Tag Archives: forward movement

Forward Today: From Generation to Generation

In this week’s edition of Forward Today, Scott reflects on how scripture is an intergenerational way to learn about and experience God’s love.

This Wednesday’s sale features The Path: Family Storybook.


Dear friends in Christ,

Last week, as I wrote here, I was at the Episcopal Youth Event in Oklahoma. It was a grand event with 1,300 teenagers and adults. One of my roles there was to staff the Forward Movement table in the exhibit hall, and I had the chance to have good conversation with lots of folks. There was a good deal of interest in The Path: Family Storybook. It goes with a whole set of resources designed to encourage children, youth, and adults to engage with scripture. The core idea is to present the stories of scripture in a way that reveals the grand narrative arc of God’s great love for us from the moment of creation, through Jesus Christ, up to today, and for ever.

The Path Family Storybook

I’ve been thinking about all this lately. We in the church sometimes wonder why younger people aren’t as interested in church as we might hope. Never mind that our picture of the past might be rosier than reality, the fact is that it’s no surprise. Why would anyone–of any age–be interested in church if they don’t know about God’s love for them as revealed in Jesus Christ? It isn’t enough to say God loves you, but we need to teach some of the ways God loves us.

Imagine if I told my spouse I love her, but never acted like it. Now imagine if I told people God loves them, but didn’t act like it or show how that’s true. Opening the pages of scripture is an amazing way to see God’s love for people from generation to generation. It’s something that we can all do, regardless of our age. Adults can fall in love with scripture, and so can children. There are loads of ways to do this, and one of the great gifts of God’s word is that it creates a level playing field. The eight year-old and the seminary graduate can sit together and bask in the glory of God’s great love.

Have you read the Bible lately, for the sheer joy of it? Have you looked for a way to share the amazing riches of scripture with a child or younger person you know? Let us all commit to engaging the scriptures. It will change us and our world.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


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

Forward Movement Launches the Good Book Club

We’re excited to announce the Good Book Club—a church-wide invitation to all Episcopalians to read Luke and Acts during Lent-Easter 2018. Participants in the Good Book Club will begin reading Luke the Sunday before Lent, February 11, 2018, and finish up the Book of Acts on the Day of Pentecost, May 20, 2018. We hope you’ll join us, and the many churches, individuals and organizations who will be a part of this special project.

Several organizations have already announced partnerships with Forward Movement on the Good Book Club, including Episcopal Church Foundation, ChurchNext, Episcopal Migration Ministries, and The Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry. Partner organizations are creating resources or encouraging their constituents to take part in the effort. A list of current partners can be found here.

The Good Book Club website (goodbookclub.org) lists the daily readings, as well as available resources to support people as they read the scriptures. Resources also will be available in Spanish at clubbiblico.org.

And a note to Forward Day by Day readers: Forward Day by Day will use Good Book Club readings during Lent-Easter 2018, instead of the usual daily lectionary.

For now, you can sign up for updates or learn more about partnering with us at goodbookclub.org. We hope you’ll read along with us, and Episcopalians around the globe!

Forward Today: Are You Ready for Lent?

In this week’s edition of our weekly newsletter, Scott writes about preparing for Lent, writing that it’s simply “too important to approach haphazardly.”


Dear friends in Christ,

 

Back in the day, there was a miniature season in the church to get us ready for Lent. We had three Sundays’ notice that a penitential season was on the way. They were kind of like those rumble strips on a highway, to warn us that something is coming. These days, Ash Wednesday pops up, and if we’re not careful it can catch us unsuspecting.

 

The point of Lent is to invite us to turn back to God, to restore our relationship with God and our neighbors. Have we ever needed this more than we do right now? Lent is too important to approach haphazardly. I hope you will join me in thinking carefully and praying diligently about the best way to use this gift of the Lenten season.
 
We at Forward Movement offer several ways to approach Lent, and you might try one or all of them.

 

  • Each year we publish a new book of Lenten meditations for the season. This year’s is Ashes and the Phoenix, and it is enhanced with art and poetry, though daily meditations are the meat of it. You can buy the paper book from your favorite bookseller or from Forward Movement. There’s also an ebook.
  • For something a little lighter, you can draw inspiration from the lives of saints as you play Lent Madness starting March 2.
  • This year we are encouraging you to pray for refugees and engage in the Christian practice of hospitality through A Season of Prayer: 40 Days in the Desert. This offers daily prayers or scripture readings, along with resources to learn more about refugee and migrant ministries.
  • We have lots of other resources at our website. Check it out.

 

Of course, you don’t have to use Forward Movement resources. You can just re-engage with prayer, or pick up a Bible and read it, or find a way to do ministry in the world. But whatever you do, don’t let Lent pass you by. God gives us this gift through the church, and we should savor it. How will you return to God this Lent?
 
Yours faithfully, 
 
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


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

Guest Post: Cardboard Evangelism

At the recent Evangelism Matters conference in Dallas, TX, the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers gave a presentation encouraging attendees to write up “cardboard testimonies.” These cardboard signs present a before-and-after story—one side shows life before transformation with the other side showing life after transformation. You can see some of the results here:

 


The Rev. Emily J. Schnabl, rector of St. Christopher’s, Midwest City, Oklahoma, attended Evangelism Matters and was inspired by the cardboard testimonials to try the exercise in the church she serves. Here is her brief story.

Go and tell John. . .the blind receive their sight, the lame walk. . .the dead are raised.” Those words from the Gospel lesson appointed for the Third Sunday of Advent jumped out at me. I had been thinking about how to implement the cardboard testimony exercise that Canon Stephanie Spellers led us through on the second morning of the Evangelism Matters conference, and I thought I had found the right Sunday to do it. Armed with two packages of cardstock (half-priced that day—surely a sign of favor), and every Sharpie and marker I could find in the building, I used the exercise during the traditional sermon time at both our 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services on Sunday morning.

I told my parishioners that this was an exercise attendees had gone through at the conference, and then I talked about how our baptismal vows include the responsibility to “go and tell.” We have an explicit responsibility, even in the midst of a frightening world, to talk about the goodness of God that is especially found when we are together. As Canon Spellers had instructed us at the conference, I asked parishioners to write down a struggle they had experienced in their lives on one side of the cardstock, and how God had transformed that struggle on the reverse side.

They filled out their cards and then I asked them to move around (gasp) and find someone to share their story with. Our congregation is in the midst of a transition—we’re growing, which is great, but many folks don’t know each other yet. Although I didn’t tell them to talk with people they didn’t know, I saw that many people sought out people outside of their normal circles, which was gratifying. Some were willing to tell their stories of struggle out loud—stories about money worries or trying to save other people and failing or trying to sort things out alone. And all of them offered glimpses of how God had entered into those situations and offered comfort, peace, and community.

This particular Sunday was also our pledge ingathering day, and I asked people to place their pledge cards in the offering basket in front of the altar, along with their story cards, so we could offer off of these things as part of our Eucharistic celebration. This was a very moving moment. The cards were scattered around our Advent altar installation—an empty manger draped with purple, an offering of hope for the coming of Jesus.

After both services were over, I walked around the altar, reading the testimony cards. People willingly shared some of the hardest struggles in their lives. A number of parishioners wrote about cancer or the death of a loved one; some named difficult family relationships as struggles. On the flip side, they testified to their experience of God, sometimes in spiritual experiences but also in concrete experiences of community.

I can’t say what the long-term impact of this exercise may be on our community or in the personal lives of those who participated, but I know I saw a lot of life and energy in the Parish Hall after church that morning. Telling our stories of testimony to each other is just one step in the lifelong process of helping us understand that the church—and the sharing of the good news of God in Christ—belongs to everyone, not just clergy. For that, I am thankful—and I am ready and willing to take the time to “go and tell.”

 

Forward Today: The Gift of Communion

In this week’s edition of our weekly newsletter, Scott writes about his recent trip to England, and the fellowship he experienced with fellow members of the Anglican Communion.


Dear friends in Christ,

I’m writing this on a plane on my way back from England. For the last few days, I’ve been in London, where I’d gone to preach, to speak, to meet with partners, and to have a bit of fun.
 
Once again, I’m struck by the gift of the Anglican Communion. At every turn, I was warmly welcomed. Friends asked for updates on life in the Episcopal Church, and we traded stories about the common joys and challenges we face. It was also fascinating to note differences between the Anglican church in America and in England. Above all, there was the gift of a shared ministry, or being part of a worldwide communion. Though there are challenges we surely face, it is a gift to sort out our differences and unity in the body of Christ.

 

2000px-compassrose_flag-svg

Serving at Forward Movement, I am naturally interested ways that people work to inspire disciples and empower evangelists.  Again and again, I heard how congregations are thriving where discipleship–commitment to following Jesus in a costly way–becomes important. As in America, churches in England are eager to sort out what evangelism in the 21st century looks like.
 
One friend and I talked about a particular African bishop we both know. We talked about how our lives as Christians had been enriched from knowing this man and from hearing about ministry in his context. His joy is contagious. Relationships like that, along with ministry partnerships, are enlivening for us and for Christ’s body, the Church.
 
So, today I am giving thanks for the worldwide Anglican Communion. Perhaps you will pray with special fervor the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, which we include with every day’s meditation in Forward Day by Day. And as you do that, know that Anglicans around the world are praying for you and your ministry. Isn’t that a great blessing?

 

Yours faithfully, 
 
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


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

What Your Gift Means: A Letter

At Forward Movement, when we ask for your donation, we’re asking you to help us give the gift of prayer and practice to people in need. We often receive letters like the one below, sent to us in February by Michael Gilbert, who is incarcerated in Oklahoma. Michael’s words are a remarkable testament to the power of prayer in times of struggle—and to the impact of your gift.

IMG_4295

Dear Forward Day by Day,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I noticed in the February, March, April edition of Forward Day by Day that you were looking for stories from your regular readers. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the impact your ministry has had on my life.

When I first arrived at James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helene, Oklahoma as an inmate in 2005, I was a very angry person. I was angry with myself, our society, and with God. All human decency and any sign of God seem to be missing from our legal system when viewed from the perspective of a person on trial.

I began to see Christ when I was invited to attend a Kairos prison ministry four-day weekend. My sponsor, John Pearson, an Episcopalian, started providing me copies of Forward Day by Day. Through daily use of this publication I developed a spiritual practice of daily prayer, meditation, and scripture reading such as I had never known before. My thinking began to change. I began to change. I became less angry.

My pace of spiritual growth greatly increased when your ministry gifted me a copy of Hour by Hour. I began praying four times a day. With this addition to my life I began to focus more on Christ, to consider his point of view. I was soon praying even when the set times were not at hand.

I found myself feeling connected, a part of the Forward Movement family, a participant with the Episcopal Communion, and a member of the body of Christ.

Today I am thankful to be growing in Christ and worshipping him in fellowship with St. Patrick’s Community, the prison ministry sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. I am a much different person today than I was in 2005. I am less angry, less destructive, and more loving. I have been rehabilitated, not by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, but by the love of Christ shown to me through the Episcopal Church. Your ministry at Forward Movement started me down the path and nurtured me on the journey. I am profoundly grateful for all you have given me. May God bless everybody involved with Forward Movement.

Your friend and brother in Christ,

Mike

Will you consider making a donation of any size today, and help us send the gift of prayer to those in need?

Forward Today: Seeking Beauty & Practicing Gratitude

In this week’s edition of our weekly newsletter from Scott Gunn and the Forward Movement team, Scott offers a suggestion for the season: Work on seeking beauty and practicing gratitude in your daily life. You’ll probably healthier. You’ll definitely be happier. And you’ll be a better evangelist of the Good News.


Dear friends in Christ,

Today, as I was thinking about what to write this week, a colleague walked into my office. We exchanged pleasantries, which included me mentioning that I wish spring would arrive soon. It’s a beautiful, sunny day here, but it’s a bit chilly. My colleague said she’s working on a new attitude, that every day is a beautiful day. Even when it’s gray and rainy, there is still beauty.

She’s right. b98f4426-3738-42ef-8c02-47a1712a72d9

As a culture, we spend too much time complaining and not enough time being grateful. I know that’s surely true for me. Studies show that complaining is actually bad for our health. People who complain a lot are less healthy and less happy. While we can’t control everything that comes our way, we do have some control over what we make of it.

A rainy day means that our earth is receiving vital sustenance. Rain makes the blooming trees that I enjoy on a sunny, spring day possible. Those rainy days bring their own kind of beauty.

I wonder what my life would be like if I were more faithful in seeking beauty and practicing gratitude.

 

What would your life be like if you tried this grateful, open way of seeing the world? Might we see more blessings around us? Might we be more quick to share the Good News of a God who loves and blesses us and our world?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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

Resources for Advent and Christmas

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 10.20.31 AM

The Advent season can be a frenetic time—we find ourselves sprinting through Black Friday crowds, scrawling holiday shopping lists, and baking cookies for countless holiday parties. So how can we slow down this year?  How can we prepare now, even today, to pause, to breathe, to reflect—to become more faithful disciples?

In hopes that you will find Jesus this Advent and Christmas, we offer here some suggestions for resources that can help you adopt a spirit of celebration and remembrance—personally and communally.  We’ve priced them starting at $5 each and many are available on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes.

2382 Soul ProclamationsSoul Proclamations: Singing the Magnificat with Mary

These daily reflections by five esteemed writers approach the Advent and Christmas seasons in different ways, from deep engagement with scripture to current examples that connect Mary’s story to ours. Let their words be a companion in your preparations as you ready your heart and soul for the coming of Christ Jesus. Authors include Ray Suarez, Christopher Wells, Kate Moorehead, Thomas E. Breidenthal and Christine McSpadden. Learn more.

Click here to read a sample

 

2076 Stillness Cover-web

The Stillness We Seek

Cathy H. George invites us to come in from all that goes on outside this Advent, to simply be in the present time–keenly aware of ourselves as we wait with God. Guided by the Psalms, she travels back to her past, reflecting on the moments and memories that have shaped her faith and offering spiritual support for all who seek stillness. Learn more.

 

 

2337 Choirs of AngelsColor-It-In Posters

With drawings and text by Jay Sidebotham, the Slow Down. Quiet. It’s Advent! calendar poster suggests ways to mark the days through the Advent season—offering a reprieve from the holiday hustle and bustle with ideas for prayer, helping others, and being thoughtful about the true meaning of Christmas. Learn more.

After Advent, celebrate the songs of angels at Christmas with our Choirs of Angels poster. Sold in packs of 25, these posters are great to tackle with children at home or as gifts for Sunday schools. Learn more.

 

2208 DogInTheMangerDog in the Manger: Finding God in Christmas Chaos

With laugh-out-loud humor anchored by spiritual truths, author Tim Schenck helps us maintain our spiritual sanity through the frenetic time of Advent and Christmas. Illustrated by cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, Dog in the Manger also explores the major characters of the season in new ways, including John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph and of course, Jesus. Thoughtful questions following each section make Dog in the Manger ideal for personal or group use. Learn more.

Click here to read a sample

 

2298 Expecting JesusExpecting Jesus

Are you expecting Jesus this Christmas? Are you prepared to receive him? Advent offers a time for preparation, to wait in hopeful expectation for the coming of our Savior. Author, Episcopal priest, and new mom Danielle Tumminio explores birth—both the physical birth of Jesus and the metaphorical opportunities for rebirth in our spiritual lives. Each meditation begins with scripture and ends with questions for individual or small-group study. Learn more.

Click here to read a sample

 

2399 Journey with Luke

Journey with Luke

A 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 Magnificat, Mary’s love song to God, and the nativity story heard in Christmas pageants around the world. Join the journey with 50 days of scripture readings, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from around the world. Learn more.

Click here to read a sample

 

2344 Dawn from on HighDawn from on High

In these inspiring and accessible meditations, John Alexander offers a theologically rich and biblically grounded journey through Advent, Christmastide, and the first days of Epiphanytide. Based on the eucharistic lectionary of The Episcopal Church, Father Alexander takes the reader into the heart of Advent’s focus on “last things” and then the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Preachers will find in this volume a useful resource for preparing their own sermons, but any Christian will benefit from these homilies. Learn more.

 

We wish you a peaceful and reflective Advent season. And as you journey through these volumes, we encourage you to connect with fellow disciples in our Day by Day and Forward Movement Facebook communities.

 

 

Lent Madness 2016 Brackets Announced

We’re excited to share that the brackets for the hottest tournament of the spring—that’s right, Lent Madness—have now been announced! Get ready to separate the saints from the aints.

LM-Bracket-Poster-2016-resized

 

New to Lent Madness? Here’s how it works: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted at www.lentmadness.org about two different saints. Each pairing remains open for 24 hours as participants read about and then vote to determine which saint moves on to the next round. Sixteen saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo.

The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch. 

For those seeking an advanced list of all 32 first round bios along with a personal full-color bracket, the Saintly Scorecard: The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness 2016 will be available through Forward Movement in January. 

And check out Tim Schenk and Scott Gunn’s All Brackets’ Day video, in which they highlight some of the unique battles to come in Lent Madness 2016.

Like that other March tournament, there will be drama and intrigue, upsets and thrashings, last-minute victories and Cinderellas. Unlike professional and collegiate sporting events, there is no admission cost for Lent Madness, but souvenirs are available in the “Lentorium” part of the Lent Madness website. 

And if you’d like to play Lent Madness with a group or congregation, pick up an oversized Lent Madness bracket poster to track the results (perfect for a parish hall).