I can hardly believe we are entering the final quarter of 2023. Where has the time gone? I know I say it year after year, but time is passing by quickly and, unfortunately, we are incapable of reclaiming any of it. Birthdays, holidays, and the seasons run together in a blur of activity, emotion, and memories. To look at the calendar for the remainder of this year is to discover a multitude of opportunities, deadlines, and commitments which will call out for our attention. My words of “wisdom” for all of us is to make the most of the time. As James questions in his letter, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Such words remind us that life is short, opportunities are limited, and chances are not to be missed. With that being said, I hope and pray you will be a part of what the Lord is doing in and through Little Rock as we close out the year. Do not look back on your life saying or thinking, “I should have or would have…” To borrow the famous slogan of Nike, “Just do it!” Be involved. Make a difference. Share your life with someone else.
I must say, I have really enjoyed sharing some of Jesus’ parables in recent Sundays. This series entitled “Kingdom Stories” will continue through the month of October and challenge us to see the Kingdom of God in a different light. As I stated in the opening sermon, the parables are taken from everyday life, but they still challenge our conventional ideas and understandings about how God is “supposed to work” in our world. At times, they press us for a response (Good Samaritan) or leave us feeling reassured of second chances (Fig Tree), but at other times they leave us puzzled (Vineyard Workers). That is how it is with the Kingdom of God. Just when we presume to have everything figured out, God reminds us we are not there just yet. There is still much to be learned and a tremendous amount of grace into which we must grow. However, do not be discouraged. That is the story of all of us. We learn. We stumble. We help each other. We grow. We do it all over again. May the parables of Jesus help us in our process toward the Kingdom life. May we discover the deeper truths God has for us and may that bear good fruit: thirty, sixty, even one hundred-fold.
The recent beginning of the school-year has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to connect with children and youth from around Lucama. The hallways of the Christian Education Center have been abuzz on Wednesday afternoons with the resumption of the After School Program and Wednesday evening children and youth ministries. With Lucama Elementary School having begun a Pre-K program this year, we are now ministering to a wide-range of students from age four through high school. It was said of our first Wednesday back, “We had people from ages four through ninety-one involved in some manner.” We are grateful for our volunteers who assist these young people with homework and afternoon activities in addition to those who minister to them after supper. Our fellowship suppers have resumed on Wednesday evenings as well and they are broken into two different times for the benefit of our adults and the students with their volunteers. Supper begins for the adults at 5:00 and is followed at 5:30 with a time for the children, youth, and volunteers to eat. We are thankful to those who coordinate the meal teams and prepare a quality meal each week. The fellowship around the tables is wonderful and a benefit to those who have a busy Wednesday afternoon and evening. We have children and youth ministries taking place from 6:00 until 7:00 which are followed by chancel choir practice. These classes include Bible lessons, games, music, handbells, and other opportunities for our students to experience the love of God. Concerning our Wednesday programs, I would like to challenge you to:
- Consider assisting with our After School Program. You do not have to be an experienced educator in order to work with these students. Some of them have need of encouragement for their studies and others need someone to listen as they perform reading assignments.
- Be in prayer for our Wednesday children and youth groups. We are ministering to a range of young people who have a variety of experiences with church. For some, this is their first taste of Christian community and we have an opportunity to leave a favorable mark upon them and their families.
- Join our chancel choir. Even if you have limited or no knowledge of music, your voice is greatly needed. Music is an essential part of the worship of God and our choir leads us each week into the divine throne room by sharing their gifts. Preparations for the Christmas cantata are being made, so I hope you will consider giving our music ministry a try.
As I stated in the beginning, this time of the year is shaping up to be quite active around Little Rock. Please be prayerful and encouraging as we seek to make a difference in this community. Take time to promote our events and invite those who are unchurched to one or all of these services and activities. Each of us has been blessed through and through, and we have been given this life to do some good and leave our mark. Let us use our time well. May God bless you in all that you seek to accomplish for the Kingdom.
The Reverend Kelley Smart