Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, April 18 – Afterword

By Nancy and Barry Christmas, On Behalf of the Congregational Care Committee

Let Your Light Shine

Read: Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

One morning in January we awoke to a beautiful blanket of snow, pristine white and shimmering in the bright, reflective sunlight. Overnight the world around us had been transformed from barren and sterile to the breathtaking panorama of a winter wonderland. There was wet snow clinging to all the trees, rooftops and fences, and windblown onto the sides of houses and light poles, with tiny crystals of snow glistening and twinkling. It brought to mind Jesus’ ability to take our broken and lifeless spirit and transform it into the radiant beauty of his love, that we might reflect that love onto all others around us.

For so many months we have traveled in the wasteland of a pandemic with all the sickness and death that has accompanied it. We are tired of our personal journey through the wilderness. Many people are weary, discouraged, frightened, and despondent. It’s so encouraging to receive a sign from above that there is hope for our future and there are better days coming. He alone has the power to transform our world.

He tells us in Matthew, we who believe in Him are the light of this world and we should not hide that light, but let it shine forth. We are to reflect His love in our actions toward others, so they will see that He can and will transform their lives, too. May we each search our hearts and ask Jesus how we can be His light in this world and His beacon of hope for those who have lost all hope.


Dear Jesus, show me how and where I can serve as your light in this world, to be your messenger of hope and renewed life. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 17, Evening – Easter Sunday

By Rev. Jan Buxton Wade, Minister of Spiritual Enrichment

Spirit of the Sycamore

Read: Ephesians 4:20-24 ESV

“You learned Christ … and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life… and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Once, on a day hike with my husband and brother-in-law in the Smokies, we decided to test ourselves in identifying the various trees we encountered along the way. I did fairly well in the task we set for ourselves that afternoon, but I actually was no match for my two companions who grew up in the mountains and who hike every chance they get. Instantly, however, I recognized the one beautiful giant sycamore on the trail because of its peeling bark, discarded and strewn upon the forest floor.

I recalled my college botany professor describing the sycamore as the most tenacious grower in the Southeast. As its branches ascend to the heavens, the increasing tension on the bark causes the outer layer to simply split apart. It was the beautiful underneath layer that held my attention that day, for it revealed a mosaic of mottled white, tan and gray, resembling an old medieval map. I could trace some of the “roads” with my finger, but most of its paths were indistinct, crisscrossed, and seemed to lead nowhere. Its intricacy held such mystery that I lingered too long and was almost left behind!

Moving on across the ridge, I began to think of the maps of our own lives – we don’t always know if we are headed in the right direction; our paths are indistinct and sometimes we feel we are going nowhere. But we are called to grow in trust, depending on grace to get us through. Maybe that grand sycamore reigns on the mountainside even now. With mounds of bark cast aside, it calls to us: “Begin afresh! Begin afresh!”


 Designer of the Blessed Earth, how grateful we are that your message of renewal is written in so many ways throughout your holy creation. Give us eyes and ears and hearts to find you this very day. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 17, Morning – Easter Sunday

By Katie (& Evie) Strangis

Mouths of Babes

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26

“…then he diiiieeed, and he was kiiillllled, and now Jesus lives in my heeeeaaarrrrttt.” That is the song my 3-year-old has made up and started to sing (and dance!) to recently, with an unremarkable tune but some very powerful words.

When she started singing it, I had some questions and, frankly, really worried about what was going through her head about this story of murder and death and spirits – Where did you learn that?! Who is singing about death and murder with you?! How can you possibly understand this at age 3?! Help ME understand it at age 38! She sounded so innocent, yet confident, when she sang the song. She was not fearful at all – just matter-of-factly telling the story of Christ’s death and resurrection as she prepared some pretend cookies for us in her play kitchen.

It caught me off guard – not the words, necessarily, but her nonchalance and acceptance. Some of my own earliest memories involve my anxiety and obsession over a body’s physical death, my fear of dying and my family dying, not to mention grappling with how cruelly Jesus was treated before and during his crucifixion and the idea of eternal life. I’ve felt the shame and betrayal in how humans treated one of their own so horrifically and the guilt that I can never do enough to make up for Jesus dying for me. It feels unjust that we receive so much because he sacrificed everything. I feel guilty that I couldn’t be there to stop that inhumanity from happening, even if it was meant to be that way in order for us to have eternal life.

Those were some serious thoughts for a young child to ponder in the mid-80s. But there’s a lot of serious stuff happening in the world today: a pandemic, political division and violence, climate crises, hostage situations, school shootings, drug addiction and overdoses, war, police brutality, domestic abuse, illness, an increasing suicide rate … to name a few. Some days I can’t fathom finding Jesus’ loving, forgiving, and eternal spirit in those circumstances. And yet, I know it’s always there because of what happened that Easter day.

What struck me most about my daughter’s resurrection song is what I too often forget: Death is not the end. We don’t have to be afraid. We are forgiven. Jesus lives on eternally … in my heeeaaarrrttt.


Compassionate God, your love finds full expression in the gift of Jesus Christ your Son, who willingly met betrayal and death to set us free from sin. Thank you for the gift of your son. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, April 16, Evening – Holy Week Day 6

By Bill Terry

The Miracle of Life

Read: John 10:10b

“…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Many years ago when I was caring for children with cancer, one family was unique. The father was a physician, and both parents were very religious. As we tested their child to diagnose him and begin his treatment, there were regular prayers by the parents. Although most children respond well to therapy, when this child began his medications, within 24-48 hours all signs of his large tumor disappeared.

The parents were eager to discuss theologically what had happened. The child went on to complete his therapy with his tumor gone, and he was eventually lost to follow up. I can only remember one other patient having such a dramatic early response.

As we come toward the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we should be aware of the miracles that happen in our lives and even of the miracle of life itself. I will let people wiser than I am explain how all of this comes about. I will simply be thankful.


Dear Lord, We thank you for the gift of life and are grateful for the gift of your Son. During this Lenten season we will try to focus our lives on remembering Him and His sacrifice for us.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, April 16, Morning – Holy Week Day 6

By Ann Reego

Holy Saturday

Read: Matthew 27:62-66

“The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”

My father passed away on Dec. 26 while visiting us for Christmas in Salt Lake City, Utah. I remember being too stunned and shocked to fall asleep easily, but after a good cry to release tension I got some troubled sleep. When I awoke the next day, the sun was shining, the air crisp and cold. But I was hurting. The hole in my heart was painful, and I couldn’t believe what I had witnessed in the hospital the night before. My heart was in as much pain as his was because of the heart attack that took him from us. The next day, Mom and I went through the motions of what had to be done at the funeral home and made arrangements to fly to Dallas. She was scared about how she would live without him after 40+ years. I was simply lost. My father, my rock, my first love, my mentor was gone

I can only imagine how the family, followers and disciples of Jesus felt the “next day”. First, it was the Sabbath and certain rituals had to be observed. Second, I’m sure they were terrified that they would be the next ones arrested. Third, they were without a man that they had become close to and followed for the last three years. He had been their source of strength. They believed in him. Would he come again as he had promised? I’m sure they wanted to believe, but at that point, it was just too painful.

The “powers that be” were scrambling to make sure the disciples did not steal the body and claim that He had risen. They placed guards in front of the tomb and marked it with a seal so that Jesus couldn’t get out. But an earthquake rolled the stone away, and the guards were so afraid that they shook and became like dead men.

Of course we all know what happened. The body was gone and arrayed in glory. The women did not know Him at first and neither did anyone else. But He revealed himself to all of them and they realized that they had been a witness to history.

Then Jesus gave them their instructions:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

These Orders Remain for Us Today!


Heavenly Father, we thank you for your son. We thank you for relationships we have here that we mourn when we lose them. We pledge to follow your teachings and teach your ways to all people … even to the end of the age. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, April 15, Evening – Good Friday

By Jeff Cheek

Despair, but also Hope

Read: Lamentations 3:16-24

“He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, ‘My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.’ I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”

As Christians observe Lent, it is easy to despair. Here is our Savior, the Son of God, on this relentless journey towards a terrible ending. Imperfect man crucifying our perfect Savior. Jesus endures true sacrifice and real pain inflicted by the world. “My soul is bowed down” or “bereft of peace” can really ring true in dark times. We envision Jesus alone in the wilderness; it is easy to feel alone ourselves.

Through Lent we endeavor to sacrifice as well, to do something that reminds us of His sacrifice. But even then, as we examine our relationship, how could we possibly match that? Jesus is so great, powerful, perfect, and we’re… not. Even in our lamenting we fall short, in our sacrifice we can’t possibly sacrifice enough. It is hard to find inner peace or hope with these thoughts racing through our minds.

However, just like Jeremiah, we can despair in one breath, but in the next have hope. Remember, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases”, never. God is with you always; you are never alone. Remember the sacrifice, don’t forget the pain, but don’t lose sight of the ending either. Remember God’s love for you; remember even through sacrifice and pain, God’s love never fails.


Lord, thank You for being with us through our dark times. Help us remember that pain and sacrifice will come, but even in those times, Your love never leaves us, not even for a second. May every breath of despair be followed by a breath of hope.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, April 15, Morning – Good Friday

Rev. Catherine Nance, Senior Pastor

Sitting in Silence

Read: Psalm 62:1-2

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.”

It is Good Friday.

We focus on darkness. Stillness. Silence.

I am thinking back to last year’s Tenebrae Service held in our nave at noon.

We had just started regathering and there was no singing. There was not a lot of movement.

We did have organ and harp music at a few places in the service, but there was no singing. No unison reading of Psalm 22, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

The service was arranged so that there was not the usual recession of altar and chancel items out of the nave; instead, objects were draped in black at the end. Clergy and acolytes took their time being careful not to pass each other; keeping our distance. It took a little longer. There was more time for silence.

Planning Good Friday services for so many years, I was accustomed to the lump that forms in my throat, the tightness in my chest, and stinging in my eyes as we sing, Were You There, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, and What Wondrous Love.

Last year, it was different.

There was something powerful as the few of us gathered there sat in silence. Instead of turning in the hymnal to find words or seeking solace in a familiar tune, I was left to focus on the silence. I found myself listening to the words that were spoken instead of moving ahead to the hymn; the sounds of the scripture lingered in my imagination after each reading…

  • the sound of a sword being placed back in its sheath;
  • the difference in sounds between soldiers marching, bystanders scurrying, and disciples stumbling;
  • the creaking of that gate that opened and closed;
  • the sound of hands rubbing together over a fire;
  • the quiet strain of folks leaning in to hear what is being spoken inside;
  • the excited murmuring of a crowd eager to see what is happening
  • the hush of unspoken words

On this Good Friday, I am thinking of an Advent hymn, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. I invite you to spend time reading the passion narrative aloud and then pausing from time to time to be quiet. Just be quiet. Listen.


O God whose voice brought forth creation, may I be quiet today and listen. Help me pay attention to the sounds around me and to listen for you. In the silence of Good Friday, I seek your voice. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, April 14, Evening – Maundy Thursday

Rick Isbell

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 hand-crafted 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

Thursday, April 14, Morning – Maundy Thursday

In Honor of Stephen Ministry

Behold the Light

Read from the Gospel of John

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ‘I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.’”

It’s the darkness that gets me. Every year the Maundy Thursday service has touched my heart in unique and powerful ways. The music envelops us in sorrow, and our hearts grow heavier as the service progresses. We grieve seeing the church stripped of grandeur—even the Cross is covered. We ache as the pastors’ vestments are removed. We wince as the lights grow dim, and we mourn in the tolling of the bell. We leave in silence, knowing that if Jesus had not come, our whole world would be dark and hopeless.

But Jesus did come! He came into a world filled with greed and power, a world with little regard for human life, a world in which women and children were property and slavery was normal. He faced a world filled with resentments and violence, a world largely lacking justice, truth, ethics, and compassion. He was rejected by religious leaders who were motivated by self-preservation. In truth, he came into a world much like our own.

But Jesus did come! He lived among the poor and downtrodden. He spoke truth. He healed hearts and souls as well as bodies. He personified love, humility, forgiveness, compassion, generosity—even celebration and joy. Eventually killed by his enemies, Jesus was resurrected by God. And that has made all the difference.

Because of Jesus, our risen Saviour, we have hope even in the hardest and darkest places of our lives. The light of Jesus overcomes the darkness.


Father, even as you delivered us from darkness, awaken in us a new determination to model our lives on your beloved son, the Risen Jesus. Help us to walk in the light that he brought.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, April 13, Evening – Holy Week Day 3

By Dona Bunch

The Scarcest Thing

Read: Matthew 6:6 NIV

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

I have a sister who has a stack of dog-eared books that she gets out every night: a Bible, a list of names and a devotional. I think that’s what they are because they are so ragged, they’re hard to identify. This is her prayer time. Invariably, she falls asleep within minutes, but if you wake her, she assures you she’s “almost done” and begins again. This process can repeat itself for some time. I often tease her that my life is a mess because she’s never reached my name before falling asleep.

Prayer is one of the three pillars of Lent, along with fasting and almsgiving. On the surface, prayer seems like the easiest of all, but for me it is the toughest by far. I can give up a favorite food. I can give to the poor. But prayer requires two of the scarcest things in our lives: time and silence.

For prayer, we must find time in our busy days to simply stop and pray. It sounds easy, but who has any spare time in their day? Work, kids, schedules, appointments, events, deadlines. We live in a society that equates busyness with accomplishment. We say we want more time, yet we become anxious if our calendars are empty.

Prayer requires not only time, but silence in the presence of God. And silence is the rarest of commodities. We’re surrounded by noise; constantly talking at work and at home, watching others talk on tv and social media, attending group activities like sports or entertainment. Even if we’re alone, we often have our earbuds connected to the latest podcast. Our world does not indulge itself in silence. Yet silence is essential to connecting with God. Not only do we need to feel like God can hear us, but we need to hear God even more. The concept of spending time in silence can seem awkward and a little daunting.

I’ve often felt like a failure at prayer. My desire is there, but I’m often in a hurry and my mind can’t keep still. Yet the thing I try to remember is that it’s OK if we have trouble focusing. My sister has shown me that it’s the effort and dedication, day after day, that matters, even if it’s not always perfect. Prayer can be hard. But if time seems nonexistent and silence is elusive, commit to prayer anyway. Even if you fall asleep, God sees you and hears you. And it’s always OK to begin again.


Lord, thank you for your willingness to listen to the concerns of our hearts. Help us seek and find the time for prayer and learn to find you in the silence.

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