Forward Today: Thanks a million

Dear friends in Christ,

Thank you. In fact, thanks a million. I recently learned that in the last ten years, Forward Movement has given away 1,050,016 copies of Forward Day by Day. That’s more than a million dollars’ worth of free, inspirational material that we’ve sent to prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, and military bases.

Most of our free materials are sent to prisons, and we get letters of gratitude from chaplains and incarcerated people all the time. Especially during the pandemic when visits are curtailed, words of hope matter more than ever.

Every one of those million free copies of Forward Day by Day was made possible by your gifts. We simply could not send this material out for free without donor support.

Thank you. And I am joined in my thanks by hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have been blessed with a message of compassion, hope, mercy, and grace. People are receiving reminders that Jesus loves them, and you made it happen.

The pandemic has brought plenty of challenges, but it has also brought us many blessings at Forward Movement. We know that many of you pray for us and our work regularly. We hear from you about how Christ’s love has been made real to you by Grow Christians, or Forward Day by Day, or courses, or videos, or books, or apps, or any of the other ways we reach people.

Today I have given our whole staff an extra day off to rest, to savor a nice, long Thanksgiving weekend. So you won’t find us answering the phone or processing orders today. You’ll find us all saying prayers of gratitude though, for our work, for donor support, for prayers, and for all the blessings of this life, even in tough times.

If you are grateful for Forward Movement’s ministry, I invite you to do two things. First, offer to God a word of thanksgiving. Second, if you are able to do so, consider making a financial gift to support our ongoing work. The work we are doing is needed now more than ever, and that means your gifts are critical at this moment. If you can’t make a financial gift, it’s OK. I know that people of all circumstances read Forward Today, and I am grateful for each and every one of you.

Let us know if we can do anything for you. And, above all, over this weekend, give thanks for whatever blessings you have received in this earthly life, filled as it is with delights and difficulties.

Blessings to you. And thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


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Forward Today: What does it mean to say, “Jesus is Lord”?

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday we celebrate the kingship of Christ, as we always do on the Last Sunday after Pentecost. But what does that mean for us modern Christians?

To celebrate Jesus as our king and our Lord is to reject all others who might try to lay claim on us as our Lord. Many of the earliest Christians died for professing, “Jesus is Lord” rather than saying that Caesar was Lord. This is perhaps a poignant and necessary reminder for us coming in a time of intense political wrangling.

Neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump has claim on us, ultimately. We belong to Jesus. We are not first Republicans or Democrats, but people who worship a savior who asks us to take up our cross and follow him, turning away from all others who might beckon us to follow.

And what kind of king is Jesus, anyway? The Gospel reading for this Sunday brings us the parable of the sheep and the goats. In the parable, the king tells us what is important and what matters in the end.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Jesus shows us the way. He is a king of compassion, mercy, grace, and sacrifice. His most kingly act is his free offering of himself for our salvation on the cross.

I don’t know about you, but after listening to blustery politicians, I need to listen to another voice proclaiming a message of mercy and grace. Coming up on a pre-Christmas season when consumer spending will run amok, I need to be reminded that sacrifice rather than possessions is where we find our meaning. When our allegiance is demanded by political parties, nations, and corporations, I need to be reminded that my first and most precious allegiance is to Jesus Christ.

May we all profess Jesus as Lord, and may our lives show forth what we profess with our lips.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash


Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

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Forward Today: Advent is almost here, just when we need it

Dear friends in Christ,

Advent is coming up, and I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to it more than this year. This has been such a challenging year in many ways, and Advent brings just the blessing I need. I look forward to Advent’s invitation to repent and to focus on Jesus. And I look forward to some of my favorite hymns and scripture readings.

I hope you’ll find Advent as life-giving as I expect it will be for me. But this doesn’t just happen. We have to make time in a chaotic world for the peace and the reflection of Advent to work in us. Perhaps you’ll join me in setting aside some time each day. Perhaps you’ll pray the daily office (online or via our morning prayer or evening prayer podcasts).

Advent Word is a global movement, a way to pray through the season online and offline. Some suggestions for how to use #AdventWord are available on the Advent Word website. You’ll see the links to follow Advent Word on social media and to add your own voice to the conversation there. This year, we have a podcast. And Forward Movement has published a wonderful book of Advent meditations keyed to the words of #AdventWord. In case you still want a creative outlet, there are posters you can buy to color your way through the season. We have Advent Word posters and the ever-popular “Slow Down. Quiet. It’s Advent” calendar poster by Jay Sidebotham.

Over the years, Forward Movement has offered many different Advent reflections. You can peruse our books, pamphlets, online courses, and more using our interactive Advent/Christmas eCatalog. (Order by November 16 for standard shipping.)

Of course, you don’t need to spend a penny to savor the blessing of Advent. The scriptures are free. Advent Word is free. Quiet is free. And, more important, the grace of Jesus is free.

I do encourage you to make some space in your life for Advent. And let us welcome this blessing we so sorely need.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

Check out our interactive Advent eCatalog | Forward Movement

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Review of Come & See: Reflections on the Life of Jesus

Come & See: Reflections on the Life of Jesus
Curated by Sanford Smith

John 1:38-39. “The disciples said, ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’”

As a regular contributor to the online commentaries on Forward Day by Day since 2012, I welcome this opportunity to share my observations of Sanford Smith’s excellent collection Come & See: Reflections on the Life of Jesus.

He has successfully produced an inspiring collection, a life’s journey narrated by passages from scripture and from commentaries by contributors to Forward. Its format is simple and direct: a series of meditations on readings from the Gospels that reflect the life of Jesus in chronological order, presented as a biography in the form of a symposium, and consisting of a variety of individual writing styles by multiple authors.

Sanford Smith’s project has obviously involved a thoughtful sifting-out process of countless scripture readings and commentaries pertaining to Jesus’ life, and as a result has come up with a complete and reverent summation. Congratulations on a splendid contribution to the Forward Movement!

—Dr. David Yeomans

Forward Today: Work for the common good

Dear friends in Christ,

I am writing this the day before the US presidential election, because I don’t want my own personal thoughts to color what I might say about the results and our going work. Suffice it to say, some people will be pleased by the final results of local, state, and federal elections, and others will not be. And yet, we Americans need to find a way to live together.

As I have said many times, the Gospel is political, but it is not partisan. Regardless of which political party is ascendant, our Christian work remains the same. We are meant to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit prisoners (Matthew 25). We must pray for our enemies and work for peace. We must love one another as Christ has loved us.

Not knowing what the news brings on the morning you read this, I do know that prayer is never the wrong answer. I invite you to join me in the final prayer of our nine-day cycle of prayers for the election.

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

And I close with the lovely and challenging benediction from the fifth chapter of 1 Thessalonians.

Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


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Forward Today: Move every human heart

Dear friends in Christ,

As the US election draws nearer, each day’s news seems to bring more stress. Regardless of our political views, we can agree that our leaders could do better. Poverty is on the rise. Disease runs rampant. Violence seems endemic. I could go on.

So what are we Christians to do? I’ve written about this quite a bit, and with good reason. This topic comes up again and again in conversations, online and in person.

First, we can pray. Prayer is not the only thing we should do, but it is an essential practice for every Christian. We can pray for our own strength and courage. We can pray for the needs of the world. And we can pray for our political leaders and candidates, especially the ones more repugnant to us.

Second, we can speak out. If the church and its members stay silent, we leave the moral voice of the public square to others. It is crucial for people to hear a word of hope, mercy, compassion, justice, love, and grace. Where else will people hear this, if not from the church. Deafening silence changes nothing. A voice crying out in the wilderness might make all the difference in the world.

Third, we can get involved. Vote! If you are worried about free and fair elections, volunteer as a poll worker. If you are concerned about the plight of the poor, contact local non-profits and ask what they need. And so on.

But it all begins with prayer. Today is the second day of a nine-day season of prayer for an election. I invite you to join me and Episcopalians all over the world in praying.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

What a prayer! May every human heart be moved.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

A Season of Prayer | Forward Movement and The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations

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NEW: Growing Christians | Forward Movement

Lent Madness 2021 saints just announced | Lent Madness

Forward Today: Just two things

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday’s Gospel reading brings us Jesus giving the Great Commandment. When asked which commandment in the law is the greatest, Jesus answers,

“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19 here as he focuses the entire faith on just two things: we are commanded to love God and to love our neighbors.

Talk about easier said than done! It’s easy to say we love God, but to love God with our whole being would be quite something. Take the mind for example. If I loved God with my whole mind, I wouldn’t be filling my mind with distractions such as mediocre television and social media scrolling.

And when Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, he is of course not just talking about the people who live next to us, people who are likely to be in our same cultural group, race, and economic status. He takes care elsewhere to teach us that our neighbors are, well, pretty much everyone.

Love God, love people. It seems so simple, and yet it is so hard to do.

When the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, we can become immobilized by a feeling of powerlessness. What can I do about all the problems? Just two things.

We can start with our own lives by loving God and loving our neighbors. Love is magnified as we share it. If more of us spent more of our energy loving God and loving our neighbors, the world would look different. Our church would certainly look different.

So I invite you, this very day, to just doing as Jesus commands, just two things. Love God. Love neighbor.

It’s impossible on our own, but we have a church filled with fellow disciples to be our companions. And we have the grace of God to help us.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Photo: Pixabay


Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

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Forward Today: To serve a living and true God

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday, the assigned epistle reading is from 1 Thessalonians. We read how St. Paul greets the Thessalonians and then says this:

For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God… (1 Th 1:1-10)

There’s a lot to notice here. The Thessalonians have proclaimed the Gospel so effectively that St. Paul does not need to say more. We also read that the people of Thessalonica turned from idols to serve the living and true God.

We shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that turning from idols is something that only ancient biblical people needed to do. In our baptismal service, we ask those to be baptized to renounce Satan and spiritual forces of wickedness, to renounce evil powers of the world that corrupt us, and to renounce sinful desires that draw us from the love of God. And then we ask them to promise to turn. We ask them to turn toward Jesus as our Savior and Lord, and to promise to put their whole trust in his grace and love.

We expect that the baptized life turns us from evil toward good, from Satan toward Jesus, and from distraction from God’s love toward trust in God’s love.

It’s very relevant today. We have made an idol of money. We may say we trust God, but it’s pretty easy to live as if money is what we trust. We have made an idol of security, as if it’s possible to be safe or as if the scriptures don’t tell us again and again to reject fear.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t use money or that we shouldn’t take prudent care of our selves and our world. But I do believe the scriptures call us to center our lives on trust in God’s grace.

What would it look like if we, like the Thessalonians, served the living and true God?

We would behave as if we know that God is living. God is not an abstraction or an ancient myth, but a living being who loves us more than we can imagine. God is alive and acts in our world.

We would behave as if we know that God is true. In an age in which we often invite “your truth” and “my truth”, we would proclaim the absolute certainty that God and God’s love are true. We would proclaim that we live in a reality in which some things are demonstrably false and others are demonstrably true. God’s grace and mercy is true, and we can trust that with our very lives.

What would it look like if we, like the Thessalonians, served the living and true God?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Photo: Pixabay


Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

Preorder: Growing Forward | Forward Movement

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Forward Today: In quietness and confidence

Dear friends in Christ,

Lately nearly everyone I talk with tells me they find it difficult to watch the news these days. Whatever our political affiliation, we can agree that our leaders could be doing a better job. Whatever our views on any number of vital issues, we can agree that division is endemic.

What are we to do? It seems to me there are three ways we can respond, if we are able to do so. Perhaps just getting through a tough time is enough, and if that’s where you are, do what you can to survive. Ask for help if you need it, and offer help if you have it to give.

Here are three ways to respond:

  1. We can have conversations across lines of division to learn more about others and to work for reconciliation. If you’re not sure where to start, Forward Movement is offering a new, free ChurchNext class, Civil Conversations in Uncivil Times with Ray Suarez.
  2. We can pray for our leaders and our nation, especially as the United States heads into an election. Forward Movement has partnered with the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations to offer a nine-day season of prayer. This novena includes simple prayers from our Book of Common Prayer and a litany to say each day, starting one week before the election and ending the day after. Learn more online.
  3. We can work to change our world. If we want more justice, we can be more just. If we want more compassion, we can be more compassionate. If we want more truth, we can speak the truth in love.

 

Despair is an understandable place to find ourselves, but ultimately, we Christians know that death and destruction never have the last word.

Amidst the chaos and confusion of this time, let us all seek the peace of Christ that passes all understanding.

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Photo: Pixabay


Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

Now Available: Share it Forward Packs | Forward Movement

Preorder: Growing Forward | Forward Movement

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El ciclo de oración

Se ofrece una iniciativa de oración antes de las elecciones de los Estados Unidos

Forward Movement y la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal extienden un llamado a episcopales y a toda persona para que participen de un ciclo de oración por las elecciones. El propósito de esta novena es pedirle a Dios discernimiento a la hora de votar y rogar por el bienestar de la nación.

El ciclo de oración comienza el martes 27 de octubre y continúa hasta el 4 de noviembre, que es el día tras las elecciones.

En un breve video alentando la participación, el Obispo primado Michael Curry le extiende un llamado al pueblo episcopal para que se una a esta incitativa de orar por nuestra patria, sus habitantes y líderes, y todas las naciones y pueblos de la tierra.

Rogamos que alientes a tu congregación y amistades a que participen.

El Rev. Jay Sidebotham, director de RenewalWorks, declaró que en su ministerio ha descubierto que una de las características de las congregaciones con vitalidad es que pastorean a su comunidad. “Participan del mundo más allá de las paredes de la iglesia”, explicó Sidebotham. “Se hacen conocer en el vecindario y están listos para servir.”

“En este tiempo de elecciones, realizamos este importante ministerio con nuestras plegarias”, agregó Sidebotham. “En este tiempo crítico, participamos con nuestro compromiso a la práctica espiritual de orar. Pedimos la gracia de Dios por las decisiones tomadas, le agradecemos por la oportunidad de participar de este modo en la vida nacional y ponemos nuestra confianza en el auxilio de Dios. Primero oramos, y después votamos”.

Todas las oraciones han sido tomadas de El Libro de Oración Común, e incluyen una letanía que puede usare diariamente.

Estos materiales, disponibles para individuos, iglesias y familias, pueden descargarse  en español en www.venadelante.org/eleccion y en inglés en www.forwardmovement.org/election. Habrá recursos adicionales que se difundirán mediante las redes sociales.

Otros recurso para las elecciones, disponibles solo en inglés, pueden accederse en la página de participación cívica de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales. Alan Yarborough, oficial de dicha oficina, explicó que los materiales destacan la importancia de votar y de alentar a otros a votar. “También destacamos otros aspectos de participación cívica que se vinculan estrechamente al proceso electoral,” dijo Yarborough, “tales como el Censo del 2020, el discurso civil, y la importancia de identificar y combatir información errónea”.


La Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales representa las prioridades de la Iglesia Episcopal en el gobierno de los EE.UU. en Washington, D.C. Pretende elaborar e influir políticas y legislación en torno a cuestiones críticas, destacando las voces y experiencias de la gente episcopal y anglicana de todo el mundo. Todas las posiciones se basan en resoluciones de la Convención General y el Consejo Ejecutivo, que son los cuerpos legislativos y ejecutivos de la iglesia. Para saber más, visitar esta página.

Desde hace más de ochenta años, Forward Movement inspira discípulos y empodera evangelistas de todo el mundo, produciendo recursos innovadores de la más alta calidad para fomentar el crecimiento espiritual de individuos y congregaciones. Además de la muy populares devociones diarias Adelante día a día, el ministerio de Forward Movement ofrece libros y eBooks para el estudio grupal e individual, recursos para orar, cursos de formación cristiana, eventos para líderes, recursos en español y bilingües, folletos, recursos descargables, transmisiones diarias  de podcast, aplicaciones para tabletas y teléfonos inteligentes y oportunidades de participar en línea. Para saber más, visitar esta página.