Tag Archives: Easter

Forward Today: Shepherded by scripture

Dear friends in Christ: While Scott is traveling this week, we bring you an excerpt from his book of meditations for Eastertide, Easter Triumph, Easter Joy. In this meditation, Scott reflects on the scripture texts for this coming Sunday, the Fourth Week of Easter.

Image from the catacomb of Domitilla shows one of the oldest known images of Jesus Christ as the good shepherd / Wikimedia Commons

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
—Psalm 23 (Authorized or King James Version)

I have strong memories from several funerals I led during my time as a parish priest. Most of my memories are of families gathered in the church to say goodbye to their loved ones and to hear a word of Easter hope.

One of these memories is from a service held at the funeral home. The family was barely connected to the church, but for whatever reason, they asked me to lead the service. They made it pretty clear they weren’t looking for anything “too churchy.”

I didn’t print out leaflets. When it was time for the service, I mostly read the burial office from our prayer book. Those ancient words offer, I think, just the right measure of sorrow and hope. Anyway, when it came time for the scriptures, I read a lesson and then said something like, “I’m going to read Psalm 23 aloud now. If you know the words, you are most welcome to join me.” Much to my surprise, when I started, nearly everyone in the room said this beloved psalm from memory.

I have had similar experiences at the bedsides of those near the end of life. Sometimes a person who is beyond the point of conversation will be silent in our prayers until I begin the Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 23. Then their lips move, praying along. Generation upon generation have been steeped in these words of liturgy and scripture that go all the way to the core.

But why Psalm 23? I think it is profoundly reassuring. God is our shepherd. When we need companionship, or protection, or guidance, God is there with us. When we face danger, God is there with us. Even at the end of our days, God is there with us.

I worry that in today’s church, we don’t do enough to encourage people to memorize scripture and prayer so deeply that it gets to our core. When people are in grave crisis or facing their own imminent mortality, how will they be equipped to meet these moments?

In our prayer and study, we prize novelty but at the cost of perseverance and immersion. I hope we can do a better job of balancing the two tensions. In my own life, I hope there are prayers and scriptures that go all the way to my core. I hope that’s true for you, too.

The Lord is truly our shepherd. But perhaps the Lord seeks to accompany us at times in the words of scripture. Let us all commit to loving scripture so much it shapes our hearts and our lives.

More from our ministry:

Pray the psalms and reflect on scripture each day: Forward Day by Day app

Embed scripture in everything to nurture spiritual growth: RenewalWorks

Read through the Bible through a new lens: The Way of Love Bible Challenge

Carry prayer with you wherever you go: Hour by Hour


Forward Today: Alleluia! What’s it to you?

We welcome The Rev. Ryan Fleenor, member of Forward Movement’s board, as our guest author this week.

Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

I served for many years alongside an organist who taught me a great deal about what it means to serve God’s people and to gather them for prayer and praise. He was a deeply pious man— if also a bit quirky and irreverent in his humor. When he retired, the choir collected all his various aphorisms and quips into a song. It was hilarious. But my favorite was his typical Easter greeting. Throughout the 50 Days of Eastertide, whenever I’d run into him in the halls, he’d say with a wry smile: “Alleluia! What’s it to ya?”

“Alleluia? What’s it to ya?” This, I have come to believe, just might be the most important question we could ask ourselves in this holy season.

Each of the Gospels has an “Alleluia! What’s it to ya?” story—a story of the difference it makes that Christ has been raised from the dead. On Easter evening, we heard Luke’s story: the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus who felt their hearts burning within them as they walked alongside the risen Christ and came to recognize him in the breaking of the bread. Last Sunday, we heard one of John’s stories: the story of the risen Christ coming to reassure fearful, faithful Thomas that what he’s heard from the others is in fact true. And there are other wonderful stories too! Perhaps this Eastertide, consider making a spiritual practice of reading and meditating on the stories in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21.

Alleluia! What’s it to you? Christ is alive! He lives to give us new life, rescuing us from the power of sin and death and empowering us for service in his kingdom. What difference does that make in your life?

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Ryan Fleenor
Forward Movement Board Member
Rector of Saint Luke’s Parish in Darien, CT

More from our ministry:

Easter meditations from Scott Gunn: Easter Triumph, Easter Joy

Reflect on Eastertide through art and writing at 50days.org

Take a close look at your own spiritual life: Vital Signs of Faith

Follow the stories of the Bible from beginning to end: The Path

Forward Today: My Lord and my God!

Thomas the Apostle. Detail of the mosaic in the Basilica of San Vitale. Ravena, Italy. Photo by Richard Mortel.

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy Easter! I hope your Easter season has begun with raucous joy. I don’t think it’s possible to have too much Easter joy.

This Sunday, we hear the story of St. Thomas the Apostle asking to see Jesus’ wounds. Sometimes we pejoratively call him Doubting Thomas, but I wish we’d call him Courageous Thomas or Good Question Thomas. After all, he had the courage to ask what others surely wondered.

It’s clear from the scriptures that those around Jesus had trouble making sense of the new reality in which Jesus was raised from the dead. And who can blame them? If I saw someone dead and buried and then ran into them on the street a couple days later, I’d question my sanity! Even though Jesus had been saying he would be raised on the third day, perhaps Jesus’s disciples quite understandably had trouble getting that idea into their minds.

To St. Thomas’s great credit, he moved from doubt to belief. Jesus did not condemn him, but rather showed him signs. And belief followed quickly: “My Lord and my God!”

If we ponder Easter for more than a few seconds, we might also find ourselves doubting. Can this really have happened? Did our Father raise his Son to new life? Are sin and evil really vanquished? If we doubt, we could follow St. Thomas’s example and ask questions. We might ask fellow members of the church, or we might go to God in prayer. And when we receive assurance that grace and mercy have triumphed, let us be quick to proclaim this glad news.

Easter is not for the faint of heart. It’s OK to admit that. But let us not stay in a place of murky doubt. For God has triumphed, and our world surely needs to hear this message.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Read Scott’s Easter meditations in ebook format: Kindle | Apple Books

Celebrate the whole season of Easter at 50days.org

Explore St. Thomas’s story in the Gospel of John: A Journey with John

Meet Jesus in the scriptures each day: Forward Day by Day

Forward Today: Happy Easter… still!

Dear friends in Christ,

From the resurrection chapel at Washington National Cathedral

We’re just about two thirds of the way through the Easter season. So let me wish you a Happy Easter! By my count, we have about 18 more days to celebrate the glory of Jesus Christ’s resurrection with special intention this season.

How are you celebrating? If you stopped celebrating, it’s OK! In the Christian Gospel, it’s never too late. So feel free to pick up where you left off and start celebrating again. Maybe you’ll say prayers giving thanks for the resurrection of Jesus each day. Or maybe you’ll be bold and share the Good News of God’s victory over sin and death. Love wins!

At Forward Movement, we have a few ways to help you keep up your Easter celebration for the full fifty days of the season. You can visit 50days.org and read daily reflections. You can buy my book of Easter reflections and start partway through. It’s all good!

I find it spiritually refreshing to celebrate Easter continuously for the full length of the season. If I’m honest, it’s a bit selfish. You see, sometimes I get discouraged by the state of the world and condition of the church. Remembering that God has utterly defeated evil and sin with his grace and mercy in the triumph of love helps me keep the right perspective.

So if you’re like me and you sometimes don’t feel like it’s still Easter, fear not! God’s victory is still true. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God shows us the ultimate power of his grace and mercy. Thanks be to God for that. Alleluia!

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Proclaim the resurrection with Mary Magdalene in Bible Women

Celebrate God’s work on the earth: The Creation Care Bible Challenge

From Grow Christians: This is the mystery of Easter

Pray the Daily Office (complete with Alleluias!) at prayer.forwardmovement.org

Forward Today: Meeting Jesus

Photo by Morgan Winston on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday, we hear the story of Emmaus, when Jesus met his disciples on a road. Of course, they didn’t recognize him until he broke bread with them. As they reflected on their experience, the disciples said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

At one level, maybe they knew they were talking with Jesus on that road, but they couldn’t quite believe it. Their rational worldview told them they had seen Jesus die, and he must surely still be dead. And yet there he was. So it’s perhaps understandable if they had trouble grasping this amazing reality.

I wonder if it’s like that for us sometimes. Maybe we meet Jesus along the roads of our lives more often than we recognize. Maybe we begin to treat church like a rote experience, and we can’t quite wrap our minds around the amazing reality that Christ is present for us as bread and wine are consecrated in the Holy Eucharist.

Last month, I heard someone speak about why it’s important to go to church. She said, “I feel that I might meet Jesus out in the world, but when I go to church, it’s like having an appointment to meet him. He shows up every time.”

That’s it, right there.

Let us keep our hearts and minds open to meet Jesus in the world, especially in the last, the lost, and the least. And let us celebrate with great joy on the Lord’s Day each week, as we meet Jesus himself. As we break the bread and hear the scriptures, Jesus shows up every time.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. You can get some help reflecting on the Holy Eucharist and Christ’s presence in Furman Buchanan’s Gifts of God for the People of God Exploring Worship in the Episcopal Church.

More from our ministry:

Healing and Hope for God’s Good Creation live course begins next week

Explore the sacraments further in Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices

Easter isn’t a day, it’s a season! Celebrate all season long at 50days.org

Forward Today: Joy will soon dawn upon us

Photo by Clicker Babu on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

Starting Sunday, we begin our journey through Holy Week. That means Easter Day is almost upon us. As it does every year, our Lenten journey through the wilderness ends with the dawning light of ultimate joy in the promised land of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I suspect that many readers of this email will have had some kind of Lenten discipline, whether that means special prayers, or Bible studies, or practices of self-denial, or something else. For many years, I wondered about adopting Easter disciplines too.

As we approach Holy Week and Easter, I wonder if you might consider entering fully into the observances of Holy Week and then celebrating with abandon the Great Fifty Days of Easter.

The church makes Holy Week observance pretty straightforward. Some churches after daily services each day of Holy Week, but most churches at least offer Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve or Easter Day. Simply taking part in these liturgical offerings helps us to encounter the Paschal Mystery afresh.

But what about Eastertide? I encourage you to find some way to celebrate the full 50 days of Easter. At Forward Movement, we offer a blog with meditations each day of the season, 50days.org. You might join a book group or a prayer group for the season. And if you want other daily devotions to read, you could make your way through my latest book, Easter Triumph, Easter Joy: Meditations for the Fifty Days of Eastertide.

Easter is too amazing to celebrate just one day. How will you bask in the glow of Christ’s Resurrection?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Read along with the Easter lectionary: A Journey through Acts

Prepare to welcome the newly baptized with the gift of common prayer

Even if your bracket is busted, you can still vote in Lent Madness!

Forward Today: Prepare with joy

Dear friends in Christ,

Our prayer book says that Lent is a time to “prepare with joy for the Paschal feast” among other things. This season of repentance helps us to bask in the radiant light of Christ’s resurrection, as we turn away from earthly things and toward things heavenly.

Lent still seems new, but if we are to be ready for Easter, we have to look ahead. Many of us tend to put more focus on Lenten practices than on Easter practices.

Last year, I decided to focus on my own Easter practices, and I ended up writing a book of daily devotions for the Easter season. The whole book asks the question, “How might our lives change if we took seriously the astounding reality of the empty tomb?”

Whether you use my book or something else, I encourage you to consider an Easter devotional practice. The reason I mention this today is that you might want to get it selected and ordered so it arrives on time.

Easter Triumph, Easter Joy: Meditations for the Fifty Days of Eastertide is available as a book or ebook. If you buy directly from Forward Movement, there are also bulk discounts if you want to invite your whole church to consider an Easter practice. At a time when the world’s news often seems hopeless, this might be just the year to dive deeper into a season that’s all about ultimate hope.

Forward Movement also has colorable Easter calendar posters (Alleluia! 50 Days and 50 Ways to Celebrate Easter) by the inimitable Jay Sidebotham. Your church can buy packs of 25 calendars and then give them away, perhaps on Easter Day, to help people celebrate the Easter season at home.

You don’t have to spend money, of course. You can read the Book of Acts. Or take up a joyous prayer practice. Or find another way to keep the full fifty days of Easter. Whatever you do, it’s time to start planning.

Meanwhile, I wish you every blessing of this season of Lent. We still have plenty of Lent left to repent and renew in our walk with Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Try a practice of simple Lenten joy: Play Lent Madness
Follow along as the church reads Acts in Easter: A Journey Through Acts

Forward Today: 50 Days of Hope, Joy, and Reflection

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy Easter to you! I’ve celebrated Holy Week and Easter all over the world, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to celebrate Easter Day than this year.

After what seemed like an endless Lent and an interminable winter (at least here in Cincinnati), I was greatly heartened by the glorious spring day and the thrill of gathering with people outdoors to offer Easter praise, sing our favorite resurrection hymns, and shout some joyous alleluias.

Despite my joy, I must also acknowledge this year’s Easter wasn’t the one we might have hoped for. We couldn’t be inside a packed church. The music was a bit different from usual. Elbow bumps had to replace hugs.

Still, we cannot deny Easter joy coming forth any more than a large stone could contain Jesus from emerging from his tomb.

For several years, Forward Movement has offered Eastertide reflections on a blog called 50 Days. This year, instead of inviting a company of bloggers, I decided to write 50 reflections myself. Partly this was because in a complicated time of pandemic, doing this simply seemed better.

But also, I must confess, I thought it might be good for my soul to write 50 reflections on Easter. Turns out I was right. Diving deep into Easter has been just what I needed to help me re-center my life as we start to imagine what it might be like in a post-pandemic world.

So, friends, I invite you to join me over on 50 Days for Easter reflections. We’re just getting started! You can sign up for daily emails on that website, if you like.

May Easter joy fill your heart and your life. And may it spill over in those around you as you proclaim Good News and share Christ’s love.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director



Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.

Image: 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…

Download and print locally: Easter Calendar | Forward Movement

Pre-order your Golden Halo mug | Forward Movement

Citizenship as a Spiritual Calling | ChurchNext

My Way of Love | The Episcopal Church and RenewalWorks

Last minute ideas for Easter

Easter Sunday is only 13 days away! We have book club ideas, reading for individuals and families, a colorable calendar to follow the 50 days of Easter, downloadable resources, and more formation tools to inspire you and your congregation.

Shipping notice: Order soon to get your materials in time, and be sure to select a shipping option based off your delivery needs. Due to ongoing postal delays that are out of our control we recommend calling for any rush shipping information and charges. Call 800-543-1813 Monday-Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30pm ET and one of our helpful customer service team members to walk through options with you.



Alleluia! 50 Days and 50 Ways to Celebrate Easter

Easter is more than a day—it’s a season! Unbury the alleluias and shout with joy, celebrating the risen Christ.

Illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, this calendar poster invites spiritual reflection and is a wonderful companion for the Easter season. This poster is just right for hanging on the wall or keeping on a table for daily coloring. Share these with your congregation, youth group, friends, and family, and keep them on hand for coloring fun.

Buy now!

Print your copies locally! Can’t wait for shipping on this calendar? Check out the downloadable version for printing at your local print shop! *Please note this digital download product is Copyright 2021 Forward Movement and only licensed for local printing, and not for any other distribution method. All applicable copyright laws apply. Print as many as you’d like, but the contents may not be shared through other channels, such as email/social media, or any other distribution channel.



Celebrating the 50 Days of Easter

Celebrating 50 Days of EasterThe fifty days of Easter offer an opportunity to practice living as a resurrected people- and then to take that practice into the rest of the church year.

In this pamphlet author Nancy Hopkins-Greene explores ways let go of fear, cultivate signs of new life, read the Bible, bring new life to others, and invite God into your questions.

Pamphlets come in packs of 10 and make great additions to care packages!

Buy Now!



Easter and Holy Week Infographic Bundle

This downloadable series is comprised of five compelling visuals that explain much of the history, traditions, and practices surrounding Holy Week and Easter in the Anglican tradition of Christianity. Created by designer and Episcopal priest Chris Corbin, these infographics provide a contemporary way to engage and teach people of all ages about their faith.

The Easter & Holy Week Evangelism Bundle includes Holy Week, The Triduum, The Way of the Cross, Easter, and Pentecost, and is intended for print and digital distribution.

You’ll receive a download link to the high resolution PDF, JPEG, and PNG versions of each infographic; suitable for printing in-house, taking to a local print shop, sharing on your website or social media channels, and/or incorporating into a publication. Files print nicely on standard ledger paper (11” x 17”) or could be taken to a local print shop to be made into posters.

Download now!



50 Day Bible Challenge Series

The Way Of Love Bible ChallengeYou and your community can easily take a deep dive into one of the four Gospels, the Book of Acts, or see how scripture connects with the Way of Love practices.

Our 50 Day Bible Challenge books are perfect for the Easter season, with daily scripture, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from across the United States and around the world.

These titles, edited by the Rev. Marek Zabriskie, are part of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with scripture and an exploration of the Word of God.

Explore 50 Day Bible Challenge books now!



Explore Bible stories from the inside out, with the Bible Spy Series!
Perfect for children and families!

The Spy On Noah's ArkFrom author Lindsay Hardin Freeman, The Spy on Noah’s Ark and The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder bring the Bible to life, with collections of popular stories told from the inside out. Each page is sure to stir up your heart and mind as you read along, meeting old friends and making new ones.

You are invited to be a spy too at some of the most beloved stories of the Bible, placing yourself as participant and witness to God’s unfolding and unfailing grace and love. For ages 7-12. Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

Buy one or the set!



Take a personal spiritual journey with My Way of Love, powered by RenewalWorks

My Way of LoveMy Way of Love, powered by RenewalWorks is a personal guide for the spiritual journey, providing coaching to help individuals grow along the seven practices for Jesus-centered life: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest. It begins with a brief online survey which assesses where you are in your spiritual life.

Created in partnership with the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, this online assessment and coaching tool provides tips for improving your own spiritual journey, based on research from hundreds of thousands of Christians.

You can complete the initial assessment and stop there, or sign up for an eight-week series of emails that will offer some suggestions, coaching for how you can grow spiritually, and ways you can go deeper in love of God and neighbor.

Get started now!



Explore our interactive eCatalog for more ideas!

2021 Spring and Summer eCatalogOur online catalog provides many more ideas for individuals, families, and congregations.

Watch videos from our authors, browse our online courses from ChurchNext (our online learning platform), and learn about subscription options to Forward Day by Day, our iconic daily devotional.

View our interactive eCatalog here!



A good Easter with the Good Book Club

Dear friends in Christ,

Like most of you, I spent Easter morning at home, saying prayers and watching a service elsewhere online. It was not like any other Easter in my lifetime. And while it wasn’t an Easter I would have hoped for, I was still able to celebration the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

While Easter day might be the most muted Easter we’ll know, the coronavirus crisis also creates opportunity. Perhaps as we’re all at home, we can cultivate a greater awareness of Eastertide as a season of fifty days.

We can say or sing alleluias every day. We can find an image of the resurrection of Jesus and place it in our homes to remind us of the joy and wonder of the triumph of God’s love. And we can spend time with God’s word.

Forward Movement has partnered with other organizations to offer the Good Book Club this Eastertide. Over the 50 days of Easter, you are invited to join with people around the world in reading through the entire Gospel of Matthew. If you haven’t already started, it will be easy to catch up. We’re just four days in. And that leaves 46 more days of Eastertide!

You can find the readings on the Good Book Club website. Each day we post the readings and a reflection question on the Good Book Club Facebook page. And there’s a podcast with the readings, a meditation, a reflection question, and a prayer. If you’re curious about the Gospel of Matthew, we have prepared a short primer.

Everything I’ve mentioned is free. If you’d like a guided path through this season, A Journey with Matthew is available as an ebook for only $7.99. You can buy the paper book, too, but it will take a few days to arrive. It has the gospel reading, a meditation, reflection questions, and a prayer each day (same as the podcast).

There are more resources listed online, and perhaps your diocese or congregation has created some too.

Most importantly, I encourage you to take advantage of this time at home. While we are certainly struggling with many aspects of being forced to stay home, there can also be opportunities. Perhaps this season is the means to engage in a Bible study in your home, whether by yourself, or with other members of your household, or with a friend, or with your congregation online.

Easter blessings to you all. Even in this strange time, may you know the joys of God’s word and of Christ’s resurrection.

Yours faithfully,



Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image: Pixabay
Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.

Introducing Matthew
With Vicki Garvey

For six weeks this Easter, meet with other students from around the world for a free, live, online class on the Gospel of Matthew with Vicki Garvey, a respected teacher and author and former Canon for Lifelong Education at the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.

In this class, Vicki will teach us about the author, origin, setting, and message of the Gospel of Matthew. Classes will meet live on Thursday nights via zoom from April 23-May 28, 2020, and they will last an hour.

This class is ideal for people participating in the Good Book Club 2020, and for anyone interested in learning more about the Gospel of Matthew.

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!

New Release: The Heart of a Leader

In The Heart of a Leader, Bishop Edward S. Little moves through 2 Timothy, drawing on the lessons and teachings of Paul as a guide for mentoring and encouraging others to a life deeply committed to Christ. While we live in a radically different culture than Timothy and Paul, we struggle today with some of the same hard spiritual questions. We puzzle our way through intractable conflict. We face a world that is sometimes indifferent to the gospel and other times, outright hostile to it. Like Timothy and Paul, we wonder: What is essential to our Christian faith?

Paul’s second letter to Timothy can instruct us as surely as it taught its early readers. We are all Timothy. We stand in need of mentoring. We are all Paul, with apprentices in our care.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the printing of this title has been delayed until late summer. Pre-order your print copy today, but also know that we’ve made the e-book version available early. You can find it on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and at the iTunes store.

In case you missed it…

The Cross and the Coronavirus | Earth & Altar

Easter is more than what happens inside red church doors | Grow Christians

Read our latest issue of Odyssey | Forward Movement

Free Shipping on orders of $50 throughout April | Forward Movement