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Forward Today: Good Book Club is coming!

Dear friends in Christ,

The last couple of years, we have had tremendous success offering the Good Book Club to the Episcopal Church. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, the Good Book Club invites the whole church to read a book of the Bible together. In 2018, we read Luke and then Acts during Lent and Easter. In 2019, we read Romans during the Epiphany season.

Starting January 6, 2020, Forward Movement and many other organizations are inviting you to read the Gospel of John during the Epiphany season, ending the day before Lent starts. If you’ve never read a book of the Bible straight through, you’ll love doing this on your own and with others far and near.
Many organizations, including The Episcopal Church, Episcopal Relief & Development, Episcopal Church Foundation, Missional Voices, Forma, Grow Christians, and Episcopal Migration Ministries (among others!) are offering free resources for individual or group study. You’ll find podcasts, lesson plans, blogs, graphics, and more. It’s all on the Good Book Club website. Be sure to check out the Club Bíblico Facebook page to stay up to date on Spanish offerings.

You can certainly read John on your own. I hope you’ll think about inviting your whole congregation to join in. You can meet on Sundays to talk about the readings. You can read together and comment on the parish Facebook page. You can keep a local blog. There are as many ways to take part in the Good Book Club as there are people.

The reason to do this is simple: reading scripture changes us. When we step back and see the big picture—reading a whole book—we see God’s love for us a bit differently than we might if our usual encounter is tiny snippets of scripture when we come to church. Reading the whole Bible changed my life, and it started for me one book at a time. I think it might change you, too.

Have you read the Gospel of John? Are you planning on reading it this January?

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


Today’s Flash Sale: Dog in a Manger

With laugh-out-loud humor anchored by spiritual truths, author Tim Schenck helps us maintain our spiritual sanity through the often-frenetic chaos of Advent and Christmas. Illustrated by popular cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, Dog in the Manger also explores the major characters of the season in new ways, including John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph and of course, Jesus. Thoughtful questions following each section make Dog in the Manger ideal for personal or group use.

Regular: $10
Today: $7.50

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

Forward Today: Romans

Dear friends in Christ,

The guiding principle of the Good Book Club is simple (but not easy): When people read scripture, they are transformed. And so are their families and friends, neighborhoods and cities.

By inviting people to read a full book of the Bible, in community with others around the world, we prayed the experience would spur a lifelong spiritual practice of reading scripture — sometimes wrestling with it, often times discovering new insight, and always letting God’s Word be a beacon of light for the journey.

Last year, thousands of us read together the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, learning and recalling the stories of Jesus and the early days of the Church. Ten days ago, we began the second Good Book Club journey, with Paul’s Letter to the Romans. By most accounts, this book is a harder read. Thanks to Christmas pageants and Charlie Brown, the opening passages of Luke are familiar territory for most. Parables such as of the lost sheep, the Good Samaritan, and the prodigal son helped form our core understanding of faith, and even if we couldn’t recount all of the plot points of Acts, Saul’s conversion is so well-known that a “Road to Damascus” moment is part of our pop-culture lexicon to indicate a sudden turning point.Good Book ClubBut Romans is different. Instead of the stories about what Jesus does, Paul is earnest and insistent about explaining the why: Why was Jesus born? Why did Jesus die? Why does this matter? Paul digs deep into theological principles of justification, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, precepts that scholars and priests have explored, dissected, and debated for centuries.

But at the heart of Romans is the profound and simple (but not easy) truth: We are transformed by God’s grace. Period. Nothing we do or say or strive for can save us from our sinful nature. We are saved only by the grace of an ever-loving God through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

God loves us. God forgives us.

As you continue your journey through Romans (and if you haven’t started, it’s not too late! Join the Good Book Club community), let these two truths be your guide and open yourself to being formed and transformed by God’s Holy Scriptures.

Only God knows what might happen next.

Yours in Christ,

Richelle Thompson
Deputy Director and Managing Editor, Forward Movement


Today’s Flash Sale: Note to Self

Note to SelfDiscover 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

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.

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!