Volunteer Ian Hennessey packs up his pick-up with lunches.

“We need your help!” exclaimed Matt Mobley to the camera, but he and others were head-down and focused on their work as they assembled and packed 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Thursday.

The plea was to Church Street UMC’s followers on social media for volunteers with vans, trucks, or SUVs to help transport 1,000 bagged lunches on Friday, January 12 for the weekend’s Remote Area Medical (RAM) pop up clinic at the Jacob Building in Knoxville. Seven trucks and vans showed up with less than 24 hours notice to transport the lunches to the RAM clinic site.

The church purchased and volunteers prepared hand-held meals for the anticipated crowd of more than 900 patients RAM expects to see this weekend. RAM reports that many patients will wait in the parking lot overnight to access the free healthcare service. RAM operates the pop-up clinics to deliver free medical, dental, and vision services to the underserved, uninsured and underinsured individuals who cannot afford or access a doctor. No qualifying questions or proof of income or identification are asked of patients who access the clinics. Headquartered in Rockford, TN, RAM’s more than 196,000 volunteers—licensed dental, vision, and medical providers, as well as general support volunteers—have treated more than 910,000 individuals, delivering more than $189.5 million worth of free services since the nonprofit’s founding in 1985.

“Working with RAM gave us the opportunity to live out our calling as Methodists; specifically, that the mission of the church is missions,” shares Matt Mobley. “Whether that means supporting our overseas ministers in their spreading the message of Christ’s love, working in our own local soup kitchen, or something as simple as making and bagging sack lunches for a wonderful program like RAM, no mission is too large or too small to demonstrate the example of Christ’s love to a world desperately in need of care and compassion.”

Volunteers from RAM and Church Street share a moment in the cold after the work is complete!

About 10 volunteers spent Thursday in an assembly line in the church’s Parish Hall organizing the 1000 bags to be delivered to RAM’s patients. Church Street is intentional about being in community with others through long-standing local, national and international mission efforts, and has used the prayer from Psalm 90 as its guide over the last year:

Let your acts be seen by your servants;
let your glory be seen by their children.
Let the kindness of the Lord our God be over us.
Make the work of our hands last. (Psalm 90:16-17)

 

For more information about Remote Area Medical, visit https://www.ramusa.org. For more information about Church Street’s missions or to learn more about our efforts in the community, please visit https://churchstreetumc.org/resources

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of January 10, 2024

Written by Steve Richardson

God in heaven and in our midst, in your graciousness hear our prayers.

Winter. Even though we know the daylight hours are extending longer, they just don’t seem to get longer quickly enough. We’re eager to re-greet spring’s warmth, colors, blossoms and “new life.” At the same time, Holy Creator, we’re thankful for the wonders of four seasons here in our scenic valley of this Earth.

Winter’s longer hours of nighttime remind us that you are not only the God of light, but that it was in darkness when many of your great works occurred; and they still happen. From the very first “day” of creation to Jesus’ birth to the miracle of the resurrection (plus so many other instances recorded in scripture), your mighty acts dwarfed the darkness during the moments they were done. Thank you for never abandoning us, even in our darkest moments.

With the start of the new year behind us, many of us have resumed routines of daily living. Others are navigating less familiar pathways, or pursuing new opportunities. Others face uncertainties and anxieties due to personal losses, health concerns, financial hardships, fractured relationships, self-doubt, demands for decision-making amid murky considerations, and other difficult situations. Whatever our own circumstance, getting from point A to some future point B often sets our priorities. But sometimes in doing that, we overlook what is also important now. Help us realize every moment is a gift of grace from you, Omniscient God, and teach us ways to better use these moments. Thank you for abiding with us always, constantly, ceaselessly.

Grant your blessings, Lord, on Church Street United Methodist Church. We’re thankful for the staff and clergy whose commitments, talents and teamwork help extend your grace to others. We are grateful also to teachers, leaders, musicians and volunteers at your church who give of their talents and time in ministry for you.

Keep us mindful that as congregants in your kingdom, you long for us to serve one another through acts of love and unselfishness. Continue to teach us ways to do so. Echoing the prayer of Sir Thomas More, “The things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us the grace to labor for.”

Merciful God, please hear these needs and prayers of others in our church community. Surround each person with your loving embrace and comfort…

Listed below are prayer concerns shared by our church community …

We pray for … 

  • those who are grieving the sudden death of a friend
  • for a daughter who has pneumonia
  • a couple trying to make good decisions about boundaries and friendships
  • a member’s son who is having intestinal/abdominal issues; hoping to get diagnosis and treatment soon
  • a family who is grieving the death of a cousin
  • for a couple who experienced a miscarriage
  • for all students and teachers who are getting back into a routine!
  • those who are looking for meaningful employment
  • young adults studying abroad
  • An individual who requests prayers for many concerns including depression and sleep disorder; prayers for peace and healing in body and family.
  • those who are adapting to being home after being in rehab for extended stay
  • a family who is struggling after their mother/wife left them. Prayers for good mental health care.

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • a cousin who fell but is recuperating very well
  • co-workers who helped out
  • MLK commemorative events in our community
  • medical tests that came back with good news
  • friends who hold us in prayer

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of January 3, 2024

Rev. Catherine Nance

O God of The New Year, we thank you for the gift of new beginnings and looking forward. 

O God of The Every Day, we thank you that you are with us each day and in the ordinary moments. 

O God of The New Year, we look to you as we set goals and make promises about our discipleship. 

O God of The Every Day, we thank you that you forgive us, love us, and encourage us when we fall short of what we had planned. 

O God of The New Year, help us to see how you have always been with us. Open our eyes and heart to know that you are the one who will guide us. Forgive us for making goals and resolutions without first listening to your Spirit. 

O God of The Every Day, thank you for being with us in our routines and bringing meaning to the rhythms of our everyday living. May we resolve to live each day being fully aware of your presence. 

O God of The New Year, we thank you for the glorious Advent and Christmas seasons that have brought such joy and inspire us to do more for you, give more of ourselves, and love more deeply in our relationships. 

O God of The Every Day, humble our prideful selves. Remind us that is it through you that we achieve anything good, not because of our efforts.  

We have entered a new year. Today is the third day of the new year, the tenth day of Christmas, and it is the day we have with you now. And so, we offer a prayer of surrendering to you. Thank you for John Wesley and his reworking of an ages-old prayer that we can offer this day and any day to you.  

Let us pray together … 

*I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen. 

*WESLEYAN COVENANT RENEWAL PRAYER     

John Wesley adapted this prayer from the Puritan tradition that was so important to his parents, Samuel and Susannah, and life in the Epworth rectory. It informed his theology and preaching. He expected the people called “Methodists” to pray this prayer at the beginning of each new year as a way of remembering and renewing their baptismal covenant. (copied from UMCDiscipleship.org) 

Listed below are prayer concerns shared by our church community ….. 

We pray for … 

  • A member’s mother who fell; fractured humerus; prayers for healing and strength
  • One who is still continuing to look for a job; prayers for healing of spirit
  • An adult child studying in Rome
  • A welcoming congregation for so many who are looking for refuge
  • A couple who is awaiting news from embryo transfer; Lord, in your mercy …
  • An individual who requests prayers for many concerns including depression and sleep disorder; prayers for peace and healing in body and family. 
  • A member who was recently diagnosed with brain tumor; home now; thankful for husband who is wonderful caregiver
  • A member in rehab after surgery
  • A member in rehab after brain surgery and treatments
  • Adult children who have to make hard decisions about long-term care for parents
  • Couples who are wanting so desperately to have children; 
  • Peace in our world; Lord, we are worried about the Middle East! May we trust in your peace!
  • A daughter and son and their families grieving the death of their father

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • A new grandson!
  • A new baby boy!
  • A husband who is starting a new job tomorrow
  • Friends I can lean on

We continue to pray for ….

  • Those who are caregivers for loved ones
  • One who is looking for new employment
  • Healthy pregnancies
  • Strength and healing for those who have recently had hospitalizations

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of December 27, 2023

Steve Richardson

God in heaven and in our midst, in your graciousness hear our prayers.  

Here we are again, Lord. We’re in that “in between” time at the end of the year – – in between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It’s an interval when we look back on experiences over the past few days while fixing our eyes on expectations when we encounter the first of the 366 days of 2024. 

Of course you know, God, whatever the time of year, we’re always “in between.” That’s part of our reality. Some of the in betweens are brief, some are long. Some are expected, some are surprises. Some bring welcomed respite, others breed anxiety and stress. Some are good, some are not-so-good. Some are in our control, others are imposed on us haphazardly.  

God, we’re grateful in knowing that through your grace and mercy, whatever our in betweens may be, you are always there with us.  

One of your sacred Proverbs reminds us that if we acknowledge you in all our ways, you will direct our paths. Maybe adhering to this for all our in betweens is a wise resolution to live by in the coming year…and beyond. 

The Advent and Christmas season inspired us to be generous, more loving, kinder and more charitable, especially to people in greater need of life’s necessities. Thank you for those opportunities to serve one another. But now, gracious Lord, even though Christmas is over, people who are without homes still have to endure the cold and dampness, people who lack food still hunger, people who are confined due to illness, disability or other causes of isolation still undergo loneliness; and so many other injustices persist throughout our community and world. So, God, as Kingdom people, instill in us the grace and impetus to continue to do what you require of us: to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you. 

Merciful God, as we seek for ourselves (and wish for others) prosperity in 2024, help us to recognize that true and enduring prosperity is not riches, possessions or “stuff,” rather prosperity is living our daily lives with the peace that surpasses all understanding – – the peace that only you can provide.  

We pray, too, that such peace finds its way into the hearts, minds and actions of nations’ leaders around the Earth. Through your holy intervention, cure your children’s warring madness. Fulfill in our time the prophet’s foretelling of swords being beat into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks. 

Lord, we earnestly pray that you hear and respond to these special needs and expressions of others in our church community.  Surround each person with your loving presence and embrace… 

We pray for … 

  • An individual who requests prayers for many concerns including depression and sleep disorder; prayers for peace and healing in body and family. 
  • An individual with epilepsy who is facing heart surgery.
  • A member waiting on transfer to rehab facility for PT
  • A member’s good health after being hospitalized over Christmas
  • Those who are struggling with addiction and feel they have no hope
  • Those who are grieving – especially those for whom this is the ‘first Christmas since …’ 
  • A member who was recently diagnosed with brain tumor; home now; thankful for husband who is wonderful caregiver

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • Beautiful services all day Sunday, December 24!
  • Our custodial staff
  • Successful surgery
  • Church maintenance staff for preventing significant damage to the church from this week’s fire. Yet also your healing touch for all whose mental states of mind would lead them to attempt such harm to others.

We continue to pray for ….

  • Those who are recovering after surgery
  • Member healing from rotator cuff surgery
  • Those who are caregivers for loved ones
  • One who is looking for new employment
  • Healthy pregnancies

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

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.

Prayer  

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! 

Prayer  

 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. 

Prayer  

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? 

Prayer  

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).

Prayer  

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.  

Prayer  

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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