Women & Angels of the Bible: Hagar and the Angels in the Desert

Forward Movement Managing Editor Richelle Thompson recently chatted with Lindsay Hardin Freeman, author of the popular book Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter, and Kate Moorehead, author of the newly released Angels of the Bible: Finding Grace, Beauty, and Meaning. This discussion focused on women and angels in the Bible, specifically, Hagar’s encounters with angels.


“I also find it very interesting the part about where the angel says to Hagar, ‘Do not be afraid.’ That is such a common thing with angels all the way through the Bible. Do not be afraid. We just went through that at Christmas time with Mary and Gabriel and Gabriel talking to Joseph. And do not be afraid with the shepherds. And now suddenly we hear Hagar and Ishmael being told the same thing.”

“It has a resurrection message in a way, because the angel says, ‘Rise up. Rise up.’ And she’s made a different person. And again, another kind of person.”

Read the full interview here.

You can also listen to this conversation in a special episode of the Forward Day by Day podcast, released on March 26, 2020. 

 

Image: Chasse of Champagnat, The Four Living Creatures, ca. 1150, French, Copper: engraved and gilt; Champlevé enamel (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Making e-books available in a time of need

We’ve reduced the price of Kindle e-books!

As we all try to adjust to physical distancing and increased isolation due to the new coronavirus, it is quite natural to yearn for connection and for growth, even in these trying times. Some of us are trying to figure out how we might use this time for our benefit.

We at Forward Movement urge you to reach out to friends, family, and your church for connection. We hope you will find the support you need, and that you will offer support to others as you are able.

Since 1935, Forward Movement has been inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists. As we have wrestled with how to do that in this moment – and how to support you through this crisis – we have come up with several ideas. Already, we have offered several free resources for individuals and congregations.

Now we have decided to lower the price of many of our Kindle e-books.

Best-sellers such as Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & PracticesThe Path: A Journey Through the Bible, Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter, and Note to Self: Creating Your Guide to a More Spiritual Life are now just $7.99.

In fact, all of our Kindle titles are now available for $7.99 or less.

The nice thing about e-books is that you can buy them with a couple of clicks and start reading immediately, with no need to leave your home. If you haven’t tried Kindle books yet, you can read them on your computer, on any smartphone or tablet with the Kindle app (Google Play or App Store), or on a Kindle device.

We hope these books encourage you to grow in faith. Perhaps you and a friend, or even a group from your church, will buy books and form an online book group.

Throughout this crisis, however long it lasts, Forward Movement will be here for you. You can find us online at www.forwardmovement.org. You can call us at 800-543-1813 and speak with our friendly staff, who are still working to serve you and the whole church. We are working at home now, so it might a bit longer to respond, but we will be there for you.

Forward Today: Pour your grace into our hearts

Dear friends in Christ,

Today the church celebrates the feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We recall Gabriel’s announcement and Mary’s acceptance, that God-among-us would be born to dwell with us. As I looked at the Gospel lesson to prepare writing this email, I had a bit of a jarring disconnect. “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth…” I’m so used to hearing those words in happy time, at Christmastide or just before.

Hearing joyous words at this moment seemed incongruous, almost inappropriate. And then I realized my foolishness. 2,000 years ago, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and she courageously accepted the news, the world was not a piece of cake. Mary’s life was about to be upended. Her travail far exceeds my feeble struggles in every way.

This is precisely the shock and the scandal of the Incarnation. Into our fallen, sometimes awful, world, God comes among us. The word incarnation means something like enfleshment. God Almighty, who created the heavens and earth and who can do all things, willingly came to live among us, accepting the limitations of our frail flesh. Our God is not remote and uncaring. Our Creator loves us so much that God is willing to live in solidarity among us.

This present time in which many of us are living in enforced separation might seem to prevent connection and intimacy. In some ways, that is true. But it is also true that we are never distant from God. And thanks to telephones, computers, and other devices, we can stay connected to other people across great distance. So we have one another, and we always have God.

Are you lonely? Reach out to another person. Cast your cares on God in prayer. Know that your pain is real, and it is shared by God. And other people will share it with you too.

Do you know someone who might be yearning for connection? Reach out to them. Send an email. Make a call. Invite them into prayer. You might like to start by praying the collect appointed for today:

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

I can’t imagine Mary woke up that morning 2,000 years ago with any inkling of what was in store for her. In an astounding act of courage, she accepted her vocation with grace and dignity.

None of us could have imagined the challenges today will bring. I hope we can allow God’s grace to pour into our hearts, and through us, into the world.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo: Wikipedia


Prayer & Worship in Our Homes

ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement has release a set of free courses, Prayer & Worship in Our Homes, which includes the following classes.

  • Everyday Spiritual Practices with Keith Anderson
  • How to Pray with Christopher Martin
  • Praying with Saints with Scott Gunn and Tim Schenck
  • How to Pray Online with Karekin Yarian
  • Praying the Anglican Rosary with Suzanne Edwards-Acton

 


Tune in!

Hear today’s Forward Day by Day reflection or find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast. Available anywhere you listen to podcasts!


Inspirational Reading of the Week

 


Free Forward Movement Resources

As we face a coronavirus pandemic and are spending more time in our homes, Forward Movement is offering an array of free resources to support individuals, families, and groups as they worship and pray at home.

We will continue to add to this list in the new few weeks, so please check back soon!


Online ChurchNext Courses

ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement has release a set of free courses, Prayer and Worship in Our Homes, which includes the following classes.

  • Everyday Spiritual Practices with Keith Anderson
  • How to Pray with Christopher Martin
  • Praying with Saints with Scott Gunn and Tim Schenck
  • How to Pray Online with Karekin Yarian
  • Praying the Anglican Rosary with Suzanne Edwards-Acton

 

In addition to this new offering, there are two other courses currently available free of charge through ChurchNext.tv.

 


Daily Prayer and Devotion

You can find the daily office (morning prayer, noonday prayer, evening prayer, or compline) at the Forward Movement Daily Prayer website. You can choose a variety of options to customize the prayers according to your preference.

The popular daily devotion Forward Day by Day is posted each day online, and it too is available as a podcast.

We also offer prayers for “spiritual communion” here.

Holy Hour is excerpted from Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book, and this devotion developed from the custom of keeping vigil in a chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved during the time between the Maundy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Good Friday Liturgy. These reflections can be used to guide your prayer as part of a watch during those profound and holy hours

Faith @ Home, developed in partnership with Forma, is now offered daily.


Podcasts

We currently offer several podcasts, including:

 

Available anywhere you listen to podcasts!


And More!

Whether you are coloring alone or with children or parents, here are a few sample coloring pages from Pathways of Faith to get you started.

And of course, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on new resources.

Forward Today: Wearied by changes and chances?

Dear friends in Christ,

It seems that each new day brings unsettling news. Around the world, life is changing more rapidly than we can imagine as we face threats posed by the new coronavirus. I don’t know about you, but for the last week or so, each day seems like it passes quickly while yesterday seems like an eternity ago. It’s hard to keep up—practically, emotionally, and spiritually.

My friends who are parents of young children are frazzled at the idea of an indefinite time of home schooling. Friends who have health challenges are understandably worried about the spread of COVID-19. Many of us are trying to sort out what it might mean to be stuck at home and wondering if we’ll have enough to get by. As I talk with church leaders across the country, they are trying to figure out what church looks like at a time when we cannot safely gather.

For what it’s worth, my advice for everyone is this: be gentle with yourself.

We need to pace ourselves, because this crisis is probably going to be with us for several months, in one form or another. We don’t have to do everything today. We don’t have to pretend we have any idea what tomorrow will bring. We don’t have to act as if we’re not exhausted from yesterday. We don’t have to know all the answers. We don’t have to get it right.

It’s OK to ask for help: help from our family, friends, neighbors, and most especially from God. Social distancing does not prevent us from talking with one another. Staying at home does not preclude friendships, even if it means we need to be on the phone or talking via video on our computers.

Try to rest, if you can. It’s going to be a long haul. If you know someone else who is struggling and you have the capacity, offer to help. Pray for others. Perhaps you can offer a word of reassurance and encouragement.

We’re all doing our best. And our best isn’t perfect. Forgive yourself when you get it wrong, and forgive others too.

As we persevere through this challenging time together, I encourage you to say this prayer before you sleep each night. It’s just what I need to pray, and you might find it helpful, too.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, page 133)

Blessings, friends.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

Image: Pixabay


Free Online Classes
Brought to you by ChurchNext

“ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement, has released a set of free courses, Prayer and Worship in Our Homes” said the Rev. Chris Yaw, director of ChurchNext. “These courses will equip people for prayer and worship even if they cannot gather with others in person in their churches.”

Prayer and Worship in Our Homes includes five classes:

  • Everyday Spiritual Practices with Keith Anderson
  • How to Pray with Christopher Martin
  • Praying with Saints with Scott Gunn and Tim Schenck
  • How to Pray Online with Karekin Yarian
  • Praying the Anglican Rosary with Suzanne Edwards-Acton

 

In addition to this new offering, there are two other courses currently available free of charge through ChurchNext.tv.

Forward Movement is Here to Support You

Dear friends in Christ,

We are all moving through unknown territory as COVID-19 spreads across the globe. I want you to know that Forward Movement is here for you. Our mission to inspire disciples and empower evangelists does not change now. We know that following Jesus is as important as ever, and our world needs to hear the proclamation of the Good News of God in Jesus Christ.

Resources to Support You

In the last few days, we have released several resources to support you in this time.

 

Today we are announcing a new, free daily faith-at-home resource through Faith @ Home, a collaboration between Forward Movement and Forma. Each day offers a set of activities–watch, listen, read, do–for families, based on the lectionary. You can see today’s edition here, and you can sign up at the website for free.

We are working on additional offerings for individuals, families, and congregations. Our existing catalog of resources is still available, of course. You can find ChurchNext online classes, and our full array of books, booklets, pamphlets, and courses is on the Forward Movement website. If you’re looking for joyful Christian community, Lent Madness is in full swing, and you can join the fun any time.

You might want to follow Forward Movement on social media. We’ll be posting inspiring content and news there regularly. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Changes at Forward Movement

Starting tomorrow, our entire staff will be switching to a work-at-home plan. Each day, a couple of our team members, on rotation, will be in the office (maintaining careful social distancing!) to open the mail and answer the phones, but most of us will be at home. We do not anticipate this will lead to significant disruption in our customer service, but if something takes longer than usual, please be patient with us during this situation. We want to serve you while also protecting our staff and communities. As the situation evolves, we will let you know if there are changes that impact our work and customer service.

Prayer

Daily prayer has been part of the daily fabric of Forward Movement’s mission since 1935, and that’s true now more than ever. Our daily staff prayer time is switching to video conference for the duration of this crisis, and we will pray for you every day. Please do keep us in your prayers.

I invite you to join me in praying this poignant collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of grievous sickness, we flee unto thee for succor. Deliver us, we beseech thee, from our peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the sick; prosper the means made use of for their cure; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we may apply our hearts unto that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us all remember how the scriptures assure us of God’s abiding presence. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46). Blessings to you all.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


We are here for you!

Web: www.forwardmovement.org
Phone: 800-543-1813
Email: orders@forwardmovement.org

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Prayers for “spiritual communion” available from Forward Movement

Long-standing practice in the Episcopal Church has offered a means for people to receive Holy Communion spiritually when it cannot be received physically. For example, in the Ministration with the Sick service in the Book of Common Prayer, the following rubric is given:

If a person desires to receive the Sacrament, but, by reason of extreme  sickness or physical disability, is unable to eat and drink the Bread and  Wine, the Celebrant is to assure that person that all the benefits of Communion are received, even though the Sacrament is not received with the mouth. (BCP, p, 457)

In these challenging times, many people may find themselves unable to receive Holy Communion physically due to illness or suspended worship gatherings. Forward Movement is pleased to offer a venerable resource from the Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book (Forward Movement, 2014) for use.

You may download a PDF of the Spiritual Communion prayers.

Forward Movement gives permission for these texts to be reproduced for noncommercial use within local worshiping communities. For other use, please contact us for copyright permissions.

These prayers are primarily intended for private, devotional use. However, it may be that some communities will find it helpful to use them in group settings. If you are using these for worship in the Episcopal Church, please ensure that you are attentive to rubrics and canons, and consult with your bishop if in doubt.

As the coronavirus situation unfolds, Forward Movement will continue to provide resources to support individuals, groups, and congregations. We have already offered a ChurchNext course, Prayer and Worship in Our Homes for free. Details on that course and other resources, such as podcasts and texts of the daily office, are available in an announcement.

Forward Movement is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that inspires disciples and empowers evangelists. With offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, Forward Movement has been serving the Episcopal Church since 1935 by producing resources such as Forward Day by Day, books, apps, pamphlets, conferences, courses, and more. Visit www.forwardmovement.org to learn more.

 

Forward Movement offers resources for prayer and worship at home

As we face a coronavirus pandemic, some churches are canceling worship services and other gatherings to slow the spread of disease. This means that many Christians will find themselves praying and worship at home instead of going to church.

Forward Movement is offering an array of free resources to support individuals, families, and groups as they worship and pray at home.

“Especially in this time, we must turn to Jesus Christ our Lord as we face fear and uncertainty,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement. “Though we may not be able gather in person with others in our churches, we can pray knowing that we are never alone, as Jesus has promised to be with us, even to the end of age.”

Resources for morning prayer and daily devotion are still available, as they have been. Links for texts, apps, and podcasts can be found below.

“ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement, has released a set of free courses, Prayer and Worship in Our Homes,” said the Rev. Chris Yaw, director of ChurchNext. “These courses will equip people for prayer and worship even if they cannot gather with others in person in their churches.”

Prayer and Worship in Our Homes includes five classes:

  • Everyday Spiritual Practices with Keith Anderson
  • How to Pray with Christopher Martin
  • Praying with Saints with Scott Gunn and Tim Schenck
  • How to Pray Online with Karekin Yarian
  • Praying the Anglican Rosary with Suzanne Edwards-Acton

 

This is a free offering, and people can sign up at ChurchNext.tv. The course can be taken by individuals at a time of their own choosing, or a church group could take the class together  in a zoom-style online classroom. In that case, the leader guides the students through the classes, opens with prayer, watches the videos together, and then offers opportunities for discussion using the course discussion questions.

In addition to this new offering, there are two other courses currently available free of charge through ChurchNext.tv. Bridging the Political Divide by Parker Palmer will help you learn how to walk through our divisive political climate with grace and peace. Author and activist Parker J. Palmer shares inspirational and practical knowledge on how we might approach deep political division. A recent offering, Make Me an Instrument: A Guide to Civil Discourse, continues to be free for individuals or for groups.

Beyond ChurchNext online courses, Forward Movement has made morning prayer available in ways that support individual or family prayer. You can find the daily office (morning prayer, noonday prayer, evening prayer, or compline) at the Forward Movement Daily Prayer website. You can choose a variety of options to customize the prayers according to your preference. There is also a daily podcast, A Morning at the Office, with various people leading the prayers and reading the scripture lessons for the day.

The popular daily devotion Forward Day by Day is posted each day online, and it too is available as a podcast.

Both Forward Day by Day and the daily office are also included in Forward Movement’s app for Apple or Android for a one-time charge of $6.99.

Gunn said, “We are continuing to collect resources to offer for this unique time in our civic and church life. Stay tuned for more offerings.” Forward Movement’s customer service team is available by phone or email during normal business hours if you have questions about how we can support you and your church community.

Forward Movement is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that inspires disciples and empowers evangelists. With offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, Forward Movement has been serving the Episcopal Church since 1935 by producing resources such as Forward Day by Day, books, apps, pamphlets, conferences, courses, and more. Visit www.forwardmovement.org to learn more.

Forward Today: Praying together

Dear friends in Christ,

Our world seems to get more chaotic by the day. The news has been full of developments concerning the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). What are we to do as people of faith?

Of course, we can take care of ourselves and our communities following the guidance of medical professionals and government leaders. That goes without saying. But beyond that, we can pray. We can pray for wisdom, knowledge, strength, courage, and comfort. We can pray for ourselves, the sick, medical providers, government leaders, and others. We can pray.

Some churches are now under orders to avoid in-person gatherings of any kind. It is possible the ban on public gatherings will widen. Even if we cannot gather with our church community, we can pray with our church. We can pray together online. We can pray at the same time. We can pray knowing that somewhere in the world, others are saying the same prayers we are. We can pray knowing that we are always joined in prayer with the company of heaven. When we pray, we are never alone.

Forward Movement has several free resources to help you pray. You might like to pray the daily office—morning prayer, noonday prayer,  evening prayer, or compline—which you can find on our Daily Prayer website. All you need to do is visit the site, and your computer or phone will serve up the correct prayers and readings for your time of day. If you’re in a hurry, you can try the daily devotions for individuals and families, which only take a few seconds to pray. They’re online also.

Of course, you can also find these prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. Morning Prayer starts at page 37, and the daily devotions for individuals and families begin at page 136.

Perhaps you’d like to listen to the prayers. We offer a daily podcast of morning prayer—A Morning at the Office, which you can find on your favorite podcast platforms. You can also just point your browser to the podcast’s page and listen from there.

By the way, Forward Day by Day is also available as a podcast, and we post the reflection every day on our website.

We hope these free resources will be helpful in this difficult time and always. For now, I invite you to join me in prayer.

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

 

 

Image: Pixabay


This Week’s Sale: Gifts of God for the People of God

Worship can be a powerful way to encounter the living God. Our stories intersect with God’s story as the gifts of God are celebrated and shared by the people of God. Episcopal priest Furman L. Buchanan explores and reflects on each element of Holy Eucharist, the service most often held on Sunday mornings. Moving from the first spoken word of the service—blessed—to the last phrase—Thanks be to God—Buchanan explains the theological and scriptural elements of the service, helping newcomers and longtime members alike gain a deeper understanding of this gift of God.

Buchanan also shares his own stories, connecting pivotal life experiences with the words and actions of Holy Eucharist. Thoughtful questions at the end of each chapter invite readers to reflect on their own stories and how they connect with God’s story of love and life.

Regular: $15
This Week: $11.25

*Discount is valid until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. EST

March Staff Picks

Our March Staff Picks include two books and a podcast! The books are 10% off today only (March 10th, est) and the Forward Day by Day podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts!


Forward Through the Years
Forward Through the Years resonates with me right now. March is my birth month, and I wanted to see what the Spirit was saying in Forward Day by Day in different years in March. I connected with many of the meditations from March verses April and May. I wonder what you think of your birth month’s reflections throughout the years.”

The Forward Day by Day Podcast
“As someone always on the move, podcasts are my preferred format. The Forward Day by Day podcast is a great way to start my mornings, whether I plug my headphones in on an early morning walk or as I curl up with a cup of coffee.”

The Social Justice Bible ChallengeThe Social Justice Bible Challenge
“An important and powerful read, which will call you not only to prayer, but hopefully to action, as well.”