Forward Today: The church in our time

Dear friends in Christ,

What is the church? There are a lot of answers to this question. A building. An institutional structure. A gathered group of Christians. Over the years and centuries, the church in all its forms has looked different in varied times and places.

During this time of pandemic, the church looks different. I take comfort in knowing that the church has always been on a bit of a journey. So it need not shock us that things look different now.

Of course, this doesn’t take away our grief at missing things that we cannot now have. I dearly miss receiving Holy Communion. And I yearn for the day when I can belt out a hymn with a full congregation. Still, we know that Jesus Christ is present in the church, even when the church looks different from what we are used to or what we prefer. Thanks be to God.

I’ve been thinking about all this. How can we carry on the essential aspects of church life even when we can’t gather—or when we can only gather in very limited ways?

Worship is surely a more satisfying experience in a full church, but we can worship in our homes. We can tune into a webcast, but we can also just grab our prayer book and offer our prayers and praises individually or with others in our household.

We can offer our daily prayers and we can read scripture on our own, or with an online group. We can support mission outreach and social justice work with our financial gifts or in other ways, even if we can’t get together with our usual team at church.

In other words, the church can thrive now. Many congregations have discovered this, and they have adapted to our present reality. It’s possible that we won’t ever go back to the way things were in 2019. Maybe online daily prayers are here to stay. Maybe online bible studies are going to stick around. Time will tell.

But we also have to be mindful of all the ways we are leaving people out. Are we supporting people in worship who do not have internet access? Are we using online tools to support worship and learning in life-giving ways? We at Forward Movement have been looking for gaps—places where local churches might need help. We think we found one, and we have an answer.

A new offering called “This is NOT Sunday School” will launch in mid-September. Hosted by ChurchNext and taught by our friends at Forma, this is a new online, weekly, free, and intergenerational way to learn together. Your family—whatever your ages—can gather and learn some of the great stories of the Bible together. Learn more and sign up at the ChurchNext website.

This is one example of a creative solution to how we need to grow into this new time. I wonder what other needs you see? Are there ways in which the church can thrive in ways it has never grown?

We’re watching, listening, and praying here at Forward Movement. We want to inspire disciples and empower evangelists now as ever.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Photo: Christ Church Charlotte


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…

Lifting Every Voice | Earth & Altar

Saint Bartholomew and Brokenness | Grow Christians

The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus | Forward Movement

Make Me an Instrument of Peace: A Guide to Civil Discourse | ChurchNext

This is NOT Sunday School

Brought to you by ChurchNext and Forma.

Even if we can’t physically worship and learn together, we can still draw closer to Jesus Christ.

That’s the aim of a new learning experience called “This is NOT Sunday School.” This free, weekly online resource is intergenerational, making it a perfect tool for families and people of all ages.

“Being away from church doesn’t mean we can’t continue learning about God at home,” said Melissa Rau ECF’s Staff Liaison to Forma and co-organizer of This is NOT Sunday School, “This is a dynamic opportunity for families to grow together in faith, especially around this terrific, weekly offering.”

This is NOT Sunday School is coming from the Faith@Home team, which is a collaboration between Forma and Forward Movement to offer free Christian learning resources.

Free sessions of This is NOT Sunday School will launch weekly starting September 16, and you can sign up on the ChurchNext website today. Each week’s session features video teaching by a professional from the Christian formation network, Forma, as well as downloadable lessons and readings.

Sessions use Forward Movement’s Exploring the Bible curriculum, which includes many of the most famous stories in the Bible. It’s part of Forward Movement’s free Living Discipleship series for all children, youth, and adults, available in English and Spanish.

The sessions are hosted through the online learning platform of ChurchNext, a leader in offering online Christian formation. “We’re excited to develop and share this much-needed resource,” said Chris Yaw, founder of ChurchNext. “Families can pick the time and space that works for them to come together, learn about the Bible and one another, and draw closer to Jesus Christ.”

This is NOT Sunday School can be used at home by families or online with groups from congregations. Each session takes about one hour to complete and can be completed at a time convenient for individuals or groups. Some of the teachers for This is NOT Sunday School include Victoria Hoppes, Roger Hutchison, and Miriam McKenney.

You can learn more and sign up at ChurchNext.tv.

ChurchNext offers online Christian learning for individuals and groups, and is a ministry of Forward Movement. Forma is the network for Christian formation, a ministry of Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF). Faith@Home offers free Christian learning and discipleship resources and is a collaboration between Forward Movement and ECF.

Forward Today: Church growth…now?

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve had a couple of conversations lately about church growth during this time of pandemic. At first, it seems counter-intuitive. How can we be growing when many of us can’t even gather in person for worship and learning?

Of course, there are many kinds of growth in the church. There’s spiritual growth, in which current members grow deeper in their faith. We think about that a lot in our RenewalWorks ministry. Then there is numerical growth, when we see our churches growing to include more people. I believe the church needs both kinds of growth—depth and number.

During the crises we now face—pandemic, growing awareness of racial injustice, politics—the church will rightly begin with a compassionate response to those in need. We can’t neglect our care of those who are affected by illness or the economic downturn or other forms of crisis. But we also should not lose sight of growth. After all, Jesus told us our main task is to make disciples.

I encourage you to think about what growth might look like in your own congregation. Can you use traditional methods or find new ways to encourage spiritual growth? Hold classes online. Send out materials to empower people to start new prayer practices. Encourage Bible study. These can be done well in person or online.

And then there’s numerical growth. I’m heartened by several recent stories I’ve heard about churches that are gaining new members even now. Everything that is happening in the world is pushing people to search for meaning and hope, so it’s not surprising people would be looking for churches. Are you ready to welcome them? Are you ready to invite people to join you?

I saw a Facebook post from one church holding a newcomers class online—and there were a LOT of squares on the Zoom screen. We can grow, even now.

I’ve started a video interview series in which I talk with people about discipleship and church growth. Perhaps one of these conversations will inspire you to think about discipleship and church growth at your church, even during a pandemic.

  • I spoke with the Rev. Kate Wesch from West Seattle about her congregation’s remarkable numerical and spiritual growth, mostly through Bible study and learning about our faith.
  • The Rev. Nurya Love Parish and I talked about her small church that has grown by embracing their core purpose and by focusing on discipleship.
  • Early in the pandemic, I talked with the Rev. Jason Prati about how his church was responding to the pandemic and still growing. It was back in April, which seems an eternity ago, but there are still lessons to learn.
  • Just recently, I had a chance to talk about innovation, success, failure, and growth with the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija. Sometimes we have to fail in order to learn, and that’s OK!

 

Let us all keep our eye on growth. There are people all around us who need to hear a word of hope, mercy, grace, and love. In the name of Jesus Christ, tell them some Good News.

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…

Peace, Be Still | Grow Christians

Guide us in the Way of Justice and Truth | Earth & Altar

The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus | Forward Movement

Make Me an Instrument of Peace: A Guide to Civil Discourse | ChurchNext

 

Forward Today: A practical guide to following Jesus

Dear friends in Christ,

In late 2017, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church invited a few of us to Atlanta to think creatively about our church and how we might focus our work. Our small group quickly settled on the idea that discipleship—the daily work of those who are committed to following Jesus—was key. And we settled on some spiritual practices. By the time General Convention rolled around in 2018, the Presiding Bishop and his staff had taken our suggestions and crafted the Way of Love as an invitation to seven spiritual practices: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, rest.

There are lots of resources now—including several from Forward Movement. There are podcasts and books and courses and more. The question I kept hearing from Episcopalians across the church is, “This sounds great. How do I get started?”

That question echoes my experience as a parish priest. Churches are filled with people of all levels of spiritual maturity and commitment. This diversity is one of the wonderful facets of parish ministry. The person who spends an hour a day in prayer works alongside the person who hardly prays. Each can inspire the other at times.

What I noticed in my ministry is that there are a lot of people who want to be committed followers of Jesus, but they’re not quite sure what that might look like in their own lives. “I would love to pray every day, but I’m not sure how.” “I’ve always wanted to read the Bible, but it’s too scary to start.” And so on.

Thinking of all those people—and remembering my own journey as a disciple—I wrote a small book with very practical guidance on how to get started. Or if you’re already started in the work of discipleship, it might provide some fresh ways to renew your practices. This is not a book for spiritual ‘experts’. It’s a book for regular people who aren’t quite sure how to translate the lofty ideals of following Jesus into their own lives.

This Friday is the official publication date for The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus. I’ve written a short chapter on each of the seven Way of Love practices, and each practice also includes a personal testimony from a lay person who has lived out these practices. There are reflection questions, biblical passages for study, and a list of resources for further exploration. You can find reviewers’ comments on our website.

I hope you’ll buy this book if you’re not sure where to start following Jesus. And if you’re well on your way in following Jesus, perhaps you’ll get a copy or two for friends.

The book is available for a special pre-order price of just $12 now, and the Kindle ebook is also available for pre-order on Amazon. If you want to buy the book for your book group, it’s just $10 when you buy five or more.

Next week, I’ll get back to reflecting on life in the church and in the world. Thank you for indulging an excited author this week.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.


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…

Finding Black Episcopal Spaces | Earth & Altar

Living Discipleship, an all-ages curriculum series | Forward Movement

Seeing the Glory of the Lord off the Mountain | Grow Christians

Check out our new digital catalog | Forward Movement

 

Forward Today: Why did you doubt?

Dear friends in Christ,

It’s funny what sticks in our memory and what doesn’t. As a preacher, I sometimes wonder what anyone will remember an hour after I finish the sermon. For my part, there are a few sermons I remember years later (and some I forget seconds later). Today I’m thinking of one sermon that’s stuck with me. I heard it as a child in elementary school.

The preacher was speaking about the Gospel passage we hear this Sunday—Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). The relevant part is brief:

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

In the sermon I remember, the preacher assumed Jesus was angry or disappointed. And the preacher said Peter blew it by not trusting Jesus and keeping faith.

That stuck with me, and, for a while, I agreed with that reading. Now I think it is 180 degrees wrong.

Have you ever walked on water? I haven’t! I cannot imagine having the faith that would make this possible! The point is not that Peter failed to keep walking on the water, but rather that Peter managed even a few steps. What is the relationship between Peter and Jesus in this moment? We often don’t have emotional adjectives in the Bible, so we have to be careful what we project onto the speakers.

It seems to me that Jesus was offering compassion. After all, he reached out his hand for Peter. His question may have been asked in pity or in sorrow or in wonder.

Reading the passage as I suggest, it teaches us that we should not beat ourselves up when we fail to keep faith. Rather, we should rejoice for those faithful moments in our lives. And we should know that our Lord Jesus reaches out to catch us when we fail. Jesus offered grace to Peter again and again. Of all the people Jesus could have chosen to lead the church, he chose impetuous Peter, though Peter was often loudly and completely wrong.

Jesus chooses us, too. When we lose our faith, we need only to cry out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” And Jesus will catch us.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Image: Lorenzo Veneziano, Public domain


A Covid-19 Spiritual Survival Kit

Isolated, anxious, and unsure of what will happen next, our response to the virus has already taken months, and we don’t know when it will end. What can we do to take care of ourselves and others during this difficult time? How can we rely on God to help us survive—spiritually, physically, and emotionally—and to do God’s work in the world? In this course, four instructors offer suggestions to help us manage this period of anxiety and social isolation. This course is being offered for free.


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…

Share it Forward Packs are now available! | Forward Movement

The Stone Will Be Rolled Away | Grow Christians

All Loving God, It is Night | Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices

Check out our new digital catalog | Forward Movement


Forward Today: Cleanse and defend your church

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday’s collect seems particularly appropriate for this moment in our common life.

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In this time of pandemic, when we worry about our health, surely we want to pray that our churches might continue in safety. And praying that our church might be cleansed is especially fitting when disinfectants are selling like never before.

But of course, the collect isn’t really about the church in a time of pandemic.

Those of us who live in the United States are blessed to dwell in a land where we Christians are not persecuted for our religion. While some nations may need to pray for the church to be defended from persecution and other terrors, the threats to the church are different here. Our chief danger is complacency. We might enjoy the comforts of life and the privileges of the church so much that we fail to be convicted and transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Another collect asks God to help us make no peace with oppression. Our church must be cleansed from its timidity in the face of injustice, from its enjoyment of wealth and privilege, and from its failure to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ.

The church has truly known the goodness of the Lord, but it is also true that we have sometimes fallen short of our high calling. Let us treasure all that is good, while praying for defense from all that draws us away from Jesus. Let us seek an awareness of God’s continual mercy in our church and in our lives.

While our churches are fully or partially dispersed, I hope we will take the time to pray and to take stock of how well we have allowed Almighty God to govern our church with goodness. This uprooted time prevents us from our business as usual and invites reflection and redirection. How can we grow as disciples during this pandemic? How can we meet the increasing needs of our world, caused by disease and economic crisis?

So, yes, by all means, pray that the church be cleansed and defended from a deadly virus. And beyond that, let us all pray fervently that our church is cleansed and defended from all that holds us back from our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ, living transformed lives to change the world by God’s grace.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.

Image: Larry Lamb, Flickr


A Covid-19 Spiritual Survival Kit

Isolated, anxious, and unsure of what will happen next, our response to the virus has already taken months, and we don’t know when it will end. What can we do to take care of ourselves and others during this difficult time? How can we rely on God to help us survive—spiritually, physically, and emotionally—and to do God’s work in the world? In this course, four instructors offer suggestions to help us manage this period of anxiety and social isolation. This course is being offered for free.


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…

Share it Forward Packs are now available! | Forward Movement

Masks as a Sign of Love | Grow Christians

Whatever you do now will prepare you for what you can do in the future
Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices

Check out our new digital catalog | Forward Movement

Forward Today: Let the whole world see

Dear friends in Christ,

In the last few days, I celebrated my ninth anniversary of serving at Forward Movement. These occasions are natural times to reflect on time that has passed. I’m proud of what Forward Movement has done, and I’m grateful for all the leaders who served before me to lay a solid foundation. Everything we do though is only possible because of the remarkable staff. I am profoundly grateful for gifted and passionate colleagues in ministry.

Lately I’ve been thinking about our beloved Episcopal Church. In the last nine years, I’ve spent much of my time travelling across the church visiting congregations, dioceses, and various gatherings. I thought on this occasion I might share some thoughts based on what I’ve seen and heard.

  • There are thriving, growing congregations of all kinds. Rural and urban, liberal and conservative, large and small. Those congregations have in common effective leadership and a congregation-wide deep commitment to following Jesus. It’s not complicated to grow a church. It takes intention and focus.
  • The overall statistical trends of slow, steady decline are true. As a friend of mine says, “the church isn’t dying; we’re killing it.” In almost every case I’ve seen, congregations that aren’t numerically growing are beset by either conflict or complacency (or both). Complacency is deadly, and it is antithetical to the Gospel. We too easily take for granted our churches and even our faith.
  • We need a new slogan. “The Episcopal Church welcomes you” sets up a dynamic of a club to which new members of many kinds will be admitted, rather than a mission-focused, outward-facing movement in which we seek to make disciples of all nations. It isn’t enough to be nice to people who show up in our churches. We need to get out there and invite people to know the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. We need an active, urgent slogan—because we need urgently to be active in the world.
  • Related to the previous point. We’re also not very welcoming in terms of race and class. The Episcopal Church skews wealthier than the broader population. And we are, especially in the United States, markedly less diverse than the racial demographics of our society. We have some soul-searching to do and plenty of repenting to do.
  • We need to equip people to practice their faith at home—prayer, study, service, and evangelism.
  • We need to study what’s working and what’s not and be brutally honest with ourselves. Nothing should be unexamined, other than the unchangeable core of our faith. How do we teach stewardship? How do we reach new people? How do we govern and organize ourselves? How do we do our work both within congregations and in the wider church?
  • We must develop a deeper curiosity about the people who come to our churches and the people who don’t. This is a necessary step in evangelism.
  • Our world needs us to step up our game. People are crying out, seeking a word of hope and grace. People are looking for meaning and purpose. People need to meet our loving redeemer, Jesus Christ.

 

Almost every day, I pray for our church. I invite you to join me.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Image: Scott Gunn


Building Racial Justice

This series was made in partnership with Trinity Institute in 2016 based on their 2016 conference, Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice. Courses are built on lectures by some of our leading teachers on the subject of race in America.

  • Spirituality and Racial Justice with Michael Curry
  • Whiteness and Racial Justice with Kelly Brown Douglas
  • Theology and Racial Justice with J. Kameron Carter
  • Racism and Racial Justice with Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • Reparations and Racial Justice with Jennifer Harvey

 

This series is for those looking to deepen their understanding and conversations on racial injustice.


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…

Seeing Ourselves in Picture Books | Grow Christians 

A Letter to My Predominantly White Congregation | Earth & Altar

Next Forward Day by Day issue begins in August…order your subscription!

Implement Revive Online | Revive

Forward Today: The balm we need

Dear friends in Christ,

Before I started serving at Forward Movement, I didn’t really understand the power of Forward Day by Day. When I was a parish priest, I always made sure we had our copies out in the narthex on time, because I knew that parishioners loved reading
Forward Day by Day. But it wasn’t my cup of tea, and I never really dug deeper.

That all changed when I started traveling around the church as part of my work at Forward Movement. Everywhere I go, people tell me their Forward Day by Day stories. A marriage saved. A vocation discovered. An addiction overcome. A new church found. Hope persisting. The peace of that passes all understanding. The stories are amazing.

Of course, the source of the power of Forward Day by Day is the living and true God. As our research through RenewalWorks reminds us, people who have habits of daily prayer and regular scripture engagement are more likely to have a rich and growing spiritual life in Jesus Christ. And that’s just what Forward Day by Day helps people do.

Forward Day by Day August-October cover image

During the pandemic, I wasn’t sure what would happen with Forward Day by Day subscriptions. To be honest, I was worried that lots of churches would cancel. That worried me partly because of what it might mean for Forward Movement’s ministry, but even more so for the people who rely on this daily dose of inspiration.

I’m happy to say that very few churches have canceled their orders. In fact, some churches have increased their orders because they’re using Forward Day by Day as a tangible point of contact with parishioners, whether they deliver copies to people’s homes or have parishioners stop by the church and (safely!) pick them up.

If your church isn’t using Forward Day by Day to inspire daily discipleship, you can get a bulk subscription (or increase you current one to include more people). If you or someone you know loves getting a paper copy of Forward Day by Day but can’t get it from church, you can get your very own individual subscription, and we’ll mail it to your house. The new issue starts in  August, so if you order right away, we can get your started with that issue.

You don’t have to pay for Forward Day by Day, of course. You can listen to our podcast or read it online. There are lots of other ways to access this powerful dose of daily inspiration.

During this time of strife and stress, spending time each day with scripture and in prayer can be just the balm we need.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Click here to subscribe to Forward Today for weekly inspiration in your inbox.

Image: The August-October issue of Forward Day by Day is arriving in homes this month. The cover features a stained glass image of Absalom Jones, the first African-American person ordained an Episcopal priest.

Forward Today: Fierce and all-consuming love

Dear friends in Christ,

As I’ve been watching the news like many of you, I have been trying to puzzle out meaning and direction. What does all this mean? Where are we headed?

Of course, I don’t know. But I’ve been reflecting on how the global pandemic and the calls to end white supremacy are exposing some long-standing, deep problems in our society, if not in human nature itself.

As a Christian, I uphold the view that we are all sinners whose freedom from sin comes only by the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Left to our own devices, we will nearly always be selfish. God’s grace working in us can, however, lead us to live a transformed life. One of the signs of a life transformed by Jesus Christ is that a disciple is less selfish.

Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13). Did you catch that? We are meant to love one another selflessly and sacrificially, because that’s how Jesus loved us. Lest we miss it, Jesus tells us that love might demand our very life for the good of others. Jesus calls us to the complete opposite of selfishness.

It seems to me that America has been overtaken by a cult of selfishness. This is not partisan, though I have my own thoughts about particular ways this plays out. Suffice it to say, our culture does not encourage sacrificial love. We are encouraged to wall ourselves off from others in imagined safety. We are encouraged to accumulate vast amounts of resources, leaving others to fend for themselves. We are encouraged to demand our own rights rather than looking first for the welfare of all, especially the least, the last, and the lost.

We Christians must reject selfishness. We know that our life of obedience to God’s commands must be rooted in loving God and loving our neighbors.

So, then, what are we to make of the increasing fractures in our society?

Quite simply, the answer is love. Not sentimental, sweet love, but love that is fierce and all-consuming. This love will demand that we get involved. This love will not permit us to turn away from the needs of others as if there were such a thing as “someone else’s problem.” Christian love means action, most certainly including fervent prayer. Christian love means getting right into the thick of it, wherever the need is great.

My hope for this time is that, somehow, the pain and division we are seeing laid bare will call us as a society to do better, to be better. My hope is that the church will be jarred from its complacent reliance on the privilege of Christendom to renounce the evils of empire. I hope the church will regain its courage to speak in the public square with a voice of justice, righteousness, mercy, and grace.

Where do we begin? Study the scriptures. Pray. Spend time (perhaps online!) with your church. Pray some more. Let God direct you. I am praying that God will show me how to use my own gifts for the good of the world to the glory of God through the love of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.

Image: Pixabay


Building Racial Justice

This series was made in partnership with Trinity Institute in 2016 based on their 2016 conference, Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice. Courses are built on lectures by some of our leading teachers on the subject of race in America.

  • Spirituality and Racial Justice with Michael Curry
  • Whiteness and Racial Justice with Kelly Brown Douglas
  • Theology and Racial Justice with J. Kameron Carter
  • Racism and Racial Justice with Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • Reparations and Racial Justice with Jennifer Harvey

 

This series is for those looking to deepen their understanding and conversations on racial injustice.


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 loss | Grow Christians

Justice as the work of the Church | Earth & Altar

Next Forward Day by Day issue begins in August…order your subscription!

Implement Revive Online | Revive

Forward Today: Their delight is in the law of the Lord

Dear friends in Christ,

This morning, I gave thanks that this is the first day of a new month. I didn’t used to pay much attention to the changeover from one month to the next, but that changed a few years ago.

Almost every morning, I pray morning prayer. Several years ago, I started using the 30 day psalter. This is a plan to read all the psalms over the course of a month. You can see it spelled out in your Book of Common Prayer if you turn to page 585. Right there above Psalm 1, it says “First Day: Morning Prayer.” So we read the first five psalms this morning. Then this evening, we’ll read starting at Psalm 6, where it says, “First Day: Evening Prayer.” Tonight’s portion is three psalms. By the end of the month, we’ll have prayed all 150 psalms.

So every month, my morning starts off

Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, *
nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the law of the Lord, *
they meditate on his law day and night.

Day in and day out, I am reminded that a life patterned on God’s commandments is how we are meant to live. The psalms are infused with a sense of praise and gratitude for God’s commandments. They are understood not as things which constrict us, but as ways to live the abundant life that God desires for all people.

Sometimes people mistakenly believe that following Jesus means we do not have to follow commandments. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus himself gave commandments, and they are all rooted in the law. His own Great Commandment, to love God and love our neighbors, is of course a quotation of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Jesus gave this Great Commandment as the lens through which to do all that he commanded and all the law that he himself followed.

Perhaps you’ll join me this very day in reading the psalms this month. You can do this with a prayer book, where the whole psalter is found starting at page 585. Or you can find the psalms online. You can also use the Forward Movement prayer website to pray the daily office. If you go to the preferences page, you can switch to the 30 day psalter and say morning and evening prayer. Our app (for Apple or Android) also has a setting to allow you to use the 30 day psalter.

Try it out. I hope you find the same blessing I have enjoyed in delighting in God’s law.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Building Racial Justice

This series was made in partnership with Trinity Institute in 2016 based on their 2016 conference, Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice. Courses are built on lectures by some of our leading teachers on the subject of race in America.

  • Spirituality and Racial Justice with Michael Curry
  • Whiteness and Racial Justice with Kelly Brown Douglas
  • Theology and Racial Justice with J. Kameron Carter
  • Racism and Racial Justice with Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • Reparations and Racial Justice with Jennifer Harvey

 

This series is for those looking to deepen their understanding and conversations on racial injustice.


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…

Pre-order | The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus

Blessing for LGBTQIA+, Woes to the Privileged: Pursuing Allyship in the Days of Pride and Beyond | Earth & Altar

Responding to Racist Violence | The Episcopal Church

Implement Revive Online | Revive