Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, December 25, Evening

By Reece Wood, Youth Ministry Intern

Christian Love

Read: 1 Peter 4:8-10

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

A few months ago, my roommate was having some trouble in one of his friend groups due to an action that one person had committed. My roommate considered this person a friend, but could not look past what had happened, and at the same time he didn’t want to abandon him like everyone else. My roommate said that he had ended up telling this person “I can’t be there for you as a friend, but I can be there for you as a Christian.”

The Christmas season for a lot of people is full of fun and excitement. However, there are also those who are left out in the cold, both physically and emotionally. This can mean that some people feel alone on Christmas time. As people who strive to be more like Jesus, we are called to love others, even those who are disregarded by the rest of society. It may be impossible to be a true friend to everyone we see at Christmas time, but we can smile and show love to everyone and share Christian love with them.


Dear Lord, help us to be aware of Your presence and love and be conscious to spread it to others who need it. Help us to remember that we can always be a Christian to anyone we meet. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, December 25, Morning

By Rev. Catherine Nance, Senior Pastor

Therefore! Ideo!

Read: Luke 2:11

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 

On this day earth shall ring 

with the song children sing to the Lord, 

Christ our King, born on earth to save us; 

him the Father gave us.

Ideo, gloria in excelsis!

Today is Christmas! Today! This day!

When Jane Joseph translated the 16th century text, “On this day, earth shall ring,” she kept the Latin for the refrain. We sing Ideo instead of, therefore. And because Gustav Holst arranged this melody there is a wonderful, percussive, Ideo-o- o! Ideo-o-o! Ideo! There is a lot of music and movement for this preposition. What a powerful word! THEREFORE! It causes us to look back at what has just happened and know that the event impacts the future. 

On this day, may we each know that God has come to us and goes with us into tomorrow and the next days and forever. Because of the Good News of Christmas, I can say, Ideo! And look with hope and joy into the future.

Therefore! Ideo! 


 Loving God, on this day, may our voices join with children’s voices around the world! You have gifted us with your Love, Joy and Peace. May we profess those gifts in our living. May every thought, word and action, be motivated by “therefore.” Amen. 

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, December 24, Evening

By Rev. Tim Best, Senior Associate Pastor

Make a Joyful Noise

Read: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

I love time travel movies. Perhaps it is because I was born when the Back to the Future movies came out. It may also be because I like the idea of skipping over the boring parts of life and living, even reliving the “exciting” parts. There are various parts of scripture that address time, the future, the past, and how we humans experience all these things. The lesson for the day from 2 Peter 3 addresses the longing and impatience of humanity, and the faithful patience of God. The church has held several conversations this fall about justice and Christian social engagement. I believe that most people, especially disciples of Jesus, long for a just and peaceful world. Christians long for the justice and mercy of God. We are awaiting the fullness of the reign of Jesus to arrive in our midst. We may have different visions of how to achieve that justice. Sometimes, we may not agree with one another about what that justice will look like. 

Second Peter is written to a people with many of these same issues and concerns. They long for Jesus to return and begin his full reign. They know heartache and disappointment. They are suffering and worn down by life. They turned to Jesus with joy and expectation. And now they wait. Their waiting has produced anxiety and uncertainty. Will Jesus return? Is the promised reign of God coming? YES! Peter tells any who wait and wish they could just fast forward, or hop in a time traveling DeLorean, that the delay is a sign of God’s love. God is at work to save and embrace ALL the world. As we continue to fill with energy and as we get closer to Christmas, let us also seek the patience of God. We will know the joy of God’s presence with us on December 25th, but also on the 26th, the 27th and on and on. As we wait, let us remember that in the waiting we see the patient love of God. Amen. 


Gracious Lord, fill our hearts with longing for your return and a desire for your justice and peace. Teach us patience as we wait and help us to trust in your mercy in all things. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, December 24, Morning

By Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade, Retired Minister of Spiritual Enrichment

Come Into Our Hearts, Lord Jesus

Read: Revelation 3:20a

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice 

and opens the door, I will come in to him…

The phone rang in my childhood home. Lifting the receiver from its black molded cradle, the caller on the line greeted me warmly. With annoyance, however, I cupped my hand over the handset and shouted, It’s for you, Mama! Mother rushed from the kitchen, dishtowel in hand, listening to the voice of our Aunt Belle who lived in Nacogdoches, TX. Her speech was familiar: Flossie, I’m at the bus station and I wonder if you could pick me up.  I’m staying a few days with you and the children.  

The future was also predictable. Mama would pack one or two of her seven kids in her rattling Chevy and drive twelve miles downtown. All too soon, my older brother would lug an enormous suitcase up the front steps, depositing it in my bedroom. Sharing my space with the pudgy relative who never called ahead to schedule her visits, who snored, and slept with a hairnet over her graying bun, was not my pre-teen style.

Belle was, in fact, the sister of my Grandfather Bowers, Mama’s father, who had died tragically when she was an infant. All the unannounced visits Mama took in stride, treating our guest with kindness, while I endured them with resentment.

Recalling my inhospitality with much embarrassment, I think of the Christmas Eve pageant at a New York church some years ago. The innkeeper had only one line and the role was given to a developmentally challenged youngster. Russ’s parents worked with him for weeks until he mastered his sentence for the drama. The night of the pageant came, the costumed children took their places, with little Russ standing in the doorway of the makeshift cardboard inn.  

His moment came after the weary Mary and Joseph approached from the center aisle and sought his help. Russ offered his statement boldly and perfectly: No, you can’t stay here – we have no room! As the disheartened couple turned to leave, they were startled to hear Russ call out after them: No, wait! You can stay at my house tonight! There was a stunned silence, then a massive round of applause from the churchgoers. 

This is what this season is all about. The Messiah has come. I had grudgingly opened a bedroom door to my aging relative, but Russell opened his heart to strangers. Will we allow this Holy Child, our Savior, into our homes, into our hearts this very day? 


Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come into my heart, I pray. I am weak and I am weary; come into my heart to stay. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, December 23

By Matt Mobley

Remaining Vigilant

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:6

The Christmas of 2008 I found myself in the mountains of Afghanistan serving as an Infantry Platoon Leader. We had already been in the country eleven months and the men were tired and combat-weary. For this mission, we inserted several weeks earlier into inhospitable terrain and experienced some of our heaviest fighting yet. After clearing yet another village, we were given orders to set up a secure outpost where we might get some rest and a few meals under our belts before our next set of clearing operations. 

It was the 23rd of December and we welcomed our little Christmas vacation. We cleaned our gear. We ate. We slept. Much needed resupply arrived via helicopter. It was shaping up to be a wonderful Christmas. And then, in the early morning hours of Christmas Day, we were ambushed. Completely surprised and unprepared, we barely managed to fight off the well-coordinated assault.

As Christians, let us not forget that the life of the spirit is a constant battle of watching and remaining vigilant in our fervor for the Advent of Christ, even when we feel spiritually depleted and tired. As Paul says, “let us not fall asleep, as others do, but let us keep awake” (1 These. 5:6).


Heavenly Father, we pray that we may be filled with the spirit of watchfulness, that we may never be caught off guard in our spiritual lives, and that we would always be ready for you to be born spiritually in our souls.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, December 22

By Martha Pierce

What is Christmas?

Read: John 14:27

Peace I leave with you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Christmas is not just toy trains, dolls, and magnificent food. What is it? It can be just another awakening day. But most of us plan carefully for a day filled with family time and abundant, favorite foods. 

My memory as a child included one year when I knew my brother was getting a bike, but I was totally surprised when I got a handmade cedar chest. Most of all I remember the wonderful food made by my mother: country ham cured by my father and boiled custard.

Growing up on a farm in a rural area offered open spaces with nature all around you. It also gave sounds of cattle mooing and dogs barking. There was peace at times … and also disorder! Christmas morning was always a special meaning. 

But Christmas is more than gifts and beautifully decorated trees. The phrase “Christ is in man” has more meaning. We recognize that a tiny baby was born to bring joy and light to us. The word Christmas gives us the opportunity to be overjoyed and feel the presence of God more than any other time. We realize what Christ has done for us. We think of all the times we could have been more thoughtful in caring for others with a forgiving spirit. 

To sum it up, Christmas is much more than gifting and holiday decorating. It’s what is in the heart and our electric connection to our Master’s presence. The sounds in music, the candlelight service, and this Advent time together prepare us for abundant blessings.  


Open our eyes that we may see what you have revealed to us, so we might know what is your will to be done. Help us be an example of hope and not fear as we abide in your word. We ask this in Christ’s name, amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, December 21

By Beth Cooper-Libby, Director of CSUMC Preschool

I See Jesus!

Read: Colossians 1:17

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

It’s a familiar sight here at CSUMC. Although most people call it the “Jesus statue,” the name of it is The Teaching Christ. It was created by Jim Gray, and I have seen the outreached hand holding balloons and flowers. The children in the preschool love to touch the statue as they go to and from the gym. I use the statue as a landmark to help parents find the gym to pick up their children at the end of the day. 

Recently, it was very rainy and a father who had never been to the gym needed direction. He is a rather quiet person, not prone to lots of chitchat in the mornings. I learned later that he just isn’t a “morning person.” He’s always polite, but I didn’t have a clue if he had a sense of humor. However, I like him and try to get him to smile. 

So, I sang him my little ditty, “Down the hall, ‘round the corner, past the bend. Through the door and see Jesus, to the end! Take a left at Jesus and you can’t go wrong! Take a left at Jesus and I’ll end this song!” I guess he was either amazed by my clever tune (doubt it) or didn’t understand it, because he didn’t go through the door, instead turning to try to open the door to the lower level. I directed him to the correct door and he opened it, stepping into the darkness. Then I heard him bellow in a huge fake TV pastor voice, “I see JESUS!!”  I started to giggle and he popped his head back through the door so I could see him. He shouted smiling, “Can I have an AMEN?” 

Since then I have felt much more comfortable with this man. We shared a laugh because we both understood that it’s a beautiful statue, but it’s not really Jesus. Jesus isn’t in a statue. Jesus doesn’t stay in one place. He isn’t that little plastic baby we put in our nativity scene this time of year. Jesus isn’t here alone in the dark when the building closes. So where is Jesus? Where do YOU see Jesus?


We pray for … 

  • A niece grieving the death of her uncle; prayers for safe and comforting travels as family goes to funeral in Georgia
  • A member recovering after rotator cuff surgery
  • A member recovering from removal of gall bladder surgery
  • A friend who had partial knee replacement; prayers for successful rehab
  • A couple as they begin second trimester of pregnancy and for the wife as she looks for new employment
  • Success for friends who have endured infertility and finally have placement for their one viable embryo scheduled in the next couple of weeks. Thank you!
  • A friend, already disabled as a result of a plethora of medical and financial challenges, now suffers from gastroparesis and is unable to digest solid foods. Pray that his dietary changes can provide needed nutrients and strength.
  • A friend who was just diagnosed with Lymphoma
  • One who is dealing with feelings of bitterness as Alzheimer’s takes its toll on parents; one who has the disease and one who is caregiver. Feelings of sadness that grandchild will not know his grandfather.
  • A husband who has lung cancer

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • Improvement of one who is in rehab
  • A couple who just found out they are pregnant! Prayers for good health for mother and baby!
  • The birth of a baby boy! Prayers for parents and big sister!

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us Jesus and that he is always near me. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, December 20

By Pat Freeland, Chair of Church Council

The Loss of Innocents

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Christmas is supposed to be happy. Most of us carry a picture of how life should go. The assumptions about life held by children and parents of Nashville’s Covenant School were shattered last March. After terror hit that Nashville school, I was reminded of a column Ross Douthat published in the New York Times after the 2012 massacre of 20 children in Sandy Hook elementary school. The slaughter of children may make Ivan Karamazovs out of even the most devout, Douthat writes in an article called “The Loss of the Innocents.” In Dostoyevsky’s novel, Ivan is the Karamazov brother who raged about the terrible things people do to children – the innocents. Ivan questions why a loving God would allow such horrors.

Dostoyevsky didn’t try to answer the question of why God allows such terrible cruelty. Instead, he created characters in the Brothers Karamazov who demonstrated how actions of Christian love transcend suffering. The novelist, Douthat writes, was providing a true reflection of the New Testament, which portrays God’s goodness through a narrative rather than an argument. Jesus reveals to us his solidarity with us rather than a philosophical explanation of his care.

We want the sweet baby Jesus, stars, and angels. But the Bible tells us that suffering was present back then also. King Herod had innocent babies in Bethlehem slaughtered; an adult Jesus will face the cross. What can we offer those who are not experiencing the sentimental Hallmark version of Christmas? The hope that comes from Christ. 


We pray to create the Christian community that will bring compassion to those who suffer and wisdom and resolve to prevent the needless loss of precious life. Amen

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, December 19

By Suzanne Matheny

The Mystery of Incarnation

Read: Luke 9:46-48

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest. (Luke 9:46-48)

The disciples were in a power struggle, not unlike what we observe in society today or in ourselves. From earliest days, this “lust for power has entrapped and corrupted the human spirit” (Henri J.M. Nouwen*). Often God intervened omnipotently, but eventually made a covenant, giving more responsibility to humans. Ultimately, God would offer healing through baby Jesus who later taught that in welcoming himself, we welcomed the One who sent him. But why through a weak, sweet, adorable and powerless baby did God choose to come? 

Nouwen suggested the mystery of the incarnation is that God became so powerless to be dependent on humans to welcome, feed and nurture him, and to proclaim the Good News – thus, ironically through powerlessness disrupting the walls of power and desires to be always first or in control. When our quest for power and superiority causes our lives (socially, politically or religiously) to become divisive and diabolic, surely God must still weep.


Omnipotent God, You came in powerlessness with powerful news of healing. We, too, live in troubling and divisive times when it seems the lust for power is evident all around and in us. We and this world need your healing and hope. May we in this Advent season, welcome again this sweet, adorable baby, and may we humbly and joyfully receive and proclaim Your Good News of love and redemption. Amen. 

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*J.M. Nouwen. Power, Powerlessness, and Power. Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life.  (Nashville: The Upper Room, January/February, 1995), pg.34-44.

Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, December 18

By Laine Thomas

Finding Joy in the Morning

Read: Psalm 30:5

Weeping may stay for the night,

    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

It’s been a tough year in my family. Last July, we said goodbye to my amazing grandmother. At the end of June this year, we said our goodbyes to my Pop, one of the greatest men I have ever known. It’s been incredibly tough. Coming into this Advent season, there have been many days that it has been hard to picture what Christmas will look like without my grandparents. Many reading may feel this with your own losses throughout the past year.  

Yet, through all these moments, this season brings a promise of joy to my family. While some of my hardest moments were saying goodbye to people I love, I have also had the profound joy of welcoming two nieces into my family in this same tough year. They are these precious lights that constantly remind me that even when days are hard, joy is still present. I picture the joy candle in the Advent wreath. It’s the different candle of the four, a beautiful pink surrounded by the deep purples representing hope, peace, and love. It is a bright reminder that even when life is hard – when life brings us to the very edge – when you are surrounded by hope, love, and peace, joy will stand out and guide you through it.  

My family’s Christmas will be different this year. My Pop won’t be ringing the doorbell 10 times at 7 am to make sure my brother and I are awake. But, joyfully, and with all the wonderful memories of my grandparents, I will be ringing the doorbell at my brother’s house to make sure his girls are awake and ready for Christmas. Moments like that are what this season is all about. Mary and Joseph knew without a doubt that life was going to be hard for their sweet baby. It had already been tough just getting to his arrival. This season is the best reminder that we all must keep fighting and keep pushing through life’s challenges, because there is unending hope, unending love, unending peace, and unending joy in the life our Savior brought to us. It may be dark now, but rejoice. The light is coming.


Lord, guide us through these days with the joy of this season. Winter can be dark, but each dawn is a new beginning where we celebrate you and find joy, love, peace, and hope in all you give us. Let the anticipation and atmosphere bring comfort and happiness to every person celebrating your arrival in the world. Let each person know joy in whatever form it takes and let us all praise your name. Amen.

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