Tag Archives: Forward Today

Forward Today: Do you have a Bible app?

Dear friends in Christ,

Do you have a Bible app for your phone? You might, like me, prefer to read the Bible out of a paper book. But sometimes I want to look up a passage, and I don’t have my printed Bible with me. And you can’t use search in a paper book! I find it very handy—and sometimes inspiring—to have the Bible on my phone.

I’ve tried a bunch of different apps. Much of the time, I use the Logos app, because it has sophisticated study features and syncs with my desktop software. But it’s certainly not free. My current favorite free app is the YouVersion Bible app. You can get it for Android and iOS, and it includes over 1,500 versions of the Bible.

Way of Love Reading Plan

As I’ve mentioned before in Forward Today, our research through RenewalWorks tells us that daily scripture engagement is one of the most important catalysts for spiritual growth. That’s one of the reasons I was excited to think about offering daily Bible reading plans on the YouVersion Bible app, which has been downloaded almost 400 million times.

Our first plan has just gone live this week. Check out the Way of Love seven-day reading plan. It includes seven excerpts from The Way of Love Bible Challenge: A 50 Day Bible Challenge (learn more here). We hope this is the first of many plans—ways to read and be inspired by God’s word.

So often our phones are objects that get in the way of holy living. Our phones can enable us to pour hours of our lives into a tiny screen. I don’t know about you, but I for one am delighted to find ways to derive inspiration and knowledge from my phone. When the psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lantern to my feet,” I doubt he had in mind the glow of a tiny screen. But our phones can be guides to make time for scripture study.

Have you read the Bible on your phone? What was it like? If you haven’t, I hope you’ll give it a try.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Today’s Flash Sale: The Way of Love Bible Challenge

Way of Love Bible ChallengeThe Way of Love is the way of Jesus. With seven core spiritual practices, the Way of Love offers an intentional, Spirit-led path to following Jesus. And what better guidebook for the journey than the Bible? The Way of Love Bible Challenge pairs each practice with a passage of scripture as well as reflections, questions, and prayers written by a variety of faith leaders.

Come and see what God has to say about the spiritual practices of Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest. Informed by scripture and inspired through prayer, these practices offer the opportunity to transform our relationship with ourselves, with our family and communities, and with our Savior. Featuring fifty days of reflections, The Way of Love Bible Challenge is an extension of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with scripture and an exploration of the Word of God.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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Forward Today: Unplugging to plug in

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m writing this from the mountains of Colorado, where I’ve come to spend a few days learning from clergy colleagues. It’s an incredibly beautiful setting, and I’m learning a great deal about how to be a leader in the missionary church.

On Monday, when we arrived, one of the first things we did was sort out the WiFi password. All of us were quick to check emails and stay connected with our families and churches and so forth. Then, late afternoon on the first day, a close lightning strike took out the internet. And because we’re in the mountains, there’s not much of a mobile phone signal.

I’m not going to lie, the prospect of being disconnected was a little unsettling.

But you know what? This has turned out to be a blessing. I think we’re all paying a bit more attention to the speakers, because it’s not so easy to be distracted. In the lodge where I’m staying there’s absolutely no signal whatsoever, so when I walked up to go to bed, there was quiet peace. Often I read for a bit, catch up on social media, or send a few emails. Last night, I went straight to sleep.

I didn’t choose to unplug, but I’m grateful for this time. Avoiding the distraction of the internet has helped me focus on the folks here in a different way than I might have otherwise. And I’m noticing the beauty of this place in ways that I might have missed.

I’ve written about this before. The internet is a great blessing, I think. We can connect with people, learn all sorts of things, and share the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. But it also has some downsides.

Maybe I’ll try unplugging a little more often. It might help me plug in to new things.

Have you tried unplugging for a bit? What was it like? Does online life bring us closer to Jesus, or does it take us away from him? Plenty to ponder.

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

P.S. I’m grateful to my friend Emily Mellott, who suggested this topic as she walked by when I was standing near a meadow trying to think of a topic—in the one place where there’s a good signal.

Photo by Scott Gunn, taken in Colorado


Today’s Flash Sale: Faith Confirmed

Faith ConfirmedIn our journey through life, we often face big questions: What is the meaning of life? Who is God? Why do people die and what happens after death? Throughout the ages, Christians have turned to the Bible and to the Church for answers.

Faith Confirmed is an introduction to Episcopal beliefs and practices and is a perfect primer for those preparing for confirmation in the Episcopal Church and for all those who want to know more about the essentials of the faith.

Each section of the book contains:

    • a clear and accessible explanation of what Episcopalians believe
    • stories and illustrations to unpack these beliefs
    • thought-provoking questions and a Bible study
    • prayer and suggested prayer topics for the week

 

Regular: $18
Today: $13.50

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

Forward Today: Thinking about fall in the heat of summer

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m writing from Cincinnati where today promises to be another scorcher. It sure seems like the cool weather of fall is a world away. And yet, we’re only a couple of weeks away from the change. One of my friends already has sent his children back to school. Others will be getting their backpacks ready soon. At Forward Movement, our summer “half-day Fridays” come to an end with the start of September. The point is, you’d better enjoy the last couple of weeks of summer life!

Whether or not the start of September makes much of a difference in your home, it does make a difference to lots of people. This time of year is one of those times when plenty of people think of finding a new church. Is your church ready for an influx of guests?

We at Forward Movement offer lots of resources to help guests learn more about the Episcopal Church, but it’s not just about having a fresh pile of books and pamphlets. Now is a great time to check your signage, make sure your website is up to date, and clear away clutter in the hallways and entries.

I frequently hear that we need to provide a clear path for guests. How do they learn more? How do they get involved? How are they invited into membership? For small and large congregations, it’s a challenge, though the challenge is different. Larger congregations with loads of programs need to provide a roadmap (“Start here, this is next, and finally this is how to become members.”). Smaller congregation won’t have a dizzying array of programs, but they still need to provide a path. Here the solution is probably an individual meeting between guests and either lay leaders or clergy.

Our church is slowly shrinking, and one of the reasons is that we don’t always do a good job of inviting people through our doors. And when they arrive, we’re not often good at welcoming and connecting them into ministries. Check out Invite Welcome Connect, including the book Mary Parmer wrote to help with this process.

Savor the last lazy days of summer, but make time to think about how your church will welcome guests. Lots of people are yearning for a community with purpose. They’re waiting on you to invite them and to offer them a place.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

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

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

Forward Today: Manifold and Great Mercies

Dear friends in Christ,

Last week, I wrote a bit about mercy and grace. Perhaps because I mentioned a news article of some interest, or perhaps because mercy and grace are entirely countercultural, I noticed that last week’s Forward Today was shared quite a few times. So I thought I would return to the topic of mercy.

We don’t tend to talk about mercy too much. We talk about things to which we are entitled. We talk about fairness. In some sense, fairness is crucial. Women and men should be paid the same rate for the same work, for example. People should have access to the same jobs regardless of their race. Fairness and justice are important markers of ensuring that people are able to flourish as the people God has made them to be, so we should never turn away from our need to work for justice.

But what about mercy? The scriptures are full of stories of God’s mercy toward humanity. Despite our continual rejection of God’s way, God still loves us. Justice would demand that we be punished for our error, but God chooses mercy.

Priest

The Gospels in particular are filled with ways in which Jesus Christ manifests mercy. Jesus offers healing to people without first ensuring they “deserve” it. Jesus is endlessly patient and loving with his followers, who never quite seem to get it. And, in the end, Jesus forgives even those who put him to death.

We are meant to love others as Christ loves us. So we too should manifest mercy. What would it be like to focus on being merciful? In small ways, we could be generous with that driver who sneaks up and wants to cut in front of us on the road. We could be quick to forgive those who offend us with minor slights. In bigger ways, we could rethink how we treat refugees and prisoners. We could find ways to help those who struggle. We could always begin not with the question of “what is fair” but rather ask “what is merciful?”

Often when I attend Rite I services of Holy Eucharist, we say the Prayer of Humble Access from page 337 of The Book of Common Prayer.

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

Some people don’t like this prayer, maybe because it reminds us we’re not all that special. Because of our continual rejection of God’s love, we probably don’t deserve God’s infinite love, if God’s focus were only on justice. But as the prayer reminds us, God’s property is always to have mercy. I love this prayer because it reminds me that God is merciful to me, and in response to God’s love for me, I pray for strength to share God’s love and mercy with others. There’s nothing I can do to make God love me less or more.

Even if your church doesn’t use this lovely reminder of God’s mercy, you can say the prayer on your own any time, especially before Holy Communion. If we pray for mercy, we might just find ourselves being merciful. We might find ourselves changing the world, one life at a time—beginning with our own.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

Image by samdessordi.


Today’s Flash Sale: Gifts of God for the People of God

Worship can be a powerful way to encounter the living God. Our stories intersect with God’s story as the gifts of God are celebrated and shared by the people of God. Episcopal priest Furman L. Buchanan explores and reflects on each element of Holy Eucharist, the service most often held on Sunday mornings. Moving from the first spoken word of the service—blessed—to the last phrase—Thanks be to God—Buchanan explains the theological and scriptural elements of the service, helping newcomers and longtime members alike gain a deeper understanding of this gift of God.

Buchanan also shares his own stories, connecting pivotal life experiences with the words and actions of Holy Eucharist. Thoughtful questions at the end of each chapter invite readers to reflect on their own stories and how they connect with God’s story of love and life.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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Forward Today: Grace is not fair

Dear friends in Christ,

I saw a news story this week which could serve as a parable for our times. It’s almost biblical, or maybe it is just that.

It seems that in a certain school district, parents have accrued some debt for not paying the bill for their children’s lunches. That school district has notified parents that it will use the court system to get its money, including, if necessary, taking away children from their parents and placing them in foster care because the parents have neglected their children’s right to food.

In response to these harsh threats, a local man offered to donate money to the school district to wipe away the debt, totaling around $22,000. Surprisingly, the school district has refused the gift, saying that the parents need to pay the debt themselves. (By the way, the school district also explored giving the affected children inferior food for lunch, but was told that such action would not stand up to legal challenge.)

Of course, on a practical level, using the court system to solve anything is expensive for all parties. So one would think the opportunity to avoid the courts—setting aside all questions of morality—would be appealing to a cost-conscious school system. And one notes that the school system is serving a poor community, because starting next year, they’ve qualified for funding to give all children free lunches.

If this were a parable, a preacher might ask some of these questions: What are families being charged for school lunches anyway, in a land of such abundance? Why would a school district choose a harsh solution when a low-cost and merciful solution is available? Why as a society are we so averse to canceling debt? What motivated the man to offer to pay the lunch debts off?

We know at least one answer to the last question. The man grew up poor, and he received free lunches as a child. Feeling grateful, he wanted to “repay” that kindness.

In our culture, we want to make sure people “get what they deserve.” But Christians of all people should know better. Our first impulse should always be mercy, as we know that God merciful to us.

I think if we were able to receive the gift of God’s grace, we would find it easier to offer mercy and grace to others. Because the thing is, I don’t deserve God’s love, and neither do you. No one does. We can’t earn it, and we aren’t worthy of it on our own. And yet God loves us all.

God loves you. God loves me. And God loves the people we don’t like very much or that we’re afraid of. God loves the children whose lunch bills are overdue, and God loves the school officials who want to send kids to foster care because their parents didn’t pay a bill.

Grace isn’t fair. And that’s the beauty of it. Let us all seek to love others as God loves us. Extravagantly. Boldly. Unfairly.

This kind of love changes us, it changes our church, and it will change our world.

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

Image: 12th century mosaic at Hagia Sophia, photo taken by Scott Gunn

Today’s Sale: Acts to Action

Acts to ActionJesus’ first disciples and modern-day Christians face the same question: How do we share the good news of Christ that we have experienced with the people we meet in the course of our daily lives? The Book of Acts details how the early disciples overcome the challenges of spreading the gospel in the midst of failing institutions, theological differences, and widespread uncertainty. With a focus on Acts Chapter 8, editors Susan Brown Snook and Adam Trambley and contributors from across the Episcopal Church discuss how these lessons from Christ’s earliest followers apply to the mission Jesus still gives us today: to be his witnesses in our churches and neighborhoods and to the ends of the earth. The authors explore essential elements of church mission, including worship, proclamation, loving and serving, repentance, and knowing the community. Framed by reflections from church leaders Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows and Gay Clark Jennings, the book provides encouragement and practical suggestions to help individuals and groups move from Acts to action.

Regular: $16
Today: $12

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

Forward Today: One faith, one Lord, one baptism

Dear friends in Christ,

When we start our baptismal services, we profess our baptismal faith: “There is one Body and one Spirit; there is one hope in God’s call to us; one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all.” It’s easy to say this, but it can be hard to live out the reality that we in the church are united by baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our bonds are indissoluble, even if sometimes that’s hard to see.

I thought about this the last few days while I was in Vancouver, British Columbia to represent Forward Movement at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. We were there to display some of our wares in the exhibit hall, but during the times when our table was quiet, I sat in the observer gallery to watch General Synod do its work.

Of course, I found lots of differences, large and small, between the way General Synod works and the way General Convention works in the Episcopal Church. The scale is smaller in Canada, so there’s a more intimate feel. The orders of bishops, clergy, and laity all sit together, so that shapes the conversation—in mostly good ways, I thought. In some ways there is more formality (adding the Primate as “Your Grace”), but mostly there’s less attention paid to procedural formality.

More than differences, I noticed many similarities. In both Canada and the US, the church is contending with the end of Christendom and the decline of the church’s privileged place in society. Both Canadian Anglicans and the Episcopal Church are trying to sort out how to stay anchored in tradition while adapting for the needs of today’s world. In Canada as in the Episcopal Church, we’re talking about discipleship more—and not just talking, but putting discipleship into practice.

What impressed me most of all though about General Synod is the strong desire, professed by nearly every speaker, to be together in one church. So often, I’ve experienced people who are ready to cast off those with whom they disagree, or I’ve heard people talk about how they’ll leave if the church doesn’t go in their preferred direction. Those were rare words, indeed, in Canada. No one shied away from disagreement, but the predominant sense was to find ways to disagree while staying in relationship. I think I could learn something here, and perhaps many others could too.

When I went the church on Sunday morning, I heard a wonderful sermon by Mother Lucy Price at St. James’ Church in Vancouver. Mother Price mentioned that the newly elected Primate in Canada is fond of quoting Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing General Synod does or doesn’t do separates us from God’s love. Nothing General Convention does or doesn’t do separates us from God’s love. The church can surely hurt people—and for that, it must repent. But our baptism has united us in Christ Jesus, and that can’t be taken away. Good words to remember.

I’m grateful for a renewed sense of unity through fellowship and worship with Canadian siblings in Christ. And I’m eager to find ways to help our church and our world see that there is one Body and one Spirit; there is one hope in God’s call to us.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image by Scott Gunn: Opening Eucharist, General Synod 2019, at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC


Today’s Flash Sale: Walk in Love

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

Regular: $22
Today: $16.50

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

Forward Today: Forward Movement visits Canada

Dear friends in Christ,

I am writing this week from Vancouver, BC, where managing editor Richelle Thompson and I will be representing Forward Movement at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

If you are the sort of person who takes an interest in such things, you can get news of what’s happening in the Anglican Journal, the national newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada. Among other things, delegates will be electing a new Primate (or head) of the Anglican Church of Canada. Much like the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, time will be spent in worship, fellowship, learning, and legislative deliberation. It’s all anchored in prayer and in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Speaking of prayer, I encourage you to pray for the work of our Anglican siblings in Canada. You might like to use the prayer For a Synod from their Book of Alternative Services:

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in Vancouver for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honour and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I arrived yesterday, and I’ve already had a chance to see some friends and meet new friends. It’s remarkable to trade stories and hear about how our ministries are similar or different. One bishop told me about some challenges he faces with polar bears! That’s not what I’m used to thinking about. And yet we are all working to make disciples.

Follow along if that’s of interest to you. There’s a great blessing in learning about the work of those of similar but significantly different traditions. We can support one another. We can learn from one another. We can rejoice together. And we can bear one another’s burdens. Our church is holy, wherever we find it. And that is something for which to give thanks and to praise God.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S…If you are attending General Synod, find our stall in the display area. We’d love to meet you.

Image: WikiCommons, Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver


Today’s Flash Sale: Living Reconciliation

In a world often defined by differences, Christians are called to be reconciled reconcilers. Inspired by the indaba process of deep listening and seeking common ground, this book shares stories of profound reconciliation from around the Anglican Communion. Written by staff of the Anglican Communion Office and with a foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Living Reconciliation explores how reconciliation is at the heart of mission and a guiding principle of scripture.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

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Forward Today: Thinking about freedom

Dear friends in Christ,

For readers living in the USA, tomorrow is Independence Day. Mostly the holiday seems to be about a day off from work, some outdoor food, and dazzling fireworks displays. If we look a bit deeper, Independence Day celebrates the founding of this nation—and a broad vision of freedom.

Of course, we can’t think about freedom and the founding of the United States without remembering that freedoms were really only for white male property owners. There is tragic irony in the presence of slavery and the poor treatment of Native Americans while leaders talked about “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”Fireworks

Still, one can see a broad vision of freedom that was—though immensely flawed—ahead of its time. The founders thought a lot about the common good, seeking to fashion a kind of freedom that would benefit all people. Today when we celebrate Independence Day, we tend to focus on freedom as a projection of power and rights. We celebrate the idea that we can do whatever we want, both as people and as a nation.

Christians have a different view of freedom, and we were reminded of this just last Sunday in the epistle, taken from Galatians 5. I like the RSV translation, “For you were called to freedom…only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.” That is, we who follow Jesus can do whatever we want, but our faith compels us to use our freedom to care for others. Galatians reminds us that, in fact, we Christians do have laws: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

So this Independence Day, whether you are a resident of the USA or not, perhaps it would be good to reflect on how we—as individuals and as a nation—use our freedom. Do we use our freedom for the good of all? Or do we use our freedom for a privileged few? Are we loyal to Jesus first, or to nationalism? How can we build up a land in which all people are able to flourish as the people God has made them to be?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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

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

Forward Today: Are we seeing new life?

Dear friends in Christ,

I spent a couple of days this week catching up with a friend in Rhode Island. One day we went to the sea shore, and I went walking on rocks along the ocean. I love these massive, ancient rocks. As I scrambled up and down the rocks, I was thinking of the great hymn, “I bind unto myself today,” that many of us sang on Trinity Sunday, in which we sing about the “deep salt sea” and “the old, eternal rocks.”

That’s not all I noticed. At first, it looks like the ocean and the grassy shore are teeming with life, while the rocks are barren. But a closer look reveals something amazing.

There is life in between the rocks, and sometimes even in the rocks themselves. Plants shoot forth with verdant energy. Among the harsh gray rocks is the promise of new growth.

I wonder how many other places in our lives look barren at first, but upon closer scrutiny might reveal life and growth? These resilient plants are a living parable of God’s love and life. There is no place where God cannot work in our world and in our lives. So often, it could look like God’s presence is absent from our world. If we keep looking—beyond the harsh rocks and to the cracks and gaps—we might see God’s love and life at work.

Would our world look different if we peered beyond the rocks to see the plants? How might our lives change if we searched for life and growth?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo by Scott Gunn


Today’s Flash Sale: Table Graces AND Family Graces

Table Graces
Praying before meals opens our hearts to an awareness of God, who is the giver of all good things and sustains us in all of our lives. When we pray before meals, we follow the example of Jesus, who prayed with his disciples during The Last Supper.

This booklet contains thirty prayers. It is designed to stand on a tabletop or counter, with the same prayer viewed on both sides to encourage praying together at meals. The prayers can be read together, said quietly, or can be sung.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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

Family Graces
This booklet contains thirty prayers. It is designed to stand on a tabletop or counter, with the same prayer viewed on both sides to encourage praying together at meals. The prayers can be read together, said quietly, or can be sung.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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

Table Grace and Family Graces

Forward Today: Be witnesses

Dear friends in Christ,

Last Saturday, it was my great honor to preach at the ordination of Susan Brown Snook as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. She chose Luke 24:44-49a as the Gospel reading, and that reading includes this teaching from Jesus, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

ordination

In my sermon, I talked about how we need to take Jesus at his word, and we need to be witnesses.

We need to get serious about evangelism. We need to get serious about not just inviting people into our churches but rather about inviting people to transformed lives. We need to get serious about not just being nice but rather about preaching the forgiveness of sins. We need to get over our reticence to proclaim God’s love in the public square, because when we stay silent, the voices of greed and fear go unchallenged and unanswered.

Evangelism is not the solution to the declining prestige of our church. Indeed, those who would lose their church for the sake of Gospel will save it. Evangelism is not the way to get more members for our committees or to shore up shrinking budgets.

Instead, evangelism happens when we all accept our vocation as followers of Jesus Christ — not just the vocation of priests and deacons and not just the vocation of bishops — but the vocation of all of us whose ministry began in the waters of baptism. Our mandate is to make disciples of all nations — to proclaim the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and to invite everyone to know God’s love in forgiveness and repentance and mercy and grace.

We talk about evangelism quite a bit these days. I hope it’s never reduced to the latest buzzword, but that we’re always witnessing to God’s great love for us and for all people. Jesus is everything. I hope we will always be bold in inviting others to know the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: The Spy on Noah’s Ark AND The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder

The Spy on Noah’s Ark
Bible stories take on new life with this collection of eyewitness accounts from surprise sources: a dove, a lion, a stallion, and more. Using the ancient and imaginative art of storytelling, this book will delight children of all ages and begs to be read aloud. Adults will also enjoy these stories, and can use them to enrich personal and group Bible study. Discussion questions for children and adults are included at the end of each story, making it the perfect book for a church “On the Same Page” reading group or other intergenerational program. Ages 7-12—Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

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

The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder
The spy at Jacob's LadderHave you ever wondered what stories stones might tell or whether a fishing boat can be friends with a faithful sailor? In the kingdom of God, every single thing has a story to tell and a song to sing—donkeys, sewing needles, secret caves, and water jugs! From the author who introduced you to The Spy on Noah’s Ark, this collection of stories, told from the inside out, are 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. Ages 7-12—Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

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