Throwback Thursday: 1995

This meditation, originally published in Forward Day by Day in 1995, was featured in our 75th Anniversary edition in 2010.



Luke 17:11-17 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.

I remember the importance my mother put on writing thank-you letters and saying “Thank you” after a party. I recall thinking as a youngster that she made too much of it. I identified with the small boy who said after a party, “My mother told me to tell you I had a very nice time.”

Now that I’m grown up, I realize how important gratitude is. The name of our central service of worship—the eucharist—means “thank you” in Greek. As a psychotherapist, I realize that the cornerstone of mental health is a thank-you attitude toward life, even in the midst of pain and less. Unhealthy is a whining “I deserve better than this; it’s not fair” even in the midst of plenty. The ability to give thanks is a watershed of spiritual and mental health. To find a thank-you in your heart toward the Author of life is true worship.

Reflect on the area of your life which is causing you pain right now. Can you stay with the pain for a moment and sincerely say “Thank you” for something you have discovered within it? In doing so, you have just celebrated eucharist in your own heart.

P.S. Thanks, Mom. (1995)

 

Forward Today: Wise and Daring Disciples

Dear friends in Christ,

As I write this, the Forward Movement board of directors is meeting in Cincinnati. I’m grateful for this faithful group of people who oversee Forward Movement’s ministry and mission. This remarkable group of leaders gives generously of their time to support the work of Forward Movement to inspire disciples and to empower evangelists.

I’m excited about sharing with our board the work we have been doing and that we will be doing in the near future. And I always enjoy the perspective of our board members as they guide and shape our work.

Please pray for our board meeting, our board members, and the staff of Forward Movement. We all love the work to which God has called us, and it is great privilege to serve God in this way.

There is a lovely prayer that dates back to the beginning of Forward Movement’s ministry, and I invite you to pray this, if you find it helpful. It would certainly bless us!

O God, we ask your guidance and blessing for the Forward Movement of your church. Use it, we pray, to open our eyes to your glory and to the opportunities that lie before the church to reach people everywhere with the good news of Christ. Grant that the leaders of Forward Movement may be both wise and daring disciples, and stir up in them the will to share joyfully in this work with our prayers and gifts. Let not their purpose grow slack, that the nations of this world may become one holy people under the kingship of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. This we ask in his name. Amen.

I especially love the prayer that we might be “wise and daring disciples.” That’s something for which all of us Christians might strive.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo from our November 2018 meeting at St. James’ Church, New York, NY.


Today’s Flash Sale: Note to Self

Note to SelfWinner of a 2019 Illumination Book Award for Spirituality!

Discover what God has written onto your heart. What do you want for your life? Who do you want to be in your life, and how do you want to live? We humans need reminders, and when it comes to making a consistent effort to be better people, it’s important to have constant reminders. A “Rule of Life” is an ancient method for building soul memory, and offering reminders to ourselves of the person we hope to be—it is a practice of training your mind and soul to be kind and good.

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.

Regular: $18
Today: $13.50

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Throwback Thursday Meditation: June 8, 2001

Forward Day by Day coverLuke 18:9-14. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income. 

We all have our yardsticks for judging others’ faith: “I heard that they tithe;” “He was a senior warden;” “They go to church every day;” “She’s a priest.” Measurements can either make us feel superior or guilty; you can always find someone worse or better than yourself. The result of these comparisons is always the same: paralysis. We either convince ourselves that we are doing well and don’t need to change, or guilt forces us to leave religion to the religious or to wallow in self-pity.

Of course, only God knows what is inside, and God isn’t keeping that kind of scorecard. Trying to judge other’s faith solely through their external piety is just as foolish as thinking that if we do enough “good” things, God will have to let us into heaven. We aren’t saved by anything measurable, rather by the immeasurable love of Christ on the cross. Our part in it is to have faith, and that faith can bear fruit without effort or worry. Christ came to set us free from the bondage of sin; we need to step outside our cells.

Forward Today: To Scroll or to Type, That is the Question

Dear friends in Christ,

Most of the time, I’m grateful for social media. Facebook allows me to keep up with lots of people that I would otherwise lose touch with. Twitter is a fun way to have conversations with people I might not otherwise talk with. And Instagram is just fun…and fun to look at.

There’s a downside to social media too, of course. Some people suffer from the pressure to present themselves in a certain way. Others feel bad because it looks like everyone else has it all figured out. Social media can expose deep differences, and we don’t always use our opportunities to find deep connection. In other words, it’s fraught. When it comes to political or moral issues, it’s easy to degenerate into either a yelling chamber or an echo chamber. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Computer key pad

What if we used social media as a way to learn about those with whom we differ? What if we focused on forming connections? What if we proclaimed the Good News a bit more often?

Not too long ago, I had a conversation online about when to wade into difficult conversations or debates — and when to step away. It’s not always easy, is it? Sometimes it’s worth entering a conversation for learning from others or to educate others. But often enmity will be the only result of a comment.

Anyway, in this conversation, someone half-jokingly said we needed a prayer for this. For some reason, the serenity prayer popped into my head. It would have worked as is, but I made a few edits. I want to try to live this way myself, and you might find it helpful, too.

God, grant me the serenity
to scroll past pointless arguments,
the courage to weigh in on rare occasions,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one post at a time;
accepting social media as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that you will make all things right
if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

(Adapted with apologies from the well-known and life-changing serenity prayer.)

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image: Pixabay


Today’s Flash Sale: Prayers New and Old AND Prayers for All Occasions

Prayers New and Old
Prayers New and OldEnrich your daily devotions with Prayers New and Old. It’s the perfect blend of all of your favorite psalms, intercessions, praises and thanksgivings from The Book of Common Prayer with new prayers to enhance your prayer collection. With prayers like “The Lord’s Prayer,” “The Apostle’s Creed,” and “For Refreshment in Daily Life,” Prayers New and Old introduces young and old to experience the richness of prayer. The book is pocket-sized and indexed by topic so you can pray anywhere. Book is bound with a dark blue faux leather cover, with gold edges, and a ribbon.

 

Prayers for All Occasions
Prayers for all Occasions Find the right prayer for the right time in Prayers for All Occasions. This pocket-sized volume offers a diverse collection of prayers for family, life events, church work, and other unique occasions. Indexed by topic so you can find prayers quickly, Prayers for All Occasions is ideal for personal devotion or as a quick prayer reference tool for clergy. Fits easily in purse or pocket. With faux leather cover, gold edges, and ribbon.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

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

Gifts for your Grad

We’ve put together a few gift ideas for your new graduate! This list includes resources that will comfort, inspire, and rejuvenate your grad. And of course, a coffee mug!


Saint Augustine's Prayer BookSaint Augustine’s Prayer Book 
“This is a must-have prayer book. It is the perfect companion, easy to carry, travels well and has such wonderful prayers and wisdom for daily life. I think if you have one prayer book only, this is the one to have. It is beautiful, leather-bound, gold cross accompanies a Book of Common Prayer or Missal well. The preparation prayers of holy eucharist are really good so it is always with me at service too. I glad I bought it and I think it will also make a great gift.” -Rob Nelson

Pathway coverPathways of Faith: An All-Ages Coloring Book
A coloring book for all ages—but especially for adults who may have forgotten the simple joys of creating—Pathways of Faith offers a respite from busyness and daily demands. Relax and restore as you spend time coloring these original illustrations that capture the amazing stories of the Bible and God’s love for us. Come and spend some creative, refreshing time with God. The Lord knows we need it!

Inside the book Faith with a TwistFaith with a Twist
Take time to relax and restore your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being with Faith with a Twist. This resource 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.

The Social Justice Bible ChallengeThe Social Justice Bible Challenge
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. Bridging the gap between knowing the Bible and living it, The Social Justice Bible Challenge is for those seeking to deeply engaged in scripture, and connect their compassion to God’s Word.

Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter
“I’m forever changed by this book, and I’m only up to Kings. I had no idea of the suffering, loyalty, bravery, heartache, confidence of those women. WOW. It’s hard to read the stories and their words. Very humbling.” -Leigh Parmer

Lent Madness Travel Mug
Take your coffee, tea, and Lent Madness spirit on the go with this 15oz travel mug!

The Twible:
All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less…Now with 68% More Humor!
The Twible brings you every chapter as tweeted in 140 characters or less, from Genesis to Revelation! From start to finish, it brings the Bible to wonderful, wicked, weird life.

Throwback Thursday Meditation: November 5, 1982

Forward CoverLuke 13:31-35. Jesus said, I must be on my way today and tomorrow and the next day.

There is about Our Lord a sense of continuous travelling. It is not a frantic restlessness but a controlled and purposeful journeying. Again and again we read of him in terms of “the way.” There is very little element of a fixed abode.

We can transfer that into the interior world of our spirituality. Our spirituality must be a living reality, ready to be mobile rather than static, ready to do a great deal of mental and spiritual travelling and exploration. To do that we certainly do need spiritual bases. Jesus had them for his travels. There was Bethany, there was Capernaum, there were quiet hillsides, even the desert. Being a Christian today means possessing these two elements of spirituality. Faith is, by paradox, both a point of arrival and a staging post for further journey.

Turn, follow, learn, pray,
Serve, share, the disciple’s way
Weary find your rest in him
Whose worship is the pilgrim’s inn.

Pray for the sick and for God’s guidance to know what you can do to assist their healing.

 

Forward Today: Stop and smell the flowers

Dear friends in Christ,

As I was trying to decide what to write about for this week’s Forward Today, I decided to take my dog out for a walk. George the Dog comes to work with me regularly, as he’s a good companion and sometimes a muse.

We walked over to a nearby park, and I realized when George stopped to smell the flowers that he had given me an object lesson. It is a stunningly beautiful day here in Cincinnati. The glory of God’s creation is all around, testifying to the splendor of God’s radiant glory. Were it not for my canine friend’s diligent nose, I might not have stopped to appreciate these entirely remarkable flowers.

Study after study shows that getting up and walking around is good for creative thinking. Study after study shows that gratitude is good for our health and our spirit. And we Christians know that giving thanks to God for the beauty of creation is good for our souls.

So this week’s Forward Today comes with a simple message. Look up, right now! Savor the world that is around you. Give thanks for God’s blessings.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

P.S. If you want some joy in your social media feed, George T. Dog is on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. New followers are like ear scratches for him.


Today’s Flash Sale: Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book

Saint Augustine's Prayer BookSaint Augustine’s Prayer Book is a book of prayer and practice – with disciplines, habits, and patterns for building a Christian spiritual life. It will help you to develop strong habits of prayer, to prepare for and participate in public liturgy thoughtfully, and to nurture a mind and soul ready to work and give and pray for the spread of the kingdom. Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book features “Holy Habits of Prayer,” devotions to accompany Holy Eucharist, Stations of the Cross, and Stations of the Resurrection, and a wide range of litanies, collects, and prayers for all occasions. The newly revised edition includes the treasured liturgies and prayers of the original while offering some important updates in language and content. Revised and edited by well-regarded scholars David Cobb and Derek Olsen, the Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book is a wonderful gift as well as a handsome addition to your own prayer book collection. Comes leather-bound (black) with two ribbons in a gift box.

Regular: $28
Today: $21

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

Forward Today: We wish to see Jesus

Dear friends in Christ,

Today the church celebrates the feast of Saint Philip and Saint James. We know almost nothing about James, and Philip shows up only a few times in the scriptures. One of the more well-known mentions comes in John 12:20-21:

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

These Greeks got right to the point. Perhaps they had heard about this famous teacher, and they wanted to meet him. “We wish to see Jesus.”

I spend a lot of time preaching across our church, and it turns out that quite a few pulpits have the words of these Greeks written on the pulpit where only the preacher will see it. In the language of the King James Bible, it’s “Sir, we would see Jesus.” In our NRSV translation, it’s “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” It’s a pretty powerful reminder to the one standing in the pulpit that people who show up in our churches really want to meet Jesus. Preachers might talk about other things, but sermons should always be about Jesus. And churches might offer plenty of things, but it should all be about Jesus.

It’s easy to lose sight of this. Churches always have lots going on, and once we are part of the group, we might be tempted to focus on relationships with others or on the work to run a church. But the fundamental point of everything in a church is always Jesus. In our day and age, when someone shows up for church the first time, it probably isn’t because of peer pressure or obligation or status. Our guests are very likely to echo what those Greeks said, “We wish to see Jesus.”

If someone shows up this Sunday in your church, will the preaching, the teaching, the activities, and everything else be about Jesus?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director
Image and inspiration: Tim Schenck

Today’s Flash Sale: Faith with a Twist

Faith with a TwistFaith 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.

Regular: $16
Today: $12

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

Throwback Thursday Meditation: July 8, 1965

This was the Forward Day by Day meditation on July 8, 1965. It is titled What Draws People to Christ.


A great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

People were drawn in droves to Jesus, not by the charming stories He told, but by the “great things he did”: healing sick bodies and minds, picking up fallen sinners and setting them on their feet, raising dead souls to life.

His Church today will do well to note this fact. We want the whole world to come to Christ in His Church. And the divine Head of the Church tells us to go forth in the power of His Name and do His works. Preaching His Gospel in words has its essential place. Jesus Himself came preaching. But He did more than talk: He acted. This was what drew the great multitude to Him. And this is what will draw the world to Him today: our doing things by His power.

We can, if we will. He gives us money, influence, opportunity, all necessary assets for the doing of His mighty works. When we do them, zealously, sacrificially, the world sees Christ working through us: and it turns to Him.

Forward Today: What does an Easter life look like?

Dear friends in Christ,

We are only a few days into this radiant, joyous Easter season. I hope your celebration is off to a good start and that it continues for the full 50 days.

I’ve been to Israel several times, and on one of my visits I was able to visit a first century tomb much like the one in which Jesus would have been buried. You can see a photo of the tomb I visited. Easter makes the astonishing claim that a dead man was put to rest in a tomb like this, and that on the third day, that same man was raised to new life and walked out of the tomb.

Though the resurrection story itself is amazing, its meaning is even more amazing. When Jesus Christ was raised to new life, it meant that God’s power was stronger than the evil of this world. Indeed, God’s love is stronger than the most vile hate. God’s love is stronger than our worst sins. God’s love is stronger even than death itself. Over the next few weeks in church, we’ll hear stories of our risen Lord and how he appeared to his disciples. They are stories of transformation, of amazement, and most importantly of the hope we share in Christ Jesus.

I’m grateful we have a whole season to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not a celebration of metaphor or myth or legend. It is a celebration of God’s love and an invitation to live a transformed life of hope and grace. This season invites us to live an Easter life.

We’ve just finished Lent, and many of us will have taken on Lenten disciplines. Have you ever thought about taking on an Easter discipline? It’s not too late! What might an Easter discipline look like for you?

Maybe you’ll find new ways to share messages of hope in a world of fear. Maybe you’ll practice reconciliation in a world of division. Maybe you’ll pray or study. (You could, for example, read the Book of Acts this season.) Maybe you’ll find ways to serve Jesus Christ in the hungry, the stranger, or the prisoner.

This season invites us to consider an important question: what does an Easter life look like?

Let us all treasure and celebrate this glorious season of resurrection, love, hope, and joy. Easter blessings be with you always! Alleluia, alleluia!

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director
Image: Flickr

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

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

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

Join watercolor artist Kathrin Burleson and diverse voices from across The Episcopal Church in exploring the wonders of Creation and the beauty of the Creator. Burleson’s Creation-inspired watercolors offer inspiring visualizations that enhance the book’s 365 daily meditations, written by authors across the church and across the country.

Regular: $20
Today: $15

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