Tag Archives: Holy Week

Forward Today: Dispersed, yet gathered

Dear friends in Christ,

At beginning of the Great Vigil of Easter, the celebrant bids us, “the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer…” Perhaps there has never been a time when the church was so dispersed as at this moment. For we are dispersed not just across nations and peoples, but even from our congregational gatherings into our homes. Around the world, in many nations, there will be no full churches for Easter. Instead, we are dispersed into our homes.

And, yet, as that bidding reminds us, we are still the church. Though are we not together, our baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not taken away. We are united by indissoluble bonds, even when we are not physically together.

Last week I wrote a bit about my own grief over Holy Week. This week, I want to offer some specific suggestions for ways to get through the Three Holy Days (Triduum Sacrum) of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve.

First of all, if your church is offering resources or online worship, by all means, join with your local congregation. Please let them know you’re grateful for whatever they’re doing. Your church leaders are trying to figure this out as they go, and they’re almost certainly doing their very best. This is a time for grace and prayer.

If your church isn’t offering online worship, don’t despair! There are lots of options. I have been enjoying the offerings from St. James’ Church in New York, NY. Another New York church, Trinity Wall Street, is also offering excellent worship online. Either place allows you to watch the liturgy and join in by looking at the service leaflets they provide.

This might be the year for us all to really dive into the scriptures. You can get the lessons for Maundy ThursdayGood Friday, and Easter Eve online. Spend some time reading and meditating on the lessons, especially the gospel readings. With everything else pared away, we can really savor God’s word—and the most amazing story ever told.

If you cannot receive Holy Communion, perhaps these prayers of spiritual communion from St. Augustine’s Prayer Book will help. Or you might find an image of Jesus Christ and pray a Eucharistic devotion called the Holy Hour.

Whatever you do this week, know that you are not alone. You are a member of the church, and you are in the body of Christ, joined with Christians dispersed around the world. You are never separated from God’s love.

It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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. (Romans 8:31-39)

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image: Ryk Neethling, Flickr

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.


Introducing Matthew
With Vicki Garvey

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

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

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


Tune in!

Hear today’s Forward Day by Day reflection or find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast. Be sure to tune in to the newly available Evening at Prayer podcast.

Find a special episode of the Forward Day by Day podcast that was released April 4th, where some of our favorite authors discuss Mary Magdalene and the angels at the tomb!

Available anywhere you listen to podcasts!


New Release: The Heart of a Leader

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

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

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


In case you missed it…

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

Download a PDF version of the Stations of the Cross scripture and artwork excerpted from The Soul’s Journey | Forward Movement

Submit your artwork or photos for the Good Book Art Club |
The Good Book Club

Holy Hour offered free of charge | Forward Movement

Read our latest issue of Odyssey | Forward Movement


Forward Today: Getting to the heart of Holy Week

Dear friends in Christ,

It’s almost impossible for me to comprehend that next week is Holy Week. Time is all mushed together since I’ve been working at home due to the coronavirus. And none of the customary preparations for Holy Week are under way, because this will be a Holy Week unlike any other in my lifetime.

Holy Week is the most important week of the year for Christians, and within Holy Week, the Three Holy Days are at the heart of our liturgical life together. We disciples see so much of Jesus Christ’s love for us in Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve. We are reminded of what it means to follow the One who gave everything for us.

The rituals of these days mean more to me than I can express in words. Because of my work at Forward Movement, free of local obligations, I have spent Holy Week in some remarkable places the last few years. One year I spent most of the week at Salisbury Cathedral. Another year, I was in Jerusalem for what will stand out as one of the most remarkable Holy Weeks of my life. This year I was to be guest preacher in one of my favorite congregations.

I’ve had my moments of grief. Perhaps you have, too. There will be no grand palm processions. We won’t see the altar stripped bare on Maundy Thursday. The cross will not be venerated by a fervent congregation on Good Friday. We won’t kindle a blazing fire in the darkness of Easter Eve, moving into resounding praise in the first Eucharist of Easter. No new Easter dresses, or brass players, or fragrant lilies, or beloved hymns belted out on Easter Sunday. It’s just not going to be what I’ve longed for, what I expect.

And yet, all will be well.

Jesus has suffered for us and has poured out his life for us on the cross. Jesus has been buried in a sealed tomb. Jesus has been raised to new life, bursting forth to proclaim the triumph of God’s love through faithful women, devoted followers, and a community of disciples that spans the globe.

Everything about the love of God in Jesus Christ is true whether or not our churches are full, whether or not we carry out the sacred rituals. Without the liturgy and the sacraments, we are understandably bereft. But we always have God’s word.

In the days to come, I invite you to immerse yourself in the scriptures. Read the lessons, which you can find online. Ponder the depth and breadth of God’s love for us as told in the lessons appointed for this week.

If your congregation has streamed worship, by all means take part. Lots of churches across the world are making beautiful offerings online. Say the daily office if it is your custom. And I invite you especially to savor the riches of God’s word throughout Holy Week. As 1 Peter reminds us, “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. That word is the good news that was announced to you.”

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.

Courage for Caregivers
By Jaime Haith

Be inspired by looking at the fundamentals of the Christian faith, through scripture, to be encouraged in your role as a caregiver. This course is designed for those who are in a caregiving role and are looking for simple yet gracious inspiration.


Tune in!

Hear today’s Forward Day by Day reflection or find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast. Be sure to tune in to the newly available  Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen to podcasts!


In case you missed it…

Good Book Club reads Gospel of Matthew, Easter 2020 | Forward Movement
Free Shipping on orders of $50 throughout April | Forward Movement
Forward Movement reduces price of all eBooks | Forward Movement
Holy Hour offered free of charge | Forward Movement
Being Church at Home | Grow Christians


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

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

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

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