Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023 — Evening

By Rev. Catherine Nance

Stay with Us

Read: Luke 24:28-29

“As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.”

We remember the words from Good Friday, “It is finished.” We might be tempted to say the same thing this Easter evening. With a sigh of exhaustion or satisfaction — maybe both. It is finished. Easter is over. It was glorious!

Some of you gathered early this morning for a sunrise service. Many have been involved in Lenten studies, choir rehearsals, and Lenten collections. Today will be a full day of joyful worship and gathering with family and friends. As night comes, we feel tired, but what my mother would call a good tired; physically and emotionally spent from all the celebration. It is over.

As we prepare to retire for the evening, I encourage you to say instead, “It is beginning.” 

The two men on the road back to Emmaus had no idea who their traveling companion was but encouraged him to remain with them as night was falling.

On this Easter, we do know who our companion is. We do know Jesus is risen. We do not put Easter away. Thanks be to God! Jesus remains with us, abides with us. On the church calendar, we observe Easter for fifty days.

Get a good rest tonight … Easter is beginning!


Dear Jesus, thank you for a glorious Sunday morning! May all of the joy of Easter spill over into Monday morning and the next day and the next day. Stay with us. Abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel! Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023 — Morning

By Katie Heatherly

He Arose!

Read: Psalm 130

I have to say that I cannot think of an Easter season without hymn 322 “Up from the Grave He Arose”. This song has been a staple in my family for funeral and Easter services alike. My dear grandfather introduced this song to me as a child. He tragically passed away when I was 8 years old. I can vividly remember hearing this song and thinking of him with our risen Lord in heaven.

What more do we need as Christians, be we 8 or 108, than this assurance in Christ from the chorus of the hymn: Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever, with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Prayer (from Psalm 130)

Out of the depths I cry unto thee, O Lord! Lord, hear my cry. Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. If thou, Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word do I hope. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Holy Saturday, April 8, 2023 — Evening

By Beth Stubbs

We are the Church!

Read: Psalm 115:14-18

Many years ago when I was serving on the committee at the church designated to raise the church budget, about $1.5M, it became clear that we might not be able to raise the amount needed. There have been many times that this was the case. I cannot remember the exact composition of the committee, but someone said, “It seems that we are always asking folks to give, but when they do, we don’t celebrate all that we have received. Let’s have a celebration after the campaign comes to a close — whether we make our goal or not!” As you can imagine, a few were skeptical … a celebration if we do not meet the goal? Ultimately the naysayers were convinced to celebrate … no matter what.

As the dialogue turned to what this celebration would look like, it took the shape of a potluck dinner with a show of talents, all ages, from church members who normally do not show their talents. There would also be prayers and hymns sung. Names were given of those who played instruments, sang, would be good Masters of Ceremonies, or were good cooks. Of course, I volunteered my family. My husband Tony had been teaching Thomas, our 4-year-old-son, to sing. We thought that if Tony were up on the stage with Thomas, that Thomas would not be afraid to sing to the crowd. Someone from the Children’s department had taught Thomas the refrain to “We Are the Church.” The refrain goes:

“I am the church! You are the church. We are the church together!

All who follow Jesus, all around the world! Yes, we’re the church together!”

It was a great evening indeed. About 250 people packed into the Parish Hall, eating and having great fellowship. I heard people entertain the group that I had never met, folks from Murphy Builders, and several other Sunday school classes. The program went off without a hitch and Thomas sang his song, “We Are the Church,” and then asked the crowd to sing with him. Thomas was not afraid. I believe the Lord was with him then and now. The Lord is with all of us. We need to celebrate and give witness always. The gifts that God gives us are immeasurable. When I begin making my list of gifts from God, the list goes on and on, and then I realize … it is ALL from God. I am so grateful for his love and for his son, Jesus.


May we all give thanks for the mystery and the victory of Jesus’ resurrection and celebrate what has been given us through his life and death Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Good Friday, April 7, 2023 — Evening

By Ann Reego

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Read: John 19:2

Imagine a hymn so powerful that it has been a favorite and beloved Passion Hymn for 900 years! That is the story behind O Sacred Head, Now Wounded. Written by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), it was based on John 19:2. I fell in love with J.S. Bach’s harmonization in college when my first theory assignment was to copy it from the Episcopal hymnal. Later we sang it and studied the flow of each line and how it emphasized Christ’s death and anguish through dissonance and moving parts. This hymn makes me feel as if I am at the feet of the cross.


God, bring us to the cross this Lent with aching hearts and broken spirits so that when we awake on Easter Sunday, our hearts and healed and our spirits are lifted and ready to follow the risen Lord. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Good Friday, April 7, 2023 — Morning

By Suzanne Matheny

Seeing the Love in His Glance

Read: Psalm 22:1, Mark 15:34, Matthew 27:46

“‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Read: John 14:20

“‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.’”

Sister Monica Joan, elderly nun/midwife, is a favorite character in the BBC series, Call the Midwife. She suffers from dementia and feels purposeless. Yet, she has moments of lucidity and wisdom, with surprising clarity of memory or piercing observations. Yet, a day comes when she has a crisis of faith, despite her decades of prayer and service. She is distraught, questioning God, feeling lost.*

Biblical stories attest to God’s people, even God’s son, were subjected to doubts or feeling forsaken. Is it possible that any person of finite mind has not felt this tension? Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross, coined the term “dark night” of the soul. And, recently, we have learned that Mother Teresa, in the midst of having done so much good, struggled with her doubts. What are we to think? We are human. We are not exempt. The irony is that wrestling with this tension may deepen our faith.

Sister Monica Joan also dreams of a white stag that becomes her symbol of knowing God’s presence – the Divine blessing she needs. In later scenes, she does see that white stag and exclaims, “I knew him at once for the love in his glance.”** In those dark nights, when we yearn to know God’s presence, it may seem elusive; and we are left to exercise faith that Christ is, as he said, in us. We may also need to learn new ways of seeing so that at once, we know him for the love in his glances.***


Love Divine, pure unbounded love that You are, open our eyes that we may see anew your presence in us and catch new glances of Love You send our way, in whatever form they may come. Amen.

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*Call the Midwife, BBC drama, Season 10, Episode 1.

**Call the Midwife, BBC drama, Season 9, 2019 Holiday Special.

***Lloyd, Samuel T., III. Sermons from the National Cathedral: Soundings for the Journey, pg.43-47.

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Maundy Thursday, April 6, 2023 — Evening

By Dan Kelley

Calling Me Home

Read: Joshua 24:15

“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I was 10 years old when my family moved from Saint Louis to Northbrook Illinois, a suburb about 25 miles north of Chicago. At the time it was a village of about 9000 people. We lived on Ferndale, a two block long street nestled next to the Sommes Woods Forest Preserve. Many children of different ages, different nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds lived on our street. The one thing we had in common in the neighborhood was when Mrs. Johnson rang her bell, play time was over. We all came out of the woods, or off the ball fields, or out of the street and went home when the bell rang.

My mother had her own signal. It was her whistle. She would place her two pinkies in her mouth and blow. It did not matter whether her hands were dirty from working in the garden or they were covered in silk gloves with little pearl buttons. The sound was the same. It was not shrill and it was not real loud. It was a pure tone that went up half a step at the end. It was mom’s whistle and it always got my and my three brothers’ attention immediately. It said, “Come to me now”.

When I was in the Army at Ft Dix, New Jersey, I was in the Philadelphia Airport with about 10,000 other soldiers trying to get home for Christmas. Unbeknownst to me my mother had flown to Teaneck NJ to visit my brother and see her first granddaughter. She was in the airport also and spotted me out of all the other soldiers. She whistled. I immediately came to attention and started searching. I knew that sound. It could only be my mother’s whistle.

Years later I was in a hotel parking lot in Atlanta. My parents were in another hotel across a busy six lane highway when my mother saw me. She whistled. My dad told her that I could not hear her. But I immediately turned around and waved. Dad asked, ”How do you do that?” She said,”That’s my boy. He knows my whistle”.

We inevitably got teased by our friends for our rapid response to the whistle. They said we were trained like Pavlov’s dogs. We did not care. We knew whose call that was and we knew who’s we were. That call belonged to someone who loved and cared for us. Who only wanted the best for us. 

In this Easter season we need to re-examine who’s we are and who is calling us. The someone calling us, loves us and cares for us. And wants the very best for us. As John reminds us, “He goeth before them, and his sheep follow him: For they know his voice.” Are we answering his call like we know his voice?


Dear Good Shepherd, Silence in us any voices but your own so that we may hear your voice and go where you would lead us. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Maundy Thursday, April 6, 2023 — Morning

By Rev. Rick Isbell, Reprinted from the 2022 Lenten devotional 

Towel and Basin People

Read: John 13:3-5, 12-17

On Maundy Thursday evening one year in the church I served before coming to Church Street, we had a foot washing as part of the service. The clergy conducting the service invited members of the congregation to come down to the front pews, take off their shoes and the clergy members would wash their feet in basins provided. It was a very anxious time for clergy and congregation. Would anyone come down? What reactions would the clergy receive? It was as awkward for the congregation as it was for the disciples around the table that first night. After some anxious moments, about a dozen or more members came down and got their feet washed by the clergy.

When I left that church to come to Church Street, the staff gave me a handcrafted pitcher and basin which I placed on the window sill behind my desk for all 27 years at Church Street. It was a physical reminder of the Order of Deacon in which I was ordained and what all Christians are called to do. 

You and I are called to be towel and basin people. We are called to serve and not to be served. It’s easy to do the things which are easy and for which we receive praise and publicity. It’s harder to discipline ourselves “to get on our knees” and do the unpleasant tasks of Christian discipleship and servanthood. Jesus set an example for us by washing tired and dirty feet. Jesus calls us to do the same in one way or another.


O God, help me to follow the example of Jesus to serve others. Show me where and whom you want me to serve. May your Holy Spirit guide and strengthen me as I go with my towel and basin.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, April 5, 2023 — Evening

By Barry Christmas

No Greater Love

Read: John 15:13; John 13:34-35; Matt. 7:1-2 (NIV)

When I contemplate the degree of suffering and torture my Savior endured on the cross so that I might be cleansed of all sin and redeemed unto God, I fall to my knees in awe of His boundless love and mercy. The depth of His love for us challenges our human capacity to comprehend. He has taught us by example how to love one another unconditionally and has given us a New Commandment: We must love one another as He loves us. Notice, He did not say this as a suggestion, but as a directive; and He didn’t list any exceptions to this command. He loves everyone; and out of that love, He suffered and died for every human being, no exclusions. God created each of us with the capacity to love one another, with the same love He has for us, but we fail miserably. If only we would surrender our hearts to God and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us to pour out His love on everyone we meet, can you imagine what a different community we could be?

During this season of repentance and renewal, won’t you look up at the cross and consider taking all of your prejudices and judgmental thoughts and leaving these burdens at Jesus’ feet? As the Apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2, instead of “conforming to this world,” let’s “renew our minds and be transformed” to loving all of God’s creation, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, political affiliation, social status, or crimes committed. In God’s eyes we are all the same: guilty of sin, with no right to judge one another. Let’s allow God to work a miracle in our hearts and in our lives, and leave the judging to Him. We may never experience the full potential of God’s love working through us, to bring others to Him, until we open our hearts and minds to His Great Love.


Dear Lord Jesus, I consider the tortures you endured on the cross and am reminded, there is no greater love than your love for me! Help me to overcome my prejudices and learn to love all of your creation, just as you love me regardless of all my faults. Thank you Lord for teaching me, by your example, the true meaning of unconditional love. Amen

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, April 5, 2023 — Morning

By Rev. Rick Isbell

The Act of Giving

Read: Luke 21:1-4

On Sunday, January 15, during the singing of the first hymn at the 11 am service, she slipped quietly into the nave and sat down in the south transept. She was a woman of the community wearing a worn coat, a cap over her head, and carrying several large shopping bags in her hands. I don’t know her name nor did I think much of her attendance that morning. The nave was a warm and welcoming place on a cold winter morning. But this one woman exemplified the act of unselfish and humble giving in a most powerful way.

During the time in worship when the congregation shares its tithes and offerings, she showed what Jesus was talking about in the first few verses of Luke 21. While the offering plates were being passed and people were putting in their checks and cash, and as the choir shared the offertory anthem, this lady rose from her pew on the side transept and shared an amazing “sermon” on what Jesus had taught. She slowly and quietly came near the baptismal font and carefully placed two small wrapped bouquets of flowers on the table beside the baptismal font. Then she quietly went back to her pew. She gave what she had this one morning as an offering to God. As we sang the last hymn, she gathered her bags and quietly slipped out the door into the hallway.

I will probably never see her again, but what she did during worship on January 15 will remain with me forever. She showed me that all gifts given in the humble and sacrificial way she gave are sometimes more powerful than all the checks and $20 bills put in the offering plate. “He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty…’” (Luke 21: 3-4 NRSV)


Oh dear God, help me to give so others might know of your love and grace. During this Lenten season, show me how and where I might give like this lady did. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, April 3, 2023 – Evening

By Krystal Cranfield

Keep Trying

Read: Galatians 6:9

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso

Since college, I’ve kept this quote as my laptop wallpaper. I’ve scribbled it on notes when struggling to meet a deadline, muttered it under my breath after I’ve worn down my eraser. The words belong to an artist who, prodigious work notwithstanding, should be no one’s role model. It’s a useful adage though, so I remember it.

This quote is better:

“Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary.” – Galatians 6:9

I have never been especially talented, or at the top of my class. If they awarded blue ribbons yesterday for Most Compassionate or Least Selfish, I would have walked away empty-handed and regretful, but I keep trying. We have to do good things to lead us to the next good thing. An impactful spiritual walk begins with the acknowledgement of our fundamental shortcomings and the incredible gift of forgiveness; these are first steps we will tread many times over. The disciples lived this way, trusting that the path Jesus set before them was not purely for their own eternal benefit, but for the good of their communities and the generations that would follow.


Lord of all good things, thank you for this season of preparation and hope. Help us find rest when we grow weary, and sustain us for your work ahead. There is so much good to accomplish, we’ll keep trying.

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