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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
March 2019

Alive in the Word

Our Community is Alive in the Word

Linda and Stephen Ward, Bible Study Facilitators, Church of the Resurrection, Wallingford, Connecticut

Linda and Stephen Ward are members of Church of the Resurrection in Wallingford, Connecticut. After graduating from the Hartford Catholic Biblical School, this husband-wife team has facilitated Scripture study in their parish for the past three years. We asked them about their experience using one of our 3-week Alive in the Word studies (Advent: Season of Divine Encounter) in their parish this past Advent.

What was the parish response to your invitation to join an Advent Bible study?
Our parish has hosted a variety of Scripture studies over the past three years with good numbers and fruitful study. But nothing compared to the interest and enthusiasm of Advent 2018. Registration doubled from our previous study! It seems that our parishioners are hungering to answer the call of the Spirit and share their faith together. People seem to feel a certain trust within their local faith community. In our case during Advent, this trust bore fruit with a lot of honest, deep sharing among the participants despite most members not knowing each other when the study began. As one member expressed it: “The gathering of members of the parish to do some faith-sharing was such an important aspect of the Advent series. Such sharing supports us in our journeys… To know that others are walking along the journey with us is so helpful!”

Why do you think so many people were willing to participate during such a busy time of the year?
On our first evening together, each member of the group was asked to share why they registered for the Advent series. We knew Advent would be a really busy time and that it would be hard for parishioners to take a night for reflection and to find time to read and reflect during the week. But everyone expressed in their own way that they were tired of celebrating Christmas without personal spiritual preparation. One person was very emotional as she explained that she “did not want to miss Christmas this year.” These few words really summarize the feelings of the group. From the outset, they appeared to realize their need for God to give their Advent season true meaning and direction.

How did Alive in the Word work for your group? What were the benefits?
As the weeks progressed, the group was challenged and influenced by the selected readings, leading them to happily realize that the birth of Christ was not just a one-time event that took place in the distant past. The Incarnation is an ongoing part of our salvation history! One member said that she has “grown in knowledge about the meaning of Advent using the past, present, and future as a basis to become closer to Jesus.” This same individual also said there was so much to learn and reflect upon from the people in the group.

This deep level of faith-sharing in such a short period of time was one thing that really stood out for us with this study. The content and reflection questions led us quickly into meaningful discussion. Individuals who began the study as virtual strangers bonded and connected their lives through shared faith. They learned and grew together. There was a transformation that took place in the group through the opening of minds and spirits as they reflected each week on their encounters with Jesus.

Overall, using Alive in the Word this Advent helped our parishioners grow closer to one another and gave deeper meaning to their Advent journeys. As one participant said, “This was the first Advent season in years that I actually felt joy even with all the extra responsibilities that we all face during the holiday. I looked forward to the message each week. It inspired peace in my heart during Advent for the first time…. I have definitely sought more quiet time to listen.” Another group member said, “This past Advent was my most peaceful one. The Scripture readings came to life for me and made me realize the many gifts that I have been given over the years. God’s presence in my life was the best possible present I had this Christmas!”

Linda and Steve, it sounds like your parish is a place where God’s Word has taken root! Do you have any words of encouragement for those who may be considering Scripture study in their parishes?
We are blessed with a supportive pastor and enthusiastic parishioners. We hope that Scripture study is a priority for every parish! It truly enriches the life of a parish. There are more people hungering for the Word of God than is outwardly obvious. Time spent together sharing faith and building trust within the parish faith community is a unique opportunity for God’s people and for a parish.  We need each other. If we build it and build it well, they will come!  I know our group agrees!


Lent, Season of TransformationJust as the Church of the Resurrection enhanced their experience of Advent by using that volume of Alive in the Word, consider ways to enter into Lent more fully. Order Lent: Season of Transformation for your parish groups during the Lenten season. Also ideal for personal reading.


Finding Peace, Letting Go of Stress and WorryComing in April: Finding Peace: Letting Go of Stress and Worry by Amy Ekeh. Stress and worry can seep into our lives and steal away our peace. Refresh your mind and heart with three New Testament passages and their encouraging messages of trust, renewal, and the transforming power of love. Restore your soul in the peace of Christ.

This year’s Bible Institute in Little Rock will focus our learning, prayer, and energy on the Parables of Jesus. Come hear Fr. George Smiga as he helps us explore Surprise, Shock, and Gospel: Re-Interpreting the Parables of Jesus, June 21-23, 2019. Download the information needed to register today!

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