Q&A with Lindsay Hardin Freeman, author of The Spy on Jacob’s Ladder

Lindsay and her dogLindsay Hardin Freeman has been a priest for over thirty years and is currently the interim rector at St. Nicholas Church in Richfield, Minnesota. She is the author of eight books, including The Spy on Noah’s Ark, The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder, and Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter. Her most recent publication with Forward Movement, The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder, is a collection of your favorite Bible stories, told from a unique perspective. She worked on this book with talented illustrator Paul Shaffer, who has recently departed, may his soul rest in peace.

When did you begin writing?
I began writing as a teenager, when my 8th and 9th grade English teacher required us to write 75 words a day, then 150 words. Middle school is such a horrible time for most kids, and it certainly was for me. I poured out my heart on paper.

The fact that someone read what I had to say made all the difference. And you know what? You could say that about readers who read what I write today. The fact that someone is listening and willing to explore what I’ve written makes all the difference.

The Spy on Jacob's Ladder coverWhat was your favorite part of writing this book?
When I’m deeply into a writing project and making progress, that makes me happy. I think that writing is a calling from God and I’m happiest when I’m getting words on paper that others will read, that will make a difference, that will help keep the faith alive for future generations. I’m also a parish priest, and it’s hard to be faithful to the writing life while teaching, preaching, and being a pastor because it all requires significant emotional labor…. so what makes me happy is to be making progress.

What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
The most difficult part is what it always is—finishing the book! It’s easy to start a book, but hard to take it all the way through to the end. To diligently go from start to finish, to take apart stories, if needed, with a buzzsaw until  you get them right—it’s a labor of love. I’m fortunate in that I’m married to a writer and fellow priest, Len Freeman, who knows his Bible well and always has new ideas…and seems never to tire of reading what I write and helping the stories to be even better.

Where do you typically write?
Lindsay Writing My goal is to get up early and write for an hour early in the morning, usually curled up in a living room chair after I’ve fed the dog. If I have that discipline down, characters and ideas are freed to run around in my head most of the day. Sometimes I’ll only get a half dozen paragraphs done in that early morning hour, but progress is always better if I’m on track. The funny thing that I find about writing is that it’s physically exhausting. I’m always tired when I set down my laptop, but that’s also usually a sign that I’ve accomplished something.

Where did you go for inspiration?
I wrote the first volume of The Spy series in Hawaii, while serving St. Jude’s Church on the Big Island. Now if I need inspiration, I go to northern Minnesota along Lake Superior.

What would you do if you felt stuck while writing?
If I get stuck on a sentence—which happens often—I get up and walk around. I put the laundry in, get the mail, pet the dog, admire my garden…but I come back and sit down and keep writing. It looks like I’m not doing anything as I wander around the house or go out in the yard, but I’m thinking, musing, creating.

What’s your favorite book?
The Bible is right up there on the top of my list, and that’s a good thing, because I spend so much time with it. In terms of children’s books, I’ve always loved The Princess and the Goblin, written by George MacDonald, of whom CS Lewis said, “He baptized my imagination.” The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are a favorite series, as are the Uncle Wiggly books, written from about 1912 – 1927 by Howard Garis.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
It means a great deal to me when people say they’ve loved a book I’ve written, or when they share a story that the book has inspired. I will never take a reader for granted, and am honored to be a part of their reading life.

Forward Today: Union of Black Episcopalian’s 50th Anniversary

Dear friends in Christ,

This time last week, my husband David and I were in Nassau, Bahamas. No, we weren’t on vacation—we attended the 50th annual conference of the Union of Black Episcopalians or UBE. Growing up, I thought everyone knew what UBE was. Now, I realize that many in the church have never heard of it, or don’t see why it’s still relevant. Let me share a little about UBE, and why it is essential to The Episcopal Church.

UBE’s primary goal is to teach black people how the governance of the church works—notably, General Convention. Black deputies get lots of support from UBE leadership. UBE is a place for black clergy and laypersons to gather for workshops, panel discussions, and plenary sessions about topics relevant to us in today’s worship community. UBE offers a space for us to worship together with the music of our elders and ancestors. The Union provides a welcoming environment for anyone in the black Episcopal community and those who work in it.

UBE was fuel for my family and became our vacation each summer. As a black girl growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I loved going to UBE. The other regular attendees became family—some, quite literally. David and I met 37 years ago at Chatham College in Pittsburgh when I was 14, and married twelve years later. Mentors, teachers, and spiritual guides surrounded me as I grew from an awkward, shy teenager into an awkward, shy adult. I carry their lessons with me today and impart them to others. Honestly, I owe my life as I know it to UBE.

Photos from UBE, including Miriam McKenney, the Presiding Bishop Curry

 

This 50th-anniversary conference was my first conference in many years, and I’m happy to say that the spirit of UBE is unchanged. I saw lots of new faces and many old family friends. At the Forward Movement exhibit table, I met new clergy and seminarians, longtime readers of Forward Day by Day, and several aspiring writers. You may have heard about the worship service last Monday evening at Christ Church Cathedral with Bishop Curry—it was phenomenal. I felt so uplifted and refueled—just like when I attended as a youth years ago.

The church is better when all of our voices are heard, and I’m proud to be an Episcopalian at a time when we care very seriously about diversity in The Episcopal Church. But even if we realize true ethnic equality, there will be a need and a place for UBE. Thanks be to God for all of the leaders of UBE past and present. Congratulations, Union of Black Episcopalians, for 50 years of ministry! We’re proud to be your partner as you enter your next 50 years.

Peace,
Miriam

Miriam McKenney serves as Development Director of Forward Movement.

Photos: Junkanoo welcome; Miriam at UBE, age 12; Miriam, David, and the Atlantic; The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop; The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry; Rev. K. Coleman, Rev. S. Mcvean-Brown, Dr. S. Montes


Today’s Flash Sale: Faith with a Twist: A 30-Day Journey into Christian Yoga

Faith with a Twist cover

Faith with a Twist: A 30-Day Journey into Christian Yoga 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.

Normal: $16 | Today: $12

Q & A: Grandpa’s Tent authors, Sarah Kinney Gaventa and Mary Davila

Authors Sarah and MarySarah K. Gaventa and Mary Davila are Episcopal priests, mothers, and authors of Grandpa’s Tent, the newest Forward Movement publication. This story gently and honestly explains death and grieving to children and is perfect for emerging readers and for adults and children to read together. Here is what Sarah and Mary have to say about Grandpa’s Tent.


How did the idea for this book form and develop?
Mary: Having served as parish priests, Sarah and I were aware of what seemed like a lack of resources to recommend to folks when they asked for children’s books about death and heaven. Many books dealt (beautifully) with death but not heaven; some painted a picture of heaven, but the theology didn’t resonate. We thought, “If it doesn’t exist, let’s create it!”

What was the writing process like?
Mary: Scripture gave us the key image from the very start: Paul’s description of the body as a tent (2 Corinthians 5:1-10). The story was crafted around that…camping, tents, heaven as a permanent home. When Scripture provides such rich metaphors, the writing process is much easier, because the launching point is already there. Sarah and I reached out to fellow clergy of various denominations, asking what material they would like to see addressed in a book. We also met with groups of children, inviting their questions. The writing process itself was less laborious than researching, asking questions, and studying Scripture.

Grandpa's Tent coverWhat was your favorite part of writing Grandpa’s Tent?
Sarah: My favorite part of writing Grandpa’s Tent was FaceTiming with Mary while we collaborated on our Google Doc. I was so grateful for the technologies that made it possible to work together, even though we were hundreds of miles apart. It was a great way to stay connected with an old friend.

What was the most difficult part?
Sarah: The most difficult part was narrowing in on how best to express resurrection theology to small children. There are so many different images used in the Bible and we had to balance communicating in simple language with the complex ideas found in the Bible about life after death.

Where do you typically write? 
Mary: Sarah and I did all of our writing via Skype. She lives in Austin, Texas, and I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Using a Google document, we wrote on the spot, while we Skyped. I wrote in my kitchen on my days off while my children were at school.

Where would you go for inspiration?
Mary: Scripture and people—those are my sources of inspiration. I went through seasons of feeling convicted to write the book, and then other times, it fell to the back burner. But when someone in the parish died, or a child lost a grandparent or friend, and I was asked for a resource, I’d think, “We really could write something that seeks to affirm what we do know about life and death, and yet upholds the mystery of life after death.” I also felt like Sarah and I could be both direct and comforting in addressing some very practical things, from a feeling of discomfort with the smells and sights within assisted living facilities, to what to expect in attending a wake, funeral service, and burial. To be direct about the practical, and yet expansive and generous about the mystery of it all, was a balance we tried to strike.

How do you see this book being utilized?
Child reading Grandpa's TentSarah: We created Grandpa’s Tent as a resource for children who were dealing with grief–and for pastors teaching children about death in general. In the early part of our priesthood, Mary and I both were responsible for children’s formation and we share a philosophy of really listening to children and addressing their deep concerns. Many children worry about death, even if they are not actively grieving. We wanted to give parents, pastors, and hospitals a resource for beginning a conversation about this difficult topic.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Mary: This book deals with topics that most people would really rather not talk about. People feel afraid to bring up the subject of death, and they don’t feel equipped to answer children’s questions. If this book brings comfort to even one family as they journey through death and grief, then our work has been fruitful.

 

Forward Today: Rest and renewal

Dear friends in Christ,

Maybe you’re not like me, and your summer has seemed long and luxurious, with plenty of time for rest and renewal. But I’m guessing most of you feel the same way as I do: bewildered by the rapid turn of the calendar, with the beginning of school and the church’s program year just around the corner.

Like many folks, the staff at Forward Movement spent the spring and early summer vigorously preparing for General Convention. We wanted to share several new resources with you, the leaders of the church. And, by the grace of God and lots of hard work, we were able to showcase a slew of new resources, from ChurchNext to Mary Parmer’s book about the fabulous ministry of Invite Welcome Connect. But one of our new resources offered an important lesson to us.

Woman doing yoga

A week before General Convention, Forward Movement held a “day of refreshment.” We began with a lovely breakfast and conversation. After our daily prayer time, some stayed in their chairs while others rolled out yoga mats in the hallway. For twenty minutes, we followed the prayers and reflections from one of our new books, Faith with a Twist: A 30-Day Journey into Christian Yoga written by Episcopal priest Hillary D. Raining and yoga instructor Amy Nobles Dolan. I’m not a regular at yoga classes, but this brief respite of quiet reflection and gentle stretches reminded me of the importance of rest and renewal.

God calls us to times of rest-mandates it, actually, in the Ten Commandments, and we see its significance throughout scripture, from the story of creation to the number of times Jesus withdraws to the wilderness to pray. As we move into August, I pray that you find (or make) time for rest. The ancient wisdom of Christianity and the ancient spiritual practice of yoga teaches that Sabbath-keeping helps us maintain balance in the midst of competing demands and more importantly, draws us closer to God.
The divine in me honors the divine in you.
Namaste.

Richelle

Richelle Thompson serves as deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement. 


Today’s Flash Sale: The Spy on Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob's LadderHave you ever wondered what stories stones might tell or whether a fishing boat can be friends with a faithful sailor? In the kingdom of God, every single thing has a story to tell and a song to sing-donkeys, sewing needles, secret caves, and water jugs! 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.

Normal: $12 | Today: $9

Forward Today: Living the way of love

Dear friends in Christ,

Like many other church leaders, I have just returned from General Convention full of memories, knowledge, and inspiration. Each person will have a unique experience, with favorite moments from the convention. Mine came during the opening worship service, when our Presiding Bishop preached a fiery sermon about God’s love. That’s not new, of course. But there was something new.

Bishop Curry has invited us all to take on spiritual practices so that we are spiritually vital followers of Jesus who have some Good News to share with others. Since he became Presiding Bishop, Bishop Curry has been calling us to be evangelists. To be effective evangelists, we have to live transformed lives, and that’s where the Way of Love comes in.

Bishop Curry preaching

[At the end of Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas,
 Presiding Bishop Michael Curry blesses the hundreds of participants.
Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service]

We are called to seven practices:
TURN: Pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus
LEARN: Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings
PRAY: Dwell intentionally with God daily
WORSHIP: Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and dwell with God
BLESS: Share faith and unselfishly give and serve
GO: Cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus
REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

You can learn more at episcopalchurch.org/wayoflove. If you are looking for resources to support your journey, Forward Movement is one of many partners with a set of resources to help you. You can see what Forward Movement offers at our website, forwardmovement.org/wayoflove.

I plan to work on these myself, and I hope you’ll join me in answering the call of our Presiding Bishop. Of course, Bishop Curry is really reminding us of the call from our Savior and Lord, as Jesus invites us to a new life abounding in grace.

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


Today’s Flash Sale: Note to Self: Creating Your Guide to a More Spiritual Life

Note to SelfDiscover 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.

Creating your own rule of life is grace that only you can offer to yourself, helping remind you to live the life you desire, and the life God wishes for you. Join author and Episcopal priest Charles LaFond as he guides you through the wisdom, creation, and application of your own Rule of Life.

Normal: $18 | Today: $13.50

Forward Today: The inspiration of General Convention

Dear friends in Christ,

I write to you from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas. If you’ve been following the news, you know that church leaders – lay leaders, bishops, priests, and deacons – have been making important decisions affecting our common life as Episcopalians.

Please allow me to share a few personal highlights:

  • It is always wonderful to see long-time friends and meet new friends.
  • On Sunday, several hundred of us prayed outside a detention center. Our aim was to witness to God’s gracious love, but also to let the women held inside know that they are remembered.
  • In the exhibit hall, at the Forward Movement booth, I’ve had lots of good conversations with people from around the world. I’ve heard inspiring stories of how people are using Forward Movement products, but I’ve also learned about resources people would like to see.
  • My work at Forward Movement is only one hat I’ve been wearing. As an elected deputy to the General Convention, I’ve been working alongside more than 800 other deputies to deliberate on almost 500 resolutions that have been submitted for consideration.
  • Our church is filled with people of good humor. I’ve especially enjoyed the  gc79pigeon twitter parody account. It’s always good when we Episcopalians can laugh, especially when we can laugh about ourselves.

 

[We come in love Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told a crowd of more than 1000 gathered in prayer at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor Texas. Photo: Frank Logue, Episcopal News Service.]

But there is one thing that stands out for me. Here at General Convention, nearly every person is deeply in love with the Episcopal Church. We have many competing ideas of how we want our church to look and to act. And yet our conversations have been remarkably charitable and generous. Passionate arguments have been made. But there has also been the silence of contemplation and listening. It’s encouraging to see this here, and I hope we might discuss this more both in our society and at home in our local congregations.

If you are an Episcopalian, ask your bishop and deputies about their experience here. What inspired them? What surprised them? And if you have been following along from home, what can you learn from this convention?

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


Today’s Flash Sale: Inwardly Digest

Scholar Derek Olsen explores liturgical spirituality and how the prayer book serves as a repository of Christian wisdom and spiritual practice stretching back to the beginnings of the Christian movement. Focusing on three key elements-the Calendar, the Daily Office, and the Eucharist-he discusses the spiritual principles behind them and provides clear, practical, easy-to-follow explanations of the services. These patterns of life laid out in The Book of Common Prayer serve as a guide to the spiritual life, so that we might connect back to the God who calls each of us by name and that we might love as God loves us.

Normal: $22 | Today: $16.50

Forward Today: Visit us at General Convention

Dear friends in Christ,

If you are an Episcopalian, you probably already know that General Convention starts this week. This once-every-three-years gathering brings together bishops, other church leaders, and many others from across our church. We are assembled in Austin, Texas this time. If a long church meeting didn’t already guarantee plenty of hot air, the weather will take care of us with plenty of heat. While we are here, we will worship together, deliberate on matters affecting our common life, see new and long-time friends, and learn about the work of organizations and ministries across the church.

Forward Movement Booth

Forward Movement has a booth set up in the exhibit hall, and we’d love to see you! If you are able to come to Austin, please stop by the exhibit hall, say hello to staff and authors, and browse the selection of books and other resources we have available for purchase. If you can’t come to Austin, do check out our website, where we are announcing several new offerings.

Throughout General Convention, until July 14, most Forward Movement products are on sale for 10% off regular price. So, whether you are in Austin or around the globe, enjoy a bargain! If ordering online, use the promo code GC2018 to get your 10% discount.

I bid your prayers for General Convention. Deputies and bishops will be deliberating on important issues for our common life, and it is good to be surrounded by prayer.

O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech you so to guide and bless all deputies and bishops, that they may make wise decisions and enact faithful resolutions that please you, to the glory of your Name and the welfare of this Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

To get weekly reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.


Walk in Love coverToday’s flash sale is one of our newest and most popular titles: Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices 

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.

Normal: $22 | Today: $16.50

Forward Today: New opportunities to grow in Christ

Dear friends in Christ,

As I’ve traveled across our church, I’ve learned a great deal about the importance of Christian formation. Of course, we are formed by liturgy, by service to others, by scripture, and by daily prayer. But there is also value in courses. Taking a course about some aspect of our faith can fill our mind’s with the knowledge and the love of God in new ways.

I also know that many of our congregations offer limited possibilities for Christian learning. At Forward Movement, we’re committed to formation, and so that’s why we’ve offered lots of books, website, courses, and other resources. But, still, we’ve been wondering how we can meet the needs of today’s church for Christian learning.

Today I am pleased to say that we are acquiring ChurchNext. You may have seen an announcement about this, but the short version is this: ChurchNext has been offering innovative, high-quality affordable online learning for several years now. Chris Yaw, the founder, is quite a remarkable visionary, and I am thankful that he will be part of the Forward Movement team now, carrying on his excellent work with ChurchNext.

ChurchNext offers over 300 courses that individuals can take any time – courses on scripture, faith, theology, spiritual practices, public policy, and other topics. Congregations can also use the courses in group settings, allowing even the smallest congregations to learn from some of the most widely known experts in Christian faith and life.

Do check out the ChurchNext website: www.churchnext.tv

And if you want to check out ChurchNext, we’re offering a free course July 2-14 from our Presiding Bishop, From Palace to Public Square: The Way of Love. It’s free, so give ChurchNext a try. And stay tuned for more updates about new offerings.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

To get weekly reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.


Today’s flash sale is a best-seller: The Path: A Journey Through the Bible

With informative trail signs to help you see how each piece of the narrative fits together, The Path is an experience unlike any other: an amazing 360-degree overview of the vast, sweeping story of God’s extraordinary love for ordinary people.
Normal: $22 | Today: $16.50

Forward Movement acquires online learning platform ChurchNext

Online learning company ChurchNext has been acquired by Forward Movement, expanding the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission to inspire disciples and empower evangelists. This gives the 84-year-old ministry of the Episcopal Church a modern digital platform to more effectively help individuals and congregations thrive in their faith, by seeking online learning opportunities at their own pace and targeted to their own needs.

“We know that Christian formation is vital to spiritual growth, and traditional models do not work for many people,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement. “ChurchNext courses allow people to learn at their own pace, on their own schedule.”

Chris Yaw

“What an opportunity to spread the message of God’s love!” said the Rev. Chris Yaw, ChurchNext founder. “Both organizations will benefit from this acquisition, with existing and future ChurchNext users seeing an enhanced and expanded experience as well. Our vision has always been for every Episcopal parish to have its own online school, and our new home with Forward Movement gets us a step closer to this goal. We’re excited for this next chapter of our ministry.”

ChurchNext offers courses so people can learn at home, and there are also courses for congregations to use in group settings. Yaw said, “With ChurchNext, any church can offer a Sunday morning or midweek class with some of the best teachers and respected experts on a wide variety of topics.”

Gunn added, “ChurchNext has proven to be a reliable, user-friendly delivery vehicle for convenient, affordable, and high-quality discipleship and evangelism materials that benefit congregations and their members. We remind people regularly that Forward Movement is not a publishing company, we’re a discipleship and evangelism ministry, and this step will help us further realize that mission in the 21stCentury.”

 

Based in suburban Detroit, ChurchNext launched in August 2013 with 28 online classes. Since then, more than 25,000 people from 30+ countries have taken one of ChurchNext’s 300+ courses, which have featured instructors like Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Parker Palmer, Phyllis Tickle, Stanley Hauerwas, and Nadia Bolz Weber; just to name a few.

The ChurchNext team will stay on with the organization, including Yaw, as ChurchNext seeks to expand its service to the Episcopal Church and beyond. Look for more announcements of new offerings in the weeks to come.

To celebrate the announcement, ChurchNext has already released a new “Big Class” with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on his new “Way of Love” initiative. The course will be available for FREE to all from July 2-14, coinciding with the 79thGeneral Convention of The Episcopal Church. You can find the course here.

 ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement, creates online Christian learning experiences that shape disciples. Along with our partners, we are devoted to helping people grow in their Christian faith, improve their lives, and better the world. Learn more at www.churchnext.tv

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. Learn more at www.forwardmovement.org

Forward Today: Genuine love and truthful speech

Dear friends in Christ,

Perhaps, like me, you have been disturbed by the news recently. Sometimes it looks like violence is spiraling out of control. Racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination, oppression, and diminishment appear to carry the day. It sure seems like we lack the kind of political leadership we need to change our world for the better.

Amidst all this, the lectionary this coming Sunday brings us an excerpt from St. Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth. His letter is informed by some real experience of hardship and persecution. St. Paul has been imprisoned for his faith. He has persisted “through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”

And how does St. Paul tell the church to respond to adversity? The way of Christ’s love is “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God.”

This does not mean “being nice” or empty “thoughts and prayers.” There is a kind of ferocity in St. Paul’s advice. This comes from a man who sang hymns in prison. He is a person of action. He is a person of constant witness.

What would that look like? Truthful speech could mean naming evil when we see it. Genuine love could mean making the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ real for people. Holiness of spirit could mean seeking justice without resorting to the evils we deplore.

Photo credit: sandinmysuitcase.com

I was struck by news reports out of St. Louis, where our Presbyterian siblings are meeting for their General Assembly. In a worship offering, they raised $47,000 to pay bail for inmates who are imprisoned for non-violent crimes and who cannot afford bail. They are literally freeing prisoners. It doesn’t get more Gospel than that.

St. Paul writes, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” He’s not talking about getting our ticket punched to go to heaven. St. Paul – and the entire Gospel – understands salvation as participation in the abundant, eternal life of God in Jesus Christ. It is salvation, healing, wholeness, and redemption. St. Paul says we shouldn’t wait. Today is the day to work out our salvation.

What will that look like for you? What will it look like for your church? In a couple of weeks, the Episcopal Church will gather for General Convention. What can we do there? Can the Episcopal Church free captives? Can we proclaim the kingdom in ways that change lives? Can we show mercy in a world that is too often focused on score-keeping or even oppression?

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

To get weekly reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.


Today’s flash sale is a Forward Movement best-seller, with brand new cover art, The Spy on Noah’s Ark, by Lindsay Hardin Freeman.

Best for ages 7-12 — Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

Normal: $12 | Today: $7.50