Lessons & Carols, 2017

Lessons & Carols, 2017

Gather ’round, ye children, come
Listen to the old, old story
Of the pow’r of Death undone
By an infant born of glory
Son of God, Son of Man!   Andrew Peterson

 

Join us at River City Reformed Presbyterian Church on December 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm as we trace the story of redemption through the Bible and share in joyful songs together through a service of Nine Lessons and Carols.

We currently meet at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Little Rock, in The Commons.  For directions click here. For more information, contact us  at rivercityarp@gmail.com.

 

Invasive

Invasive

Day dreamers look at clouds and imagine what they might be. Psychologists use cards with ink blots to probe the imaginations of their patients. But those who grew up in the Deep South developed their powers of imagination by meditating on kudzu covered structures, trees and power lines. Kudzu is one of the most invasive plants ever introduced in the US and in the hot, humid climate of the South can grow up to a foot per day.

Though kudzu was first introduced into the US at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 as an ornamental cover plant, it did not become prolific until the Dust Bowl. FDR’s administration recommended kudzu to control erosion on slopes and in ditches and distributed 85 million government funded kudzu seedlings. By 1946, it was estimated that 3 million acres of kudzu had been planted. During the depression, however, boll weevil infestations and cotton crop failures caused farmers to abandon their farms, leaving these kudzu plantings unattended. In the sunny South the kudzu thrived, growing virtually unchecked. By 1997, the vine was placed on the “Federal Noxious Weed List”.  Today, kudzu is estimated to cover 7.4 million acres of land in the United States. Brought in to fix erosion in the South, the ever-invasive kudzu has taken over the landscapes and imaginations of Southerners.

Often in the midst of a crisis, we call up on God to save us and then, when the crisis passes, we forget our precipitous vows and our need for a saving God. But the God who comes as Savior is not a corporate consultant, paid by the hour to troubleshoot and then move on. He comes as a Lord, King, Ruler and Master. He is invasive. He is “not a tame lion.” He takes over and takes charge of our lives. As Sinclair Ferguson once noted, if He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all. The angels declared to terrified shepherds, “For unto you is born this day a Savior, Christ, Lord!” Unlike kudzu, however, God’s control is necessary for Him to effect His saving work in our lives.

Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, lay awake, struggling to understand how to respond to the shocking discovery that his pious, godly betrothed wife was found to be pregnant before their wedding night. But, as often happens in scripture, an angel comes to Joseph in a dream to reveal something far more shocking – the incarnation.  His struggle to understand how to respond to Mary paled in comparison to the struggle he faced to know how to respond to Jesus – a struggle we face as well. For when Jesus comes, He is disruptive and invasive to life as we know it. He does not come merely to bail us out of a jam or consult on our dysfunction, he comes to powerfully transfer us from the dominion of darkness to his beloved kingdom. He comes to be Savior, Christ, Lord.

Join us this Lord’s Day, December 10, as we examine Joseph’s response to a shocking revelation recorded in Matthew 1:21-25 and ponder our own response to this invasive God. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

 

 

Solving the Unsolvable

Solving the Unsolvable

In 1637, mathematician, Pierre de Fermat, scribbled in the margin of a book what would become, for many centuries, an unsolvable problem. He conjectured that there were no integers a, b, and c for which a^n + b^n = c^n was true where n is greater than 2.  Fermat claimed to have a proof that was too large for the margin of the book, but no proof was ever found and for three and a half centuries his simple conjecture remained unproven, despite generations of mathematicians who worked to solve it. Finally in 1994, Andrew Wiles offered a proof which not only solved the unsolvable problem, but produced significant advancement the study of number theory.

Many of us have problems in our lives that seem unsolvable. Perhaps your problems are intellectual or financial, but most often the greatest unsolvable problems in our lives are relational. We try everything we can think of to solve them, but never seem to get quite to the heart of the problem which is our own sinfulness. Brokenness in our relationship with God brings brokenness to every other relationship in one way or another.

Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, had a serious relational problem. Before his wedding night, his fiancée Mary is found to be pregnant. Joseph wrestles to reconcile two irreconcilable ideas: justice and mercy. Joseph’s internal struggle to find a middle way, reflected his best, honorable attempts to exercise self-control in jealousy, rage, vindication, and righteousness and yet balance that with love for Mary and a desire to protect her. How can justice and mercy be reconciled? In human understanding they seem mutually exclusive. But in God’s economy they are not. An angel comes to Joseph in a dream to reveal to him that what looks like his relational problem is actually the solution to humanity’s unsolvable problem, the problem of sin, justice and mercy.

Join us this Lord’s Day, December 3, as we examine Joseph’s quandary from Matthew 1:18-21 and consider the solution it reveals to our seemingly unsolvable problem. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Believe!

Believe!

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an iconic fixture in the American observance of Thanksgiving. Among the lineup of massive balloons in this year’s 91st installment was “Harold the Baseball Player.” The return of Harold to the lineup of cartoon characters and superheroes was a tribute to the 1947 Holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street, in which the float is featured prominently.

Perhaps you have seen the movie and remember the story’s central character, Susan, who has become hardened eight year-old skeptic regarding the existence of Santa Claus. That is until she meets an eccentric Macy’s store Santa named Kris Kringle. After a series of run-ins with the store psychiatrist, Kris finds himself on trial, fighting commitment to a sanitorium for claiming to be the one-and-only-Santa. In a melodramatic courtroom climax, Kris’ lawyer with the assistance of the U. S. Post Office proves that Kris is THE Santa Claus. But it is not quite enough for Susan. When she fails to receive an extraordinary gift she requested, she is plunged again into disbelief. As she struggles to believe, the tells herself, “believe, just believe.” You may have noticed the word “Believe” on the front of Macy’s New York store as this year’s parade rolled by.

Disillusionment comes easily when things don’t turn out as we expect and those we trust don’t seem to deliver. If this is true with relatively minor things like the existence of mere men of legend, consider how devastating it can be when it comes to matters of eternal life and death. Have you ever been disappointed with God, either His action or His timing? Have you ever felt that His promises have failed or that we have ruined our chances of knowing His love and mercy? Have you ever feared that God doesn’t care about “people like me?” Disappointment with God is a common struggle. This is why the Bible tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

As with a parade, we cannot see the big picture, only what is passing in front of us. To look at God through the lens of our circumstances can give a distorted view of Him. In the Bible, the Gospels give us that “drone’s eye view” of the parade and reveal to us the unfolding of God’s promises through the incarnation of a Redeemer.

Join us this Lord’s Day, November 26, as we celebrate the season by considering from Matthew’s gospel the unbelievable story of the eternal God who became flesh and dwelled among us, to keep all God’s promises and to give us new life. This week we consider Matthew 1:1-17, the genealogy of Jesus, and what it says about God’s love and faithfulness.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Grace and Gratitude

Grace and Gratitude

The trajectory of the Christian life is one of grace and gratitude.  God speaks His grace to us in the gospel and we express our gratitude to Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  This trajectory defines every aspect of our lives.   As Christians we are to be characterized by gratitude.   Yet, Mark Mitchell in his article, Ingratitude and the Death of Freedom, makes a stinging indictment about the loss of gratitude in modern culture and a dire prediction of the consequences.   He writes,

Any serious discussion of gratitude must at the same time con­sider its opposite, ingratitude, for—and I am not the first to observe this—we tend to be an ungrateful lot. In 1930 the Spanish philoso­pher Jose Ortega y Gasset observed that modern people are, among other things, characterized by their “radical ingratitude.”

When we speak of gratitude, there will be those who think primar­ily of etiquette: “I taught my children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and they usually do.” There will be those who think in personal terms: “I have a nice house, a new car, and a boat. Sure, I’m grate­ful.” Or there will be those who think in terms of the nation: “We live in the greatest nation on earth! Darn right, I’m grateful.” But, although the language of gratitude is not dead—far from it—some­thing is amiss. Our modern, affluent, technological, well-fed society seems to oscillate between smug self-satisfaction and hand-wringing despair, the latter coming on the wave of each new economic, politi­cal, social, or natural disaster.

Gratitude though means more than good manners; it means more than the pleasure associated with possessing plenty of nice things; and it surely means more than mere relief that we’ve managed to escape, or at least survive, the latest crisis. These are perhaps shad­owy reminders of gratitude, but they are not the heart of the issue.

Mitchell goes on to observe that four cultural shifts that have left moderns characteristically ungrateful.

  • First is the loss of God along with an acknowledgment of a moral law that exists prior to human will.
  • Second, we have lost contact with the natural world.
  • Third, we have too often lost a sense of place.
  • Finally, we have experienced a loss of the past.

But this is not really a modern or even a new problem.  Solomon once wrote, there is nothing new under the sun — nothing that is that has not been before.   Despite many examples in the Psalms of God’s gracious care for those in distress, the Psalmist must still instruct the people, time and time again, to “Give thanks to the Lord.”

As we approach a day on the calendar marked, Thanksgiving, are we thankful?  Do we even know how to give thanks or cultivate a life of gratitude?   Matthew Henry once wrote, “thanksgiving is good, but thanks-living is better.”

Join us this Lord’s Day, November 19, as we examine Psalm 107 and consider what it looks like to practice “thanks-living.”  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Here’s The Church

Here’s The Church

Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people…

There was a day when we could recognize a building as a church by its distinctive features, but now the architecture of sacred spaces runs the gamut.   Churches are designed to identify with a thousand different subtly secularized ideas about their mission, vision and community.  Some look like schools, others like shopping malls, while some resemble professional office parks and are called campuses.  Church buildings come in every conceivable shape and size, each with a corresponding and yet, competing vision of why it exists.

But the church is not the building, and its mission, vision and community, while flavored by the soil in which it is planted, is not as variable as the edifices that house it.   The church pictured in the New Testament is not an innovation or departure from the Old Testament covenanted community.  In fact, it is explicitly described as “the Israel of God.”  On the day of Pentecost, the church is not born as some assert, but new branches are radically engrafted.  The essence of the ekklesia, the “called ones” is reasserted, not reinvented, but now with the “dividing wall of hostility removed.”

Acts 2:36-47 reveals a glimpse of this as the picture of the church, its identity, and its impact is reaffirmed in light of Pentecost.   In our day, when the mission, vision and community of the church is as diverse as the buildings in which it meets, it is important to return to the exemplar.

What is a Church?   What is River City Reformed Church?  Join us this Lord’s Day, November 12, as we examine Acts 2 and consider our identity and impact as a Church.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Handel’s Messiah

Handel’s Messiah

The Arkansas Choral Society in conjunction with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the University of Arkansas-Monticello will present their 87th Annual performance of Handel’s Messiah Friday, December 1, 2017 at Calvary Baptist Church in the Heights.

Silent auction begins at 6:30 pm and the concert begins at 7:30 pm. For more info, call 870-820-9645 or go to the Arkansas Choral Society’s website or facebook event page.