Tag Archives: forward day by day

Throwback Thursday: 1995

This meditation, originally published in Forward Day by Day in 1995, was featured in our 75th Anniversary edition in 2010.



Luke 17:11-17 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.

I remember the importance my mother put on writing thank-you letters and saying “Thank you” after a party. I recall thinking as a youngster that she made too much of it. I identified with the small boy who said after a party, “My mother told me to tell you I had a very nice time.”

Now that I’m grown up, I realize how important gratitude is. The name of our central service of worship—the eucharist—means “thank you” in Greek. As a psychotherapist, I realize that the cornerstone of mental health is a thank-you attitude toward life, even in the midst of pain and less. Unhealthy is a whining “I deserve better than this; it’s not fair” even in the midst of plenty. The ability to give thanks is a watershed of spiritual and mental health. To find a thank-you in your heart toward the Author of life is true worship.

Reflect on the area of your life which is causing you pain right now. Can you stay with the pain for a moment and sincerely say “Thank you” for something you have discovered within it? In doing so, you have just celebrated eucharist in your own heart.

P.S. Thanks, Mom. (1995)

 

Throwback Thursday Meditation: June 8, 2001

Forward Day by Day coverLuke 18:9-14. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income. 

We all have our yardsticks for judging others’ faith: “I heard that they tithe;” “He was a senior warden;” “They go to church every day;” “She’s a priest.” Measurements can either make us feel superior or guilty; you can always find someone worse or better than yourself. The result of these comparisons is always the same: paralysis. We either convince ourselves that we are doing well and don’t need to change, or guilt forces us to leave religion to the religious or to wallow in self-pity.

Of course, only God knows what is inside, and God isn’t keeping that kind of scorecard. Trying to judge other’s faith solely through their external piety is just as foolish as thinking that if we do enough “good” things, God will have to let us into heaven. We aren’t saved by anything measurable, rather by the immeasurable love of Christ on the cross. Our part in it is to have faith, and that faith can bear fruit without effort or worry. Christ came to set us free from the bondage of sin; we need to step outside our cells.

Throwback Thursday Meditation: November 5, 1982

Forward CoverLuke 13:31-35. Jesus said, I must be on my way today and tomorrow and the next day.

There is about Our Lord a sense of continuous travelling. It is not a frantic restlessness but a controlled and purposeful journeying. Again and again we read of him in terms of “the way.” There is very little element of a fixed abode.

We can transfer that into the interior world of our spirituality. Our spirituality must be a living reality, ready to be mobile rather than static, ready to do a great deal of mental and spiritual travelling and exploration. To do that we certainly do need spiritual bases. Jesus had them for his travels. There was Bethany, there was Capernaum, there were quiet hillsides, even the desert. Being a Christian today means possessing these two elements of spirituality. Faith is, by paradox, both a point of arrival and a staging post for further journey.

Turn, follow, learn, pray,
Serve, share, the disciple’s way
Weary find your rest in him
Whose worship is the pilgrim’s inn.

Pray for the sick and for God’s guidance to know what you can do to assist their healing.

 

Throwback Thursday Meditation: July 8, 1965

This was the Forward Day by Day meditation on July 8, 1965. It is titled What Draws People to Christ.


A great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

People were drawn in droves to Jesus, not by the charming stories He told, but by the “great things he did”: healing sick bodies and minds, picking up fallen sinners and setting them on their feet, raising dead souls to life.

His Church today will do well to note this fact. We want the whole world to come to Christ in His Church. And the divine Head of the Church tells us to go forth in the power of His Name and do His works. Preaching His Gospel in words has its essential place. Jesus Himself came preaching. But He did more than talk: He acted. This was what drew the great multitude to Him. And this is what will draw the world to Him today: our doing things by His power.

We can, if we will. He gives us money, influence, opportunity, all necessary assets for the doing of His mighty works. When we do them, zealously, sacrificially, the world sees Christ working through us: and it turns to Him.

Update to Forward Day by Day online comment system

Since we began offering Forward Day by Day online several years ago, we have encouraged conversation among our readers and friends. For the last few years, we have been using a system from Facebook. This has offered an advantage in that most of our readers already use Facebook, so there’s no new password to use. It has also encouraged good online behavior, since all comments are coming from identifiable people.

We are proud of the quality of conversation we have hosted. Every day, a regular community engages with the daily meditations, and newcomers are warmly welcomed. The tone has consistently been gracious, even amid occasional disagreements about this or that issue. Above all, a spirit of prayer has pervaded the conversation. We are grateful to all who have participated and read the conversations.

Over the years, we’ve had some problems with the Facebook system. Every time, it is a struggle to address. We have little control over the setup, and we simply cannot get technical support. This is, after all, only a tiny speck of what Facebook does as a business. And we have heard from several folks that they cannot join the conversation because they do not want to have a Facebook account for one reason or another.

After considering various options, we have decided to switch to a new system for accommodating comments. Around the middle of November, we intend to switch to a system from a company called Disqus. You may be used to it already; it is perhaps the most popular commenting system now in use across thousands upon thousands of websites. We have already used it on several of our own websites.

We hope it will not be a big adjustment. It will have many similar features to our current system, and if you want to continue using your Facebook account, that will work. You can also use other social media accounts, and you will also be able to create an account to leave comments without being a Facebook or Twitter user. We are testing out the system now, and we hope the changeover will be free of undue disruption.

Here’s what will remain constant. We will continue to ask you to comment under your real name. We will continue to ask everyone to be respectful and gracious with others. We will continue to bar hateful rhetoric or falsehoods; this has rarely been a problem.

We hope you’ll enjoy the new system. And if there are problems, do let us know. We’ll do our best to host what has been inspiring and edifying conversation.

Thank you for your support of Forward Day by Day and Forward Movement’s ministries over these years.

The Good Book Club: Reading God’s Word Together

By Richelle Thompson
Forward Movement Deputy Director and Managing Editor

Reading scripture changes us. Encounters with God and God’s word transform us. Every time. Whether we’re looking for answers or think we’re doing just fine on our own, God’s word still speaks.

This fundamental and profound truth lies at the heart of the Good Book Club, Forward Movement’s invitation to the church to read the Book of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles together throughout the seasons of Lent and Easter. We believe engaging in scripture brings us into deeper relationship with our Savior—and that reading God’s word together will bring us into closer relationship with one another.

Throughout Lent and Easter, Forward Day by Day will move through Luke and Acts instead of our regular practice of following the lectionary. (Don’t worry: We’ll still offer the lectionary readings on our website.) I am honored to be one of the four featured writers during this time period, alongside talented, faithful colleagues, the Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman (March), the Rev. Marcus Halley (April), and Miguel Escobar (May). As always, our Forward Day by Day meditations will be available in Spanish, as a podcast, online, on an app, in Braille, and large print.

In addition, we will offer free downloadable Bible studies for individuals and congregations to explore some of the stories in more depth. We continue the Bible Challenge series with A Journey with Luke and the newly released A Journey through Acts, daily meditations by noted theologians and faith leaders from around the world. With RenewalWorks, we also present a Good Book Club calendar featuring the inspirational and thought-provoking cartoons of the Rev. Jay Sidebotham.

Reading scripture is both deeply personal and an act of community. We invited Episcopal organizations from across the church to partner in the Good Book Club initiative. The response was overwhelming. More than twenty-five organizations stepped up to partner with Forward Movement, committing time and talent to develop resources for the wider church. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued a video invitation for all Episcopalians to join the Good Book Club. In my twenty years of local, diocesan, and church-wide work, I have never seen so many organizations come together for common cause. God is doing a new thing indeed.

Episcopal Migration Ministries will offer a special podcast, featuring voices from across the U.S., the church, and the immigrant and refugee community. A blog will accompany the podcast featuring written reflections, art, photography, music, and videos from podcast guests and others. ChurchNext has developed a free, five-course video curriculum for Lent called Luke the Liberator. United Thank Offering (UTO) has prepared a downloadable booklet with meditations on the readings, questions for personal reflection or group discussion, space to keep a gratitude journal, and a story of a ministry supported by UTO. Forma will offer a weekly Faith-at-Home series, featuring reflections and activities for families, and Building Faith will publish a series of articles to help Christian educators and parents read and study Luke and Acts with children and teens. These are just a sampling of the wide variety of resources that offer an opportunity for people to engage wherever they are—geographically, spiritually, emotionally. A full list of the partners is featured below, and links to the resources can be found at www.goodbookclub.org.

In addition to organizations, entire dioceses are onboard, making scripture engagement a priority. So too several congregations have committed to reading and exploring Luke and Acts together. If you’d like for your congregation or organization to be included as a partner or want to know more about how to get involved, send me an email at rthompson@forwardmovement.org.

As we began making plans for this project, we discussed our goals and what success might look like. We have some quantitative and qualitative measures, but we’re also not willing to limit how God might work in and among us. We can only dream and imagine how the Good Book Club might shape and transform us as individuals and as a church. God already knows.

Excerpt from Forward Day by Day, February 2018

Luke 2:10-11. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

You have probably heard these words dozens of times. Perhaps you were a shepherd clad in an ill-fitting sheet or a young Mary holding a burlap-wrapped baby doll. Maybe, propped on elbows on the family room floor, you watched an earnest Linus tell Charlie Brown—and us—what Christmas is all about. Maybe wax burned your fingers as you held a candle at midnight mass, listening to these words said by a priest or sung by a choir.

Luke’s telling of the birth of Christ is the familiar favorite: The emperor sending out a decree; Joseph and Mary setting out for Bethlehem on a donkey; Jesus sleeping (and crying, I suspect) in a manger.

Whether this is your first or fiftieth time hearing this story, may you meet each telling with wonder and awe. The birth of any child is amazing, but the birth of this one is miraculous. Just twenty-one verses change the course of the world. One story in a sea of stories that is the greatest one ever to be told, offering good news of great joy for all people.

MOVING FORWARD: Read the lesson out loud today. Savor the memories this story calls up for you.

Volunteer Opportunity: Share your love for Forward Movement

Forward Movement is seeking volunteers to run exhibit tables at diocesan conventions. Our staff travels as much as possible, but can’t reach every convention that we’d like to. We have packages with 6-7 sample books, copies of our catalog, giveaways items, and a table cover ready to go—the only thing missing, is a dedicated volunteer to run the exhibit table.

Our staff will handle all the logistics, shipping, and convention red-tape, allowing you to show up the morning(s) of your convention, setup the table, and spend the day answering basic questions about Forward Movement and our resources. We’ll provide a cheat-sheet about everything in the box…so don’t worry about being an expert on everything Forward Movement does.

As a thank you, we’re offering a “New Titles Subscription” to volunteers. This subscription means you’ll receive mailings throughout the year with complimentary copies of our latest books, calendars, pamphlets, and booklets.

Interested? Please contact us at volunteer@forwardmovement.org to learn more, and see if your diocesan convention is available for this opportunity.

Watch: Presiding Bishop Curry’s Invitation to the Good Book Club

We’re getting really excited about the Good Book Club, the churchwide initiative to read together from the Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts next Lent-Easter.  But don’t listen to us tell it… Here’s Presiding Bishop Curry offering an invitation to the GBC!

Want to learn more? Like the Good Book Club Facebook page for updates during the leadup to the initiative, and head to goodbookclub.org for details on getting your church involved.

Forward Movement Launches the Good Book Club

We’re excited to announce the Good Book Club—a church-wide invitation to all Episcopalians to read Luke and Acts during Lent-Easter 2018. Participants in the Good Book Club will begin reading Luke the Sunday before Lent, February 11, 2018, and finish up the Book of Acts on the Day of Pentecost, May 20, 2018. We hope you’ll join us, and the many churches, individuals and organizations who will be a part of this special project.

Several organizations have already announced partnerships with Forward Movement on the Good Book Club, including Episcopal Church Foundation, ChurchNext, Episcopal Migration Ministries, and The Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry. Partner organizations are creating resources or encouraging their constituents to take part in the effort. A list of current partners can be found here.

The Good Book Club website (goodbookclub.org) lists the daily readings, as well as available resources to support people as they read the scriptures. Resources also will be available in Spanish at clubbiblico.org.

And a note to Forward Day by Day readers: Forward Day by Day will use Good Book Club readings during Lent-Easter 2018, instead of the usual daily lectionary.

For now, you can sign up for updates or learn more about partnering with us at goodbookclub.org. We hope you’ll read along with us, and Episcopalians around the globe!

5 Questions for Forward Day by Day Author Ann Rose

We hope you’ve been enjoying this month’s Forward Day by Day meditations by Ann Rose. We love hearing more about writers’ processes, so we recently checked in with Ann, who shared more about her writing and her daily practice, plus some wonderful stories that didn’t make it into Forward Day by Day. Enjoy!

Do you have a special place you write, or do you just write at your desk or wherever the mood strikes you?

I have a chair in our living room, across from a chest with two pottery oil candles that my husband made. Two icons are on the wall above the chest (“The Holy Trinity” and “The Dormition” icons). That is where I start each morning, candles lighted, with reading, meditation, journaling, and prayer. When I’m working on a writing project, like the Forward Day by Day meditations, I tend to sit in that chair to think, gather ideas, jot them down, and ponder them.

Sometimes I write the first draft of the meditation by hand, sitting in that chair.  At some point, I move to my computer in our home office at the end of the family room, and continue to work on it. Three days a week, I teach part-time at a seminary (composition and literature). I keep index cards in my purse, and when an idea strikes me for a meditation, I jot it down at the next red light or between classes so that I won’t forget it before I get back home to my chair or computer.

Did you have a favorite meditation you wrote this month? If so, why? Conversely, did you struggle with any of the readings in particular?

One of my favorite meditations for June is the one for Friday the 16th. I didn’t grow up in a home with strong Christian teaching, but what I thought I understood from the general culture was that God wanted strong, continually joyful people, and that God showed us the right path and the best choices but wasn’t involved in a particularly intimate way with us. When I spent a year in the Ignatian Retreat in Everyday Life about 10 years ago (and after that became a co-facilitator of the retreat), I learned to put myself imaginatively into the scenes of Bible stories and later to continue the conversation with Jesus about what was happening in my interior life. Out of that came my discovery that I was loved when I wasn’t either strong or joyful, and that I could afford to be transparent with myself and with God about desolate times.

That discovery has been incredibly important to me. The meditation on June 16th is based on that idea, and the meditation on June 9th works with that theme also, using George Herbert’s lines about the broken pieces of our hearts along with our tears becoming an altar for God. Someday maybe I’ll get the chance to write on Psalm 56:8, where the psalmist asks God to “put my tears in your bottle.” The image of God’s caring so deeply about our tears that he collects them in a precious tear bottle is a profound as well as a beautiful image to me.

I don’t think I struggled with the readings so much as I struggled when I wanted to use icons or other Christian art in my meditations. Icons are important spiritual tools for me, and I also love much Western medieval Christian art in its simplicity and almost primitive nature. But it’s difficult to describe a piece of art in such a way that the meditation has the force and clarity that I feel when I am looking at the icon or fresco or oil painting or statue. In the June meditations, I used two icons (“The Holy Trinity” and “Pentecost”) and two pieces of 11th century Western art (the illuminated manuscript of Jesus in the boat in the storm and the fresco in the Bayeux Cathedral of the crucified Jesus in God’s lap), and with those illustrations that touch me so deeply, I struggled to put them into words effectively.

What do you do when you have writers’ block? How do you unstick yourself? 

My usual plan is to work through the month of readings, finishing one mediation before I start thinking about the next one. On the day that I finish a draft of one, that night I read the next set of scripture readings before I go to bed, because I find that sometimes my mind keeps working during the night and I wake up with thoughts about a reading that I wasn’t conscious of when I went to sleep. The following morning, I re-read the scripture passages and go through the day trying to keep them in mind and thinking about which one draws me the most to write about it. If I do that for a couple of days and nothing strikes me as a good choice, then I move on to the next day and figure that when I eventually get back to the skipped day, one or more of the readings will jump off the page as being good material for a meditation. I do surround all of this in prayer, praying that I will be able to choose verses and stories such that many readers will relate to what I’m writing and find the meditation meaningful and helpful.

How has developing a daily devotional practice changed your life and relationships? 

My daily devotional life has had a long history of development. I was drawn to start a faith journey in high school through the organization Young Life, which offered, along with large, enthusiastic meetings, small Bible study groups that were so good that I sailed through Old Testament and New Testament courses at Duke, already knowing much of the material and feeling appreciative of an academic approach to the Bible, instead of threatened by it (which many of my classmates seemed to feel). Young Life kids were encouraged to have a daily “quiet time” that consisted of “listening to God” through reading scripture, and “talking to God” through prayer. Years later I would find that dividing scripture from prayer no longer worked for me, but at the time, it was a good starting place. I became an active Presbyterian in high school and college, and the church I attended just a block from my college campus continued to instill in me the need for daily devotional practice as well as weekly Bible study at the church.

I kept up my “quiet time” until I had a full-time college teaching job and two young children, both of whom were juvenile diabetics, so our mornings were all about medical things and I struggled to keep on top of it all. After a plateau of about 10 years, my husband and I had become Episcopalians and we both went to Cursillo. Part of my renewal experience was to return to my daily prayer and study time. I remember it felt not like a discipline but like coming home.

As time went on, I began to read about and try prayer approaches like Lectio Divina and Praying with Scripture, both approaches combining scripture with prayer rather than separating them. Then about 10 years ago, I did the Ignatian Retreat in Everyday Life for a year, and that nailed down the Ignatian way of “praying with scripture” for me. I co-facilitated the retreat for a couple of years after I made my own retreat, and now I am co-facilitating it again on a regular basis.

How has a daily devotional practice changed my life and relationships? For me, it is a spiritual lifeline.  It’s not a commitment that I feel I have to keep, but a time I relish to start the day. One of the key things in Ignatian spirituality is to identify the “consolations” and also the “desolations” of the day.  I do this each morning for the previous day, and jot them down, imagining Jesus sitting with me and sharing both the things I’m grateful for and the things that seem dark, discouraging, frustrating, etc. Then I take an index card and jot down what I think I need to do that day. I try to make this a prayerful experience.

I used to get distracted from my prayer time as things would pop into my mind about the day ahead. So I decided to incorporate the day ahead into my prayer time instead. After making the index card for the upcoming day, I spend some time with Ignatian praying with scripture (I use the book Sacred Space, which is compiled every year by the Jesuits in Ireland), sitting in silence, and then reading. Depending on how long I have, I might read the online mediation from Frederick Buechner, the daily reading from Forward Day by Day, and a few pages from whatever author I’m currently reading–Richard Rohr, Barbara Brown Taylor, Anne Lamott, Cynthia Bourgeault, Joan Chittister, Rowan Williams, etc.

Now that I’m not working full-time, I have a much longer time in the morning on the days that I’m not heading for the seminary campus. I don’t know how I would be if I didn’t give myself this time of sensing that I’m sitting in God’s presence and pondering, reading, jotting down consolations and desolations from the previous day, listening, and just being silent, but I know it has helped me be healthier both spiritually and emotionally for a long, long time.

What’s one thing you’d like to share with the readers/FDD community that you might not have gotten to share in your meditations? 

The older I get (I was born when my father was overseas serving in World War II), the more I become aware that the “teachers of deep things” in my life have been not only the predictable people like parents, college professors, and clergy. Some of those people have been profound teachers, but in addition, my “teachers of deep things” have been my own children, my husband, ordinary friends, students in my classrooms, certain scenes that have given me glimpses of the kingdom of God, several dreams, art, creation, and even architecture (I’m thinking of Durham Cathedral in northern England as I mention architecture).

I’m sure that if I revised that list a few weeks from now, I would want to add many more categories. Just last week I started making a list of specific grace-filled lessons that I had either learned or been reminded of through other people, scenes, art, creation, and so on. I am going to use part of my time this summer to work on my own personal writing project about these lessons and the way they came to me. The Ignatian perspective of “finding God in all things” has helped direct me to try to be increasingly open to experiencing God through all sorts of things that would have seemed unlikely to me when I was a younger adult.

I also studied quite a bit of medieval literature in college and graduate school, and perhaps the medieval approach to seeing life on various levels at the same time–literal, allegorical, symbolic, and mystical–has come back in my later years not as an academic concept but as a spiritual reality to help me see grace in all sorts of people and things that otherwise might seem random.

Probably all great spiritual traditions emphasize “awareness,” and for me, the awareness of the multitude of avenues by which grace has come to me in my life is very much on my mind right now–so I am happy you asked what I would like to share if I had one more thing to mention.