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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
July 2019

Cackie Upchurch_june2019

“How can I repay the Lord
for all the great good done for me?”
Ps 116:12

Cackie Upchurch

Psalm 116 was written in response to being rescued from mortal danger and despair. The psalmist knows that the only appropriate response is thanksgiving. I have only once been in mortal danger (a near-fatal car accident when I was 19) and only a few times suffered truly deep despair. While rare in my life, these authentically human experiences remind me of how fragile life can be, and of how mightily I depend on the loving kindness of God.

But rescue from danger and despair is not the only reason to ponder how we might repay God for the goodness in our lives.  We are moved to give thanks when we work our way through a problem, when we are gifted with good friends and a secure job, when we discover the truth of God’s love for each of us, and when we become aware of beauty in the world around us. The list could go on and on.

I am convinced that gratitude is itself a grace from God. It is an interior disposition that allows us to see the world more and more as God sees it, and to enjoy more deeply the relationships that make this world so very good. In fact, the Bible is filled with stories about relationships—between enemies and friends, between spouses, between God and his people. The commandments call us to love God and neighbor, and Jesus summarizes the law by equating these two dynamic relationships (with God and others) that are so fundamental to living in this world. Human relationships have the power to reveal so much to us about God and about ourselves.

It is the value of relationships that fills my mind and heart in these days as I retire from full time ministry with Little Rock Scripture Study (LRSS). I may show up from time to time on a project here or there, but I am now turning my sights on time with my family, especially my mom.

I am grateful to the original crew who created Little Rock Scripture Study in the 1970s—Fred and Tammy Woell and Fr. Jerome Kodell, OSB, chief among them—and entrusted it to the diocese. Their insight and dedication are remarkable gifts to the church.

I have had the privilege of working directly with some of the finest people over the past thirty years—the staff in the diocesan offices in Little Rock and in the offices of Liturgical Press in Collegeville, Minnesota. They are creative, generous, diligent, and supportive, and I think we have made a fine team. Among my dearest friends are the folks in Australia and New Zealand who formed a partnership with LRSS and taught me so much about the power of effective witness. I’ve met and worked with some outstanding Catholic biblical scholars, many of whom I now count as friends. In my travels around our country, north of our border, and abroad, God has given me the opportunity to make friends with so many people of faith whose stories expand my heart and deepen my own trust in God. The members of our LRSS board of directors here in Little Rock have always stretched and supported at the same time, proving themselves worthy disciples. In all of these relationships I have discovered more deeply the love of God and the courage to respond in a way that I hope more closely conforms to the life of Christ.

As this phase in my life is being transformed into something new, I pray for each of you. If you called or dropped a note to ask about LRSS, to order materials, or to offer a critique or bright idea, you became part of our office prayer time. If you met any of us at a conference, or came to a talk I gave or a retreat, I am grateful to know and remember your faces and stories. If you became a LRSS user in prison, you are part of our family as well. All of these encounters help to build up the body of Christ, and I hope that my responses to you and your needs (or even complaints!) have been helpful.

I am grateful to my parents who taught me and my siblings the value of an education, and made sacrifices to make that happen for us. I hope I have shared generously from the wealth of advantages I know I have had. And I hope I will continue to do so in new ways.

A very special word of thanks to Lilly Hess, with whom I have worked on a daily basis for thirty years. Lilly is dedicated, passionate about God’s Word, prayerful, and so tolerant of my foibles too. Amy Ekeh, the newest member of our staff, and the one who will help lead this ministry into the future, is well prepared to continue the traditions of LRSS and to forge new paths. She has become a dear friend and a trusted colleague. Amy will work with our friends at Liturgical Press who have been our partners since the mid-1980s, adding their professional expertise, faith-filled commitment to this ministry, and dedication to meeting the needs of the church.

In the end, I echo the words of the psalmist, “How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?”


Cackie Upchurch, former director of Little Rock Scripture Study, retired on July 3 of this year after 30 years on the staff of Little Rock Scripture Study in the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas. You may continue to read her monthly articles for 2019, “Lessons from Luke” at our website.


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