The Scar of My Arm by Reverend Britt Skarda


I left my hometown of Des Arc, Arkansas almost forty years ago, but I still recall what a wonderful place it was to live as a child. Main Street was crammed with thriving businesses including the Rice Movie Theatre, Skating Rink, Lunch Car Cafe, Western Auto, Walls Barber Shop, Eddins Hardware, Berry Furniture and Bell’s Variety Store to name only a few. As a little boy, I was absolutely mesmerized by the large plastic “Old Crow” that stood in the window of Charlie Smith’s Liquor Store, as well as the large “Red Goose” golden egg dispenser located in the shoe department of Horne’s Department Store.

However, it was more than the local amenities I loved. It was also the people. I can still see Mrs. Myrtle Robinson sitting in the window of her Main Street home reading her Bible, even as Margie Thompson sold candy at her candy store next door. Coach John Rollins was a staple in the public school athletic department and Walter Birdsong ran his own personal trash pick up service. My grandmother, Natalie Walt Childress, was the Prairie County Clerk for the selective service office. She regularly climbed out of bed at the crack of dawn in order to see young men who had been drafted off to war as the Greyhound bus passed through town to pick them up.

One of the most vivid memories of my childhood occurred in 1959 when my parents loaded me and my siblings in the family car and drove us to the Prairie County Courthouse. There we fell into a single-file line and waited our turn to receive a prick in our arms that would inoculate us against the dreaded smallpox disease that was killing three out of every ten Americans who were infected at the time.

I still bear the scar from that vaccine today. It stands as a symbol of the wonderful unity and cooperation that existed in an America gone by. We not only believed in science, we counted on it! Yes, we believed and trusted in God as well. In fact, science served as an outward and visible sign that we had been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) by a God who had given us the gift of intelligence to use for the betterment of the world.

While my hometown is still filled with amazingly wonderful people who continue to do the right thing, I am stunned by the level of ignorance displayed by others via social media and even church pulpits. The COVID vaccine is not some satanic government plot to destroy lives. Rather it is merely a continuation of the kind of spirit that placed that scar on my arm more than sixty years ago.

If you have not done so please get the vaccine and booster shots. Thank you.



The Kindness of Strangers by Rev. Britt Skarda

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…    Hebrews 13:2

Today I found myself far from home standing in sub-freezing weather trying to insert a dollar bill in a bill changer to secure coins for the parking meter. The changer was out of order and I felt helpless.

At this precise moment a tall dark Middle Eastern man happened by.  In a heavy accent, he asked if I needed change.

“Yes,” I responded. “Come with me,” he said.

I followed him down the street to his car. He unlocked the door, leaned down and reached deep beneath the driver’s seat. I was surprised when he stood up, turned around, and held out a Tupperware container.  Inside it held pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

“Take what you need,” he insisted. I reached inside and took a handful of quarters and dimes. I then reached in my pocket and held out several dollar bills to pay for the change.

“No, no!” he insisted.

“But, I want to pay you back,” I replied. He smiled and politely refused to take my money.  I smiled back, felt a tear forming in my eye, and I thanked him for his generosity.

We then shared one of the warmest handshakes ever and parted ways.

Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” May it ever be so!  Thanks be to God!


The Art of Bucket Filling by Reverend Britt Skarda

Are you a bucket filler?  Basically, those who are bucket fillers treat others well. Studies show that if we want our children to thrive physically, spiritually and emotionally, we must fill their buckets.  We must praise them, affirm them and encourage them on their journey toward full maturity.  Indeed, we must be about the business of filling the buckets of all people for the sake of building up.  Bucket filling has the power to transform.  Perhaps the most extraordinary example of this phenomenon is found in Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.

At a time when “bucket filling” was rare—in a culture where lepers were required to cry “unclean” as they moved from place to place—where women were forced to hide behind screens in the synagogue, separated and hidden from men—where the only good Samaritan was a dead Samaritan as far as the religious elites were concerned, Jesus broke down barriers between people.  He ignored long-held social and religious restrictions that had separated people for centuries.  Wherever he went, Jesus proclaimed the good news that God loves all people.  Jesus was the ultimate bucket filler!

The pinnacle of Jesus’ bucket filling came at a place called Sychar where he encountered a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  Both Jesus and the woman showed incredible courage that day.  One brave and thirsty man asked for water from someone whose gender, race and religion made her the wrong person to serve him.  One brave and generous woman gave water to someone whose gender, race and religion make him the wrong one to receive.

These kinds of encounters, whether accidental or intentional, have the power to change us—to fill our buckets and the buckets of others.  Whenever someone invites us to step up and do something outside our comfort zone, they are not emptying our bucket, they are filling it.  They are forcing us to draw deep within ourselves—to ask ourselves “What does it mean to be faithful?  What does it mean to follow Jesus?  What does it mean to be filled with the living water that gushes up to eternal life?”

Britt Skarda, Senior Pastor, retired,  Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, Little Rock, AR 

*Inspired by the book How Full is Your Bucket?, Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, 2004.

Join Regina and Reverend Skarda for Episode 6 – Love is a Verb