Short Bible reflections can feed soul during Lent, Easter

Along with Lent and Easter comes an overwhelming number of choices for literature to help feed people’s spirit during the seasons. Little Rock Scripture Study has released “Lent: Season of Transformation” and “Easter: Season of Life and Fire” as part of its Alive in the Word series for a shorter, but impactful journey through the Scriptures that won’t put a burden on time or wallets.

These are the latest in the 15-book series that offers reflections on three Scripture passages with sessions that can be done in about 60 to 90 minutes. The books are ideal for three-week Bible study groups or individual study.

Cackie Upchurch, director of Little Rock Scripture Study, said this series allows people with limited time to “be fed with good biblical” reflections.

“Their writing is clear and their intent is to connect with people’s experience but also give them more than they know,” she said.

“Lent” is written by Amy Ekeh, who was recently hired as a staff member for Little Rock Scripture Study (see sidebar).

The book focuses on salvation at large, but also each person’s individual salvation story.

“It’s really more on the opportunity that is given to us in Lent to focus on transformation. While Lent is a moment when we sacrifice and discipline ourselves, which is valid and true and part of our tradition, it’s also true that the intention of Lent is to open us so we can experience transformation,” Upchurch said. 

One Scripture passage referenced in “Lent” is John 15:1-17, which reveals Jesus as the true vine and God the father as the vine grower — admittedly a surprise to readers as it’s not the typical Lenten passage.

“That whole vine and branches imagery talks about that closeness to the father and the idea of being productive and remaining and abiding,” she said, adding that the book also challenges readers to contemplate, “How does the Jesus in me affect the world? How do we interact with other people? What does our transformation do in terms of making us more of a servant, giving us a servant’s heart?”

In Barry Hudock’s book ‘Easter,’ he explores how the Easter season is connected to Pentecost.

“I think so often we think, ‘Well OK, we got through Easter, we did all those celebrations in our community and we hunted our Easter eggs and now we’re done.’ And really that’s not the case,” Upchurch said. “… What I think is unique and good about this is it tries to remind us of the tie between those two events of Easter and Pentecost. The outpouring of the Spirit is not separate from the resurrection; it flows from the resurrection.”

One Scripture passage referenced in “Easter”, Romans 6:1-11, connects to baptism. 

[Hudock] “talks about the nature of baptism, the events associated with baptism — which are very much connected to the triduum, coming into the Church. Being dead to sin is a way of recognizing and realizing that new life of God within us, that resurrected life,” Upchurch said. “… He also brings in a lot of what he knows about liturgy and sacraments. So you really get a fuller sense of the Catholic experience of the Easter season, which I love.”

Each author in the Alive in the Word series, which will release four more titles in 2018, helps connect the world of Scripture to the world of today, Upchurch said.

“They also incorporate prayer and action. They do a good job of trying to help us see ‘OK, I get it about the need for transformation or I understand this fullness of life, so what now?’ That’s what’s good about it — How do we keep what we gain from those seasons kind of alive in us? What difference does it make that we’re Easter people?” she said.

The Lent and Easter books sell for $7.95 each, along with bulk pricing discounts online at aliveintheword.org, through Amazon and religious bookstores. E-books are also available for $6.99.

Aprille Hanson Spivey

Aprille Hanson Spivey has contributed to Arkansas Catholic as a freelancer and associate editor since 2010. She leads the Beacon of Hope grief ministry at St. Joseph Church in Conway.

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