Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, April 3, 2023 – Morning

By Krystal Cranfield

Day by Day

Read: Colossians 1:13-14

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.”

Often, we don’t prioritize the opportunities for reflection built into our holiday traditions. One of the aspects of Holy Week that makes it so special is that we look back at a momentous span of days from two thousand years ago, and then we live them out, day by day. Through worship and commemoration, we mark the hours and confront the cost of salvation.

We start with joy. We remember that God fulfills his promises. We pause in the heavy mystery of His words at the Last Supper. Sitting together in the dark, we grieve as a community and look toward the coming sacrifice with somber gratitude. We are confronted with humanity’s weakness and the strength of God’s love. We end with joy again, and a new covenant.

It’s tempting to rush past the despair and look up again only at Easter, but I would encourage you to sit a while in the dark. We shouldn’t rob ourselves of the relief that comes in the recognition of our needs and that God embraces us as we are. After reflection, we can celebrate with greater appreciation the remarkable gift of grace.


Heavenly Father, thank you for meeting our needs beyond our greatest expectations. You are our comfort in the darkness, and our joy.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023 – Evening

By Rev. Tim Best, Senior Associate Pastor

Steadfast Love

Read: Psalm 118

It is always a little strange to read Psalm 118 on Palm Sunday. The sections we read are upbeat and filled with promise. At the start of the most solemn week of our faith, we start with a parade. Children wave palms, and we shout Hosannas. The music is often more upbeat on Palm Sunday than other Sundays in Lent. How strange that we begin a week filled with lots of somber moments with celebration and reading a Psalm that calls us to rejoice and give thanks.

The ending is revealed in the beginning. The somber and painful middle is clearly deeply significant and important. The suffering and pain is framed and interpreted by the promises of God and the knowledge that though Jesus is headed to the cross, he won’t stay there. As we journey through this week, attending services like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or stations of the cross, we can remember the faithfulness of God that was promised on Sunday. The deep longing of the end of the week can reshape and enrich our understanding of what it means to cry out “Let his steadfast love endure forever.”


Gracious Lord, indeed we pray that your steadfast love will endure forever. Draw our hearts close to yours during this Holy Week that our lives may more faithfully reflect your mercy and grace each day. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023 – Morning

By Rev. Palmer Cantler, Associate Pastor

What’s in a Name?

Read: John 12:13

“So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!’”

The etymology of my name pairs well with the occasion of Palm Sunday. The earliest mention of Palmer is as a surname in the 12th century. Palmers were pilgrims who had returned from the Holy Land. These pilgrims were referred to as palmers, because they carried a palm branch or frond as a symbol of the journey they had just taken.

As Christians who know the full story of Holy Week, we know that Jesus brings the peace hoped for on Palm Sunday. We know the events that are to follow this triumphant entry into Jerusalem. We declare that Christ is king and his reign does bring peace. Yet, it is not the peace you might expect when you see the crowd waving palm branches. Jesus delivers peace, but not through military action and overthrowing the Roman army. The price of peace was not paid on the battlefield with soldiers, weapons and armies. The price of peace was paid by God’s only, begotten son taking on the sins of the world and dying on a cross. Jesus pays the ultimate price of peace to fulfill his Kingship.

The joyful, triumphant entry of the disciples and crowd is not the end of the story. This processional does not immediately jump to the tomb where we celebrate the joy of Easter morning. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem leads first through the events of Holy Week. Our journey as palmers, as religious pilgrims bearing palm branches, follows through each of these events as we wrestle to be disciples.


God of Peace, as we seek to be palmers, may the palms we wave be outward signs of the discipleship journeys we walk. Strengthen us throughout Holy Week to walk through each of these last days in your son’s life, so that we may more fully understand the sacrifice he made for us. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, April 1, 2023 – Evening

By John Eldridge

Don’t Get in a Hurry

Read: Matthew 26:17-28:10

The season of Lent anticipates and causes us to look forward to Easter. Ah … EASTER! Flowers everywhere. Huge Church attendance. People dressed in their Sunday best and smiles on everyone’s faces.

But we cannot get to Easter before experiencing the events of Holy Week. Indeed, there would be no Resurrection, without Jesus suffering unto death beforehand. The Last Supper, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Being arrested. Being whipped. Carrying the Cross to Golgatha. Nails being driven into his hands and feet. Jesus’ last words of comfort, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and finally, relief, “It is finished”. All this and so much more occur in Holy Week – before Easter!

We are called to experience the pain and suffering of Jesus during Holy Week, in order to be able to celebrate the Resurrection.

The name of those days before Easter, “Holy Week,” speaks volumes. Because the week is so meaningful, it is called “Holy,” a week set apart as the most special of the Christian calendar.


Gracious God, enable us to experience all of Easter, including the most meaningful events of Holy Week, before we experience the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, April 1, 2023 – Morning

By Jenny Cross, Director of Youth Ministry

Keeping Watch

Read: Micah 7:7

Several years ago, I traveled through the Bible with a chronological yearly reading plan. Our Bibles are printed canonically – essentially meaning the books of scripture are grouped together by themes. So, when you read a chronological plan, you move back and forth between different books. The first part of Genesis then jumps to Job, stories of David in 2 Samuel coordinate with stories in Chronicles and the Psalms, and so on. I expected to learn about the overall timeline of scripture, approaching this as an educational experience. But I was surprised and deeply moved by the way this trip through scripture drastically changed my perspective on God’s love, mercy, and grace.

Over and over in the Old Testament, we see God’s prophets (His messengers) given the task of sharing news with His people (the Israelites). But more often than not, these prophets experience rejection and frustration. Their words are not received or are intentionally rebelled against. How exhausting their jobs must have been! But nearly all the time, they remain steadfast. (Jonah is another story for another time.) And while this is the pattern of the prophets time and time again, I am always a little surprised when they respond to hardship with trust and praise.

The prophet Micah’s message is one of accusation and warning, but paired with hope and restoration. He reminds Israel of their faithlessness and calls them back to God. In the final chapter of the book, he opens with a poem of lament. One translation titles it “Israel’s Misery.” But in the final statement of that poem, something changes. It says, “But me! I will keep watch for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” And the book closes with more poems about Israel’s restoration and God’s compassion.

Lent is often a time when I’m keenly aware of suffering and misery. This year, especially as we approach Holy Week, I want to adopt the posture of Micah. When I am frustrated by the crowd yelling “Crucify;” when the struggles of daily life leave me tired, and weak and worn; when I, like the disciples, wrestle with doubt and disbelief, I want to say, “But me! I will keep watch for the Lord.”


Lord, You are steadfast when we are not. Your love remains when we fail. You offer grace and mercy that we could never earn or deserve. Help us turn our hearts toward you. Remind us to keep watch for your steady presence. We will wait for you. And we know you hear our prayers. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 26, 2023 — Evening

By Dona Bunch

The Miracle of Waiting

Read: James 5:7-8 RSV

“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

I may be the world’s most impatient person. I drive everyone in my family crazy with my inability to wait. I am the person who, when a group of people is getting into a car, grabs the handle and starts pulling before the driver even gets their keys out. “It’s not unlocked yet,” my sister says, with a look that reminds me she’s said it dozens of times.

At my brother’s house, when he puts a coffee pod in the Keurig, I immediately start pushing the “medium cup” button repeatedly. “Stop it! You have to wait for it to heat up!” my brother literally yells.

As Lent approaches, all the talk of waiting makes me anxious. Waiting as a spiritual discipline seems nearly impossible to me. But it is precisely the ability to wait that opens our hearts and minds to the miracle of Easter.

Scientists say that when our minds are at rest, maybe taking a shower or going for a walk, our brains can make connections that they can’t make when they are perpetually working. We’ve all had the “ah ha” moment when an answer comes to us when we aren’t thinking. In other words, when we are waiting, not doing.

To me, that’s the message of Lent. Waiting with stillness allows us space to breathe. Relaxing our brains gives our hearts and minds the ability to listen and reflect, to calm. Within that silence, we prepare to experience the miracles before us. As we wait, God comes to us.

This Lent, I will try to give up impatience and wait for things to come. I’ll try to embrace silence and stillness and learn to wait. It won’t be easy (I’ll probably pull at the car door on Easter morning), but I’ll begin. And maybe I will be able to welcome the miracle of Easter more than ever before.


Lord, grant us the ability to wait, to calm our minds and hearts and know the peace of stillness. Help us to rest in silence so we can experience the awe of your resurrection. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 26, 2023 — Morning

By Laine Thomas

Opening My Ears

Read: Hosea 12:6 NIV

“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”

Read: Micah 7:7 NIV

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

Prayer is a challenging daily practice in my life. I turn to it when I need something but I don’t often just listen in prayer for what God has to say to me. Instead, I try to determine my own path and pray just to make sure He’s on board with the direction I’ve already planned on heading.

These forty days are a chance to refocus away from the world and grow spiritually. It’s a time to make our hearts and minds ready for God. Sacrificing something we enjoy becomes an opportunity to fill that missing piece with Him. Because talking it out in prayer is how I try to manage things, instead I’m giving my words to God. I’m spending this Lenten season in prayer. I’m planning to give my time to the Lord. I’m not looking for answers to my prayers. Instead, I want to remind myself that I’m not meant to conquer this world alone. I’m using this Lent to listen to Him and let His words and intention guide me. My house will be quieter this season, but my ears and heart will be open for all He has to tell me.

Sacrifice and spiritual growth can come in many forms and this Lenten season, I hope we all find our way closer to God and are reminded of our need for him minute by minute in our lives. It’s never easy to change our habits, to reset, and we are blessed for this reminder to work on it every year knowing that our God will hear us.


Lord, I pray for every person sacrificing comforts, serving you, and giving a bit of themselves this season in order to refocus our faith and grow closer to You. Hear their hearts and minds this season and let them hear you in return. Thank You for the promise you give us that our sins are forgiven and there is life after death. It sustains us on the hardest days. Guide us in Your will always. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 12, 2023 — Evening

By Steve Richardson


Read: John 13:34-35

“…Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this,

everyone will know that you are my disciples…”

From small to large, symbols are everywhere in Church Street’s spaces. Even the very architecture and design of the building, nave, windows and other spaces are symbols reflecting devotion to God. We not only see symbols, though. We also can hear them through chimes and music and words spoken. We smell and taste them in communion. We feel them in sacred moments such as water as part of baptism, laying of hands in Confirmation, and exchanges of rings in marriage.

And there is the cross. Such a simple design, yet such a profound, multifaceted, multidimensional symbol of Christian faith. Emanating from it are our foundational beliefs. It is a symbol to which we bow or kneel, which many wear or carry, and about which we sing, such as, “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim … Come, Christians, follow this triumphant sign.”

All such symbols are important. But even more than these is each of us. I believe that each of us is called to be a living symbol, to be an expression and representation of God-centered living; to serve one another in the name of Christ; and to love one another as God loves us unconditionally.

Church Street’s “Welcome Statement” aptly captures and symbolizes the character of our collective congregation:

“We believe every person is of sacred worth and created in God’s image. We welcome and celebrate the gifts God has given to all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, status, economic condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation. We respect diversity of opinion and expressions of Christian faith. We believe God loves everyone unconditionally! As God loves us, so let us love and serve in the name of Christ.”

Let each of us, too, as an individual living symbol, strive daily to reflect this.


Because all of us are symbols of something, God, inspire us to choose to be symbols of your love and grace today and every day. Amen.

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Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 12, 2023 — Morning

By Suzanne Matheny

We Have Work to Do

Read: Luke 24:13

“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about

seven miles from Jerusalem.”

Our church history hearkens to the Civil War division in America – a division not yet healed. I have vivid memories of the Jim Crow era and my job as a nurse’s aide at the newly built UT Hospital with segregated spaces. I recoil at the memory of raw racist hatred spewed by a white male patient at the black nurse who was training me. How she could bear it is unfathomable! I later worked on third floor – designated for black patients, one of whom was teenage David, same age as I. Too soon, I mourned his death, and I wonder what his life would have been had he survived his heart illness. What if? The future held injustices for us both; however, mine would not be because of my skin color; some of his would have been.

Reflecting on racial division, the late Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd, III, imagined anew the Emmaus road.

“Those disciples knew plenty about injustice, hatred and loss… I imagine not just two disciples, but two types…some black, some white…seeking a new Easter where people of both races could share each other’s lives and honor and respect each other. What would it mean if we really embraced the fact that Christ crucified and risen has broken down the dividing walls between black and white, rich and poor…Easter happens when tombs are opened, old divisions heal, when people learn to forgive and to understand each other, when a society becomes more just and hopeful.”*


God of Creation and Easter: We are created in your image and you are Spirit. Convict and forgive our human ways that see color over spirit. We know we have work to do. Help us see how and give us courage to build a just and hopeful world. Amen.

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*Lloyd, Samuel T., III. Sermons from the National Cathedral: Soundings for the Journey, pg. 167ff

Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 5, 2023 — Evening

By Sarah Elliott

Fasting from Fear

Read: Psalm 27:13-14

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the

living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

In a recent study performed by Penn State*, 91.4% of worry predictions among the cohort of participants with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) did not come true.

While many of us don’t have GAD, how much of our worry is unwarranted? How does excessive worry take away from our faith in God? David had faith. In the face of his enemies, he was always confident that the Lord would be victorious. Did he worry? Absolutely. In Psalm 3, David displays his fear for the many of his foes. However, he had faith God would deliver him. He waited for the Lord and was victorious. He could have ran and hid when he was afraid, but he had faith. How was his faith so strong?

Why are we fearful? Are we not promised a bright future by God? Like David, we can anticipate victory in the land of the living. God sent his son Jesus who promised to return and take us home to be with him. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” John 1:17. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

Can I strengthen my faith by fasting from fear? This Lenten season, when I find myself full of worry of things that might happen, I will replace the word fear with faith. I will have active faith that the Lord will deliver me. Active faith is a conscious effort to retrain my brain from focusing on fear to focusing on faith. The fear is likely not to occur, but if it does, God will walk with me and make me victorious.


Most Heavenly Father, replace our fear with faith. Hear our confessions of hope, for we know you will keep your promises. Though our walk in the land of the living is filled with anxiety, grief, and illness, we hold strong to your promise of an eternal walk with you. Guide us with grace and truth in this land of living so our faith can be strengthened and overcome our fears. Amen.

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