Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, March 29, Evening

By Kathryn and Sidney H. Everett, February, 1981

God’s Marvelous Alarm Clock

Read Romans 8:11

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf of springtime.” – Martin Luther

If you have been wandering in your yard, even as early as December, you have seen a wondrous calendar at work. Daffodils were peeping out; just a tip perhaps, but they were there. Looking further you saw Crocuses, Hyacinth and early Tulips.

Regardless of the weather, all of them have a date to keep, even through the ravages of snow and ice.

The countdown to Spring is underway.

Just what is the “magic” that brings on this beauty regardless of the weather? Light.

For years it was believed that the return of warm weather was the magic trigger. But heat is not dependable, as evidenced by the many changes of weather all through the season.

Bulbs planted in the Fall are seemingly dead, but through the combined magic of light and rain a wondrous resurrection takes place.

This resurgence of breath-taking beauty strengthens our hope and faith in the resurrection of our Lord and in our own resurrection.


Because of the beauty and abundance of Thy good earth, oh, God, may we have a rebirth both spiritually and physically this season. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, March 29, Morning

By John Eldridge, April 15, 2019

Spring Cleaning

Read John 15:1-4

One tradition my parents observed every year was spring cleaning. Although the labor fell mostly upon my mother’s shoulders, everything in the house got a cleaning sometime before Easter: every window was washed, every floor scrubbed, all the curtains went to the dry cleaners, all the silver was polished, every nook and cranny got a dusting, and every cobweb was removed.

Although the spring cleaning ritual mostly died out with the passing of my parents’ generation, we can still practice spring cleaning, albeit in a different way: spiritually. Spring cleaning is an apt analogy for Lent. For in Lent, we are called to take a good look at ourselves. What parts of ourselves need a good cleaning? Are there cobwebs that need to be removed? Are there stains on our soul that need to see the light of day and be addressed? Does the window to our hearts need some Windex so that love from our hearts can get through to our neighbors? Does our kindness barometer need polishing so we can better practice being kind? Is there anger and resentment that needs to be swept away? Does our attention to prayer need dusting off, so our communication with God can be better?

Yes, it is time for a spiritual spring cleaning, but as my mother used to say: “You can’t clean what you don’t see.” “Look,” she would say, “and you will see the dirt you missed.” Lent provides that time to look within and make ourselves the persons God calls us to be.


Lord, give us the strength and courage to do a spiritual spring cleaning. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 28, Evening

By Verna Mclain, April 8, 1979

Were You In The Crowd?

Read Luke 19:28-38

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the eyes of all were fixed upon him. The crowds sang his praises but as we come close up to the people, who do we see?

We see the Believers. The ones who haven’t always understood him but who have followed him in faith. Some of these believers will deny their faith in him before the end of the week.

We see those recently healed by Jesus. They are rejoicing that they can now see and hear and walk and run. He has made them whole.

We see the Doubters. Those who still question this humble man riding on a donkey. They want to believe – they want meaning to their lives but is it worth the risk?

We see the Pharisees – those men of the world who can always be found in church every time the door opens but yet who have no open heart to those who are not like them – who don’t dress like them or talk like them.

We see the Outcasts – those people of society that no one cares for – no one even notices. And yet Jesus always noticed – He always stopped to talk to these kind – to show them the direction in life to take.

We see the Children – they sing, they laugh, they carry palm branches and happy hearts. They are willing to follow this Jesus because he has given them a place of importance in the world.

We see the Women – those loyal followers of Jesus – Mary, Martha, and others who stay with him to the end. The ones to whom he first appears after the Resurrection. Many of these women had no place in the world before Jesus gave them status.


And who are the others – You – Me – But which one are we?

The Doubters – the Believers – The Outcasts.

Do we live our lives in the shadow of Jesus who rode into Jerusalem

that Palm Sunday long ago? Can we move from doubter to believer this week?

Jesus might ride into Knoxville today but would we see him or would we be too

busy with our own problems and cares?

Would we even recognize him if he signed the visitors card in our church?


Dear God, open our eyes to see your truth, open our hearts to receive your love and open our hearts so that we can loudly proclaim, Hosanna! Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 28, Morning

By Mrs. Katherine R. Luton, March 30, 1977

The Crowd

Read Matthew 16:24

“Then said Jesus unto His disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Always He feared you;

For you knew Him only as the man of loaves and fishes,

The man who did marvelous things. He who raised Lazarus,

Healed the lame, and made the blind to see,

Fleeing from you, He sought the solace of the garden.


He must have known that you would cry, “Release unto us Barabbas!”

And fling your cruel words at Him as He climbed to the Golgotha alone.

Perhaps He knew that some day you would build creeds about Him,

And lose Him in massive structures of stone,

With costly windows, dignified ritual, and eloquent preachers;

While outside He waited …

Sad … and alone.

-Irene McKeighan

May we ask ourselves during this Lenten Season, “Are we a part of the crowd?”  We have read and believed the stories about Jesus recorded in our Bibles. Had we been present at the time of the trial would we have voted against the crowd? How easy it is to accept the creeds about Him when there is no sacrifice! How easy it is to pride ourselves for being members of a beautiful church! How we enjoy stimulating sermons and beautiful music! All the time our Christ is waiting outside sad and alone because we have never truly followed his commandment —“deny thyself and take up thy cross and follow Me.”


Our Heavenly Father, give us the strength in this day not to be content with things as we find them, but inspire us to be true followers of Thy Son, Jesus Christ. This is the only way that His way may be known on this earth. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, March 27

By Roscoe C. Word, Jr., April 2, 1976

Faith and Forgiveness

Read: Mark 11:22-26 (RSV)

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

I must have FAITH. Jesus promised in John 15:7 that if I abide in Him and His words abide in me, I can ask whatever I will and it will be done for me. What I ask MUST be according to His WILL and according to His WORDS. This means reading the gospels – absorbing the gospels – and living according to His teaching – morning, noon and night. I must FORGIVE. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matt: 5:44. St. Paul wrote, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’. No, ‘if your enemy is hungry feed him: if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head’. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21.


Lord, take my mind and think through it. Take my heart and set it on fire with love. Take my tongue and let the Holy Spirit speak through my lips. Take my prayers and let them bring the healings of Jesus to everyone for whom I pray. I thank you that in Christ I have your forgiveness and through Him I am possessed by the Holy Spirit and delivered from sin, disease, demons and fear.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, March 26

By Bill Gray, March 6, 1977

Hope of the World

Read: Romans 5:1-5

Georgia Harkness, one of the great women theologians of our day, has contributed one of the most powerful hymns to our United Methodist Hymnal “Hope of the World.” This hymn was submitted and chosen (from some 500 others submitted) as the theme hymn for the second assembly of the World Council of Churches. It has become a favorite at Church Street, but I would like to encourage you to read the text as poetry. Read the text carefully to discover its deep truths.


“Hope of the world, thou Christ of great compassion,

Speak to our fearful hearts by conflict rent.

Save us thy people, from consuming passion,

Who by our own false hopes and aims are spent.


Hope of the world, God’s gift from highest heaven,

Bringing to hungry souls the bread of life.

Still let thy spirit unto us be given,

To heal earth’s wounds and end her bitter strife.


Hope of the world, a-foot on dusty highways,

Showing to wandering souls the path of light.

Walk thou beside us lest the tempting byways

Lure us away from thee to endless night.


Hope of the world, who by the cross didst save us

From death and dark despair, from sin and guilt.

We render back the love thy mercy gave us;

Take thou our lives, and use them as thou wilt.

Hope of the world, O Christ, O’er death victorious,

Who by this sign didst conquer grief and pain.

We would be faithful to thy gospel glorious;

Thou art our Lord! Thou dost forever reign!  Amen.”


Heavenly Father, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious, we beseech thee, to all who have erred and gone astray from thy holy Word and bring them again in steadfast faith, to receive and hold fast thine unchangeable truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

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nave at half capacity

Written by Caroline Lamar, church member and guest blogger.

Today was our second Sunday back at church since before the pandemic. Despite masks and preregistration, it is wonderful to walk through those doors and worship together in person. To be clear, our church never closed. We fed our community members experiencing homelessness on Thursdays, we participated in Bible study, Sunday School classes, and even choir. Our sanctuary was closed to us though, so coming back has been a bit of a reawakening for me.

Our church nursery has not yet reopened which means there are lots of kiddos in “big church” as we often call it. Today, some of those kids were quite vocal in their participation, even in times which some might have deemed inappropriate.

To the parents of those noisy kids today I have a few words I want to share with you. First of all, I see you. OK, OK, I didn’t actually see you because you were somewhere behind me in the sanctuary. But I see you because I have been you. I know exactly what you went through to get your children up, fed, dressed (perhaps dressed again if the morning didn’t go well) and to church on time, or some proximity of on time. I recognize that right now you actually had to plan ahead of time to go to church because we are registering in advance, part of our Covid protocols. We have three children who are now teens/pre-teens but I remember well the way we used to plan church attendance around feeding, naps, and snacks. I can’t imagine adding a pandemic to the mix.

So in addition to seeing you, I also want to thank you for bringing your children to church. Our pastor mentioned before her sermon today how much she loves seeing all the children. I know our pastor; she really means this. It is not a platitude. It brings her (and the rest of us) great joy to see and hear children at church. I know that when your kids got loud/kicked the pew in front of you/dropped crayons/crinkled paper/asked in a mock whisper how much longer was this going to take…that you were sweating through your shirt and second guessing your decision to even come in the first place.

We had one of those Sundays many years ago. All three kids were not in the best mood. They were restless, they were loud. We attend a very traditional worship service and I was keenly aware of those parishioners around me. I felt responsible for “ruining” their worship experience. I knew they were watching and silently judging me. That day after church an elderly member of our congregation passed me a note and walked away. I shoved it in the pocket of my coat and hurried everyone out to the car. I knew the note was probably saying I should get my kids under control during worship. Later I opened the note and it said, “You have a beautiful family.” Full stop. That little note on a scrap of paper completely changed my perspective. Kids need to be kids, even in worship, especially in worship. And while I obviously wasn’t there, I like to think of all the times Jesus preached to noisy crowds of people. I would venture to guess it was loud…small kids running around, livestock making their presence known, shouts from nearby shopkeepers. Silence isn’t a prerequisite for worship. Is it good to have times of silence? Yes, of course, but noisy kids in church do not detract from anything the rest of us are trying to do.

Because church isn’t about me. It’s not about my “experience.” It is about worshiping God and the risen Christ, and quite frankly, when I think of it that way, why are any of us quiet about it?

Our church isn’t doing congregational hymns right now, and the music is being provided by a choral ensemble. Today, as they sang the Doxology (a song that gets me EVERY single time), I could hear the little girl two pews in front of me. Even behind her mask, she was singing loudly, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” It reminded me of another of my favorite hymns, “How Can I Keep From Singing?”

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

So moms and dads with noisy kids in church, please don’t stop bringing them. Let them make noise and praise God in their own ways. If you see me cast a glance in your direction, just know I have been in your shoes and I remember. And since I am firmly on the other side of that phase of parenting, I want to tell you that one day your children will get themselves dressed for church and they will join you in the pew and recite the prayers and listen to the sermon and ask insightful questions on the way home. Hang in there, you’re doing great.

This blog was originally published on Caroline’s personal blog here

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, March 25

By Col. Bill Willard, April 1, 1980

Paramount Power

Read: Revelation 21:1

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away…”

Last December, Rev. Eldon Moore preached a sermon concerning breathtaking events. It caused me to think back to a lonely beach in the Central Pacific some twenty years ago. The long-awaited detonation of a hydrogen bomb was at hand. I had walked away from the area where most of the observers had assembled and found a secluded spot at the lagoon’s edge. It was 5 a.m. and pitch black. I looked towards Bikini, some 180 miles to the East. At first, there was only a faint glow on the horizon; then the entire sky came alive with a glorious sunrise, not unlike some Easter sunrises I had seen. But gradually the light began to fade and within 30 seconds the total darkness returned. I stood in awe, unable to fully comprehend what I had just witnessed. Man had created a power, albeit brief, to rival the center of our solar system. How he used that power was to become a major concern of civilization from that time forward.

God’s love, as manifested in Christ Jesus, is the paramount power in the universe. How will we use it? Surely, our failure to actively promote this power is one reason for the chaotic state of our world today. God’s love is not abstract. It shines through people who are truly his disciples. Does His love glow through you?


May the power of the Living God control and shape our lives, so that we may radiate the truth of Christ to all mankind. In Jesusname. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, March 24

By Mr. and Mrs. Earl S. (Margaret) Ailor, March 3, 1980

Strength for the Day

Read: Romans 8:28 NIV

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”

As 1979 began we had many things to be thankful for. We had been blessed with two daughters and two sons. Our oldest daughter was married to a Methodist minister and they had two sons.  Our oldest son had completed Claremont Theology School in California and was serving two rural churches near Limestone in upper East Tennessee as a United Methodist Minister. He and his wife, Julia, enjoyed life in a rural pastorate.

On a cold January night, we received a call from the Kingsport hospital that Albert and Julia had been involved in an accident and they needed us. As we drove through the night not knowing what had happened we asked the Lord for strength to face whatever we might find upon arrival. At the hospital our worst fears became a reality in learning our son had been killed. We were thankful our daughter-in-law had miraculously survived.

As days, weeks and months have passed we find strength in the Easter faith our son Albert had in Christ as he had proclaimed the truth that “only believe and we shall meet again.” We have also felt the prayers of our friends in Christ in our time of loss. The three children we still have with us have been a source of comfort to us. We have the faith that “blessed are those who die in the Lord,” and that our son will greet us at the end of the way.


Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything pleasing in his sight, through Christ Jesus; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  Hebrews 13:20

Thought – “Christ has taken the dark door of death and replaced it with the shining gate of life.” -Bosch

We still have many things for which to be thankful.

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If you haven’t had a need for a Stephen Minister, you may not know what powerful work this 15-person ministry of Church Street does, or that their work has expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They call themselves the “after” people, comforting grieving church members after a loved one dies or crisis occurs. After the ministers visit, the family goes home and the loneliness of grief settles in, the Stephen Minister’s work begins. Each Stephen Minister is assigned one care receiver at a time to help walk that person through life after a crisis. 

Each relationship between a Stephen Minister and care receiver is confidential. A typical relationship lasts anywhere from one to two years, although some care receivers may only need guidance for 6 months. Every once in a while a relationship will last more than two years as additional crises occur after the first. 

“I can’t stress how rewarding it is to have a care receiver,” Stephen Leader of almost 10 years Doug Spencer says. “Just that relationship with a care receiver and as you watch God work in their lives and in the situation and see the healing that they go through.” 

Before the pandemic, most Stephen Ministers met with their care receiver at least once a week. Now, phone calls and Zoom meetings are more common, and happen more frequently than once a week in some situations. 

Rev. Pat Clendenen, who served as an Associate Pastor at Church Street from 1989 to 1994, offered to help the Stephen Ministry program at Church Street this year. She stepped in as the designated clergy in February, just as the pandemic started.

“It really is a calling. It’s not something that you just decide, ‘okay I think I’ll go and work in this area of the church this year. I’ll just volunteer here.’” Clendenen says. “ It truly is a calling.” 

Becoming a Stephen Minister 

Those who feel called to be a Stephen Minister participate in 50 hours of structured, intensive training developed by Stephen Ministries St. Louis. This training includes education of how to respond in certain situations, and roleplaying activities to put those lessons into action. 

In addition to these 50 hours, a Stephen Minister may decide to train to be a Stephen Leader and attend an additional week of immersive training offsite, usually in St. Louis or Orlando. These Stephen Leaders provide ongoing leadership to Church Street like Clendenen, Elaine Doss and Spencer. 

Doss, a two-time cancer patient, started her training at Fort Sanders Hospital in September 2018 with no intention to visit hospital patients because she was worried that she would not be able to minister to someone going through cancer. 

“But by the time I got through the training, I was over all of that,” Doss says. “I think that God just shows up in every single hospital room.”

Once a Church Street Stephen Minister completes training, they are assigned a care receiver by Clendenen. Most care receivers are referred by a clergy member and first contact is made by Clendenen. 

Making assignments isn’t taken lightly, and Clendenen has done her best during the pandemic to get to know both the Stephen Minister and the care receiver through phone or Zoom conversations before making an assignment.

“It has to be the right match and I have to trust that. A lot of prayer and thought goes into that,” Clendenen says. “It’s important for me to know the Stephen Minister well.” 

Each Stephen Minister participates in mandatory Peer Supervision meetings, currently over Zoom, once a month and education offerings to stay up-to-date on ways to respond to different crises. 

During Peer Supervision meetings, each Stephen Minister with a care receiver will give a non-specific check-in statement. The check-in statements allow Stephen Ministers to bring to the group any issues they have in their relationship and for other Stephen Ministers to offer support. 

“The wisdom of many instead of the guesswork of a few is found in those peer supervision meetings,” Spencer says. 

In addition to the short check-ins, one Stephen Minister each month gives an in-depth report that dives deeper into the situation, relationship and any setbacks or celebrations. The group listens to these in-depth situations and also provides support and feedback. 

Working as a team with other ministries and clergy 

There are often situations where a Stephen Minister cannot provide all of the necessary support needed for a care receiver, which is often brought to the attention of the ministry during the monthly Peer Supervision meetings. 

The ministry will often dovetail with the Parish Health Ministry Team, with many care receivers accepting care and guidance from both ministries. Additional resources like legal support, home repairs and healthcare can also be arranged using the resources of the church congregation. 

“It’s great when we can make that happen and bring it all together,” Clendenen says. “That has been a good outcome in certain situations.” 

Clendenen’s familiarity with Stephen Ministry and Church Street has allowed her to lead the ministry with ease during the pandemic. At her first appointment following her time at Church Street in Brentwood, Tennessee, she was quickly immersed into Stephen Ministry training. 

“I’ve really enjoyed getting back into it. It’s a really great set of Stephen Ministers,” Clendenen says, “a very unique, diverse group and this year during the pandemic it’s been tough. We’ve had some ongoing crisis situations.” 

During the leadership training process, it is stressed how important it is to have clergy support Stephen Ministers, and Spencer says that he has been extremely impressed by Clendenen’s support. 

“I’m so thankful for Rev. Pat Clendenen. She’s done a wonderful job,” Spencer says. “We’ve had some good clergy involved with this, and Pat has knocked it out of the ballpark. She’s doing a really, really fine job.”

Clendenen agrees that without clergy support, operating a Stephen Ministry program is tough, and that she has appreciated the support of clergy like Revs. Catherine Nance, Tim Best, Palmer Cantler and Jan Buxton Wade. 

No matter when a person touches the Stephen Minister program’s process, Spencer says it’s a blessing to help those in the Church Street community see change and grow. 

“We are not the fixers. God is the fixer,” Spencer says. “We are privileged to be able to be there to watch it happen.”