refreshment. I’m starting a three-month sabbatical next week. That’s a pretty great Christmas gift! I’ll be doing some travel, some reading, some praying, and maybe a bit of writing. Over the next three months, my colleagues at Forward Movement and some of our board members will be writing these weekly reflections. I hope you’ll enjoy the variety of voices and perspectives.

Today, I am filled with gratitude for Forward Movement, for our provision of sabbatical rest, and for the gift of the wonderful Episcopal Church I am privileged to serve. I am also grateful for Christmastide and carols for days on end. Mostly, I am grateful for Jesus our Emmanuel.

Pray for me over the next three months of sabbatical, and know that I am praying for you. We all have so much for which to give thanks to God.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo: Xavier Romero-Frias, from Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]


Today’s Flash Sale: Hour by Hour

Hour by HourPray without ceasing with this compact edition of the Daily Office complete with prayers and psalms for one week. This beautiful little book, excerpted from The Book of Common Prayer, will enable anyone to say the hours every day: Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline. Perfect for prayer and worship at all times and in all places. Hour by Hour is a thoughtful gift—the cover is deluxe soft leather, and it’s packaged in a small white gift box.

Regular: $20
Today: $15

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

Come, O Lion of Judah

NecklaceO gentle Lion of Judah who lieth over my heart, protect me by day and by night all the year long.


Inspired by the O Antiphons, Donna Beales submitted this beautiful, handmade jewelry. Donna is a jewelry artist from South Jersey who specializes in Celtic themes and precious metal microsculpture. She is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Woodstown, NJ.

Forward Today: Full church, full hearts

Dear friends in Christ,

Christmas is just around the corner. After all the Muzak, the crowded malls, the holiday parties, and the delicious treats, we get to the real deal. Most readers of this email will, I suspect, find themselves in a church this Christmas Eve. And most likely, that church will be crowded.

I’ve heard people make disparaging remarks about “Christmas and Easter Christians.” I wish that would stop. You see, no one gets bonus points for daily church as opposed to twice a year. Jesus doesn’t love you more if you have high status in the Frequent Church Loyalty Program.

Now I do believe there’s great value in regular worship attendance for those of us who are committed to following Jesus. But making unkind remarks about infrequent guests won’t win hearts.

Christmas EveI’m going to let you in on a little secret, dear reader. As a parish priest, one of my favorite moments every Christmas Eve happened in silence. I’d head over to the church before the first Christmas Eve service. Unless a musician was practicing, the church would be silent and empty. But the decorations were always set up. It was the height of Christmas anticipation. Everything was ready except for the crowds of worshipers who would soon come.

In the silence of that empty church, I would spend a few moments in prayer. Among other things, I would pray for everyone who was about to come to church. First time in church, infrequent guests, sporadic members, regular members, staff…everyone got some prayer time. My prayer would simply be that the message of Christmas would touch every life, every heart.

The Christmas story is mind-blowingly awesome, if you think about it. God loves us SO MUCH that Jesus Christ was willing to enter our world in the most humble way. God is no distant, remote deity. No, God is in our neighborhood. And God still is there.

So this Christmas Eve, I hope you’ll be in church. When you’re there, in that full church, I pray that your heart is full of love — of God’s love for you and your love of God.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo: St. James Church, from Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]


Today’s Flash Sale: For the Beauty of the Earth

For the Beauty of the EarthGod saw every living thing that was made, and indeed, it was very good. -Genesis 1:31.

Dance along with the wind of God, be bathed in the primal waters, and look with awe and wonder on the myriad creatures God has made. Spend a day, a week, a month, or the whole year basking in the wonder of both fruit and flower, night and day, and everything thing that creeps upon the good earth. You are part and parcel of the very good creation God has made.

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 across the church and across the country.

Regular: $20
Today: $15

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

Shareable Christmastide Infographic

The Twelve Days of Christmas isn’t just a song about partridges in pear trees and golden rings. For the Church, Christmas is a twelve-day season (Christmastide) from December 25th through January 5th.

Dr. Christopher Corbin, missioner for transition and leadership with the Diocese of South Dakota, has partnered with Forward Movement to offer an easy-to-share (and understand) infographic highlighting the Twelve Days of Christmas. The infographic is designed to be both shared on your social media platforms as well as printed in sizes up to 11×17 inches. Download a PDF or JPEG.

12 Days of Christmas infographic

Download the Christmastide 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: 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