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

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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.