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Advent Devotion: December 2

The Gift of Christmas
Read Hebrews 4:16

A few months ago I was blessed to serve communion on a Sunday morning at Church Street. Rick Isbell and I were serving in the Chapel that day when a young girl came bounding down the aisle ahead of her family. Her ringlet curls bounced as she skipped across the floor. She came easily up to the altar rail and plopped down on the cushion. She turned her face upwards to look at me expectantly. Rick gave her bread and I handed her a cup of juice. She ate the bread in one bite and drank the juice quickly, careful not to spill a single drop. In fact, when it was empty she loudly slurped and used her tongue to gather every last drop of juice out of the cup.

Her boldness intrigued me. So many of us approach the communion rail slowly. We come reverently, but also burdened. We are worn down by all that life has thrown in our path since the last time we knelt at the Lord's Table. We are guilty. We are ashamed. We are not worthy. But because of a tiny baby born in a manger we are worthy. Because of that baby we can all skip up to the communion rail, our hearts light and our faces upturned to receive the grace so freely given to us by Jesus Christ. What a Christmas gift!

Prayer: Almighty God, help us to receive you and your redeeming grace with open hearts. Amen.
-Caroline Lamar

Posted: December 02, 2014 08:25 AM
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Advent Devotion: December 1

My Mom and Advent
Read Isaiah 49:15-16a

My mom has many good days and a few that are not so good. She can clearly remember details of events that took place many years ago. But she cannot remember what happened five minutes earlier in her day.

When I visit with my mom, she often wants to talk about my childhood, and some of her clearest memories are the times our family sat around our homemade Advent wreath each Sunday on so many Decembers. We would arrive home from church, gather in our living room and have our special Advent time. My sister and I would take turns reading the devotion and lighting the candles. For my mother, these memories evoke a time when our family was together and we were able to pause long enough in our busy days to remember what the season of Advent truly meant. She can remember the dresses my sister and I were wearing, the things my father said, the way the candles melted onto the wreath, and our favorite hymns.

My mother often talks about losing her memory and how frustrating it is. But she also says that she has lived a wonderful life and she knows that God has been beside her with each step that she has taken. Her strong, never-wavering faith and her belief that God will take care of her through the good times and the not-so-good times give her a profound peace...even in the midst of this terrible disease. These memories of long ago Advent devotions are crystal clear to my mother and remind me during this season of memories and new beginnings, that the birth of Jesus gives us hope in every single situation that arises in our lives.. My mother says that even as she becomes more and more forgetful, she knows that God will never forget her.

This Advent season is a little bittersweet for me as I see my mom becoming more frail and more forgetful. Life goes by so quickly and I know how much I will miss my mom when she is gone. But these wonderful memories of long-ago Advent celebrations will stay with me and will always remind me of my mother who never forgot the meaning of this season.

Prayer: God, in this wonderful and holy season, we remember those who struggle and who live with disease and heartbreak. Help us to be mindful of these special people and may they be blessed with powerful and beautiful memories of lives blessed by knowing you. Amen.
-Pat Bellingrath

Posted: December 01, 2014 09:30 AM
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Advent Devotion: November 30

Can You Wait?
Read Luke 2:1-14

We are preparing for a story that we have all heard multiple times. We know where the story takes us despite our best attempts to anticipate the coming Christ. We try to walk slowly with Mary and Joseph from conception to manger, but the baby Jesus and Wise Men are already in the nativity scene on the mantle and Christmas songs are already in our heads. We know about the Shepherds watching their flocks and about the visit of the angel of the Lord. We are, yet again, waiting for the birth of our Savior.

Advent begs us to wait. This season wants us to not rush to what we already know, but to settle into each scene of the story as it unfolds. Perhaps you are better at waiting than I am, but I find it incredibly difficult to not view the Christmas story in its entirety. I cannot un-know the birth of Christ, the manger, or the life that awaits the Christ child.

This conundrum has lead me to think about new ways to prepare for The Christmas story. Read Luke 2:1-14 if you have not done so yet. Take note of the Angel who appears and shakes us up through a message. I believe that the Angel of the Lord most certainly passes through our towns this time of year and is longing for someone to hear the news that he has to announce: a Savior has been born to you.

Indeed, a savior has been born to us. The Christmas story has happened and it is for our benefit. Therefore, I believe our anticipating Christmas during this season begs us to seek out new ways to hear the Angel of The Lord speaking to us as we wait. Where do you see God at work in your life this season? Are there ways in which you should prepare the manger for the Savior that you haven?t done in years past? What does it mean that the Angel speaks to you every year? Use this Advent season as a time to think through new ways to prepare for the Savior and to rediscover for yourself the discipline of waiting.

Prayer: Dear Lord, teach us to wait on you, help us to prepare for you in our hearts, and always make us to see and hear where you are among us. Amen.
-Ashley Helton

Posted: November 30, 2014 07:14 AM
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Mitten Tree Ministry

We need your help collecting mittens, gloves, socks, scarves and hats in all sizes. These items will be distributed to our guests at the Christmas Pageant on Sunday, December 7. You may also place the items on the Christmas trees located on the first floor near the library, on the second floor in the Children?s wing and in the Preschool. All contributions are appreciated.

Posted: November 25, 2014 08:32 AM
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Advent Crafts Festival

This coming Sunday night, November 30, we will usher in the Advent season by holding our annual crafts festival in Parish Hall from 5:30-7 p.m. There will be something for every age and every aspect of creativity. Most of all everything is free. There will be over 12 different crafts centers where you can make something for your home, your tree or to take to our homebound members. Some of the centers are brand new and some are the favorites of past years. See some of the crafts offered on the church's Facebook page. The Kinder Singers will conclude the evening by sharing some of the music they have been working on this fall.
For everyone to have a good time, here are some things you need to remember to bring that would be very helpful:
· Fresh greenery for the wreath, swag center. If you would like to make a wreath, remember to bring your own form. Also need pinecones.
· Finger foods to share with everyone at the holiday buffet table. Bring enough for at least your family plus four. Kitchen will provide the holiday punch.
· Bring a friend and introduce them to the hospitality of Church Street this Advent.

The Advent Crafts Festival is coordinated through and sponsored by our Adult Council.

Posted: November 24, 2014 07:35 AM
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Church Conference This Sunday

A Church Conference of all full members of Church Street United Methodist Church will be held on Sunday, November 23, at 6 p.m. in the church gym. All full members of the church, both adults and youth, are invited with voice and vote on the agenda below.

Three agenda items:
1. Propose that the Draft Master Plan be approved as the Final Master Plan.
2. Propose that the church begin Phase 1 of the Master Plan:
Renovation of the Parish Hall with new finishes, controllable light fixtures, wood beams and wainscot and enhanced audiovisual systems; Construction of a new three-story addition on the Magnolia lot with a welcome and gathering area, elevators, stairs, accessible restrooms and storage; Construction of the Magnolia structured parking scheme to provide covered parking and accessibility to the Nave and Parish Hall. The estimated cost for Phase 1 is $9.3 million.
3. Propose that a capital campaign and campaign committee be authorized to seek funding for Phase 1. Jean Galyon and Dwight Wade are proposed co-chairs; David Lewis of Horizons Stewardship is proposed as campaign consultant.

Posted: November 20, 2014 07:55 PM
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UMW Bake Sale

Be sure to stop by the UMW Bake Sale (in the Church Life Center hallway) this Sunday, November 23, to pick up some delicious baked goods and casseroles! We have some of the best bakers in town and we would love to share our talents with you this holiday season! All proceeds will be divided equally among the following:

-Donation in honor of Powell Richardson and family to the Renovation and Renewal Fund at Church Street
-Wesley House capital campaign
-The Sharing Shops

Posted: November 19, 2014 08:23 PM
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Sharing Shop Needs

Our Sharing Shops continue to be busy, and we are very grateful for the many donations our congregation so generously provides. The people we are serving have little, and most truly take one day at a time. We would like to have a few extra goods and holiday decorations on hand these next few weeks in order to help provide some measure of help and hope for Christmastime. There are so many ways to serve, and we are blessed to be able to serve God through these shops. Know that your donations are greatly appreciated. Below are items we would love to share:
laundry detergent
toilet paper
men's and women's clothing-winter only
children's clothing-winter only
men's belts and shoes
Christmas decorations
children's books and toys
household and kitchen items
duffel bags and backpacks

Posted: November 18, 2014 06:12 AM
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Volunteer for Walk Through Bethlehem

While there are thousands who come to our annual Walk Through Bethlehem (December 14) each year, the event doesn't just happen. It takes many days and lots of volunteers working behind the scenes before the event and on the actual day to make everything come together. We need your help in a variety of ways to make this event a success. Look at the volunteer signup board in the children's hallway to see what the needs are. Setup begins the week of December 8 and continues through December 14. Everyone?s help before, during and after the event makes it all come together. See where you are needed to make this year's WTB a success.

Posted: November 17, 2014 07:41 PM
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Make Reservations for WNAF

Our last Wednesday Noon Adult Fellowship program of 2014 will be held on Wednesday, November 19, at 12:30 p.m. in Parish Hall. Lisa New, executive director of the Knoxville Zoo, will be our featured speaker. Lisa has worked at the zoo for more than two decades. Before being named Executive Director in 2013, she worked as senior director of animal collections and conservation. She has long been active in animal conservation issues, particularly dealing with chimpanzees and gorillas. Her zoo experience also includes managing the zoo staff members who care for the animals, and the park?s human resources department. Come and hear what exciting new things are coming to our zoo. Please make your luncheon reservations no later than Monday, November 17, by calling the church office, 524-3048 or e-mailing

Posted: November 15, 2014 08:39 PM
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