Forward Today: Learning from a suitcase

Dear friends in Christ,

A few days ago, I got home from a wonderful vacation in Iceland. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful country, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

When we got home, I looked around the house and wondered about all our stuff. We have so much! Shelves full of stuff. Closets full of stuff. Stuff everywhere! But for two weeks, I was perfectly happy living out of a carry-on suitcase.

So what’s the point of all that stuff, if I don’t need it to live happily? Paring down to a suitcase is surely extreme, but it did make me think.

And then, two Sundays ago, we heard the Gospel account of Jesus sending his followers out to do mission work carrying only a staff, with instructions not to take bread, money, a bag, or an extra tunic. Again and again, Jesus warns about the perils of material goods.

It’s not that material goods are evil. Indeed, God made the world from nothing. Matter is good. But our stuff can get in the way. We can end up possessed by our stuff rather than possessing our stuff.

When I grew up in Iowa, summer was the traditional time to have what we called garage sales (or yard sales, or tag sales, or rummage sales!). At our house, we’re talking about downsizing a little. Living out of a suitcase inspired us to think about what’s important and what’s not important.

What about you? Does your stuff help you love God and love your neighbors? Or does it get in the way?

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

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Forward Today: Praying on the go and at home

Dear friends in Christ,

Daily prayer is an essential habit for every Christian. There are lots of ways to pray. We Anglican Christians are blessed with a rich tradition of daily prayer, and our prayer books offer several rich patterns of prayer.

Of course, for folks getting started, I often suggest simply saying grace at mealtime. Or maybe talking to God in your own words first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening. We can approach God with our hopes, our sorrows, our regrets, and our praise.

Forward Movement has offered a website and an app to support daily prayer for several years. I’m very excited to share news about both our app and our website.

We asked Greg Johnston, creator of the venite.app prayer tool, to help us reimagine our daily prayer app. It has all the things thousands of people have come to love about our Day by Day app for iPhone and Android. It offers today’s meditation from Forward Day by Day; morning prayer, noonday prayer, evening prayer, and compline; the quick daily devotions from the prayer book; the day’s scripture lessons; and a set of selected prayers from the Book of Common Prayer and other places.

We’ve added a few new options, and you’ll notice the look and feel is streamlined and improved. Best of all, our app is now free. We do offer you an opportunity to make a donation to support Forward Movement’s ministry, but we wanted to make daily prayer and meditation accessible to everyone.

We’re relaunching our prayer website too. It will now mirror the content and function of our app. This means you’ll get a similar experience, whether you’re using a phone, a tablet, or a desktop computer. We’ve pared away some things to make the site and the app cleaner and easier to use.

Of course, I expect we’ve missed a few bugs and made some changes folks won’t like. If you find something that seems to need attention, please let us know. There’s a “report an issue” feature right inside the app, and you can always email us at tech@forwardmovement.org.

I hope our app or website are helpful in your daily life of prayer. Please tell your neighbors and friends about these free tools to support prayer.

If you are grateful for Forward Movement’s work of providing free apps, websites, classes, and other resources to nurture daily discipleship, we’re always grateful for your support. We are able to carry out our ministry only by God’s grace, with your support of prayer and donations.

Blessings to you.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 


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Forward Day by Day app and website receive major update

Complete overhaul improves user experience and functionality

Forward Movement announces a major update to its popular Forward Day by Day smartphone app, as well as a relaunch of its Daily Prayer website, prayer.forwardmovement.org. The complete overhaul includes a new clean design with simplified navigation, as well as podcast integration and expanded customization settings for users.

Visitors to the Daily Prayer website (prayer.forwardmovement.org) will see the new design immediately, while users of the Forward Day by Day app should automatically receive the update within a few days, depending on their device and settings. The app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the app has been free to download since early 2021.

The long-awaited upgrade was completed in partnership with the Rev. Greg Johnston of Cambridge, MA, the creator of the popular Venite app, which Forward Movement began sponsoring in 2020.

“We are committed to our mission to inspire disciples and empower evangelists, wherever they are,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Forward Movement executive director. “This upgrade to our app and website will provide users with an improved user experience, including customizable features and settings, to strengthen a habit of daily prayer and scripture engagement, both known catalysts to a deepening life of faith.”

To assist visitors with bookmarked pages, the existing version of prayer.forwardmovement.org will remain intact for several weeks as users become accustomed to the new website. By late August, pages will redirect to the upgraded site.

The Forward Day by Day app and Daily Prayer website were initially launched in 2012.

Report bugs or problems to tech@forwardmovement.org. We appreciate your help refining this offering!


About Forward Movement

Inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists around the globe every day, Forward Movement has been producing innovative resources to encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations since 1935. Best known for the daily devotional Forward Day by Day, Forward Movement also produces books, smart phone apps, pamphlets, conferences, online courses, church leadership resources, and more, in English and Spanish. Visit www.forwardmovement.org or www.venadelante.org to learn more.

Forward Today: Serve God in freedom and in peace

Dear friends in Christ,

This weekend, the United States celebrates its Independence Day. For the Episcopal Church, this is a major feast day. Our prayer book permits the use of a beautiful collect for the occasion:

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I love how the collect encourages us to see all the peoples of the earth as one people. But also, we are urged to use our liberty in accordance with God’s will, not for our own wants and desires.

Certainly, I am grateful to live in the United States. Our country has much to celebrate and to be proud of. We also have plenty of challenges and sins from which we must repent. I hope as we celebrate the founding of this nation, we can also commit to a zeal for justice. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone in the country were treated with dignity and respect?

It seems to be that patriotism means both gratitude for our nation and the willingness to challenge it to be better.

What about the United States are you grateful for? And what do you think we can do better as a nation? May God grant us strength and courage to have a zeal for justice.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

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New FREE daily email: Spanish edition of Forward Day by Day
Click here to subscribe to the daily Adelante Día a Día email

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Click here to read more Forward Today messages.

New daily email featuring the Spanish edition of Forward Day by Day

Se podrá recibir Adelante día a día en español por email
Será gratuito y empezará en julio

El ministerio Forward Movement se complace en presentar Adelante día a día en español por email. La versión en inglés se viene ofreciendo gratuitamente por email desde 2020.

Los emails gratuitos corresponden a la versión impresa de Adelante día a día, con meditaciones inspirativas basadas en pasajes de la Biblia. Los pasajes corresponden a las lecturas del leccionario tal como aparecen en Leccionario Común Revisado y en el Oficio Diario del Libro de Oración Común de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Hugo Olaiz, editor asociado de recursos latinos/hispanos, declaró: “Estos emails diarios nos darán una gran oportunidad a de incorporar la oración y las escrituras en nuestra vida diaria. Los hábitos espirituales diarios son la clave para profundizar nuestra relación con Jesús, con el prójimo y con nosotros mismos. Estos emails diarios serán una fuerte de inspiración para discípulas y discípulos de todo el mundo”.

Haz clic aquí para suscribirte.

Los envíos diarios comienzan el 1° de julio.


New free daily email will be launched on July 1st

Forward Movement is happy to introduce a free daily email version of Adelante día a día, the Spanish language edition of Forward Day by Day. This new offering joins the English email edition, which was released as a free subscription in 2020.

The email content will reflect the print edition of Adelante día a día, offering inspirational meditations reflecting on a specific Bible passage, chosen from the daily lectionary readings as listed in the Revised Common Lectionary or the Daily Office from the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer.

“This new daily email offers a great opportunity for Spanish speaking disciples looking for accessible ways to incorporate prayer and scripture into their daily lives,” said Hugo Olaiz, Associate Editor for Latino/Hispanic Ministries. “We know that daily spiritual habits are crucial in deepening our relationships with Jesus, with our neighbors, and with ourselves. We hope this new daily email becomes a source of inspiration for disciples around the world.”

Click here to subscribe to the new daily email.

Email distribution begins on July 1, 2021.

Forward Today: A zeal worthy of his grace

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday’s epistle offers a compelling invitation from St. Paul. He writes, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor 6:2b).

There’s a reason this epistle is assigned to the Ash Wednesday liturgy. St. Paul is inviting us to repent, pronto. I love how John Chrysostom reads this invitation:

Let us not let the opportunity slip, but rather let us display a zeal worthy of his grace. We press on because we know that the time is both short and opportune. The acceptable time is the time of the gift, the time of grace, when it is decreed that not only will no account of our sins be demanded from us, but that we shall also enjoy abundant blessings, righteousness, sanctification and all the rest.

Sunrise over the mountains

Can you imagine? If we all had a sense of the astounding grace of Jesus Christ, we would want to bear fruit and to share the Good News with those around us.

Do you see how it works? We repent and change our lives not to earn God’s love but in thanksgiving that God loved us first. It’s a life-changing way of seeing the world.

I invite you to bask in grace. And then display a zeal worthy of that grace. Today is the best day to set a new course; to manifest the transforming love of Jesus in our hearts.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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*John Chrysostom quote taken from Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, via Logos software.


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Forward Today: Making it up as we go along

Dear friends in Christ,

Just yesterday, I had a chance to talk with a priest at a medium-sized church in the middle of the country. I was interested to hear how this church is coming out of the pandemic – what is changing and what is staying constant. The priest was asking me for examples of how similar-sized churches are adapting Christian formation to the needs of today’s church. It was a lively conversation.

This priest told me about some of the vibrant lay-lead pastoral care ministry, the beloved Bible study, and other ways lay leaders and clergy work together to make disciples. It was, for me, inspiring. At one point, I said to her, “I hope you’ll find ways to share the amazing work you’re doing with the wider church. Other congregations could learn from what you’re up to.” She said, “Well, we’re making it up as we go along.”

Making it up as we go along is actually a useful practice. Of course, our faith is eternal and constant. We don’t have to make that up! And we are blessed as Episcopalians with an ancient and comprehensive liturgical tradition that we don’t have to make up. But a lot of parish ministry benefits from a spirit of improvisation.

Interior of a church with stained glass windows

Making it up as we go along could be alternative language for, “We’re adjusting our practices to changing circumstances.” It requires the willingness to try something and fail. It requires a desire to find ways to share our ancient faith for today’s church. It makes us like St. Paul, who sought to “become all things to all people.”

Making it up as we go along doesn’t sound like much, but it is essential in today’s church. We’re emerging from a pandemic. We’re emerging from Christendom. We’re entering into a time when we can’t take anything about the church for granted.

Is your church adapting for our time? Are you discovering new practices that you could share with others? Are you running into roadblocks that others might have figured out? We’re all in this together.

I’ll be checking in with the priest I spoke with in a few months. She’s an amazing leader serving a wonderful church. I can’t wait to hear what they’ve discovered in their efforts to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Forward Today: Summer reading

Dear friends in Christ,

Summer is getting closer, at least for most readers of this email. Lots of websites and organizations offer summer reading lists. This is often a time to relax a bit more, perhaps to dig into a good book.

We at Forward Movement have plenty of books you might like to read. We have a whole catalog of suggestions, but here are just a few ideas for summer reading.

The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus. You’re probably heard a lot about the Way of Love, our Presiding Bishop’s invitation to engage in the seven spiritual practices of turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest. I wrote this little book with the assistance of seven lay people who share testimonies about how the practices of the Way of Love have shaped their lives. Bishop Curry was kind enough to write the foreword. It’s a practical guide aimed especially at people who might like to refresh their prayer lives or their efforts at evangelism or any part of our journey as followers of Jesus.

With Gladness: Answering God’s Call in Our Everyday Lives. Christopher Martin wrote this book we just published not long ago. It’s a fresh Benedictine-inspired way to answer the question, “What is God calling me to do today?” Martin believes that sometimes we get hung up on the big questions but miss opportunities to serve God in this moment. There’s also a video course based on the book. You’ll love Christopher, whether you read his book or enjoy his teaching on video.

Gifts of God for the People of God: Exploring Worship in the Episcopal Church by Furman Buchanan explores worship, especially the Eucharist. After a time when many of us were not able to share Holy Communion together, what better time to re-engage our experience of Eucharist. 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.

There are plenty of other books on our website. And of course, lots of other publishers have great books, too! Whatever you read, I hope you’ll make good use of a slower time of year to learn and to grow as a follower of Jesus.

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: Can we understand the Trinity? Does it matter?

Dear friends in Christ,

I love Trinity Sunday, but I often despair at going to church on this glorious feast day. You might ask, what’s not to love? We get to sing some fantastic hymns! We get one last dose of white vestments before the long, green season coming along. We get to offer our praise of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And therein lies the rub. Too many preachers decide this is the day to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity in eight minutes or less. It usually doesn’t go well, especially if the preacher decides to use metaphors for the Holy Trinity. This hilarious video explains the problem nicely.

Today is a day to bask in the glory of God. To use this day to delve into theological teaching would be a bit like going to your wedding and then offering a scientific explanation of what might be happening in our brains when we experience love. You see? It’s not a bad activity, but it’s the wrong activity for a moment that should be a celebration.

Can we understand the Holy Trinity? At a basic level, yes. The creeds do a pretty good job of summarizing things. Basic theological teaching, or a study of scripture can unpack how God is revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s also not the most complicated. I mean, plenty of people enjoy watching a good cricket match without understanding all the rules! Or, to use a scriptural example, we don’t have to understand where the wind comes from to know that we need to pay attention to the weather forecast (John 3).

On Trinity Sunday, I hope we can simply enjoy the glory and majesty of God. Rather than get out our flowcharts, we do well to belt out the hymns.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

P.S. If you can’t sing because of the pandemic, find some good renditions of the hymns on YouTube and have a bit of Hymnal 1982 karaoke at home!

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Image: Wikimedia


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: Making room for the Holy Spirit

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday is the Day of Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit.

My experience of this feast day is that it’s often accompanied by gimmicks. People make cakes and sing happy birthday to the church. The red balloons come out. And so on.

Now I have no objection to any excuse to enjoy a good cake. And if balloons liven up your worship, you’ll get no complaint from me!

Still, I wonder if we are doing these things to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit or precisely because the Holy Spirit makes us a bit uncomfortable. As one who has a habit of making jokes in awkward situations, I know what it’s like to try to distract away from serious topics.

If we read the Book of Acts, we’ll see that the Holy Spirit led the church into all sorts of amazing new ministries and opportunities. The Gospel was spread in places that would have been inconceivable without the Spirit’s leading. The Spirit is not something that made folks smile so much as the force that compelled people into terrifying but fruitful directions.

In the days leading up to Pentecost, I encourage you to sit down and read the whole Book of Acts. It won’t take too long. It’s filled with amazing stories about what happens when the church lets the Spirit lead.

I wonder what would happen if we let the Holy Spirit lead us as a church? What if we used the Day of Pentecost as an opportunity to open ourselves up to what God wants, not what we might personally prefer? What are the places in our world that need Gospel witness, and how might the Spirit lead us there?

Let us pray that the fire of the Spirit animates our hearts to take us where we could not go on our own.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Image: Ted, Pentecost Icon, Flickr


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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