Forward Today: Lenten practices

Grant, O Lord, that by the observance of these days of Lent we may grow in companionship with Christ, and that by sharing his suffering we may come to know the power of his resurrection, this we pray through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen

If you had told me a decade ago that I would come to cherish the 40 days of Lent, I would have thought you were suffering from a case of mistaken identity. But I have become that person. I look forward to observing Lent and growing in companionship with Christ during those very special 40 days. I miss these days when they are over.

During Lent, I try to be more faithful about giving alms, spending time in prayer, and strengthening my spiritual practice.

One Lent, I intentionally carried dollar bills in my pocket every day so that if I encountered anyone in need, I would immediately have something beyond a smile to give them.

I love to learn more during Lent, and I like to immerse myself in several daily reflections. I especially recommend Forward Day by Day, of course, and also the reflections offered by Episcopal Relief & Development.

Not long ago, when I was feeling troubled, I prayed a very simple prayer: Lord, hold my hand. As I prayed that prayer, with my eyes closed and my brow furrowed in concentration on a commuter train hurtling towards New York City, the faces of friends appeared, one after the other. I saw how God had been sending all these people to me as his messengers to hold my hand.

May you experience God holding your hand during this Lent, and may you grow in companionship with Christ during these 40 days and ever after.

Yours in Christ,

Lynne Jordal Martin
Forward Movement Board Member


Today’s Flash Sale: Dust Bunnies in the Basket

Episcopal priest Tim Schenck offers good humor and spiritual direction for the journey through Lent and Easter. With keen observations and a clever wit, Schenck connects the mundane with the divine, from dust bunnies and egg hunts to foot washing and the Easter Vigil. Illustrated by popular cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, Dust Bunnies in the Basket challenges us to go deeper this Lent, to “kick up some dust every now and then, to roll up our sleeves and get involved with the world and the people around us.” This book is ideal for personal reflection or seasonal study groups and includes thoughtful questions at the end of each section.

Regular: $10
Today: $7.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


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.

Discussion with Father José in Mérida, Mexico

MéridaThis past fall, a Forward Movement team member took a trip to Mérida, Mexico, the capital of the Yucatán. While there, she met up with José Vieira Arruda, the priest at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Here is what José has to say about himself and his ministry in Mérida.

Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is José Vieira Arruda and I am a Portuguese-Canadian living in Mérida, already for seven years. My family immigrated to Canada, from the islands of the Azores, Portugal, when I was fourteen years old. We settled in Toronto, Ontario, and I studied philosophy and theology at Saint Michael’s College of the University of Toronto. After being ordained to the priesthood, in 1987, I went to Fordham University, New York for graduate studies in ecclesiology. Then, I went on to parish ministry and teaching in the cities of Montreal and Laval, Québec, Canada. At the age of fifty-two, I decided to leave North America and come to Latin America to experience ministry in a different socio-cultural setting.

St. Luke's EpiscopalCould you tell us more about St. Luke’s? What kind of things are they doing in Mérida?
Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church of Mérida is kind of a “miracle Church”.  After coming to know so many Episcopal sisters and brothers living here in Mérida—some permanently, while others only during a few months of the year—and having been made unwelcome at another local church, we decided to form community and plant our own Episcopal Church here in Mérida. At first, we started to meet for the celebration of the Eucharist at the home of one of our friends, Mr. Frank Kriegel, and then, as we began to grow, we moved to the home of another of our friends, Mr. Greg Casini. Still, as we continued to grow, we saw the need to have a place of our own and so we rented a larger home and transformed it into our church building. This is where we are located at the present moment, here at the corner of Calles 76 with 55, Santiago, Mérida. Every Sunday, we gather at 10:00 am for the Eucharist—in English, and at 11:15 am for the Eucharist—in Spanish. During major feasts throughout the year, we celebrate together as a community of English and Spanish speaking congregants. It is indeed a beautiful community, very inclusive and enthusiastic about our faith in the Lord. As the only Episcopal Church of Mérida, we are present in the wider community through our social justice ministries, advocating for inclusivity in all areas of life and the integral care of all human beings and creation, especially the poor and the socially excluded. Apart from being present at the local women’s jail with a program for human formation, we are also present at a local hospital, making and delivering over three-hundred sandwiches each Saturday morning, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Frank Kriegel. We are also trying to reach out in a more permanent way to families of the poorest area of Mérida, the Colonia Guadalupana. Hopefully, with the grace of God and the financial help of sisters and brothers, we will be able to open a socio-pastoral center in this area and, thus, create a community space for all those who would like to come and make it theirs, through social and spiritual activities.

We are also present in very specific celebrations held throughout the year here in the city of Mérida, such as Sexual Diversity Week, Women’s Day Conferences, etc. We are working very hard (and succeeding!) to become a Church that thinks, prays, celebrates, and shares the faith. We are a Church that dares to think differently in terms of justice and inclusivity, of compassion and love. Our vision statement says it all: “We believe we are a Church that is scripturally faithful, an inclusive church—a church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, ethnicity, language, or sexuality. For this reason, we welcome all people in the name of Jesus Christ. Together and with our witnessing, we strive to proclaim the Gospel afresh to all of our sisters and brothers, here in the city of Mérida.”

What is the primary mission of St. Luke’s?
Our primary mission as the first Episcopal Church of Mérida is that we continue to create safe and wholistic spaces of hospitality, acceptance, liberation, and life. Our mission is to build community through bonds of communion and service—communion with the Lord and each other and service to the poorest and most humble among us. This is our way of proclaiming the Good News of the Lord—Good News of inclusivity, of justice, of compassion, of life! As we worship together, we want our worship to be alive and to renew in us the sense of companionship—becoming Jesus-centered companions to each other and to all who need an open heart and a helping hand.

What are your hopes for St. Luke’s?
My hopes for Saint Luke’s are that we continue to be centered in the Lord Jesus as the anointed one from the Father, who came to preach Good News to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and liberation to all those oppressed (Luke 4:18). I sincerely hope that we continue this liberating process of moving into a Church literally obsessed with the liberation of the poor and the excluded, the suffering and the forgotten—a Church that is not afraid to become poor and walk with the poor, paying the price, if need be, of being persecuted and crucified.

UxmalIs there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Wherever you are and whoever you are, we want you to know that you are welcomed at Saint Luke’s. It is your home as well and you will find here sisters and brothers with open hearts and opens arms ready to embrace you ever so gently and ever so lovingly. When in Mérida, come and visit us. Welcome to Saint Luke’s!

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

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


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.

Lenten Resources

Lent is just a few short weeks away. We’ve put together a list of resources that we believe will guide you, move you, challenge you, and ultimately transform you this Lenten season. We will be praying for you as we enter this sacred season.

Meeting JesusMeeting Jesus on the Margins
Meditations on Matthew 25

Where do you meet Jesus? In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus urges us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and visit the prisoners. And in doing so, we meet Jesus. These daily reflections for Lent, offered by well-known faith leaders, provide boots-on-the-ground stories of serving and being served by “the least of these.” The meditations also explore our own hunger, our vulnerabilities, and the times we are imprisoned, either self-imposed or by circumstance. Come and meet Jesus each day this blessed Lenten season.


Are We There YetAre We There Yet?
Pilgrimage in the Season of Lent

As we make our way through Lent, we will come to realize that the journey—the wrestling and the wandering—is the real flesh and blood of our endeavor. Our companions on this Lenten journey are fellow pilgrims, sharing their stories about following yellow arrows along the Camino and white blazes through the Appalachian Trail to bearing witness to the pain of historic lynching sites in the American South. Contributors recount their search for healing and wholeness at Marian shrines, in a reunion with birth parents, and around a prayer circle in a psychiatric hospital.


Ashes and the PhoenixAshes and the Phoenix
By Leonard Freeman

Threaded throughout with the stunningly visual and visceral poems of Len Freeman and guided by the collects for Lent and Holy Week, Ashes and the Phoenix seeks to lead us through the emotions, symbols, sights, sounds, and scents of Lent. Featuring original woodcuts by artist Jason Sierra, this book is a feast for hungry hearts and weary eyes. If you are seeking a way to answer the Church’s invitation to observe a holy Lent, Ashes and the Phoenix is an excellent companion for your journey to Easter.


Join the Journey Join the Journey through Lent
Illustrated by Jay Sidebotham

Join the Journey through Lent, illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, invites spiritual reflection and is a wonderful companion for the Lenten season. The 17″ x 22″ size is just right for hanging on the wall or keeping on a table for daily coloring. Share these with your congregation, youth group, Sunday School classes, and keep them on hand for coloring fun.
Shrink wrapped in packs of 25, posters are 17″ x 22″, folded to 8.5″ x 11″.


Saintly Scorecard 2019 Saintly Scorecard

The Saintly Scorecard is the official guide to Lent Madness, featuring the biographies of all 32 saints in contention for the coveted Golden Halo. It also includes tips on how congregations and individuals can use Lent Madness as a devotional tool, as well as a handy glossary and fold-out bracket so you can keep track of the winners.

Contributors include: Laurie Brock, Megan L. Castellan, David Sibley, Amber Belldene, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Marcus Halley, David Hansen, Emily McFarlan Miller, Carol Howard Merritt, and Adam Thomas.


2019 Lent Madness Bracket Poster

Lent Madness, inspired by college basketball tournaments, pits 32 saints against each other in a bracket, as each saint seeks to win the coveted Golden Halo. Throughout Lent, fans vote for their favorite saints at www.lentmadness.org. While you can download and print your own copy of the bracket from the website, many parishes and families like to have a poster-sized bracket to keep track of the competition. This color poster is 24″ x 36″ and ships to you folded.


Walk in LoveWalk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices
By Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe

This Lent, dig deeper into your faith with Walk in Love. Take a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests – Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe. Walk through the liturgical year, the sacraments of the church, habits of daily prayer, and the teachings of Anglican Christianity. See how our prayer shapes our belief and our lives and how our beliefs lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

No Longer Strangers: Exploring Immigration Issues

 

Forward Movement invites individuals and congregations to explore the difficult but important issues of migration and immigration in a new, free resource, No Longer Strangers: Exploring Immigration Issues. The downloadable booklet encourages discussion of migration and immigration through the lens of scripture and shared Christian values, presents opposing viewpoints, and invites people to talk about the issues with civility and respect. The booklet includes biblical references on hospitality, examples of migrations as they appear in the scriptures, and thought-provoking questions that can be used for both personal study and group discussion.

“So often conversations around the border, particularly in the United States, are politicized,” says the Rt. Rev. Michael Hunn, Bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande. “This resource by Forward Movement is designed to help break down those barriers and create real Christian conversation among people of faith.”

The booklet was presented at the Borderland Ministry Summit held last November in El Paso. Anglican/Episcopal leaders from both sides of the U.S. southern border gathered to discuss issues such as socioeconomic conditions in Central America, displacement, and how to provide humanitarian help to migrants.

“The summit emphasized that immigration is a complex and nuanced issue,” says Hugo Olaiz, who authored No Longer Strangers and attended the summit. “For example, I learned that some of the ICE agents deployed at the border actually help rescue sick and lost migrants who would otherwise die in the desert.”

The event was attended not only by Episcopalians from the U.S., but also by Anglican leaders from Mexico and El Salvador–including two Latino bishops. Says Hugo: “When Latinos and Anglos work together and learn from each other, ignorance and fear no longer prevail, and hope and understanding emerge.”

As Christians, we must not shy away from discussing immigration. We are called to think and talk about it in our homes, with our friends, and in our churches. Adult forums or formation classes should be places where we can address difficult issues and exchange opinions with love and respect.

No Longer Strangers was developed by Forward Movement in consultation with staff from Episcopal Migrations Ministries and the Office of Government Relations of the Episcopal Church. For a free download, visit www.ForwardMovement/NoStrangers.

Forward Today: Show Up

Dear friends in Christ,

February offers The Episcopal Church lots to celebrate. This week, we celebrated the feast day of Absalom Jones, our first African-American priest ordained in 1804, alongside the 30th anniversary of the ordination and consecration of Barbara Harris, the first woman elected bishop in The Episcopal Church in 1989. For their ministries, for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, for Canon Stephanie Spellers, and for the ministries of my bishop, priest, deacon, and lay Sisters and Brothers in this church, I celebrate you and thank God for you. I’m praying for you.

Presiding Bishop Curry calls to become Beloved Community. As a member of my diocese’s Becoming Beloved Community Task Force, I spent last weekend on a Learning Journey to talk about race and racism. As one of four black people in a group of twenty-eight, I could feel my energy flowing with my tears as we delved into challenging conversations I didn’t want to have which led to pain I didn’t want to feel. When asked to write a commitment for the duration of this four-month journey, I wrote: I’ll keep showing up. That’s all I can promise. And that’s a lot.

Miriam

I pray that you find your way to show up for inclusion and equality. Show up at Absalom Jones celebrations. Show up on the Twitter and Facebook pages and blogs of people of color and listen. Show up for Becoming Beloved Community meetings prepared to work. Show up at church and demand to sing the music of people of color. Show up at your libraries and bookstores and read stories about my people. Show up and listen to the stories of people who don’t look like you. Show up with your ears and hearts open and your mouths closed as we tell you what we need. Pray and discern about what you hear.

God calls us to live our lives of faith in community, and that community includes everyone who chooses to join us. In Beloved Community we feel the deep, abiding love we imagine God feels for us. Show up and be part of God’s dream for us on earth. I’ll be praying for you.

Peace,

Miriam McKenney
Development Director, Forward Movement

Clockwise from top left: The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson; Nia, Miriam, Kaia, Jaiya, and David McKenney; The Rev. Canon Nan Peete; The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris; The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows; The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry and my dad, The Rev. Wilson H. Willard, Jr.; The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers; Jaiya, Rev. Walter, David, Miriam, Ida, and Kaia McKenney.


Today’s Flash Sale: Walk in Love

Walk in LoveTake a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests – Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe. Walk through the liturgical year, the sacraments of the church, habits of daily prayer, and the teachings of Anglican Christianity. See how our prayer shapes our belief and our lives and how our beliefs lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


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.

Forward Today: Meeting Jesus on the Margins

Matthew 25:34. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

As a very small child, I loved books, but I hated to color and draw—which wasn’t awesome for developing the fine motor control little hands need to write legibly. I spent a lot of extra time at home with those wide-ruled practice papers and big pencils…top line-middle line-bottom line, loops and slanted lines, scrawling my name over and over. And there, on the edges of the paper were the margins. The margins were, in my kindergarten mind, a no-man’s land of red pen marks and do-overs. Those exercises were where I learned what margins meant—an area you weren’t supposed to trespass into, because it just wasn’t done.

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about margins in my little-kid way, but I’ve learned a lot about the other kind of margins—the sidelines of society where we shove people who don’t look or think or pray or love like the majority of the society in which they live. The prophets warn us about this and so does Jesus. They don’t mince words either.

I cannot tell you the number of emails and letters we have received from all over the place telling us how folks have come to meet Jesus in the most unexpected and unexplored places in their lives and communities. People are writing the Gospel of love all over the margins, crossing lines and boundaries and making the kingdom of God come near with their lives and relationships.

As Lent beings to loom in our minds and on the liturgical calendar, we might begin to wonder how to shape and share our Lenten disciplines; I would invite you to examine the margins in your own life and work. Jesus is there—waiting for you. You can also participate in Forward Movement’s Lenten program: Choose Lent, Choose Jesus, which features our book Meeting Jesus on the Margins as one of the reading options.

With peace and joy,

Rachel Jones
Associate Editor, Forward Movement


Today’s Flash Sale: Meeting Jesus on the Margins

Where do you meet Jesus? In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus urges us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and visit the prisoners. And in doing so, we meet Jesus. These daily reflections for Lent, offered by well-known faith leaders, provide boots-on-the-ground stories of serving and being served by “the least of these.” The meditations also explore our own hunger, our vulnerabilities, and the times we are imprisoned, either self-imposed or by circumstance. Come and meet Jesus each day this blessed Lenten season.

Authors include: Mike Kinman, Becca Stevens, Allison Duvall, Bo Cox, Hugo Olaiz, Lee Anne Reat, and Richelle Thompson.

Regular: $5
Today: $3.75

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


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.

Forward Movement books win top honors

Walk in LoveFour books recently released by Forward Movement have been recognized as among the year’s best Christian books by the Illumination Book Awards.

Note to Self: Creating Your Guide to a More Spiritual Life by Charles LaFond received a gold medal for Spirituality. Two silver awards were bestowed: author Mary Parmer and her book Invite Welcome Connect in the Ministry/Mission category, and Acts to Action: The New Testament’s Guide to Evangelism and Mission, edited by Susan Brown Snook & Adam Trambley for Bible Study. The bestselling Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices won a bronze medal in Theology.

Invite Welcome Connect“We are delighted to see these fantastic books receive the Illumination Awards,” said Richelle Thompson, deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement. “Each of these books offer an invitation to a deeper relationship with Christ and are tangible representations of our mission at Forward Movement to inspire disciples and empower evangelists. We are proud of the hard and faithful work of our authors to create dynamic and engaging resources to help people in their journey.”

Note to Self“I hope Note to Self contributes to a new conversation about our own discernment, path-finding, and re-remembering of our way,” said author LaFond. “With some friends, a pen, and thirty pages, we have all we need to live out a daily pathway of soul-wellness. May this book lighten the darkness and illuminate our one, true, glorious life.”

Acts to ActionEditors Susan Brown Snook and Adam Trambley offered thanksgiving for the award and the opportunity to shine a light on the important messages from the Book of Acts. “Our group of authors hope that the Book of Acts will provide inspiration and guidance for every part of a church’s mission: evangelism, discipleship, worship, service, and nurture of the faithful,” said Snook. “Congregations who study the amazing growth and mission of the early church will find themselves transformed and energized for ministry in the twenty-first century.”

To celebrate these awards, Forward Movement will offer a special 25% off “Illumination” discount on these four titles, through February 8, 2019.

Forward Today: Christian Love

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday, Episcopalians will hear Paul’s famous “love” passage from 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” Like many couples, my husband and I heard this passage at our wedding. Lately, however, many couples shy away from the “love” passage precisely because it’s read so often at weddings.

That’s too bad, because Paul has something important to say about love. Although we associate his words with weddings, Paul is not talking only about marital love, but about something much larger: the love all Christians should have for each other. Christian love, he says, is not a feeling. It is a decision Christians make every day, indeed every hour. Love is how Christians are called to act, not feel, toward others.

Hearts

Our human inclination is often to act without love: boastfully, resentfully, insisting on our own way. We assume that love, if it is real, will make us happy. Paul insists that love also brings challenge. Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends,” he says. Such love is a gift from God—a gift received anew every day as we ask God to strengthen us for the Christian life.

In a world full of boastfulness, resentment, and wrongdoing, let us challenge ourselves to love: love that is patient and kind, love that rejoices in the truth, love that never ends. As Paul says, faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.

Yours in Christ,

Susan Brown Snook
Canon for Church Growth & Development in the Diocese of Oklahoma


Today’s Flash Sale: Are We There Yet? Pilgrimage in the Season of Lent

Are We There YetWhether we’re taking the trip of a lifetime or the trip simply feels like it’s taking forever, the question on everyone’s lips is: Are We There Yet? As we make our way through Lent, we will come to realize that the journey—the wrestling and the wandering—is the real flesh and blood of our endeavor.

Our companions on this Lenten journey are fellow pilgrims, sharing their stories about following yellow arrows along the Camino and white blazes through the Appalachian Trail to bearing witness to the pain of historic lynching sites in the American South. Contributors recount their search for healing and wholeness at Marian shrines, in a reunion with birth parents, and around a prayer circle in a mental hospital.

Join us as we make our way toward Jerusalem with Jesus. Through this holy season, may we be open to the miracles of love and life, awestruck by the One who is both our journey and our destination.

Regular: $7
Today: $5.25

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: Two or more, gathered

Dear friends in Christ,

Today, a few team members from Forward Movement are driving to Indianapolis for the 2019 FORMA conference, a gathering of nearly 500 Christian formation leaders, thinkers, and practitioners from around the Episcopal Church.

In an era of video meeting services and free online libraries of keynote addresses, one might have concluded several years ago that in-person conferences were on the way out, replaced by the ease and affordability of a new, modern way to gather and share ideas in real time. To be sure, Forward Movement uses some of this technology regularly, and with success.

Yet, we still gather for in-person conferences. Why?

Evangelism Matters
It turns out, despite incredibly powerful advancements in how we communicate, nothing can dethrone the power of being present for each other. Nothing forms bonds of trust, understanding, and empathy like hearing a subtle tone of voice, seeing body language of a presenter, or hearing directly from a peer dealing with similar challenges.

These experiences of community help lower our guard and open us to new ideas and fresh thinking. And that is the point. With our guard lowered, we are humbled as a member of a community. Our ego gives way to curiosity and an openness to learn. Innovation and creative thinking rarely come from the daily grind. We humans need space for that thinking, and more often than not, we need help from others. So, we pause and gather.

Please keep us in your prayers this week as we stop the grind to be present for each other and to be witnesses for the community at work around the Church.

Yours in Christ,

Jason Merritt
Deputy Director and Marketing Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Bible Women

Women of the Bible have been trapped in dry and dusty literary caskets for centuries. While a few women, such as Mary, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Mary Magdalene, are familiar, many of the women who speak in the Bible have long been ignored. Yet their words are part of God’s Word, the Bible, for a reason. Through these women, God spoke, intervened, changed, illustrated, and proclaimed the story of redemption.

In this groundbreaking book named best Bible study of 2015 by Illumination Book Awards, Episcopal priest Lindsay Hardin Freeman identifies every woman who speaks in the Bible, providing their words, context, and historical background. We learn which women speak the most (hint: it’s not Mary!) and which books of the Bible have the fewest words from women.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time