Forward Today: The Fig Tree

Dear Friends,

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”
-Luke 13:6-9

This Sunday we will hear this parable about one such sad fig tree. The owner of this unproductive plant suggests to the gardener that it be cut down because it is wasting valuable land. The gardener advocates for applying special care and attention to the tree to see if it will be coaxed into production. He agrees that if his efforts fail and there are no figs in a year, he’ll chop it down.

Fig tree

It seems to me that Lent provides us with a similar opportunity to pause and evaluate the unproductive trees in our lives. We are given 40 long days to ask ourselves questions like: What parts of our ministries are not bearing fruit? Are we being called to give more attention to the struggling parts of our lives? Is it time to cut our losses and stop giving energy to a project/relationship/program that will likely never produce fruit? Is there an area where an adjustment to how we think or act might invite new growth?

The Forward Movement board and staff spend a good deal of time in such examination of this special ministry we are stewarding. We constantly ask ourselves if our resources align with our mission statement “Inspiring Disciples, Empowering Evangelists.” Is what we are offering still relevant? Are we making tools that are easily accessible by a variety of audiences? Are we keeping up with modern technology so that we remain current? Are our books, videos, conferences, and programs bearing fruit in the church and the world?

This is the holy work God is calling us to as a board, as churches, and in our lives. Like a gardener who carefully tends his plants, God compels us to carefully prune and patiently wait for the fruits of our work, cutting back here, adding soil there.

I hope you will consider joining me in this important work of evaluation this Lent, that we may all find abundance in the gardens of our lives. Together, may we find that God is not bent on destroying figs, but on loving them and watching them thrive.

Yours in Christ,

Anne Schmidt

Anne Schmidt is the Forward Movement Board Chair and Director of Evangelism and Welcoming Ministries at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, affectionately called “The Fig” by many of its members.


Today’s Flash Sale: Acts to Action

Acts to ActionJesus’ first disciples and modern-day Christians face the same question: How do we share the good news of Christ that we have experienced with the people we meet in the course of our daily lives? The Book of Acts details how the early disciples overcome the challenges of spreading the gospel in the midst of failing institutions, theological differences, and widespread uncertainty. With a focus on Acts Chapter 8, editors Susan Brown Snook and Adam Trambley and contributors from across the Episcopal Church discuss how these lessons from Christ’s earliest followers apply to the mission Jesus still gives us today: to be his witnesses in our churches and neighborhoods and to the ends of the earth. The authors explore essential elements of church mission, including worship, proclamation, loving and serving, repentance, and knowing the community. Framed by reflections from church leaders Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows and Gay Clark Jennings, the book provides encouragement and practical suggestions to help individuals and groups move from Acts to action.

Contributors include: Joseph Alsay, Carrie Boren Headington, Frank Logue, Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, Steve Pankey, and Holli Powell

Regular: $16
Today: $12

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

Forward Today: Sacrificial Love

Dear Friends,

As I write this, I am in my second week of caring for my husband after surgery. Normally one of the most independent people I know, this experience has left him unable to drive, dress without assistance, or cook for himself. Just walking from the bedroom to the kitchen tires him and he finds it difficult to sleep. He is just miserable.

I feel much as I did when our son was a newborn–sleep deprived, a little overwhelmed, yet overcome with love. I recognize that this experience is nothing like that of someone who has been a caregiver for years with no respite but it has given me time to think about the nature of love and sacrifice as Lent begins.

As a child, the question as Lent approached was what I would “give up” for Lent. Over the years, I chose whatever happened to be my favorite indulgence at the time like chocolate, sweets, or wine. I even tried to dedicate myself to positive change like exercise or healthy eating. I confess that I was not very successful in these Lenten “sacrifices”.

This year, I have decided to spend Lent trying to understand the nature of the great sacrifice of our Lord on Good Friday and to appreciate the love that prompted it. I hope to reflect daily on my human experience of love–love as a wife, a mother, a daughter and sister, a friend. I want to take that experience and share it with others in need of loving care. I want to do it because that is what Christ did for me. The love He gives is too big to keep for myself.

Yours in Christ,

Julie Thomas
Treasurer of Forward Movement


Today’s Flash Sale: Inwardly Digest

Have you ever wondered if there was some kind of guide to living a deeper, richer spiritual life that seamlessly incorporated scripture alongside the wisdom of the Church? There is—and you can find it in a pew rack near you! The Book of Common Prayer is more than a service book; it is a map to a deeper relationship with God, a framework for developing a more intentional and rewarding life of faith.

Scholar Derek Olsen explores liturgical spirituality and how the prayer book serves as a repository of Christian wisdom and spiritual practice stretching back to the beginnings of the Christian movement. Focusing on three key elements—the Calendar, the Daily Office, and the Eucharist—he discusses the spiritual principles behind them and provides clear, practical, easy-to-follow explanations of the services. These patterns of life laid out in The Book of Common Prayer serve as a guide to the spiritual life, so that we might connect back to the God who calls each of us by name and that we might love as God loves us.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.5

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


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

I find God…

sunsetInterested in the wide array and differences in spiritual experiences, the Forward Movement team was asked, “Where do you find God?” Their thoughtful answers are below. Where do YOU find God? Let us know!



“I am a creative sort of person, so I find God in projects, especially writing projects. When I get excited about writing, especially fiction, I find God there. Which is sort of funny, because my fiction writing isn’t focused on religious subjects at the moment. It’s just that my religion is inherent to who I am, and who I am shows up in what I write. With fiction, and sometimes with a good article, I feel that creative energy rushing through, and God feels involved. To a lesser extent, I feel this with other creative work as well. When I made my kids’ Halloween costumes last October (knight costumes made of foam board), for example, I think God was probably all over that.” -Liz Brignac

“I often find God in music. I can become totally immersed in the beauty of it (both with and without lyrics, but more than likely without) and can be moved to tears (and I am not a crier). I am a musician and a lover of classical music, and I do believe that some works were Divinely inspired by God. When I sense this in something I am hearing or playing, it can leave me breathless. I thank God for this form of worship.” -Vicki Everett

“I find God in clear skies and the sun, hot on my skin. I find her in quiet Sundays spent on my porch and long solo walks around my neighborhood. I find God in the kindness of new people in unfamiliar places and in the awe of all I have yet to see.” -Alyssa F.

“In trying to stay in the moment, I often remind myself to greet the world around me in a mindful way. This morning, in my rush to work, the world was foggy around me and I wasn’t in the moment at all. I was in the deadlines I had, the things on my list, the plans for the weekend. As I walked to my car to drive in, a red tailed hawk flew onto the roof next door. We watched each other as she puffed up her feathers and took in the surroundings from her perch. Stopped in my tracks, I greeted her, and thanked her to reminding me of the beauty God has given all around us, and away she flew.” -Alexis Fortuna Caoili

“Where do I find God? Mostly in the unexpected. Having grown up in the church, I know all the usual places, but it’s the unexpected ones that seem to stick with me the most. Like the surprise of finding grace in my young son’s promise that he won’t mess up again—I love him for saying it but know full well he will. God has heard the same line from me! Or the unexpected connection I found at an open house at a neighboring Mosque—despite differences in dress, worship, and customs, I found God’s unifying presence within their gathering. These moments have gotten my attention and stayed with me when I think of where I find God.” -Amy Golden

“In praying for people I get a glimpse of seeing God’s hand bringing peace and victory over them.” -Barb Hine

“I find God in the little seeds we are planting for our garden this spring. There is so much hope, life, and nourishment locked up in these tiny little things…enough to fill our hearts and pantry. All we have to do is add water and good soil, and God’s own goodness does the rest of the hard work.” -Rachel Jones

“I find God in nature, in every breath I take.” -Tania Jones

“Mostly, I find God when I’m quietly exploring nature—emphasis on the quiet part. I find God standing in the middle of a river fishing for trout, hiking to a mountain overlook, or letting the waves wash over my bare feet while the sun sinks into the Gulf of Mexico.” -Jason Merritt

“I find God when I am walking down the  street and smile and speak to strangers and they return the smile and speak back!” -Aleia Robinson

“I find God in everyone I meet.” -Debbie Springer

“I find God in the brush of my husband’s hand and in one-armed hugs from our teenagers, card games with my family, and morning phone calls with Mom and Dad. I feel God when the dogs lay their heads across my shin, the cats stretch for a rub, and the horse leans into my touch. I hear God in the descant of a favorite hymn, the wind that curls around the mountains, and the cool underneath the first layer of sand. I see God in the outstretched hands of a toddler, earnest in receiving the Body and Blood, and the canopy of trees viewed from a hammock. God is there in the first bite of noodles rolled out by arthritic hands and in the smoke of a campfire fueled by tall tales and s’mores. In so many ways, I find God, and am ever grateful God always finds me.” -Richelle Thompson

“Ah, such a subject: where do I find God?
I must confess, it is God who finds me.

Sure, I do my best to set aside times for encounter, knowing that it often feels as if I’m the only one who remembered the appointment, but I try to concentrate on the fact that faith is not about feeling God is there, it’s about trusting God is there.

When I trust God is there I tend to believe and behave out of generosity, kindness, and purpose. I reach out. I forgive. I laugh.

When I find myself acting as if God is there, lo and behold, I often find God is there. It seems the less I look, the more I find.” -Chris Yaw

Faith with a Twist: The Season of Lent

yoga posesThe authors of Faith with a Twist: A 30-Day Journey into Christian Yoga, Hillary D. Raining and Amy Nobles Dolan, offer Faith with a Twist: The Season of Lent for your Lenten journey.

Lent is a time of preparation as we move toward the great feast of Easter. Since the early church, Christians have marked this season with prayer, penitence, fasting, self-denial, and acts of charity. As you have seen in this book, these themes are often explored in yoga as well as both practices call us into fuller relationship with Christ.

In the Western church, the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism.

Faith with a Twist: The Season of Lent offers thirty days of prayer, reflection, and practice. If you want to adapt your practice for the season of Lent, you can extend it to the full forty days by adding Sundays as well as the Holy Week Portions to your journey.

Download Now

Forward Today: Ash Wednesday

Dear Friends,

We do an important thing today—a brave thing, daunting enough that we need Jesus beside us while we do it. Today, the Church invites us to admit three deep truths about ourselves: we are dying, beloved, and incapable of saving ourselves. That confession can shake us to our cores. We don’t tell these kinds of hard truths to ourselves very often, and I think that’s why Ash Wednesday is so important—why the discipline of it and the truths we tell ourselves on this day deeply matter.

Wearing the ashes of last year’s Palm Sunday fronds on our foreheads is a stark reminder of how quickly life can change and how changeless God’s deep love is for each of us. Odds are that someone you know and love has died this year—maybe even several people. And by the time Ash Wednesday rolls around next year, you might not be here, either. I might not. Jesus might come back. We just don’t know. But what we do know is that today is a special day—a day of tallying up the count, and then throwing out the numbers.

Ashes

Ash Wednesday, much like other festival days, reminds us of the already-and-not-yet nature of the kingdom of God. We are dying a little bit every day. And even in our dying, we are being lifted into something new, something whole and holy, the elevated substance of what we have already been made to be. Ash Wednesday reminds us that the whole world palm trees, people, prophets—is being brought into subjection under God’s Christ, renewed and restored and resplendent. This day takes us back to the first day, to the dust of our creation, to the breath of the Holy Spirit filling our nostrils and giving us life. It takes us to our last day, to breathing our last breath back into the Holy Spirit and saying “Thank you” for letting us be here.

If you can, try to plan and take today kind of easy. It’s a big day. You’ll need some extra space in your head and heart. If you’ve been procrastinating choosing a Lenten discipline, you can join in on our Lent Tracks by visiting www.ForwardMovement.org or playing along with www.LentMadness.org. However you choose to observe this holy season, know our prayers are with you. Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem; may we be brave enough to follow.

With prayers for a holy Lent,

Rachel Jones
Associate Editor, Forward Movement


Ashes speak to me
of what matters and
what does not.

Remind me of the heart
of my heart and that I
and the ones I love
are more that what
will dribble into the
ground.

May I be thankful
that I await not just
the ashes

but the Phoenix.

-Len Freeman

Woodcut by Jason Sierra


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


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

Forward Today: Lenten practices

Grant, O Lord, that by the observance of these days of Lent we may grow in companionship with Christ, and that by sharing his suffering we may come to know the power of his resurrection, this we pray through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen

If you had told me a decade ago that I would come to cherish the 40 days of Lent, I would have thought you were suffering from a case of mistaken identity. But I have become that person. I look forward to observing Lent and growing in companionship with Christ during those very special 40 days. I miss these days when they are over.

During Lent, I try to be more faithful about giving alms, spending time in prayer, and strengthening my spiritual practice.

One Lent, I intentionally carried dollar bills in my pocket every day so that if I encountered anyone in need, I would immediately have something beyond a smile to give them.

I love to learn more during Lent, and I like to immerse myself in several daily reflections. I especially recommend Forward Day by Day, of course, and also the reflections offered by Episcopal Relief & Development.

Not long ago, when I was feeling troubled, I prayed a very simple prayer: Lord, hold my hand. As I prayed that prayer, with my eyes closed and my brow furrowed in concentration on a commuter train hurtling towards New York City, the faces of friends appeared, one after the other. I saw how God had been sending all these people to me as his messengers to hold my hand.

May you experience God holding your hand during this Lent, and may you grow in companionship with Christ during these 40 days and ever after.

Yours in Christ,

Lynne Jordal Martin
Forward Movement Board Member


Today’s Flash Sale: Dust Bunnies in the Basket

Episcopal priest Tim Schenck offers good humor and spiritual direction for the journey through Lent and Easter. With keen observations and a clever wit, Schenck connects the mundane with the divine, from dust bunnies and egg hunts to foot washing and the Easter Vigil. Illustrated by popular cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, Dust Bunnies in the Basket challenges us to go deeper this Lent, to “kick up some dust every now and then, to roll up our sleeves and get involved with the world and the people around us.” This book is ideal for personal reflection or seasonal study groups and includes thoughtful questions at the end of each section.

Regular: $10
Today: $7.50

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


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

Discussion with Father José in Mérida, Mexico

MéridaThis past fall, a Forward Movement team member took a trip to Mérida, Mexico, the capital of the Yucatán. While there, she met up with José Vieira Arruda, the priest at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Here is what José has to say about himself and his ministry in Mérida.

Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is José Vieira Arruda and I am a Portuguese-Canadian living in Mérida, already for seven years. My family immigrated to Canada, from the islands of the Azores, Portugal, when I was fourteen years old. We settled in Toronto, Ontario, and I studied philosophy and theology at Saint Michael’s College of the University of Toronto. After being ordained to the priesthood, in 1987, I went to Fordham University, New York for graduate studies in ecclesiology. Then, I went on to parish ministry and teaching in the cities of Montreal and Laval, Québec, Canada. At the age of fifty-two, I decided to leave North America and come to Latin America to experience ministry in a different socio-cultural setting.

St. Luke's EpiscopalCould you tell us more about St. Luke’s? What kind of things are they doing in Mérida?
Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church of Mérida is kind of a “miracle Church”.  After coming to know so many Episcopal sisters and brothers living here in Mérida—some permanently, while others only during a few months of the year—and having been made unwelcome at another local church, we decided to form community and plant our own Episcopal Church here in Mérida. At first, we started to meet for the celebration of the Eucharist at the home of one of our friends, Mr. Frank Kriegel, and then, as we began to grow, we moved to the home of another of our friends, Mr. Greg Casini. Still, as we continued to grow, we saw the need to have a place of our own and so we rented a larger home and transformed it into our church building. This is where we are located at the present moment, here at the corner of Calles 76 with 55, Santiago, Mérida. Every Sunday, we gather at 10:00 am for the Eucharist—in English, and at 11:15 am for the Eucharist—in Spanish. During major feasts throughout the year, we celebrate together as a community of English and Spanish speaking congregants. It is indeed a beautiful community, very inclusive and enthusiastic about our faith in the Lord. As the only Episcopal Church of Mérida, we are present in the wider community through our social justice ministries, advocating for inclusivity in all areas of life and the integral care of all human beings and creation, especially the poor and the socially excluded. Apart from being present at the local women’s jail with a program for human formation, we are also present at a local hospital, making and delivering over three-hundred sandwiches each Saturday morning, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Frank Kriegel. We are also trying to reach out in a more permanent way to families of the poorest area of Mérida, the Colonia Guadalupana. Hopefully, with the grace of God and the financial help of sisters and brothers, we will be able to open a socio-pastoral center in this area and, thus, create a community space for all those who would like to come and make it theirs, through social and spiritual activities.

We are also present in very specific celebrations held throughout the year here in the city of Mérida, such as Sexual Diversity Week, Women’s Day Conferences, etc. We are working very hard (and succeeding!) to become a Church that thinks, prays, celebrates, and shares the faith. We are a Church that dares to think differently in terms of justice and inclusivity, of compassion and love. Our vision statement says it all: “We believe we are a Church that is scripturally faithful, an inclusive church—a church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, ethnicity, language, or sexuality. For this reason, we welcome all people in the name of Jesus Christ. Together and with our witnessing, we strive to proclaim the Gospel afresh to all of our sisters and brothers, here in the city of Mérida.”

What is the primary mission of St. Luke’s?
Our primary mission as the first Episcopal Church of Mérida is that we continue to create safe and wholistic spaces of hospitality, acceptance, liberation, and life. Our mission is to build community through bonds of communion and service—communion with the Lord and each other and service to the poorest and most humble among us. This is our way of proclaiming the Good News of the Lord—Good News of inclusivity, of justice, of compassion, of life! As we worship together, we want our worship to be alive and to renew in us the sense of companionship—becoming Jesus-centered companions to each other and to all who need an open heart and a helping hand.

What are your hopes for St. Luke’s?
My hopes for Saint Luke’s are that we continue to be centered in the Lord Jesus as the anointed one from the Father, who came to preach Good News to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and liberation to all those oppressed (Luke 4:18). I sincerely hope that we continue this liberating process of moving into a Church literally obsessed with the liberation of the poor and the excluded, the suffering and the forgotten—a Church that is not afraid to become poor and walk with the poor, paying the price, if need be, of being persecuted and crucified.

UxmalIs there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Wherever you are and whoever you are, we want you to know that you are welcomed at Saint Luke’s. It is your home as well and you will find here sisters and brothers with open hearts and opens arms ready to embrace you ever so gently and ever so lovingly. When in Mérida, come and visit us. Welcome to Saint Luke’s!

Forward Today: Reflections on Frederick Douglass

Dear friends in Christ,

In fourth or fifth grade, my class learned about biographies, in particular about some of the significant figures in United States history. We had an assignment to select one of these figures, to read about that person, and to share what we learned with the class. I happened upon Frederick Douglass.

In my very white, very orderly world, I confess that I was trepidatious about someone who seemed a bit rebellious, a bit of a boat-rocker. At first, Frederick Douglass just didn’t easily fit into my rose-colored view of this country. I imagined him standing face-to-face with some distant ancestor who might not have wanted to hear what Douglass had to say.

What a gift that initially-uncomfortable work was and is even today. Frederick Douglass has stayed with me all the way on my faith journey. His story and words and life have moved my heart “to a deeper obedience to Christ” as our collect for today says.

I have come to realize more and more that deeper obedience to Christ necessarily means taking seriously our baptismal call to strive for justice and peace. I have come to see that doing so will probably make us look a bit more like rebels or boat-rockers and cause us to stand face-to-face with people who may not want to hear what the Gospel has to say. I have come to appreciate Frederick Douglass’ fierce commitment to justice and his eloquent yet uncompromising speech. I have come to realize that we—and I personally need voices like his reminding us of God’s vision for justice and compassion for all people. Let us pray for the readiness and willingness to be that voice.

Yours in Christ,

James Harlan
Rector of The Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Palm Beach, FL
Vice Chair, Forward Movement Board

Image: WikiCommons, Public Domain


Today’s Flash Sale: Lent is Not Rocket Science

The season of Lent prompts us to ask questions, big and small, about the nature of our being and about our role in the world. In these daily Lenten reflections, astronomer, physicist, and Episcopal Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely explores the intersection of faith and science, creation and the cosmos.

Regular: $5
Today: $3.75

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


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

Lenten Resources

Lent is just a few short weeks away. We’ve put together a list of resources that we believe will guide you, move you, challenge you, and ultimately transform you this Lenten season. We will be praying for you as we enter this sacred season.

Meeting JesusMeeting Jesus on the Margins
Meditations on Matthew 25

Where do you meet Jesus? In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus urges us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and visit the prisoners. And in doing so, we meet Jesus. These daily reflections for Lent, offered by well-known faith leaders, provide boots-on-the-ground stories of serving and being served by “the least of these.” The meditations also explore our own hunger, our vulnerabilities, and the times we are imprisoned, either self-imposed or by circumstance. Come and meet Jesus each day this blessed Lenten season.


Are We There YetAre We There Yet?
Pilgrimage in the Season of Lent

As we make our way through Lent, we will come to realize that the journey—the wrestling and the wandering—is the real flesh and blood of our endeavor. Our companions on this Lenten journey are fellow pilgrims, sharing their stories about following yellow arrows along the Camino and white blazes through the Appalachian Trail to bearing witness to the pain of historic lynching sites in the American South. Contributors recount their search for healing and wholeness at Marian shrines, in a reunion with birth parents, and around a prayer circle in a psychiatric hospital.


Ashes and the PhoenixAshes and the Phoenix
By Leonard Freeman

Threaded throughout with the stunningly visual and visceral poems of Len Freeman and guided by the collects for Lent and Holy Week, Ashes and the Phoenix seeks to lead us through the emotions, symbols, sights, sounds, and scents of Lent. Featuring original woodcuts by artist Jason Sierra, this book is a feast for hungry hearts and weary eyes. If you are seeking a way to answer the Church’s invitation to observe a holy Lent, Ashes and the Phoenix is an excellent companion for your journey to Easter.


Join the Journey Join the Journey through Lent
Illustrated by Jay Sidebotham

Join the Journey through Lent, illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, invites spiritual reflection and is a wonderful companion for the Lenten season. The 17″ x 22″ size is just right for hanging on the wall or keeping on a table for daily coloring. Share these with your congregation, youth group, Sunday School classes, and keep them on hand for coloring fun.
Shrink wrapped in packs of 25, posters are 17″ x 22″, folded to 8.5″ x 11″.


Saintly Scorecard 2019 Saintly Scorecard

The Saintly Scorecard is the official guide to Lent Madness, featuring the biographies of all 32 saints in contention for the coveted Golden Halo. It also includes tips on how congregations and individuals can use Lent Madness as a devotional tool, as well as a handy glossary and fold-out bracket so you can keep track of the winners.

Contributors include: Laurie Brock, Megan L. Castellan, David Sibley, Amber Belldene, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Marcus Halley, David Hansen, Emily McFarlan Miller, Carol Howard Merritt, and Adam Thomas.


2019 Lent Madness Bracket Poster

Lent Madness, inspired by college basketball tournaments, pits 32 saints against each other in a bracket, as each saint seeks to win the coveted Golden Halo. Throughout Lent, fans vote for their favorite saints at www.lentmadness.org. While you can download and print your own copy of the bracket from the website, many parishes and families like to have a poster-sized bracket to keep track of the competition. This color poster is 24″ x 36″ and ships to you folded.


Walk in LoveWalk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices
By Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe

This Lent, dig deeper into your faith with Walk in Love. Take a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests – Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe. 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.

No Longer Strangers: Exploring Immigration Issues

 

Forward Movement invites individuals and congregations to explore the difficult but important issues of migration and immigration in a new, free resource, No Longer Strangers: Exploring Immigration Issues. The downloadable booklet encourages discussion of migration and immigration through the lens of scripture and shared Christian values, presents opposing viewpoints, and invites people to talk about the issues with civility and respect. The booklet includes biblical references on hospitality, examples of migrations as they appear in the scriptures, and thought-provoking questions that can be used for both personal study and group discussion.

“So often conversations around the border, particularly in the United States, are politicized,” says the Rt. Rev. Michael Hunn, Bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande. “This resource by Forward Movement is designed to help break down those barriers and create real Christian conversation among people of faith.”

The booklet was presented at the Borderland Ministry Summit held last November in El Paso. Anglican/Episcopal leaders from both sides of the U.S. southern border gathered to discuss issues such as socioeconomic conditions in Central America, displacement, and how to provide humanitarian help to migrants.

“The summit emphasized that immigration is a complex and nuanced issue,” says Hugo Olaiz, who authored No Longer Strangers and attended the summit. “For example, I learned that some of the ICE agents deployed at the border actually help rescue sick and lost migrants who would otherwise die in the desert.”

The event was attended not only by Episcopalians from the U.S., but also by Anglican leaders from Mexico and El Salvador–including two Latino bishops. Says Hugo: “When Latinos and Anglos work together and learn from each other, ignorance and fear no longer prevail, and hope and understanding emerge.”

As Christians, we must not shy away from discussing immigration. We are called to think and talk about it in our homes, with our friends, and in our churches. Adult forums or formation classes should be places where we can address difficult issues and exchange opinions with love and respect.

No Longer Strangers was developed by Forward Movement in consultation with staff from Episcopal Migrations Ministries and the Office of Government Relations of the Episcopal Church. For a free download, visit www.ForwardMovement/NoStrangers.