Tag Archives: scott gunn

Forward Today: How will you fall in love with God again?

In the new Forward Today, Scott reflects on Bishop Curry’s powerful sermon on love at last weekend’s Royal Wedding.


Dear friends in Christ,

It seems like everyone is talking about Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding last weekend. When does a sermon ever become a news story? And yet, Bishop Curry has been on CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and even TMZ to talk about his sermon. Why?
 
Certainly it has to do with Bishop Curry himself, who knows the power of media and who has the charisma to fill an entire room with contagious joy. But it’s more than that. It’s not really about Bishop Curry at all, I think. The reason the world has been captivated is that, last Saturday, some two billion people around the world heard a message of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

 

Other than the spectacle of “one of our own” appearing in surprising places, what does this mean for us? Surely, there’s more to be gained here than a few chuckles from a funny impression of Bishop Curry on Saturday Night Live.
 
It seems to me, we have two big opportunities. The first is to renew our own love of God and our neighbors. How can we once again fall in love with God and then share that love with others? And the second is this: how can we invite other people to know the transforming power of God’s love in Jesus Christ?
 
Not long ago, Forward Movement published a book that Melody Wilson Shobe and I have written. Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices offers one way to explore what a life rooted in love looks like. Our book suggests that knowing and sharing God’s love is rooted in the sacraments, in daily prayer, in service of others, and in sharing the Good News.
 
How will you fall in love with God again? How will you invite someone else to know the transforming power of love?

 

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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Discover a life rooted in the power of love

Dear friends in Christ,

On Saturday, the world was captivated by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s powerful sermon at the royal wedding. It’s gone viral, and that’s surely due to his core message. “This way of love is the way of life” and “We were made by a power of love. And our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love.”

But what does a live rooted in the love of Jesus Christ look like? Learn how to pray, live, work, and worship in the way of love as you read Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices by Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe.

 

Take a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests. 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.

“Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe have written another winsome resource for Episcopal newcomers, veterans and everybody in between. Read it if you want to learn the relationship between our prayer, our belief, and our daily life. Read it to get re-rooted in the unique Anglican approach to the Way of Jesus. Just read it.” – The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop.

Buy direct from Forward Movement for just $22.

The book includes discussion questions, and bulk pricing is available.

Also available on the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and at the iTunes store.

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Forward Today: Springtime gratitude is not just for spring

In the new Forward Today, Scott reflects on spring, and asks: What keeps you from constant amazement?


Dear friends in Christ,

Spring is here. Technically, it’s been spring for several weeks, but at least in the part of the country where I live, we’re just now enjoying what might be called spring weather. The sky is blue, the flowers are blooming, people are outdoors more, and it’s the season of picnics.

 

For some reason, I’m especially grateful this year. Maybe it’s an usually long winter. Perhaps it’s the chaos of world news contrasted with the simple beauty of flowers. Whatever it is, I’m filled with gratitude for the goodness and beauty of creation. The thing is, two weeks ago, the world was just as amazing. But I wasn’t in a place to appreciate nature quite as much. I wonder what life would be like if my heart and mind were always open to the wonders of nature, to the beauty of creation?
 
And it’s the same for our neighbors, isn’t it? Do you ever meet someone and think, this person is amazing! It’s such a blessing to hear from this new person I’ve just met! The thing is, there’s an amazing person lurking inside everyone we meet. The question is whether or not our hearts and minds are open.
 
Today I’m praying for the grace and the wisdom to be amazed. It’s never a question of whether amazement is around. The question is always whether I’m open to seeing it.
 
What about you? Are you grateful for springtime? Are you grateful for the things you see and the people you meet? What keeps you from constant amazement?

 

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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Forward Today: Let’s celebrate Saint Mark the Evangelist

In the new Forward Today, Scott suggests a way to honor St. Mark: simply read his whole gospel.


Dear friends in Christ,

Today is the feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist. This is a major feast, a red-letter day! We remember and celebrate the author of the Gospel of Mark. You can read about Saint Mark and the fascinating history of how the church has remembered him over on Wikipedia. The story of his relics would make a great Hollywood movie.

 But that’s not my point today. I want to encourage you to celebrate this day in a particular way. For one thing, your local church may be offering Holy Eucharist for Saint Mark’s Day. Churches are, after all, meant to observe all the major feasts. Beyond that, there’s a simpler way to honor this evangelist. We can read the Gospel he wrote.

A lion on St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Photo: Scott Gunn

Mark is the shortest of the four gospels. You can read it in about an hour, maybe less. My friend from seminary, Bert Marshall, goes on the road reciting the entire gospel. On a sabbatical several years ago, Bert memorized the entire gospel. He travels to churches and tells the story, in one sitting. Having experienced this, I can tell you it’s gripping. Mark’s writing is compact; there is a high degree of urgency. Bert tells the story in a way that makes it seem like he is simply telling the story, and that’s the point of the gospel. We tell the story.

You don’t need a guest to come and read the gospel out loud. You could gather everyone in your home and read the gospel, out loud or silently. It’s a quick read. And it’s a wonderful way to savor the power of Jesus’ life, ministry, passion, death, and resurrection.

So, today, let us honor Saint Mark the evangelist as we read the great gift he has offered us in writing a gospel.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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Forward Today: Good Shepherd, Good News

In the new Forward Today, Scott asks: “What would it mean to recover an authentic understanding of Jesus as a Good Shepherd?”


Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, is sometimes called Good Shepherd Sunday. It’s no wonder. The lectionary brings us the account from the Gospel of John where Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd, and we sing or say Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
 
For many of the earliest Christians, this was the primary way to understand Jesus Christ and his ministry. One of the oldest known images of Christ, from around 240 CE, is of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It was a powerful image then, and it still resonates with us today.

 

 

Most readers of this email live in urban areas, or at least in towns. We are, mostly, not agrarian people. So it should not surprise us that we have lost some of the potency of the image of the Good Shepherd. We might think that calling Jesus the Good Shepherd means that he is nice, or that he cares for us. While he certainly does care for us, it has nothing to do with being nice.
 
Shepherds lived difficult lives. They had to endure inclement weather. They faced threats from animal predators and those who would steal sheep. Their profession was dirty. Being a shepherd was quite the opposite of glamorous. In other words, understanding Jesus’ ministry as shepherd-like must surely mean that we understand his love for us as costly, willing to embrace danger, humble, and generous.
 
So this Sunday, try not to think of sheep as cuddly stuffed animals and Jesus as a nice person. Think instead of the great love Jesus shows for us, willing to lay down his life to protect and care for us sheep. We have a Good Shepherd, and that is very Good News, indeed.
 
Why do you think early Christians focused on Jesus as Good Shepherd, and why do you think we tend to portray him in other ways? What would it mean to recover an authentic understanding of Jesus as a Good Shepherd? How would this help us live as people who have heard and who bear Good News?

 

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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Forward Movement releases Walk in Love

Forward Movement invites seekers and longtime members alike to explore together the Episcopal Church in its new book, Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices.

Early reviews praise the book for its accessible, wide-ranging, and thought-provoking discussion of the Christian life and the basic beliefs of our faith. The Rev. Adam Trambley, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sharon, Pennsylvania, calls the book “the most comprehensive, and comprehensible, guide to Episcopal faith and practice available.”

Co-authored by the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn and the Rev. Melody Wilson Shobe, Walk in Love offers a guide to understanding how prayer shapes our beliefs and our lives—and how our beliefs lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

The book is accompanied by a free curriculum, Practicing Our Faith. This curriculum can be used for an inquirer’s class, confirmation class, or general adult education. A children’s curriculum is to be published soon.

By summer, Forward Movement will also publish Anden en amor: Creencias y prácticas de la Iglesia Episcopal, a translation of Walk in Love, as well as a Spanish translation of the curriculum. The curricula in English and Spanish were supported by a grant from the Constable Fund of the Episcopal Church. They join two other year-long curricula, Celebrating the Saints and Exploring the Bible.

Shobe says, “It was a joy to write this book, sharing our passion for encouraging rich spiritual practices and deep engagement with prayer book liturgy.” Shobe and Gunn served together as parish priests in Rhode Island. Gunn is now executive director at Forward Movement, while Shobe serves as associate for children and families at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas.

Walk in Love invites readers on a journey, with The Book of Common Prayer as a map,” says Richelle Thompson, editor for the book and deputy director and managing editor for Forward Movement. “After nearly twenty years as part of the Episcopal Church, I still learned a great deal from this book about how our Episcopal beliefs and practices support one another and lead us down paths of discovery and spiritual growth.”

Walk in Love is available in print from Forward Movement directly, from online sellers such as Amazon, and from local bookstores. The digital e-book is also available on Kindle, Nook and iTunes.

Forward Today: The daybreak of joy

In the new Forward Today, Scott reflects on the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., writing that “resurrection joy and King’s dream are two sides of the same beautiful coin.”


Dear friends in Christ,

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Our church recognizes him as a holy martyr of the faith, and this is the day the church keeps as his commemoration. Doctor King, pray for us. We need your intercession now, as ever.
 
One of my favorite works of King is his imagined “Paul’s Letter to American Christians” delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on 4 November 1956. In the letter, King imagines what the Apostle Paul might have said to American Christians. Its message is disturbingly current today. In the letter, “Paul” warns of the dangers of capitalism. The letter chastises the church for its complicity in oppression. And then there is this:
 
I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress… How often this is true. You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality. You have allowed your civilization to outdistance your culture. Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood.
 
Do you find this as true, and as convicting, as I do?


We as a nation – and as a world – have much for which to repent, but surely our lack of a moral compass is chief among our sins. If we were more morally advanced, we would find racism, classism, and all forms of discrimination and devaluation to be waning. The church has, sadly, forfeited its place as a moral voice in society. (Popular Christianity’s embrace of culture-war wedge issues doesn’t count, because there’s nothing moral about those attacks.)
 
We are an Easter people. We ought to embrace an Easter morality. In the New Creation of Jesus Christ, love is stronger than hate, mercy is stronger than might, hope is stronger than fear, and life is stronger than death. If we manage to live as Easter people, I think we will find that we are very much honoring the legacy, vision, and hope of Martin Luther King, Jr. Resurrection joy and King’s dream are two sides of the same beautiful coin.
 
Let us repent where we are wrong. Let us embrace what is right. And let us, like those women at the Easter tomb, share the glad news of new life in Jesus Christ.
 
I close with the end of King’s imagined letter from Paul. “And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling, and lift us from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy, to him be power and authority, forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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Forward Today: The most important days

In this Holy Week edition of Forward Today, Scott suggests you try attending every service of the Three Holy Days this year, writing, “It is a big time commitment, for sure. But there is no better way to spend time with Jesus, to see him differently.”


Dear friends in Christ,

Holy Week is the most important week of the year for Christians. For this week, we remember the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Tomorrow we enter into the mystery and awe of the Three Holy Days. We will mystically journey to Jerusalem, and Jerusalem is mystically made real for us. It is a kind of pilgrimage, without leaving our physical communities.
 
My experience as a parish priest is that some people liked to skip one or more of the services of the Three Holy Days. Some people don’t like the idea of foot washing. Others prefer not to attend the solemn, and sorrowful, Good Friday service. I’ve run into people who think the Great Vigil of Easter is “too long” so they don’t come.
 

 

When I was a parish priest, I used to make this promise. And I still stand by it. If you come to all three services of the Three Holy Days, it will change your life. You will leave the Great Vigil of Easter with a deeper faith and a renewed purpose. Try it. And then let me know if it worked for you, especially if you’ve never gone through all three services.
 
It is a big time commitment, for sure. But there is no better way to spend time with Jesus, to see him differently. For you will meet him in friendship, in tender care, in betrayal, in sorrow, in agony, in death, and in resurrection. And in all this, you will have new insights into God’s great love for you.
 
Blessings to you as we approach with awe the most important days.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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Forward Today: Evangelism Matters, Jesus Matters

In this week’s Forward Today, Scott writes from the Evangelism Matters conference–you can follow the conversation from Cleveland this week at evangelismmatters.org, and via the hashtag #em2018.


Dear friends in Christ,

As I write this, I am sitting in a room full of evangelists, people who are called and equipped to share the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. And, yes, this is an Episcopal gathering. 

Here at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, OH, the Evangelism Matters conference will begin. Over 400 people will gather to worship, to learn, and to share Good News. For the second time, I am delighted to partner with the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers on the Evangelism Matters conference; Forward Movement and the Episcopal Church’s Evangelism Initiatives Team have worked together, and the conference has been planned by a brilliant, hard-working, and faithful planning team.
 

 

It’s a new era in our church. Organizations are working together. Jesus matters more than the silos that have sometimes held us captive. Jesus matters to us so much that we are seeking and serving him in people and in our world. Jesus matters enough to us that we are courageously sharing Good News of what he has done for us. Jesus matters. 

If you are here in Cleveland Heights, I’d love to meet you. And please thank the staff from the Episcopal Church and Forward Movement. And profusely thank the planning team. 

If you aren’t here in Cleveland Heights, you can follow the conference on social media with hashtag #em2018. Much of the conference will be live-streamed, so keep an eye on social media or the Evangelism Matters website. Be proud of your church. And give thanks for all that Jesus has done for us, and all the ways that we can change the world in his name.> 

How can you share Good News today?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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Forward Today: I am a Christian

In this week’s Forward Today, Scott reflects on Perpetua, and the powerful inspiration of her testimony.


Dear friends in Christ,

Today the church remembers Perpetua and her Companions. Perpetua was a catechumen, not yet baptized, when she was summoned to appear before the Roman authorities. She refused to make a sacrifice in honor of the emperor. At a public hearing, she said, “I am a Christian.” She was sentenced to death, to be martyred in an arena by wild animals. She faced death bravely, urging those around her to remain steadfast in faith.
 
It might be tempting for us to read a story like this and think of it as little more than a fanciful legend. But it is more than that. For one thing, the blood of those martyrs, along with the blood of countless others, had the opposite effect from what the empire’s authorities wanted. From their witness, the church was made stronger. People were inspired by the way Christians faced death, clinging to their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ until the end.
 

 

In our world, today, there are Christians under threat. But it’s not just in places where martyrdom is a risk that our faith is at risk. Most Episcopalians are reasonably well off. We certainly do not face persecution for our faith. But there is another danger. It’s easy to make sacrifices to false gods. Do we worship the accumulation of wealth? Do we choose to remain silent while others suffer injustice? Do we treat our churches are social clubs rather than outposts of God’s kingdom? Do we honor power and might over love and sacrifice?
 
I know that I often fail to live the demanding life that Jesus Christ asks of me. I neglect opportunities to share my faith. I fail to give generously to those in need. I enjoy the comforts of the institutional church, which sometimes looks too much like the empire. Today, I am inspired and indicted by Perpetua’s simple and incredibly brave testimony. “I am a Christian.”
 
May we all stand ready to testify to our faith, whether it’s at our last day or in the quotidian choices we make too casually. Let us all say, when the time comes, “I am a Christian.”

 

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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