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A call for submissions: O Antiphons

We’d like to take a minute to talk to you about participating in Forward Movement’s 2018 Advent/Christmas meditation project! Below, you’ll find some very important instructions.

About the project: The O Antiphons are an ancient set of prayers that remind us of the names and characteristics of the Messiah. Antiphons are phrases used like a chorus or a refrain during prayers, and the O Antiphons are particularly moving examples of different ways Jesus Christ moves and has his being with and among us. They also reference the prophesies of Isaiah and the coming of the Messiah.

By Castorepollux (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0]

The O Antiphons (so called because they each begin with “O”) are traditionally used as part of the Vespers (an evening prayer service) said from December 17–23. We invite people to explore the O Antiphons throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas, lingering with each attribute of Jesus for several days. Here are the readings and an inspirational playlist.

You are invited to reflect upon your experience with these attributes of Jesus. Each reflection (written or visual) should focus on one O Antiphon and/or the scripture citation for the week. For example, you might want to talk about Jesus as the Key of David, or you might be particularly drawn to one of the lyrical sections of Isaiah. Ideal entries will contain a blend of personal reflection and Bible study.

You may submit up to three offerings for consideration.

Written meditations should be no more than 350 words (including a prayer) and may be either original prose or poetry. The prayer may either original or taken from The Book of Common Prayer and cited appropriately with page number.

Visual reflections may include photography, images of woodcuts, pen and ink, etc. The submissions must be at least 300 dpi and reproducible at 5×7 and in black and white only.

All entries (written and visual) must be submitted electronically through this form by January 15, 2018. Featured writers and artists will be notified of their inclusion by February 1, 2018. Submissions that don’t follow the guidelines may not be considered.

Advent Actions: Week Four

Dear friends in Christ, 

Advent is nearing an end, but we do have nearly another full week of hope and preparation. In keeping with the last three weeks of suggestions for Advent Actions (week one, week two, week three), here are some ideas for ways you might use this time to open yourself to God’s transforming love in your own life and in the world.

Photo via Flickr user storebukkebruse / Creative Commons


  • In Advent, we remember the promise that God is with us — Emmanuel. Connect with members of your church to talk about ways you see people serving and loving each other in your neighborhood or city. Where do you see God’s spirit moving in those actions? How does your faith community join in? What partnerships might your church be called to explore? 

  • We heard the story of Joseph and Mary this Sunday at church, a story familiar and heart-warming for many of us. It’s easy to forget that this was a non-traditional family living out a real crisis (giving birth away from home, hospitality, and midwives) in the midst of a government registration far more sinister than a simple census! And yet Scripture sets the story of God’s incarnation in the midst of this crisis. When have you experienced crisis? What is it like to need help? When have you heard God’s voice reminding you not to be afraid? 

  • Gather friends or family around a meal table. Since Christmas is coming, talk about what gifts you’d like to receive. But this time, don’t think about material goods for yourself. What gifts would you like to see that might honor the spirit and wonder of Christmas? Don’t stop there. Imagine what it would take for that gift to be made real. If someone says, “I’d like to see world peace,” then talk about what you can do to bring that gift closer to reality. Think big! Speak boldly!

Remember to share your experience with friends, either in person or online. Please consider posting these stories here in the comments or on Forward Movement’s Facebook or Twitter feeds.

Advent Actions: Week Three

Dear friends in Christ, 

As we move into the third week of Advent, it’s time for another set of Advent Actions. If you missed week one or week two, it’s not too late to give them a try! Here are some suggestions for ways to deepen your love of God and neighbor.

Photo via Flickr user storebukkebruse / Creative Commons


  • Ask a neighbor or a friend: What does “good news” mean to you? In their answer, do you hear connections with what Jesus says in this week’s Gospel, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them”? What does ‘good news’ mean in your community?

  • Do something generous for a person who devotes her or his life to serving others. For non-profits and helping professions, the end of the year brings great challenges, with increased needs and, often, budgetary pressure. Give a gift or offer to help. Make a donation. Delight someone.

  • Gather friends or family around a meal table. Talk about today’s headlines. Who is suffering and afraid in the stories? Who is strong and mighty in the stories? Why? Where do you find God in our society and in your conversation? Pray together for the needs of the world.

Remember to share your experience with friends, either in person or online. Please consider posting these stories here in the comments or on Forward Movement’s Facebook or Twitter feeds.

Advent Actions: Week Two

Dear friends in Christ, 

Last week we suggested a few practices that might help transform this Advent into a time of active longing, not just passive longing. Please give these a try, and share your experiences on Forward Movement’s Facebook or Twitter feeds or own your own social media. Above all, join us in praying for God’s reign of justice, mercy, and righteousness. May we all be prepared to greet Jesus Christ when we meet him at Christmas, in our neighbors, or at the end of days.


Photo via Flickr user storebukkebruse / Creative Commons


  • Have real conversations with your neighbors this week, the kind that move beyond small talk. Try listening more than you speak. Ask more questions than you share answers. What do you hear? Can you name something that you learned from a neighbor for the first time?


  • Learn more about a non-profit in your community. Visit their website, read a newsletter, or talk with a staff member. What needs do they see in the community? Are you being called to support this non-profit in some way? Where is God at work in what they are doing?


  • Gather friends or family around a meal table. What stories do you know of people, living in times of turmoil, who manifested the love of God? How did their lives point to something beyond themselves? What can you do to make a place for Jesus Christ to shine forth in your life so that you are a saint for others?


Remember to share your experience with friends, either in person or online. Please consider posting these stories here in the comments or on Forward Movement’s Facebook or Twitter feeds.

Advent Actions: First Week

Advent is a season of waiting, but it’s not a season of waiting around. In this holy season, we remember a time when the world yearned for justice, when people hoped a mighty king would come and rescue them. We know, with 20 centuries of hindsight, that the people got their king, but that the King of Creation was born in the most humble of circumstances. God entered our history and shared our journey in the most human, vulnerable way possible. In this story, we find hope and salvation in our own story. God’s salvation – health, wholeness, redemption – comes to us not in power and might but in humility and vulnerability.

In Advent, especially on this First Sunday of Advent, we also yearn for a time of justice, when God’s reign of justice and righteousness will be manifest. Along with the prophet Isaiah, we look for a time when “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Advent, then, is a time to remember and a time to hope. It is a time to prepare our hearts to adore Jesus Christ at Christmas, but it is also a time to prepare for God’s reign. In Jesus’ ministry, no one got upset when he said that the kingdom was coming. But he got into trouble for saying it is here, now. When God’s reign of justice and mercy, righteousness and truth is made real, we Christians know to proclaim God’s reign.

A few days ago, a priest from Minnesota, the Rev. Susan Daughtry, contacted us at Forward Movement with an idea. What if we used this Advent – this year’s Advent, coming in a time of increased division and proliferation of hatred – as a time of action and change? In other words, what if we looked for opportunities to see and proclaim God’s reign among us?

Each Sunday in Advent, we will post three suggestions for action or conversation. One will be connected with governance or civil society; one will be connected to loving our neighbors; and one will be rooted on transformation and conversation at home or among friends. We invite you to try these practices and encourage others to do the same. Please share your experiences in a comment here or on Forward Movement’s Facebook or Twitter feeds.

May Jesus Christ’s light be in your heart this Advent season, and may you be a beacon of God’s love for the world. I am,

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn


· Visit a restaurant owned by someone from a different culture. Strike up a conversation. Do you share any hopes or fears?

· Call your local mayor’s office. Share your hopes for your town or city. Do your hopes sound like Isaiah 2:1-5 (the first reading from today)? Why or why not?

· Gather friends or family around a meal table. Talk about how recent trends (rise in hate crimes, increased fear, violence, division) in the United States might or might not make this Advent different from previous ones.

Remember to share your experience with friends, either in person or online. Please consider posting these stories here in the comments or on Forward Movement’s Facebook or Twitter feeds.

Color It In: Our New Advent App

Our shipping deadline for print Advent resources has now passed, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck for the season. Not only can you order many Advent resources for your e-reader–we’ve also got a brand-new app. What’s extra cool? It’s colorable. Here’s a before shot:

Journey through Advent

And here it is after we added a bit of artwork:


Pretty cool, right? If you’ve already ordered a calendar, you can use the app as a companion. If you haven’t, it works just fine on its own. And in addition to the coloring feature, it’s got the daily scripture readings and a journaling option. You can order yours here for just $1.99. We hope you enjoy it!

New for Advent: What Are You Waiting For?

Get in line. Take a number. Count down the days. 


We’ve got a wonderful new Advent resource to share for 2016. Written by Christine McSpadden, it’s centered on a unique theme: waiting.

We spend so much of our lives waiting: waiting for a new job or a well-deserved vacation; for love or an apology; for test results or cures to kick in; for things to stabilize or to get shaken up. At no other time of the year may the theme of waiting feel so poignant than the season of Advent. 

This year, while waiting for things mundane to things sublime, embark on a seasonal journey with daily meditations that will work on your soul to bring a richer quality and depth to your waiting. 

These reflections are perfect for individual use and are affordably priced to share with your entire congregation.

#2428 | $5 | Buy Now

Also available on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes.