Tag Archives: Forward Today

Forward Today: Celebrate the depth and breadth of God’s love for us

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. My hope is that preachers will mostly let the hymns and anthems do the heavy lifting of celebrating the Holy Trinity. Too often when we try to explain something complex in a few minutes, we reduce it in unhelpfully simplistic ways. But there is some glorious poetry that the church has offered over the centuries to praise and to celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

The lessons this year include a very brief reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans:

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

It hits many of the high points of God’s Trinitarian salvation of humanity. We read of the Father’s love, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the abiding Spirit. Is that the entirety of the Trinity? Of course not! But it’s not a bad start – and we don’t have to get into weighty metaphysical matters to see the Triune God’s love at work here.

So, this Sunday, celebrate the depth and breadth of God’s love for us – the love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Slaying Your Goliaths

Slaying Your GoalithsHow can God help you, like David, to overcome seemingly impossible odds? The David and Goliath story offers us spiritual guidance on how to overcome obstacles. Rather than offering “self-help,” the story offers “God-help,” rooted in its history as a story told by people of faith to people of faith. The ancient story of David and Goliath speaks to modern people facing modern problems, offering spiritual guidance and reassurance that God is with us always, even and especially when we face and slay our giants.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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Forward Today: Summer Reading, Summer Inspiration

Dear friends in Christ,

Regardless of official astronomical arrival, I always shift into summer mode once June arrives. The pace slows down a bit, and the office is quieter as most of our staff enjoys some vacation time here and there.

Long before I served in a ministry that publishes books, I became a fan of summer reading plans. Perhaps in some relaxing spot on vacation, it’s nice to curl up with a book and read for the pleasure of it.Gifts of God book

Of course, we have lots of books—including a few new ones—at Forward Movement. But you can find books from other publishers, too. Or maybe you’ll choose a portion of scripture to read. Whatever you do, I encourage you to read something that might inspire you in this more relaxed time of year.

I’ve got a few books to read myself, including Gifts of God for the People of God, new from Forward Movement. And I’m hoping to read my way through the entire New Testament in a translation that’s fresh for me. What are you reading this summer?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Forward Today: In Faith, a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Dear friends,

The advertising world gave us the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and variations of the same. Early in the twentieth century, advertisers were encouraging the use of visuals to create the desired image rather than paragraphs of text. Just over 100 years after the first known usage, and the saying is still true.

We’re a visual culture, and so I hope the church is always looking for ways to connect with people using images of various kinds. Congregations can use Instagram to connect with local communities. Among other wonderful attributes of the Episcopal Church, our liturgy makes for great photo ops! By the way, if you’re not already following Forward Movement on Instagram, give us a follow.

A few months ago, our staff started thinking about how we might use infographics to offer teaching and inspiration. When we published a summary of what we had learned in RenewalWorks about the spiritual life of the Episcopal Church, we made an infographic and published the paper. The infographic brilliantly shares much of what’s in the paper.

Then we started thinking more broadly. We worked with the Rev. Chris Corbin from the Diocese of South Dakota, who has a knack for making beautiful and informative infographics. So far, we’ve released two sets of these graphics. One set covers Easter and Holy Week liturgies, and the other does some teaching around basics of the Episcopal Church. You can buy the sets or individual graphics. (We have one coming in Spanish soon, too.) These graphics are designed to be used inside congregations for information and teaching, or as part of evangelism and community connection.

This is all part of our work at Forward Movement to meet the needs of today’s church while preparing for tomorrow’s church. Are you using graphics and photos in your church? Are you using images to share the story of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ?

Let us know on social media (Facebook or Twitter) how you are saying thousands of words with images. And tell us how we’re doing at providing the tools you need as disciples and evangelists of Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: The Path

Winner of the bronze 2018 Illumination Book Award for Bible Study!
 

Walk in the footsteps of faithful men and women who have done their best to follow God’s call. The Path is the story of the Bible, excerpted from the New Revised Standard Version so that it is clear and easy to read. Follow the path of God’s love all the way from the beginning to the end, from Adam’s creation to John’s revelation.

With informative trail signs to help you see how each piece of the narrative fits together, The Path is an experience unlike any other: an amazing 360-degree overview of the vast, sweeping story of God’s extraordinary love for ordinary people. Join us on this epic adventure, a journey through the Bible to grow closer to God.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.50

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Forward Today: Wise and Daring Disciples

Dear friends in Christ,

As I write this, the Forward Movement board of directors is meeting in Cincinnati. I’m grateful for this faithful group of people who oversee Forward Movement’s ministry and mission. This remarkable group of leaders gives generously of their time to support the work of Forward Movement to inspire disciples and to empower evangelists.

I’m excited about sharing with our board the work we have been doing and that we will be doing in the near future. And I always enjoy the perspective of our board members as they guide and shape our work.

Please pray for our board meeting, our board members, and the staff of Forward Movement. We all love the work to which God has called us, and it is great privilege to serve God in this way.

There is a lovely prayer that dates back to the beginning of Forward Movement’s ministry, and I invite you to pray this, if you find it helpful. It would certainly bless us!

O God, we ask your guidance and blessing for the Forward Movement of your church. Use it, we pray, to open our eyes to your glory and to the opportunities that lie before the church to reach people everywhere with the good news of Christ. Grant that the leaders of Forward Movement may be both wise and daring disciples, and stir up in them the will to share joyfully in this work with our prayers and gifts. Let not their purpose grow slack, that the nations of this world may become one holy people under the kingship of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. This we ask in his name. Amen.

I especially love the prayer that we might be “wise and daring disciples.” That’s something for which all of us Christians might strive.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo from our November 2018 meeting at St. James’ Church, New York, NY.


Today’s Flash Sale: Note to Self

Note to SelfWinner of a 2019 Illumination Book Award for Spirituality!

Discover what God has written onto your heart. What do you want for your life? Who do you want to be in your life, and how do you want to live? We humans need reminders, and when it comes to making a consistent effort to be better people, it’s important to have constant reminders. A “Rule of Life” is an ancient method for building soul memory, and offering reminders to ourselves of the person we hope to be—it is a practice of training your mind and soul to be kind and good.

Creating your own rule of life is grace that only you can offer to yourself, helping remind you to live the life you desire, and the life God wishes for you. Join author and Episcopal priest Charles LaFond as he guides you through the wisdom, creation, and application of your own Rule of Life.

Regular: $18
Today: $13.50

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Forward Today: To Scroll or to Type, That is the Question

Dear friends in Christ,

Most of the time, I’m grateful for social media. Facebook allows me to keep up with lots of people that I would otherwise lose touch with. Twitter is a fun way to have conversations with people I might not otherwise talk with. And Instagram is just fun…and fun to look at.

There’s a downside to social media too, of course. Some people suffer from the pressure to present themselves in a certain way. Others feel bad because it looks like everyone else has it all figured out. Social media can expose deep differences, and we don’t always use our opportunities to find deep connection. In other words, it’s fraught. When it comes to political or moral issues, it’s easy to degenerate into either a yelling chamber or an echo chamber. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Computer key pad

What if we used social media as a way to learn about those with whom we differ? What if we focused on forming connections? What if we proclaimed the Good News a bit more often?

Not too long ago, I had a conversation online about when to wade into difficult conversations or debates — and when to step away. It’s not always easy, is it? Sometimes it’s worth entering a conversation for learning from others or to educate others. But often enmity will be the only result of a comment.

Anyway, in this conversation, someone half-jokingly said we needed a prayer for this. For some reason, the serenity prayer popped into my head. It would have worked as is, but I made a few edits. I want to try to live this way myself, and you might find it helpful, too.

God, grant me the serenity
to scroll past pointless arguments,
the courage to weigh in on rare occasions,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one post at a time;
accepting social media as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that you will make all things right
if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

(Adapted with apologies from the well-known and life-changing serenity prayer.)

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image: Pixabay


Today’s Flash Sale: Prayers New and Old AND Prayers for All Occasions

Prayers New and Old
Prayers New and OldEnrich your daily devotions with Prayers New and Old. It’s the perfect blend of all of your favorite psalms, intercessions, praises and thanksgivings from The Book of Common Prayer with new prayers to enhance your prayer collection. With prayers like “The Lord’s Prayer,” “The Apostle’s Creed,” and “For Refreshment in Daily Life,” Prayers New and Old introduces young and old to experience the richness of prayer. The book is pocket-sized and indexed by topic so you can pray anywhere. Book is bound with a dark blue faux leather cover, with gold edges, and a ribbon.

 

Prayers for All Occasions
Prayers for all Occasions Find the right prayer for the right time in Prayers for All Occasions. This pocket-sized volume offers a diverse collection of prayers for family, life events, church work, and other unique occasions. Indexed by topic so you can find prayers quickly, Prayers for All Occasions is ideal for personal devotion or as a quick prayer reference tool for clergy. Fits easily in purse or pocket. With faux leather cover, gold edges, and ribbon.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

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Forward Today: Stop and smell the flowers

Dear friends in Christ,

As I was trying to decide what to write about for this week’s Forward Today, I decided to take my dog out for a walk. George the Dog comes to work with me regularly, as he’s a good companion and sometimes a muse.

We walked over to a nearby park, and I realized when George stopped to smell the flowers that he had given me an object lesson. It is a stunningly beautiful day here in Cincinnati. The glory of God’s creation is all around, testifying to the splendor of God’s radiant glory. Were it not for my canine friend’s diligent nose, I might not have stopped to appreciate these entirely remarkable flowers.

Study after study shows that getting up and walking around is good for creative thinking. Study after study shows that gratitude is good for our health and our spirit. And we Christians know that giving thanks to God for the beauty of creation is good for our souls.

So this week’s Forward Today comes with a simple message. Look up, right now! Savor the world that is around you. Give thanks for God’s blessings.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

P.S. If you want some joy in your social media feed, George T. Dog is on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. New followers are like ear scratches for him.


Today’s Flash Sale: Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book

Saint Augustine's Prayer BookSaint Augustine’s Prayer Book is a book of prayer and practice – with disciplines, habits, and patterns for building a Christian spiritual life. It will help you to develop strong habits of prayer, to prepare for and participate in public liturgy thoughtfully, and to nurture a mind and soul ready to work and give and pray for the spread of the kingdom. Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book features “Holy Habits of Prayer,” devotions to accompany Holy Eucharist, Stations of the Cross, and Stations of the Resurrection, and a wide range of litanies, collects, and prayers for all occasions. The newly revised edition includes the treasured liturgies and prayers of the original while offering some important updates in language and content. Revised and edited by well-regarded scholars David Cobb and Derek Olsen, the Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book is a wonderful gift as well as a handsome addition to your own prayer book collection. Comes leather-bound (black) with two ribbons in a gift box.

Regular: $28
Today: $21

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Forward Today: We wish to see Jesus

Dear friends in Christ,

Today the church celebrates the feast of Saint Philip and Saint James. We know almost nothing about James, and Philip shows up only a few times in the scriptures. One of the more well-known mentions comes in John 12:20-21:

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

These Greeks got right to the point. Perhaps they had heard about this famous teacher, and they wanted to meet him. “We wish to see Jesus.”

I spend a lot of time preaching across our church, and it turns out that quite a few pulpits have the words of these Greeks written on the pulpit where only the preacher will see it. In the language of the King James Bible, it’s “Sir, we would see Jesus.” In our NRSV translation, it’s “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” It’s a pretty powerful reminder to the one standing in the pulpit that people who show up in our churches really want to meet Jesus. Preachers might talk about other things, but sermons should always be about Jesus. And churches might offer plenty of things, but it should all be about Jesus.

It’s easy to lose sight of this. Churches always have lots going on, and once we are part of the group, we might be tempted to focus on relationships with others or on the work to run a church. But the fundamental point of everything in a church is always Jesus. In our day and age, when someone shows up for church the first time, it probably isn’t because of peer pressure or obligation or status. Our guests are very likely to echo what those Greeks said, “We wish to see Jesus.”

If someone shows up this Sunday in your church, will the preaching, the teaching, the activities, and everything else be about Jesus?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director
Image and inspiration: Tim Schenck

Today’s Flash Sale: Faith with a Twist

Faith with a TwistFaith with a Twist: A 30-Day Journey into Christian Yoga seeks to bridge the gap between spiritual-but-not-religious by blending the ancient church’s wisdom and the spiritual practice of yoga. All too often attempts to blend yoga and Christianity have failed to do justice to both traditions—often sacrificing the wisdom of one tradition for the other. Faith with a Twist connects the traditional eight limbs of yoga with the church’s understanding and emphasis on living a holy life. This approach creates a unique blend of spiritual practices and religious wisdom that are perfect for the yoga novice and the experienced practitioner alike.

Regular: $16
Today: $12

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Forward Today: What does an Easter life look like?

Dear friends in Christ,

We are only a few days into this radiant, joyous Easter season. I hope your celebration is off to a good start and that it continues for the full 50 days.

I’ve been to Israel several times, and on one of my visits I was able to visit a first century tomb much like the one in which Jesus would have been buried. You can see a photo of the tomb I visited. Easter makes the astonishing claim that a dead man was put to rest in a tomb like this, and that on the third day, that same man was raised to new life and walked out of the tomb.

Though the resurrection story itself is amazing, its meaning is even more amazing. When Jesus Christ was raised to new life, it meant that God’s power was stronger than the evil of this world. Indeed, God’s love is stronger than the most vile hate. God’s love is stronger than our worst sins. God’s love is stronger even than death itself. Over the next few weeks in church, we’ll hear stories of our risen Lord and how he appeared to his disciples. They are stories of transformation, of amazement, and most importantly of the hope we share in Christ Jesus.

I’m grateful we have a whole season to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not a celebration of metaphor or myth or legend. It is a celebration of God’s love and an invitation to live a transformed life of hope and grace. This season invites us to live an Easter life.

We’ve just finished Lent, and many of us will have taken on Lenten disciplines. Have you ever thought about taking on an Easter discipline? It’s not too late! What might an Easter discipline look like for you?

Maybe you’ll find new ways to share messages of hope in a world of fear. Maybe you’ll practice reconciliation in a world of division. Maybe you’ll pray or study. (You could, for example, read the Book of Acts this season.) Maybe you’ll find ways to serve Jesus Christ in the hungry, the stranger, or the prisoner.

This season invites us to consider an important question: what does an Easter life look like?

Let us all treasure and celebrate this glorious season of resurrection, love, hope, and joy. Easter blessings be with you always! Alleluia, alleluia!

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director
Image: Flickr

Today’s Flash Sale: For the Beauty of the Earth

For the Beauty of the EarthGod saw every living thing that was made, and indeed, it was very good. -Genesis 1:31

Dance along with the wind of God, be bathed in the primal waters, and look with awe and wonder on the myriad creatures God has made. Spend a day, a week, a month, or the whole year basking in the wonder of both fruit and flower, night and day, and everything thing that creeps upon the good earth. You are part and parcel of the very good creation God has made.

Join watercolor artist Kathrin Burleson and diverse voices from across The Episcopal Church in exploring the wonders of Creation and the beauty of the Creator. Burleson’s Creation-inspired watercolors offer inspiring visualizations that enhance the book’s 365 daily meditations, written by authors across the church and across the country.

Regular: $20
Today: $15

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Forward Today: No matter what, God is there

Dear friends in Christ,

We stand poised to embark on a great journey, if we will make time for it. The next three days, the church around the world observes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter. Taken together, these are the Triduum Sacrum, or the Three Holy Days. They draw us into the heart of our life together as Christians.

It might seem impossible to go on this journey. All around us, our time and attention are demanded by concerns great and small. The fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris might be a parable for so much of our world: destruction and hope persist together. Political chaos looms in many nations. Poverty and wealth both abound, and violence never fades away. News networks do not relent. Fear grows and hope fades.

Crucifix

Making time for church services will not cause world peace, but our time in worship may inspire us to work for peace. The liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter show us nearly every side of Jesus. And in knowing Christ Jesus, we encounter the image of the invisible God.

The Three Holy Days will fix nothing on their own, but we will see that God’s presence is never far, no matter what. Whether in love, friendship, betrayal, abandonment, suffering, death, and even hell, God is there.

I bid you God’s blessing and peace as we enter this holiest time of the year. Perhaps you will, as I do, find it helpful to pray this wonderful prayer that is used both on Good Friday and Easter Eve.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn
Executive Director
Image: Flickr

Today’s Flash Sale: Hour by Hour

Hour by HourPray without ceasing with this compact edition of the Daily Office complete with prayers and psalms for one week. This beautiful little book, excerpted from The Book of Common Prayer, will enable anyone to say the hours every day: Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline. Perfect for prayer and worship at all times and in all places. Hour by Hour is a thoughtful gift – the cover is deluxe soft leather, and it’s packaged in a small white gift box.

Regular: $20
Today: $15

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Forward Today: Holy Week and the heart of Christian faith

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. I imagine regular readers of Forward Today will be in church quite a bit next week, including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve.

As a parish priest, I loved this time in our liturgical year. It gets right at the heart of our faith to move through these sacred days. In our experience of these evocative liturgies, we learn so much about the God we worship. It was also the busiest week of the year, by far. Though the hours were long and the tasks plentiful, I loved the gift of leading people through this pilgrimage every year.

priests

If you are one of the people who helps lead Holy Week worship—clergy, choir member, altar guild, reader, teacher, usher, greeter, preacher—I hope you’ll savor this gift. Take care of yourself in this busy time, and do what you can to enter fully into Holy Week.

If you are a member of a church who is not helping with Holy Week liturgies this year, I invite you to pray for all those who have this calling and this work. Pray especially for your clergy and musicians. They will work long hours.

And let all of us, whatever our role, give our hearts and our lives fully to this week. It will change us.

One of the prayers for Palm Sunday puts us in the right perspective, and I invite you to pray it through the week to come.

Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image: Flickr


Today’s Flash Sale: Broken

BrokenBefore Jesus broke the bread, he blessed it.

In the age of social media, where our lives are curated to show only our best and most beautiful selves, it is easy to believe we are the only ones who are broken. But we are not alone. We are all broken and in need of God’s blessing. No one has it all together; no person is perfect.

In essays both humorous and achingly vulnerable, author Ryan Casey Waller urges us to join him in pouring out our brokenness, not just to God but to each other. Waller takes us through the trials of following Jesus during seasons of doubt and disbelief, anger, shame, and even hate, but always brings us back to the amazing news that Jesus blessed the bread before he broke it.

Through Jesus, our brokenness is blessed, our wounds healed, and our hearts made whole.

Regular: $18
Today: $13.50

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