Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, December 12

By Verna Mclain

What Gifts Can We Bring?

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:13

So now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.

Christmas is a time of gift giving. We spend time, energy and money to buy that special gift for special people. Since Christmas is Jesus’s birthday, what gifts can we bring to celebrate the birthday of the Christ child?

  1. LOVE: The first commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. And the second is to love our neighbor as yourself. This is the greatest gift we have been given and can give to others.
  2. GRATITUDE: Thanksgiving for life itself, for family and friends, for all the good things that God has given us. A grateful heart comes rejoicing and remembering. 
  3. JOY: We come singing, ”Joy to the World the Lord has come. Let every heart prepare him room.”
  4. AN OPEN HEART: With this gift comes an openness to life; a willingness to love and serve others; to learn and grow; to go from where we are to where there is a need.
  5. KINDNESS: “If you cannot be anything else, you can be kind.” This gift could change someone’s life.
  6. PEACE: Calm within and with others and the world.
  7. HOPE: Absence of fear and the reassurance that we will never be forsaken.

This Advent can be a new beginning for each of us. As we leave our gifts for Christ, we can turn down new paths. We can greet all of our fellow travelers who are celebrating the birthday of the Christ child with Love, Gratitude, Joy, an Open Heart, Kindness, Peace and Hope.


May the love of Christ be with you now and forever more. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, December 11

By David Lineberger

The Only True Way

Read: Psalm 25:8-10

Living in the 21st century is tough. It seems that many things we considered rock steady in life are falling apart. People are attacking other people just because they perceive them to be inadequate role models. Some want to ignore whole groups of people that they consider undesirable in hopes that they will all disappear. You can’t listen to the news on TV without first determining if the network agrees with your political views. National and state leaders can’t seem to agree on anything! Even neighbors treat each other with suspicion. Sometimes it seems just staying at home is the only safe option. Even church attendance is falling, and some bodies are splitting up because even they can’t agree on doctrine and theology. 

In the midst of all this, God’s word speaks clearly through the quagmire. In Psalm 25, He speaks to people of every era and age saying, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.” 

Here’s a radical thought: what would happen if we lived life solely through the lens of God’s teaching and His example of the way, His Way? As we prepare to once again celebrate the birth of our Savior, God made flesh, can we also start living our lives focused on the One who’s truth, real truth, is the only genuine path to help us wade through anything the world can try to do to lead us astray. This is the “reason for the season” after all. Let’s make that the central truth in our daily life. 


Gracious Father, to whom all glory and honor are due, help us focus on You and Your ways during our daily walk, and help our faithfulness never stray from what is right according to Your Word. Amen.  

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, December 10, Evening

By Dr. Edie Johnson, Organist and Music Associate

People, Look East

Read: Isaiah 40:4

Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965), daughter of a British novelist and granddaughter of an American actor, penned this Advent hymn replete with vivid seasonal imagery. Though a shy girl who grew up in London with three brothers (one of whom became a composer), Farjeon became a well-known writer of children’s books, nursery rhymes, and another very popular poem/hymn, Morning Has Broken. At only 16 years old, she wrote the libretto for an opera which her composer brother later set to music!

This beautiful hymn text begins with an exhortation for all of us to “look East,” the direction of the rising sun. She continues with the metaphor of preparing one’s home and hearth for how we might prepare our hearts for “Love, the Guest.” Next, we are reminded of the parable of the sower — earth is bare and seeds are planted. How will this flower flourish in our hearts as we prepare for “Love, the Rose?” In stanza 3, “Stars, keep the watch,” referencing the guiding star over the stable in Bethlehem that the wise men followed. The light from this star brings brightness even when we are experiencing darkness and difficult times in our own lives. It shines brighter than “sun and moon together” as we prepare for “Love, the Star.” Finally, Angels announce with great joy the birth of the Messiah that brings new life to us all. Farjeon refers to Isaiah 40:4: 

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

“People, look east and sing today: Love, the Lord, is on the way.”


Dear God, we pray for your presence in our lives as we prepare for the coming of your Son this Advent season. Please let your Word take root and blossom in our hearts so that we may show the light and love of your Son Jesus Christ to the world. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, December 10, Morning

Rev. Tim Best, Senior Associate Pastor


Read: Psalm 98

I am not particularly musical. I played in the band in middle school but quit to pursue other interests. I always liked the idea of singing, but I didn’t take voice lessons nor did my church have children’s or youth choirs. Yet, I cannot imagine Christmas Eve without music. One of my best memories is driving home from church at midnight loudly playing hymns like “Joy to the World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. Psalm 98 bursts with the same energy and joy as those hymns. The Psalm invites us to join in praise and jubilation along with all of creation. 

“O Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things” Our praise and singing is for what God has done. In Jesus God has done wonderful things. Our hearts burst with joy as we consider all the things God has done for us. Today we are filled with joy because we know that even in the midst of the cold and dark moments of our lives, God is with us. We sing out in praise because all the rest has been handled. 

As you prepare to worship or rest this evening, may you allow your heart to sing out in praise. Perhaps you can blast your favorite Christmas Carol as you drive home from church or from gathering with family or friends. Maybe you can play a piece on a piano, or clap out the beat to a favorite song. God’s love has drawn close to us at Christmas. To quote a well-known poem, which has been turned into a hymn, “Love Came Down at Christmas,” ‘When the love of God draws so close to us, what else can we do but burst into songs of praise?’” May you sleep this night comforted by the peace and joy of God’s love. 


Almighty God, fill our hearts with praise and help us to always sing of your mercies and grace. As we prepare to rest this evening help each of us to always know that we can find our fullest rest in you. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, December 9

By Dan Kelley

Who Are You?

Read: 1 Peter 3:3-4

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Julia and I often visited her parents in Lexington, Kentucky. One time when we were there, they wanted us to visit the Art Museum at the College of Fine Arts on the UK campus. It was a fine little museum with 19th century French paintings, some 16th century Italian and German engravings, and some 20th century American paintings. It also had some student drawings and Kentucky artist’s works. Excellent horses, cows, and landscapes.

What caught my attention was a large, tall painting of a woman. It was hung very high on the wall and she looked down on us with power and authority. She was posed in the full portrait style of Dutch Masters of Frans Hal, Jan Steen, or Rembrandt. She looked like the wife of a wealthy Dutch merchant except that she was dressed in early 20th century clothes. Very expensive clothes and adornments.

She wore a full length, deep blue velvet gown. At her throat was a large silver necklace set with bright, deep blue sapphires. A white sable fur stole draped her shoulders and a large wedding diamond shown from her hand.

The artist was a master. You could see the depth of the velvet, every hair of the sable, and the sparkle of the sapphires. Even the fine white lace at her wrist was perfectly painted. The painting must have cost a fortune.

She had obviously come from wealth and had married well.  She had been a pillar of society in her time and place. Unfortunately, no one knew who she was. The provenance of the painting had been lost. The museum did not know what master had painted the women, who had owned it or what collection it had been in. It was unknown. No one could identify her.

As we enter the Advent Season, let us remember who we are and whose we are. The tree, the lights, the gifts, and the music are exciting but they are adornment. The coming of the gentle and quiet spirit who is Christ, Our Lord, in the form of a baby is the reason for our celebration.


Dear Lord of Mercy Divine, help us to keep our eyes on the prize: the birth of our Savior. Help us to remember that our wealth is in who we love and who loves us. Help us to share the love you have given us with the whole world and all the people in it. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, December 8

By Jim Lantrip

Behold, Your God!

Read: Zechariah 6:12-13

“The king shall come when morning dawns and light triumphant breaks,

When beauty gilds the eastern hills and life to joy awakes.

And let the endless bliss begin by weary saints foretold,

When right shall triumph over wrong and truth shall be extolled.”

This stirring hymn, formerly included in our Methodist hymnal, was translated by Scottish Presbyterian minister John Brownlee from scripture in Acts 1:11 and Matthew 24:27; to me, it expresses the essence of Advent’s meaning.

Advent is a time for drawing closer to our Christian faith. How does one do this? On a practical level the living out of Christian virtues in our personal lives can be demonstrated in many ways. We can show more loving kindness to other people. We can show more empathy and less self-centeredness. We can ask Almighty God for more understanding of His will in our lives.

The prophet Zechariah, writing hundreds of years before Jesus’s birth, was seen by many Christians to forsee the Advent season in this scripture:

“Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says, ‘There is the man whose name is the Branch and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who builds the temple of the Lord and he will be clothed and will sit and rule on the throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’” – Zechariah 6:12-13

One of the themes of Zechariah is that God is at work in our world and His deeds are accomplished “not by might nor power but by My spirit,” meaning the Lord’s spirit. Advent inspires a deepening of our faith through prayer and meditation. We seek God’s answers for the challenges in our lives.


Tree of life, help us feel rooted in our understanding of your will in our lives so that we may branch out into your world to spread the good news of your son Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, December 7

By Jenny Cross, Director of Youth Ministries

Pleased to Dwell

Read: Colossians 1:15-20

There is a familiarity to the Christmas story that often distracts me from the magnitude of it all. The poor mother and father traveling to the small town. The farm animals surrounding the tiny baby. The heavenly host singing to the shepherds. The wise foreigners seeking something special in the stars. I know all about it. But do I know it?

We remind ourselves regularly in the youth department, “There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God.”  And I think that must be true for the season of Advent and me. I know about Advent. But am I actually making room for it deep in my soul?  Has the miracle of the Incarnation taken root in my life?

As I read this passage from Colossians, a line stuck out to me like never before. “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…” It doesn’t say he was obligated to dwell or expected to dwell or assigned to dwell. The fullness of God in Jesus was pleased to dwell. Jesus was pleased to walk on the Earth. Was pleased to be a light to the nations. Was pleased to make a way for you and for me. And that changes Advent. Because it goes from a story I know about to something I know deep down. Jesus didn’t just come because it was his job. He came because he wanted to. He wanted us to know him – as our redeemer and our friend.

Advent isn’t a season of obligation. It is a season of anticipation – holding fast to the knowledge that Jesus came for us all. And it pleased him to do it.


Holy Lord, thank you for coming to earth – for loving us enough to leave the heavens and walk among your people here.  Give us hearts that yearn to know you more fully.  Help us to experience the joy that comes from knowing that you came for us because you wanted to. We love you, Lord. Show us how to share that love with the world. Amen.

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Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of December 6, 2023

Rev. Catherine Nance

Tonight’s prayer is adapted from one I found written by Christine Sine on the Godspace website. I like the refrain, “Come down, come in, and, come among us.” That could be a simple and inviting breath prayer to offer during these hectic days. God bless you this evening! 

-Pastor Catherine 

Into our troubles and weaknesses,
Into the barren places of our souls, Come Lord;
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the war torn and the refugee,
Into those who live in conflict, Come Lord;
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the homeless and the unemployed,
Into those who feel abandoned, Come Lord;
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the sick and the disabled,
Into those with AIDS, dementia, cancer, and depression, Come, Lord;
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the poor and the starving,
Into those who are oppressed or abused, Come Lord;
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole.

Into the lives of loved ones,
Into those from whom we are estranged, Come Lord,
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole. 

 Into our joys and celebrations, 

Into our work and our achievements, Come, Lord;
Come down, come in, come among us and make us whole. 

Thank you, O God of Advent, for having come, for coming now, and for coming again! May we open ourselves to your presence as you turn towards us. 

Thank you for all of the activities and programs and missions of this church. In all of the movement, may we sense your spirit guiding us. May those who enter for special worship services or for a hot meal tomorrow at Soup Kitchen know that they are loved by you.  

We lift up the prayers of our church family ….. 

We pray for … 

  • A couple in the church who both have covid
  • A member’s brother in the hospital who is battling infection
  • A mother who has started dialysis; prayers for daughter who is primary caregiver
  • A husband who is in hospital with blood clots in legs and lungs due to stage 4 cancer; prayers that surgery this afternoon will be beneficial; prayers for his wife
  • A neighbor’s family and the strife they are experiencing
  • For caregivers who are watching their spouse or parent or loved one struggle with dementia, Parkinsons, or other chronic illnesses
  • Friends who are going through difficult times
  • For those who are struggling as the holidays approach
  • For a beloved aunt who is nearing her final days; and for the cousin who has cared so lovingly for her
  • For a wife’s medical testing; also for grandson’s daycare situation
  • A brother who has pneumonia and elevated liver enzymes
  • A member who is in the active stages of dying; thanksgiving for her church friends who bring her comfort
  • A daughter in the death of her father; prayers of thanksgiving for peace of mind and spirit

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • Those who are recovering after surgery
  • A couple getting married; blessings on their new life together!
  • One who was able to go home from hospital
  • All those angel tree gifts! Prayers for the parents.

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

Wednesday, December 6

By Dona Bunch

The Miracle of Transformation

Read: Ezekiel 36:26 & 2 Corinthians 5:17

At this fall’s 50th anniversary meeting of the Holston Conference United Women in Faith, the newly elected General Secretary spoke of “transformation” in the Methodist Church and in the United Women in Faith organization.

The word caught my attention and stuck with me in the weeks following. While watching an interview with Jeff Bezos, I recalled that word as the billionaire creator of Amazon talked about his travel to the edge of space on his own rocket. Likewise, Elon Musk dreamed of space travel and formed his company, SpaceX, for that purpose. He orchestrated his own trip into space and offered the experience to others for  $55 million dollars per person.  

The recent tragic loss of several people in a small diving craft was another example, sadly tragic, of the willingness to take huge risks for a transformational experience in the unexplored depths of the sea.

Extraordinary experiences are the new “thing.” I suppose you could argue that an experience that amazing is well worth the extravagant price. Everyone who has participated in space travel has returned to describe it as “once-in-a-lifetime,” life altering, in other words, transformational. 

Yet when Christians think of the most transformational experience in history, we think, not of a gleaming rocket trembling on a launch pad, but a tired man and women with a donkey, traveling across the dusty rocky roads toward the town of Bethlehem. 

Mary and Joseph’s “voyage” to Bethlehem was more transformational than any in history. At the time, though, as they headed toward a run-down stable on a dark night,  chances are they could hardly grasp the magnitude of their “trip of a lifetime.” 

Yet they knew they were on a special mission, even if they couldn’t imagine how it would all turn out. A young girl and her husband, a long journey, a baby in a manger, hardly seemed miraculous on the surface. But it would later become obvious that nothing could compare to the transforming power of Jesus’ birth. 

As we enter the Advent season, we celebrate the miracle that Jesus brought, the salvation he offered, and the triumph over death itself  that he delivered to the world. And it was free of charge to us all.


Heavenly Father, may we be transformed by your greatest gift to us, the miracle of Jesus on earth and the salvation his life and death gave to all of us. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, December 5

By Rev. Jim Bailes, Retired Associate Pastor

Behold, Our God!

Read: Isaiah 40:9

“The way we conceive of the future sculpts the present, gives contour and tone to nearly every action and through the day. If our sense of future is weak, we live listlessly. Much emotional and mental illness and most suicides occur among men and women who feel that they have no future.” – Eugene Peterson, The Message, Introduction to 1 and 2 Thessalonians

We just may know the profound truth of Eugene Peterson’s life observation. From scripture, reason, tradition, and especially our personal life experience, we just may know the connection between despair of the future and pain in the present. Looking ahead and anticipating conflicts, sufferings, injustice, death, whatever, may stifle if not thwart any possibility of present peace and joy. Moreover, at times it may seem near impossible to anticipate the future with anything but fear, anxiety, and despair. Personal, family, societal, political, global, and environmental fears seem to be racing into our present.

The Biblical people consistently had life reasons to have a weak sense of a positive future, obviously so in the prophetic book of Isaiah. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophetic books are written in the context of exile. God’s covenant people have again been invaded, defeated, with many of them taken into exile by the Babylonians. Historian John Bright says, “At this point darkness descended upon the people of Israel.”  

Then God speaks through the prophet Isaiah in chapter 40. “Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God!  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (40:1-2). God later says, “get up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, BEHOLD YOUR GOD!” (40:9).

God invites God’s people to look out into the future, to view what lies before them.  God proclaims they will behold, they will experience God!   

Advent means coming, specifically God’s coming. Something is about to happen!  Someone is about to come!  God!  Ours is an Adventist faith. That is, we not only remember God’s activity in the past, we not only experience God in the present, we also faithfully anticipate God’s coming in the future! In the Christ-child! In the Kingdom of God!  In each and every future moment through God’s Holy Spirit!

Eugene Peterson continues his introduction, “The Christian faith has always been characterized by a strong and focused sense of future.” Indeed! May God in Christ grant us “a strong and focused sense of future.” May we go forth in Advent expectation, anticipation, and hope. May we look into our future and proclaim, “Behold! God!”


Gracious God, grant us the faith to accept, to believe, and to live in Your promises of Your Advent. Enable us to anticipate joyfully your Advent in the Christ child, in the Kingdom of God, in the very next months.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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