Forward Today: We too have seen the Lord

Ted, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dear friends in Christ,

This Saturday, the church keeps the major feast of Mary Magdalene. She is rightly commemorated with the same importance as the other apostles who knew Jesus. Mary Magdalene is, after all, the apostle to the apostles.

It was Mary Magdalene who proclaimed the glad news of Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples. She is the first person to share the most important news in the entire history of the world. Her message must have been startling: “I have seen the Lord.”

I could write thousands of words on what we can learn as individuals and as a church from the commemoration of Mary Magdalene and the assigned readings. Here are a few quick lessons:

  • The scriptures clearly affirm the effectiveness, the giftedness, and the importance of women leaders in the church.
  • Sometimes we will have to look outside the “official channels” for Good News. God didn’t choose one of the members of the inner circle—Peter, James, and John—for the task of proclaiming the resurrection. Sometimes the inner circle needs to be told what’s what!
  • Mary has her quite understandable doubts and confusion, but she’s ready to believe when she sees Jesus. We too may have our doubts and confusion, but let us never delay in proclaiming the Good News when we see Jesus. And, let’s be clear, we do see Jesus. He has promised that he is present when the church gathers, and he has promised that he is present in the sacraments he gave us. He is here. We have seen the Lord.

Sometimes we overthink it. We do well to emulate the apostle to the apostles. When we are unsure, let us rush to where to we might find Jesus and then be eager to run to others and say that we have seen him.

And let us be ready to look at how our church is organized and realize that the inner circle is often going to need a surprising herald of grace to speak the truth. And we can all urge our church leaders, especially our bishops, to see themselves as apostles with Good News to proclaim, not as middle managers with assets to keep.

There is Good News that we must urgently share! Sin is defeated. Death is put to flight. Jesus lives.

Can we all say it now with Mary Magdalene? “I have seen the Lord!”

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Pray with Mary Magdalene and other women of scripture: Bible Women

From the Grow Christians archive: Mary Magdalene’s bold hope in the resurrection

Pre-order today: A Journey through Genesis

Meet Jesus in the sacraments: Gifts of God for the People of God

Forward Today: It really is all about love

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m just heading home from the “It’s All About Love” festival organized by the Episcopal Church in Baltimore. What a fantastic gathering! I’m leaving inspired and renewed.

Our Presiding Bishop speaks often of God’s love as the center of our faith. Bishop Curry is exactly right. Of course, he didn’t invent this idea! Read a few words of 1 John with me:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:7-9)

If we know God’s love, we will love God and love others. It’s just that simple. And this love is not cheap love, a sentimental niceness. This love is sacrificial, generous, extravagant, truthful.

I’m grateful for a whole festival to renew my focus. You can find videos of some great talks from the conference online, and I hope you’ll read the Episcopal News Service coverage, too.

While I’m glad I was able to spend time with Episcopalians from all over, not everyone could travel to Baltimore. If you couldn’t make it, I suggest that you spend a few minutes and read 1 John. It really sets out the truth that God is love, and love is of God.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

From Grow Christians: The Wondrous Chaos of Youth Sunday

Bishop Curry recommends: A Generous Beckoning

Practice discipleship in your daily life: The Way of Love Practical Guide

Read and reflect on scripture with Forward Day by Day

What is Forward Day by Day?

What is Forward Day By Day?

Forward Movement has been creating and sharing Forward Day by Day for nearly a century. Our founders knew that daily prayer and study was a critically important practice for making disciples—and that helping Christians grow deeper in discipleship was critically important to the Church. The appeal of Forward Day by Day came from its accessible and inviting way to encourage disciples to read a bit of scripture, reflect on that scripture, and pray briefly every day.

Many folks in the Church have been praying with Forward Day by Day their whole lives. Others might have slipped a pamphlet in their bag at one point and then forgotten about it. Still others might be asking “what is this Forward Day by Day thing about anyway?” The good news is, if you are looking for a place to start learning and growing, there’s no better way to start than by picking up Forward Day by Day.

A Look Inside

Start your journey of discipleship by finding the page for the current day. Each page starts with a brief Bible verse. If you’d like to read the verse in context, or in conversation with the rest of scripture, you can look up the suggested readings just below. Each day’s readings come either from the Revised Common Lectionary (a cycle of Bible passages used in worship by churches across North America) or the Daily Office Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer. The texts we use put the reader in community with everyone else reading that text today.

The heart of each daily page is the day’s meditation, from a new author each month. (Keep reading for more about our authors!) Sometimes it’ll be a personal story, an elaboration on the scripture text, or some connection back to our daily life of faith. Each page ends with “Moving Forward,” a prompt for further reflection or an action step you can take back into your day. You’ll also be invited to pray for a church in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer —a church in our communion, with our shared heritage, from all over the world.

Before or after you read the meditation, you might want to pray one of the prayers on the front or back inside cover. These prayers, “A Morning Resolve” and “For Today,” have been printed alongside Forward Day by Day meditations for decades. Countless readers have found these prayers grounding and inspiring as they begin their day.

Let’s go back to the meditations for a moment. Who writes the reflections for each day? Each month you’ll hear from a new author. Authors include poets and teachers; priests and lay people; youth ministers and retired folk; and so much more. In a month of meditations, you’ll get to know each author’s perspective and unique take on scripture. Some perspectives will be familiar; others will be challenging. All will bring you to a greater understanding of God and the rich particularity of the Christian community.

How to Get Forward Day By Day

We offer many editions of Forward Day by Day to make this daily habit of prayer accessible to all.

The classic pocket-size version in English or Spanish easily fits into your crowded and busy life. About the size of a cell phone, but thinner, this edition travels easily.

The large print edition offers larger type and more room for taking notes in the margins. Though larger, it still fits neatly into your bag, desk, or car.

Each issue is translated into Spanish—or, in some months, shared in a Spanish-speaking author’s original language. Subscribe to Adelante dia a dia to get our meditations in Spanish.

Order Forward Day by Day for your entire church community by subscribing in bulk. With this subscription, you can offer copies to your whole congregation so they can carry their prayers through the other six days of the week. Subscriptions ship one month in advance, so you’ll have plenty of time to get them into your community’s hands – empowering them for three months of daily prayer and inspiration.

Want to experiment before committing to a bulk subscription? Maybe you’d like to order multiple copies for a one-time church event, or carry a few copies with you so you’re ready to share God’s word when given the opportunity. Our Share It Forward packets are perfect for this purpose. Each one-time order comes with 10 copies of the current issue, ready to share.

Here at Forward Movement, we seek to share Forward Day by Day with everyone we can. We make a Braille edition available on request, and free of charge to any person who is visually impaired. We also ship thousands of free copies every year to prisons, hospitals, military bases, and places of need. When you subscribe to Forward Day by Day, you’re supporting this work—and joining a community across the church.

Whether you’re new to these pages or have been reading for years, we welcome you to the community of writers and readers who support Forward Day by Day. Since Forward Movement’s beginnings, the staff have gathered in prayer regularly to read the day’s meditation and to pray for each other and for all our readers worldwide. We invite you to pray for us—and pray with us—in the pages of Forward Day by Day.

Forward Today: A year of growth

Dear friends in Christ,

Day-to-day life can be overwhelming. There’s too much to do. Keeping up with the news sometimes seems impossible. It might be tough to find inspiration amidst the noise and chaos.

At Forward Movement, we’ve spent lots of time pondering this. I’m delighted to say that we’ve just put thousands of copies of “Inspiration Throughout The Year” into the mail. You might receive one soon! If you want to check out our year-round guidebook of inspiration now, it’s online for you.

The idea is simple. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve organized things so that you can find inspiration, whether it’s a Bible study or a prayer resource or something else, for every season. Are you a church leader? We have you covered.

Our little guide includes plenty of free online resources and courses, as well as books of all kinds. I hope it’s helpful. In just a few minutes, you can make a plan for inspiration through the fall, for Advent and Christmas, for the Epiphany season, for Lent, for Easter, and that gets you through a year in your journey with Jesus.

While our little guide might look like a catalog at first, our hope is that it’s much more: we hope you find ways to stay renewed in God’s love for you and to share that love with our world.

Blessings to you – today, this whole year, and forever.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

365 days of inspiration: Subscribe to Forward Day by Day

From Grow Christians: Summer at the Pool – Remembering Our Baptisms

Pre-order today: Devotions for People who Don’t Do Devotions

Forward Today: Thank you

Dear friends in Christ,

Thank you. I have so much for which to be grateful. Almost a year ago, I suffered a medical crisis. I’m glad to report that I am fully recovered and entirely healthy now. But I am even more glad to report that my healing was made possible by God’s grace and mercy and thanks to your prayers. Again, thank you.

One of the great gifts of serving at Forward Movement is knowing that people around the world pray for us every day. Our work is sustained by prayers. But that’s not all. Thousands of folks donate to Forward Movement every year. It matters to us, and it makes all the difference in the world to those we serve.

Thanks to our donors, we are able to offer prayer resources, such as our app and website, free of charge. Your donations make it possible for us to say yes when people in need ask for free copies of books. Your gifts allow us to send free subscriptions to Forward Day by Day to those who are incarcerated. Your gifts change lives through Christ-centered, hope-filled messages.

If you have not yet made a gift to support the ministry of Forward Movement, I invite you to become part of our donor community today. Your gift makes a difference to us and to all those we serve. Having seen all that is made possible thanks to our donors, I have become a donor to Forward Movement myself. Please consider joining me.

For now, let me just say it one more time. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. If you are able, please consider selecting “recurring” as your donation type. Our monthly donors make the ministries of Forward Movement happen all year long. Thank you.

More from our ministry:

Give the gift of common prayer: BCP Gift Edition

Re-imagine stewardship, wealth, and poverty: The Unjust Steward

Share prayer with others: Buy a Share it Forward pack of Forward Day by Day

Forward Today: The gift of hospitality

Image by Oscar from Pixabay

Dear friends in Christ,

As you read this, I have gone on a bit of summer holiday. I love seeing new places, so we’ve gone to explore a couple of countries that we’ve never seen. Perhaps you will have some holiday time, too, as summer continues.

One of my favorite things to do when I’m away is visit churches on Sunday mornings. Usually I try to find Episcopal or Anglican churches, but I’ve visited many other denominations over the years. Of course, it’s always a joy to offer thanks and praise to Almighty God for his grace and mercy. And I enjoy seeing what feels familiar and what feels strange when worshiping away from home.

Some of my most memorable experiences in life are connected to receiving the gift of hospitality from churches when I was a first-time guest. People have been welcoming in all sorts of ways.

If you are traveling, I encourage you to visit churches. For one thing, setting aside the Lord’s Day for worship is the duty and delight of all Christians. But beyond that, in our seemingly divided world, it never fails to bring joy when people offer hospitality to me, a stranger, in the name of Jesus Christ. I always leave inspired to offer hospitality myself, when I have the opportunity to welcome strangers.

If you have a story to tell of receiving or giving hospitality in Christ’s name, please share it with us on social media. You can find and tag Forward Movement on Twitter or Facebook.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

From Grow Christians: Experiencing Thin Places as a Family

Pocket-sized inspiration for travel: Forward Day by Day

Create a spirit of hospitality at your church: Invite Welcome Connect

Welcome newcomers to the Prayer Book tradition: Inwardly Digest


Forward Today: Evangelism for everyone

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

Last weekend I was in Vancouver, BC to preach at Christ Church Cathedral. While I was there, I also offered a workshop on Saturday called Anglican Evangelism for Everyone. We had much lively conversation together.

I meant the title in two meanings. Evangelism is for everyone in that Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. That is, there is no one with whom we should fail to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. But there’s the other angle, too. All of us Christians are meant to be evangelists.

To be a disciple of Jesus, we must choose to follow him. Evangelism must never be coercive or manipulative. While it’s true that there are some “bad” evangelists out there, that’s no reason for us to try to hoard our faith but fail to commend the hope that is within us.

The greatest gift we can give someone is to invite them to know Jesus, to know they are loved by him, and to love him back. I hope we’ll all proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ when we are able to do so.

Sometimes I hear people lament that fewer people find their way into our churches. Other times I observe people wishing for a more just, more compassionate world. The solution to both challenges is the same: we can invite others to know God’s gracious love for us and for the whole creation.

If we experience God’s grace and mercy, we simply won’t be able to contain ourselves from sharing that same grace and mercy with those around us. As Jesus commanded us, let us hasten to love others as he first loved us.

Evangelism is for everyone. Let’s get to it.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Share the gift of Forward Day By Day: Order a Share It Forward pack

Foster evangelism in your church community: Invite Welcome Connect

Spiritual growth in individuals and churches: Signs of Life

Forward Today: Summer reading

Dear friends in Christ,

The summer solstice may not be here yet to make summer official, but to my reckoning, the arrival of June brings the beginning of unofficial summer.

For many folks, summer brings a different rhythm. We may have some vacation time, and many of us enjoy a slightly slower pace of life. If that sounds familiar, you may be wondering what to do as life gives you bit more breathing room.

In our go-go-go culture, there’s nothing wrong with slowing down and resting! Sleep more! Take naps! Goof off! Do nothing!

As for me, I hope to do more reading this summer. I’m always looking for summer reading suggestions, and maybe you are, too. There are loads of great books out there. As you might expect, I want to suggest a few books from Forward Movement that might make some good reading this summer.

If you’re spending more time reading the Bible (which is a great idea!), you might enjoy having a copy of Bible Women handy. We’ve recently updated this book, which includes every word spoken by women in the Bible. You’ll also get the back story on what she said and why.

Looking to refresh your spiritual disciplines? I wrote The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus as an encouraging companion for increased discipleship. Seek and You Will Find will help you find new prayer practices.

A Generous Beckoning may be helpful in your devotional life. Thinking of revitalizing your congregation? Check out Signs of Life: Nurturing Spiritual Growth in Your Church. Finally, if you want a challenging read about the church and its relationship to money, check out The Unjust Steward: Poverty, Wealth, and the Church Today.

However you choose to use the gift of this time, God bless you.

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn's signature
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. If you’re ordering books published by Forward Movement, it supports our ministry if you order directly from us. But if Amazon is how you need to get them, that works too.

More from our ministry:

From Grow Christians: Endings and New Beginnings

New from ChurchNext: Keeping Your Daily Devotions Fresh

Pray through the new season with us:

Forward Today: Fulfillment of the Lord’s promises

Dear friends in Christ,

By Deror avi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We remember the time that St. Mary visited her cousin St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist leaped in St. Elizabeth’s womb. You can read the account in Luke 1:39-57.

The scene with these two strong women coming together after God had given each of them a miraculous pregnancy must have been something to behold. And Mary’s very presence was a blessing to the child Elizabeth was bearing. Such grace!

In light of their very palpable awareness of God’s power to act in the world, it’s inspiring to contemplate what it might have been like when Mary proclaimed her song, the Magnificat. It’s a song that extols God’s deeds in the past as a way of celebrating God’s promises for the future. Unlike the advice given by financial planners, when it comes to God’s power to act in the world, past performance is a guarantee of future returns!

This is a rich festival with many facets on which we might focus our devotion. Maybe you’ll ponder these strong women stepping forward in faith. Perhaps it’s Mary’s beautiful proclamation of God’s deeds of old. Or you might like to step back, imagine the scene, and give thanks for an almost incomprehensible abundance of God’s grace.

I invite you to join me in praying the collect for today:

Father in heaven, by your grace the virgin mother of your incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Pray with Mary and Elizabeth in the new edition of Bible Women

Delve deeper into this Gospel narrative: A Journey with Luke

Reflect on God’s promises and invitations: A Generous Beckoning

From Grow Christians: Love your enemy. Love your neighbor.

Forward Today: Let’s not tame the Holy Spirit!

Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

We’re coming up on our annual celebration of the Day of Pentecost, when we give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit in the church.

My sense is that we have domesticated the Holy Spirit. When something happens in the church that we like, we may say, “The Holy Spirit was here.” And that may well be true! But if we read the scriptural accounts of the Spirit’s arrival, people are almost always pushed into places that might not have otherwise gone.

The Holy Spirit does not bless the status quo, but rather leads us to the places beyond our imagining to which God calls us.

So, by all means, let’s celebrate the gifts of the Spirit! And then let us open our hearts and our lives to be led to places we might fear to tread. Lord knows the church needs some shaking up!

Jesus has promised that the Spirit will lead us in all truth, but that requires us to get our own agendas out of the way. Let us pray:

Come, Holy Spirit, come. Take our minds and think through them. Take our lips and speak through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. Forward Movement is looking for feedback so we can improve our ministry. If you haven’t already shared your thoughts with us, you can help us by filling out this questionnaire with your honest responses. Many thanks to all who have filled it out already!

As a thanks for your time and consideration, we’ll provide everyone who completes the questionnaire with a discount code for 15% off your next Forward Movement order. Thanks for your support!

More from our ministry:

Consider contemporary challenges of the church: Signs of Life

From Grow Christians: When the stakes seem high

Wealth and poverty through a surprising lens: The Unjust Steward

Where is the Spirit leading you? Discern with My Way of Love