Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 10, Evening – Palm Sunday

By Suzanne Matheny

Aha! Don’t Neglect the Important Things

Read: Luke 11:42 NLT

[Jesus said,] “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”

Here in the season of Lent, a time of deep reflection, it seems that only yesterday we were celebrating Epiphany—that season of the Magi and the “aha!” of life. Have you ever had an “aha!” moment that dramatically changed your thinking or life, as the Magi experienced when they saw that star? Seared into my memory is an “aha!” when, while traveling in Jordan, passing through small villages, seeing crowds of Jordanians going about their lives, I had an intensely emotional realization of how the human Jesus likely looked – dark (olive?) complexion, black hair, dark eyes, all of which also led me to think about his life as a human.

What kind of childhood games did he play? What was he like as a teenager? A young Jewish adult? How did he come to understand his mission? So many unknowns that we wish St. Luke could have shared with us. What we do know, though, is that he grew and transcended race or ethnicity, or any man-made construct. His words and actions teach justice and God’s love for all. Recently, I have experienced some “ahas!” as I have read, listened and understood more clearly how many of our marginalized neighbors have been/are oppressed. I am compelled in this season of Lent to reflect on this and examine my thoughts, actions and also the actions of systems and institutions. Jesus reminds us not to ignore justice and God’s love. The Good News is that in Jesus’s death and resurrection, justice and the love of God are the hope and the light that darkness cannot extinguish, and we disciples are called to shine that light.


Stir us, O Lord, to feel a fresh “Aha!” – every time we see a need for and then find a way to shine the light of justice and the love of God in our world, remembering that “goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death, and victory is ours through Him who loves us.” (excerpt from, African Prayer Book by Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 10, Morning – Palm Sunday

By Fran Wheeler

A Royal Welcome

Adapted from Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19 and John 12

It was a day of glory—no doubt about it. Christians love the imagery—palm branches waving, crowds cheering, children running alongside the procession. What a celebration!

But we know the rest of the story.

Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. As they followed the road, the disciples began joyfully praising God in loud voices for the miracles they had seen. Many others joined them, spreading their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches to wave. Praises and shouts of joy rang out from the procession—


Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heavens!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!

Blessed is the king of Israel!

Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!


The disciples were elated. Surely this was the road to coronation—the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams. The Kingdom of God must be very near indeed. But we know this road of glory led first to a crown of thorns.

The darkness was coming.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Jesus replied, “If they keep quiet, the very stones will cry out.”

The crowds grew larger as others came out from the city. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him.” The darkness grew closer.

In Lent, we recognize that these words and this great parade formed a prelude to the coming darkness that would haunt Passover Week.


The darkness descended.


O Lord, let us praise you on this day of your glory. Throughout the coming darkness let us reflect on your willing sacrifice. Keep us praising you in our own days of personal darkness, and give us grace to remember the glory to come. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 3, Evening

By Dan Kelley

The Chicken Man

Read: Hebrews 10:35-37

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”

In the 1980s I went with First UMC in Maryville on a mission trip to Haiti. We met a man there with an old, faded Ralston Purina checkerboard hat. The Haitians called him the Chicken Man. He had worked for many years as an agronomist and animal nutritionist at Purina’s St. Louis plant improving the quality and nutrition of their chicken feed.

He had become depressed when he hit mandatory retirement age and his wife of many years had died. His pastor had talked him into going on a mission trip and he reluctantly agreed. He was surprised to notice that there were not many chickens in Haiti. When his mission team left, he stayed behind to teach them how to raise chickens.

He found a small hut to live in. He found discarded pallets to tear apart. He had his church send him rolls of chicken wire. With those he made cages. He studied the native plants and determined which had the most nutrition for feeding chickens. He started growing the best plants in his small lot. And he started raising chickens.

The Haitians watched the Chicken Man and his chickens. They learned to make the cages. They learned to grow or find the plants. They learned to grow the chickens. Sometimes the chicken would die from too much heat, not enough water, or an animal would get it. Sometimes the family had nothing else to eat and would eat it. The Chicken Man softly, calmly, and patiently talked with them and gave them another chicken to start over.

He had been doing his mission for almost 7 years when I met him. I asked him how he felt about it. He said he felt good in the second year when he started seeing eggs for sale in the market. He felt better in the fourth year when he started seeing chickens being sold in the market. And he knew it was a success in the sixth year when he saw children taking hard-boiled eggs to school for their lunch.


Dear Lord of Mercy Divine, grant us the patience and perseverance of the Chicken Man to continue our mission. Teach us to speak softly, calmly, and with love to those who fail, as you have spoken to us when we fail you. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 3, Morning

By David Lineberger

Living Lent for Years

Read: 1 Peter 2:21

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.”

Two years ago it became apparent that everyone on earth would be impacted in some way by the Covid pandemic. It seemed that, for a while at least, many things that we had always taken for granted would be put on hold. We gave up parties, having friends over, eating at our favorite restaurants, going to movies, taking vacations, and so much more. Even a trip to the grocery store was not possible without adequate preparation. Suddenly, life seemed to be one sacrifice after another.

For most Christians, preparing for Lent involves giving up something we enjoy or hold dear which serves to remind us of the tremendous sacrifice Christ made on the cross for each of us. Not only does this help us realize God’s unlimited love for us, but it helps us appreciate the everyday, ordinary things in life which we sometimes take for granted and for which we often fail to give thanks.

Christ suffered for us, leaving an example to follow. What greater way do we have to emulate the suffering of Christ than to take this opportunity to make sacrifices in these pandemic months so that others may be spared, that others may live, and we can mentally focus on making sacrifices that show our love for each other. May our examples of our Savior’s sacrifice be a blessing to each of us, especially in the season of Lent.


Dear Lord God, help us to show our love for you and each other by our willingness to sacrifice daily for others. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 27, Evening

By Jo Terry, Parish Health Team

You Will Be Satisfied

Read: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, and Luke 9:10-17

Our family had a fabulous trip to Australia and New Zealand before Covid. One of our adventures was an overnight boat trip with 10 other people in Doubtful Sound, truly one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on earth.

One of our activities was fishing for our dinner. Our daughter, Julia, caught the first fish – a sizable Blue Cod. It turned out that no one else had luck. We wondered if there would be enough fish for our group to share.

I told our boat mates that this reminded me of the story about Jesus and the boy who had two fish and five loaves that fed a crowd of thousands. Our companions were from across the world – Sydney, The Netherlands and New York City. They did not know this story and asked me to tell them.

As a kindergarten Sunday School teacher for over 30 years, my colleagues and I have shared this story with our CSUMC children many times. I told our boat companions: “Jesus was teaching on the hillside to a crowd of thousands. His disciples told him that the people were getting restless with hunger. A boy had a basket that contained five loaves and two fish. He offered what he had. Jesus blessed it and all were satisfied. No one went away hungry.”

The stories of feeding large crowds who were following and listening to Jesus are repeated in Matthew, Mark & Luke. These Gospel writers all wanted this important message to be shared.

During this Lenten season, can we offer what we have –our “loaves & fishes” – whether it is in devotional time, service, sharing our talents and our resources to our Lord as we contemplate his sacrifices for us? May you be blessed as you do. You will be satisfied!


O Lord, help me to see what I may offer to others in Your name. Use me to be a blessing to someone else that they might see Your love for them. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 27, Morning

By Dena Wise

So Little Time, So Much to Do!

Read: Mark 9:30-32

“They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.”

During this time in his ministry, Jesus was having to balance his time on earth to proclaim the good news, nurture and teach his disciples, and establish his kingdom against the ultimate trajectory of his death on the cross. Some Bible scholars have contended that, knowing his claim to being the Son of God would ultimately lead to his death, Jesus bought time by veiling his messages in parables, generally staying away from populated areas, and sometimes telling his followers and the recipients of his miraculous healing to not tell others about him or who he was. Whether or not this was the case, we know that it was dangerous to claim to be the Messiah in an age when both the Roman authorities and Jewish leaders were strongly protective of their power. We can easily imagine that Jesus felt urgency to ground his disciples in the ways of love, to provide examples of humility and service, and to strengthen their faith to the point that they could carry on his message and his work. He went about his work all the time knowing that his death was imminently, and perhaps immediately on the horizon. History shows, indeed, that he was given a scant two years to establish a new perspective among God’s people on earth—a task that would challenge even the most savvy agent of social change today.

Our good news is that two years were enough! The work of the humble carpenter of Galilee has lived through the ages. Two-thousand years after his ministry, the Gospel is proclaimed across the whole world. It has provided hope to millions who struggled, and comfort and peace to those whose circumstances gave them none. It gives us hope for the future of the world, and for our own eternity.


Lord of Time, grant us urgency for the tasks you assign us. Thoroughly convince us that the best hope for today’s world lies in your purpose, both now and for ages to come. Make our faith and courage strong, so that no danger deters our work to realize your perfect vision for all. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 20, Evening

By Beth Cooper-Libby (Miss Beth), Preschool Director

Thirty Five Thousand

Read: Proverbs 3:5-6

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Did you know that, on average, humans make over 35,000 decisions a day? I know, it made my head swim but when you think about it, it rather makes sense. From the second we wake up, we start making decisions. Do I have time for coffee this morning? Should I wear the blue shirt or the red one today? That’s not even a fraction of the decisions we might make in just an effort to get out the front door.

Christian decision-making means we submit our intentions to God’s perfect resolve and respectfully follow his direction. The problem is sometimes we don’t know how to figure out God’s will in decisions we face. The first thing any Christian should do when challenged with a decision is ask God’s advice. Prayer. Thoughtful prayer. Talk with God and read your Bible.

Then trust him and do not agonize. God will undoubtedly fulfill his promise to guide you. If you have to make a decision and have sought him, and still don’t know what to do, just make the best decision you can. He will guide you along the way.


Merciful God, help me to make the right decision. Help me to choose wisely between the options that are set before me. Please show me your will, give me clear direction and the faith to make this choice. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 20, Morning

By Sue Isbell

The Supply Chain

Read: John 14:6

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Lent is a time of waiting and preparation. Unfortunately, most of us do not like to wait. I have found one of the most difficult aspects of learning to live through a pandemic is adjusting to the aggravation of supply chain issues. If you are brave enough to make it to Kroger, Walmart, or Sam’s there is a good chance the items you are looking for might not be on the shelves. Instead, they are on ships in various harbors or are resting in some remote warehouse. Even if you shop online you may find your delivery time a bit longer than it used to be.

Fortunately, our spiritual lives do not have to bear the frustration of a supply chain! We have Jesus, who came into this world to be our direct conduit to God. Through his teaching and example we know that we always and constantly have access to God. Our petitions are always acknowledged, our prayers are always answered, our spirits are always strengthened, our praises are always heard. With Jesus there is no waiting, substituting, or reordering; patience, maybe, but with faith we know there is abundant and eternal life ahead for us today, tomorrow, and always!


Loving God, we thank you for your gift of Jesus and his sacrifice so that we may grow closer to you. As we journey through the season of Lent guide us to strengthen our connection with you each day. Open our minds to receive your guidance, our lives to do your will, and our hearts to share your love. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 13, Evening

By Vivian Kemper, Received in God’s holy presence on January 28, 2022

River of Life

Read: Romans 8:18-23 NIV

A friend and I traveled to Pigeon Forge in January. Going through the Smoky Mountains, we mentioned how all the trees looked so grey and forlorn. But if you looked off to the side of the road, you’d see a flowing river, a river of life that refreshes God’s creation for our pleasure.

We are living in a time where events in our life are grey and bleak, causing us to feel unhappy, soulful, and dejected. But there is a river that flows from the cross of Calvary that gives the Christian hope and refreshes our lives so we can live abundantly. That river is the saving blood of Jesus Christ.


Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty which is, which was, and which is to come. Thou art worthy, oh Lord, to receive glory and honor; for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they were created and are created anew. Amen.


By Therese Zaltash

Rediscovering the Comfort and Peace of God in the Midst of Uncertainty

Read: Philippians 4:19 and Isaiah 35:4

“But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’”

We tend to confuse our wants with our needs. We often live in fear and anxiety of the “what-ifs”. When things don’t pan out as we had hoped, we find fault or accuse God of not keeping his word. When we come to the realization that God does in fact supply our every need, it is then that we will discover his plethora of blessings. As his children, we are afforded every blessing, including life everlasting.


Father, please guide my thoughts, my words, my heart and my steps every day so that I may simply live for you and fear not.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 13, Morning

By Barry Christmas

Our Journey Through the Wilderness

Read: Matthew 4:1-4

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

One of the many stories relating to Lent is Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Today, all of us can relate to this encounter. In the wilderness of a pandemic, we too are being tempted by Satan. HE desires for us to give up hope, to fall away from our faith and church, and to turn against one another. I see some of us as being much like the children of Israel in the book of Exodus when they wandered in their desert wilderness, grumbling, complaining, turning on one another and questioning God all along the way.

This global pandemic has become our personal wilderness. We see so many people who are discouraged, angry, perplexed, depressed, and scared of what the future has in store for us. There are so many unanswered questions such as, “How much longer is this going to last? Will this pandemic ever end? With the cost of everything on the rise and the problems with the supply chain, will I be able to find the basic needs for sustenance for me and my family; and if I do, will I be able to afford them?”

But just as God provided miracles for the Israelites in their wilderness, He will sustain us with His love and grace, He will feed us with the manna of His comforting words, and He will provide for our every need – physically, emotionally and spiritually. All He requires of us is to trust Him, listen to the words that proceed from His mouth, and claim His promises as our own.

One day when all of this is in the rearview mirror, I envision us experiencing a renewal of faith and hope like we have never seen before. In the meantime, stay firm in your faith and continue to love and support one another. Ask yourself these questions: How is my journey through the wilderness progressing? … and how can I help someone else in their journey?


Dear Jesus, my Faithful Shepherd, please calm my anxieties, give me the strength and stamina to face any difficulties I might encounter, and assure me of your ever present love and care. As one of your lambs, please guide me with your staff and keep me from all harm. Amen.

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