Tag Archives: scott gunn

Forward Today: Creating a culture of discipleship

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m sending this from Charlotte, where people from across the church have gathered for the fifth annual Discipleship Matters conference hosted by Forward Movement. Our reason for gathering is to help lay and clergy leaders create a culture of discipleship in their congregations.

It’s important work. Too many of our churches are barely-living museums or societies of preservation. The highest values in such places include surviving as an institution, avoiding conflict, continuing familiar customs, and providing positive feelings. While they don’t sound bad, when you take them together the picture is antithetical to the Gospel.

The Gospel demands sacrifice and risk. The Gospel privileges the call of Jesus Christ over our own personal preferences or even safety. The Gospel is about bold action, not vague feelings.

So what does this look like in a church? Churches that prioritize discipleship – making followers of Jesus Christ – are places where worship, prayer, and study are prized. This is not to avoid the world’s needs, but rather to anchor us and to remind us of our calling as Christians. Churches that value discipleship teach generosity, humility, and listening for God’s still, small voice.

Discipleship is not a church growth program, but it turns out that churches where discipleship matters are places that tend to be thriving and growing in measurable ways.

Intrigued? Visit the Forward Movement Facebook page for news and video highlights of the conference. It may take us a day or two to get them uploaded. Ask around, and find a nearby church were discipleship is the thing. Visit, learn, and see what might work in your church.

If you are blessed to be in a church where there’s already a culture of discipleship, thank your lay and clergy leaders for making this a priority. Consider sharing what you love about the journey of following Jesus with friends and even folks at other churches. Let’s create a wave of discipleship.

Making disciples is, without doubt, the most important thing our church does. Let’s keep at it, shall we?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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.

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Forward Today: The Way of Love

Dear friends in Christ,

If you read Episcopal Church news much, you’ve heard that Bishop Michael Curry, our Presiding Bishop, has been talking about the Way of Love. You might think of this as the spiritual practices that make the Jesus Movement come to life in our lives and in our church.

The idea behind the Way of Love is pretty simple. There are seven steps: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest. We begin by turning—or repenting—toward Jesus. And then we anchor our lives in study, prayer, and worship so that we might be bearers of God’s blessings to the world.If you want to learn a bit more about the Way of Love, you can visit www.episcopalchurch.org/wayoflove. There’s a fantastic three-minute video there where the Presiding Bishop sets out what it is and why it matters. We at Forward Movement have also created a web page with information about the Way of Love and some of our resources that connect to these practices.

If seven steps seems like too many, maybe start with two simple daily practices. Read a bit of scripture every day, and spend a few moments in prayer. I guarantee you, if you do this for a while, your heart will change. There’s nothing gimmicky about the Way of Love. These are ancient and biblical ways to follow our savior, Jesus Christ.

Our world is desperate for words and deeds of hope. If we can become people of the Way of Love, we can bear tidings and acts of hope.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: What Are You Waiting For?

What are you waiting for?Get in line. Take a number. Count down the days. We spend so much of our lives waiting: waiting for a new job or a well-deserved vacation; for love or an apology; for test results or cures to kick in; for things to stabilize or to get shaken up. At no other time of the year may the theme of waiting feel so poignant than the season of Advent.

This year, while waiting for things mundane to things sublime, embark on a seasonal journey with daily meditations that will work on your soul to bring a richer quality and depth to your waiting. These reflections are perfect for individual use and are affordably priced to share with your entire congregation.

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Way of Love Resources

Dear friends,

Way of Love Brochure Forward Movement has been working closely with Stephanie Spellers and the whole team at the Presiding Bishop’s office, as well as other partners, on Way of Love materials.

We are happy to share that you can now pre-order printed Way of Love tri-fold brochures and wallet cards in English or Spanish. These are the same products that were handed out at General Convention. We’re selling them in bundles of 50.

You can see Way of Love resources from Forward Movement, including these new printed materials, on our website.

way of love wallet cardThe new printed materials are available on our website:
Way of Love Wallet Cards ($10 for 50 cards)
Way of Love Tri-fold ($12 for 50 brochures)
El camino del amor – Tarjetita ($10 for 50 cards)
El camino del amor – Folleto ($12 for 50 brochures)

We also still have Way of Love pop sockets for your phone:
Way of Love Blue Aluminum Pop Socket
Way of Love PopSocket – White with Clip 

All proceeds from the Way of Love PopSockets support our ministry, which allows us to send Forward Day by Day and other resources to those in prison, in the hospital, or serving in the military.

For those of you who prefer to print your own Way of Love materials rather than purchase bundles of printed material, you can find both the brochures and wallet cards on the Episcopal Church website.

It’s a delight to work with other leaders in the church to promote practices for a Jesus-centered life. I hope you will find materials from the Episcopal Church, from Forward Movement, and from many other partners to be helpful.

Peace,
Scott+

Forward Today: A hospital for sinners

Dear friends in Christ,

The daily office Gospel reading for today has given me a much-needed reminder. From Luke 5, “Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.'”

There are lots of ways to think about our church and its purpose. I often think of us as a community of disciples. Sometimes we might like to think of the church as a refuge. For most of us, church is a holy place we visit to worship God and to be nourished by the sacraments. But one of my favorite images of the church is a hospital for sinners.

Sainte-Chapelle

As I mentioned last week, we are all sinners and we all need saving. A medical hospital saves lives, and a church is a hospital that saves souls. To be clear, Jesus Christ is the one who saves souls, but it is in the church where we are reminded to repent and to follow our Savior.

It’s tempting in our divided age to cast aside people who we don’t like. But we Christians are nurses in the hospital for souls. Our task is to love our neighbors. Our task is to invite people into a relationship with Jesus.

I am grateful that Jesus loves and redeems me, despite all my sins. And as I look around, I see lots of people who are potentially, like me, patients in the hospital for sinners.

Let us all give thanks that our God reaches out to the lost, for we are all lost at times. And let us all look for the lost, the least, and the last. For they are the special concern of Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Icon from Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, via flickr.


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.

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Forward Today: We’re all sinners

Dear friends in Christ,

Last week I wrote about politics and the Gospel. Among the mostly positive responses I received, I noticed that a number of readers said something along the lines of “Thank you for saying this. I’m tired of THOSE PEOPLE not getting it right.”

I feel this way too, sometimes. But in my better moments I remember that Jesus warned us about naming other people as sinners. Of course, Jesus wanted us to remember that we are ALL sinners. We all need redemption.

Candles

One thing that all Christians seem to have in common is that we like to talk about other people’s sins. It’s certainly a lot easier than talking about our own sins.

By all means, we should name evil when we see it. We should name injustice. We should work to defeat evil, injustice, oppression, and fear.

It’s worth remembering that, for Christians, “good people” and “bad people” are not meaningful categories. We are all good in that God made us all in God’s own image. That is true for every person in every nation on earth. We are all bad in that we are all sinners. We all do terrible things. That is true for every person on every nation on earth.

So next time you think of how those people have sinned, remember that you have sinned too. I ask you to pray for me too, a sinner. And let us all give thanks to God that we have a redeemer who can free us from the tyranny of sin. Jesus Christ stands ready to welcome all who turn to him.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=24172274%40N00&view_all=1&text=candle


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.

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Forward Today: Is the Gospel political?

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve been pondering the Gospel and politics this week. Two things have happened to get me thinking.

First, the Archbishop of Canterbury last week criticized sharply corporate greed and increasing economic disparity. You can read a bit about what he said in the Washington Post. Naturally, there was a fierce response from those who said Archbishop Justin Welby should stick to religion and avoid politics.

Second, several people have contacted me about the author of this month’s meditations in Forward Day by Day, saying that the author is “too political” and that our devotions should “stick to religion.”

Here’s the challenge for us, especially those of us who are United States Christians. We do live in a time of increasing partisanship and social fracture. It’s tempting to look for some quieter spaces into which we might retreat from the ever-louder cacophony of talking heads and yelling politicians. It might seem, to some, that church should be such a place of refuge.

Meeting Jesus on the Margins

Alas, the Gospel will not permit us to avoid issues that our culture has labeled as political. The scriptural witness is clear, for example, that we must welcome strangers. We must care for the poor. We must decry those who would label some as sinners unworthy of our love and care. We must share our wealth. And so on.

To take up these topics is not to inject politics into religion. To take up these topics is the very essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, one can make the claim, with some support, that partisanship is to be eschewed in the church. I agree with this. We won’t be publishing meditations about tax brackets or mechanisms for funding health care or precise immigration quotas. These are all things that reasonable Christians can and should disagree about.

However, we at Forward Movement will continue to engage fundamental issues — including economic inequality, racism, sexism, and violence, to name a few – because they are key issues not just for civil society but for Christians.

The Gospel isn’t Republican or Democratic or Labour or Conservative or Green or any other party. But the Gospel demands that we work for a world in which justice, mercy, and grace reign supreme. Thanks be to God.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Broken

BrokenBefore Jesus broke the bread, he blessed it.

In the age of social media, where our lives are curated to show only our best and most beautiful selves, it is easy to believe we are the only ones who are broken. But we are not alone. We are all broken and in need of God’s blessing. No one has it all together; no person is perfect.

In essays both humorous and achingly vulnerable, author Ryan Casey Waller urges us to join him in pouring out our brokenness, not just to God but to each other. Waller takes us through the trials of following Jesus during seasons of doubt and disbelief, anger, shame, and even hate, but always brings us back to the amazing news that Jesus blessed the bread before he broke it.

Through Jesus, our brokenness is blessed, our wounds healed, and our hearts made whole.

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Forward Today: Holy Cross Day

Dear friends in Christ,

This Friday, we celebrate Holy Cross Day. For much of Christian history, the cross on which Jesus died has been a source of shame. The very idea that our Lord and Savior would be executed by the state seems like a defeat in our culture of success and might. The shocking event of Jesus’ crucifixion is just as jarring today as it was some 2,000 years ago.

I’ve had the great privilege of visiting Jerusalem several times. Each time, I spent some time in prayer in Calvary Chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Archeologists can’t prove that Jesus died in this spot, but all the archeological evidence lines up in support of the possibility.

It always seems a bit jarring to me that the site of Jesus’ death is so…shiny. It’s radiant with candles. It’s surrounded by polished metal. The walls and the floor are marble. It all looks almost…festive.

Chapel

How are we to reckon the horror of a painful death with the radiant chapel? Maybe we can find the key in one of the prefaces for our Eucharistic prayers in the Book of Common Prayer (page 379): “For our sins he was lifted high upon the cross, that he might draw the whole world to himself; and, by his suffering and death, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who put their trust in him.”

The cross is the instrument of our salvation whereon Jesus freely gave himself for us and for our salvation. The cross is where we can celebrate God’s triumph over death and all the worst evil the world can muster. On the cross, Jesus reigned as Lord of Love.

This Friday, let us all celebrate Holy Cross Day. Let us keep the cross not as mere adornment, but as the center of our faith and life. Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the World. Come, let us worship.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottgunn/14136115257/in/album-72157644951849962/


Today’s Flash Sale: A Journey through Acts

Journey Through ActsThe Book of Acts shares the story of the birth of the Christian church, connecting the earliest followers of Jesus to Christians 2,000 years later. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit breathes new life into followers of “The Way,” the community of Jesus’ disciples, and empowers them to share the Good News of God in Christ. Join the journey through Acts and follow in the footsteps of the apostles Peter and Paul and many others such as Barnabas and Lydia, all bearing witness to Jesus’ saving grace. Featuring fifty days of scripture and reflections by spiritual leaders from around the world, A Journey Through Acts is part of a series of 50 Day Bible studies and is an extension of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with the Word of God.

Forward Today: Time for learning

Dear friends in Christ,

In many parts of the world, this is a time of year when schools resume. Whether or not you have children at your house, you may well be noticing the energy of study and learning all around. I always love this season.

This is a natural time to embrace learning about our faith. I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s a message worth repeating.

Is your church offering classes for the autumn? Can you sign up for a class somewhere else? Maybe you’ll commit to reading a book or even watching videos on a certain subject. We at Forward Movement have lots of books and other resources, but there are lots of other options too.Church Next

I’m excited to be teaching a course in The Wednesday Night Bible Study offered by our own ChurchNext. You can take the course I’m co-teaching with Melody Shobe. We’re talking about heresy, doctrine, and the Bible. Or you can study evangelism in the Bible with Marcus Halley, or the Bible and racial justice with Kelly Brown Douglas. Each one is a six-week course offered online on Wednesday nights.

But there are loads of options. If you’re not sure where to start, talk with your priest or with another experienced Christian. Whatever you do, I encourage you to join the spirit of the season and recommit to Christian learning.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Reclaiming Christianity

Reclaiming ChristianityIn a world hungry for the hope of Jesus, Episcopal Bishop Claude E. Payne offers a roadmap for individuals and churches to seek and establish rich spiritual lives and to connect deeply with God and our neighbors. Too often, spirituality is privatized and kept under wraps, not to be talked about in public circles. But Payne encourages us to reclaim our faith in the public square, in our communities, and with our family and friends. After nearly five decades in ordained ministry, Payne writes that he has never been more optimistic about the future of Christianity.

Across the country, Payne has witnessed people and congregations full of energy and compassion, committed to a life-giving, dynamic faith. In Reclaiming Christianity, Payne presents a practical and comprehensive model for sharing this faith with our neighbors and communities and encouraging all to seek a deeper connection with each other and with the Divine.

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Forward Today: The holiness of labor

Dear friends in Christ,

We are coming up to Labor Day weekend, at least for readers from the United States. You might wonder why I’m mentioning this, since Labor Day is a secular holiday, and I usually don’t write about secular holidays.

It turns out that our Book of Common Prayer has a collect appointed for Labor Day. You can find the contemporary version on page 261.

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ToolsImage Source: Pixabay

It’s a lovely prayer, isn’t it? That prayer dignifies the work that we all do, whether we are employed or not. It also reminds us of the importance of all those others who work and of those who lack employment.

If you are in the US celebrating the holiday, I hope you’ll set aside a few moments for prayer or conversation with those around you. Remember the dignity of work and the indignity of exploitation. Pray for those who, in our culture that assigns value to people based on income, lack employment. Think about how everyone has a vocation, and ask how God might be calling you and your loved ones to labor?

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Invite Welcome Connect

Invite Welcome ConnectGuided by the gospel imperative to “Go and make disciples of all nations,” the ministry of Invite Welcome Connect equips and empowers individuals and congregations to practice evangelism, hospitality, and connectedness. Invite Welcome Connect’s founder, Mary Parmer, shares the deep truths of this ministry as well as practical steps to assess your faith community and begin implementation. This resource also features stories of transformation from more than two dozen lay and clergy leaders. Foreword by Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry.

Learn more about Invite Welcome Connect at invitewelcomeconnect.com

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Forward Today: The Mighty One has done great things

Dear friends in Christ,

Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin. There is quite a bit of celebrating to do, because Mary and her witness are extraordinary.

I love the ancient title for Mary, Theotokos. It can be translated Mother of God, which is a somewhat startling way to speak of Mary. Sometimes people prefer to call Mary the God-bearer, another translation of Theotokos that is evocative. Either way, when we think of Mary we must also think of her relationship to Jesus Christ, the one she boldly and courageously brought into the world, the one she taught and loved and eventually mourned.

Mary and Jesus

Via WikiCommons: Wall painting in the old Church of 
St. Mary of Zion, Axum, Ethiopia.

But it would be a grave error to make the mistake of thinking of Mary as a mere vessel. Too many people over too many centuries have made that mistake. If you want evidence of Mary’s strength and faith, look no further than her song, the Magnificat.

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary’s understanding of salvation history and her role in it is inspiring. Mary’s song perfectly captures God’s love for those at the margins and God’s challenge of those with wealth and power. And Mary understands all that, yet she knows that it is not about her. “the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

We would do well to follow Mary’s lead. We are not called to bear him into the world as she was, but we are called to proclaim and to celebrate Jesus Christ as she did. We are called to remind the powerless and the poor that they are dear to God.

Let us today celebrate Mary’s strength, Mary’s faith, Mary’s courage, and Mary’s sense of God’s mercy and justice.

Peace,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Today’s Flash Sale: The Social Justice Bible Challenge 

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

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