Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of January 12, 2022

Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

Welcoming One, we can imagine you now in our mind’s eye, with your arms outstretched, bidding us draw close.  You must know quite well how  overwhelmed and vulnerable we feel.  The pandemic continues to unfold around the globe and the media churns out unrelenting stories of instability and discontent.  Even though your mercies have brought us through more than a year of dread, we are still rattled.  We peer out the window at the same world, yet it seems a strangely unfamiliar place.  Ah, but then our eyes fix on those stately trees that have withstood both storm and drought, as if they possessed some secret power.  It is no secret, though, for far beneath their leafy grandeur and textured skin breathes a labyrinth of roots, a network securely embedded deep within the earth.  Tighten our hold on you, O Faith that Never Fails, that we might also withstand the torrents of the time in which we live.  Make our grasp firm and stable, we pray, till we also stand as resilient witnesses of our faith in you. 

Welcoming God, we praise you.

In your mercy and wisdom, you have held the life of this world as a parent holds a beloved child, always wishing the best for us; indeed, it was you who formed us and the earth which nourishes and sustains us.  By calling us into a community of believers, and by endowing us with talents for building up your kingdom, you have multiplied and extended our own strength. Help us acknowledge the gifts you have planted within us, Lord, that we might labor together for your purpose and your glory always.

Empowering God, we praise you.

How grateful we remain for the hearts infused by love that are beating every day throughout the world, near and far.  We gaze in wonder at those who face real dangers in taking your word to forgotten territories, who tenderly care for the ill and the dying, for those who live sacrificially that others may have their needs met, for those who stand true to your calling.  They are as trees in our midst, whose roots hold steady and whose acts rise ever heavenward. We thank you for these noble disciples who live out their faith in such varied, but mostly unheralded ways.

Calling and Confirming God, we praise you.

And as Jesus always reminded us of your loving concern, on behalf of your people in our church family, we extend these praises and prayers:

  • Two express gratitude for support from our Parish Health Team
  • Aunt gives thanks for safe birth of twin nephews on Tuesday
  • Three grateful for recovery from Covid
  • Gratitude for work of our Covid Task Force 
  • Family celebrates birth of healthy son on January 8
  • Prayers appreciated, hospitalized mother is improving 
  • Brain surgery was successful, tumor benign
  • Family grateful for holiday visit with adult children
  • God’s grace and comfort for family, sudden death of young father
  • Three members whose parents died during the holidays
  •  Healing grief for husband experiencing a divorce
  • Premature nephew in ICU, prayers for his survival
  • Prayers for one having a driving test on Tuesday
  • Grieving family: Niece killed, leaving two young children
  • Healing prayers for three brave women in cancer treatment
  • A niece’s husband nearing death, that it may be peaceful 
  • Member with ALS, strength for wife, sole caregiver
  • Two members with severe vision impairment and neuropathy
  • Husband with memory loss, courage for wife
  • Healing for mother recovering from bladder surgery
  • Beloved daughter with Covid complications, for healing
  • Guidance for wife, caregiver of husband with Parkinson’s
  • Healing of friend recovering from serious accident
  • Continued recovery from ankle injury 
  • College-age grandson battling depression, now outpatient
  • Wisdom, guidance for young single mother with 3 children
  • A father in hospice care, his sons who are grieving
  • Healing prayers for an alcoholic
  • Two suffering from depression and Parkinson’s-related illness 
  • Safe delivery of first grandchild on Friday

Caring God, hear our prayer.

Keeper of All Our Hours, thank you for receiving our prayers and for forgiving us when we fail to notice the ways you are moving in our world.  We confess that we do quake when bad new spins, though your grace remains sufficient. May the blessings you have brought us come to mind even before our heads rest upon our pillows this night. And then, may our eyes be opened in new ways tomorrow, that we might behold your stirring around us and within us.  In the name of the One who remains our refuge in every era, we offer these prayers:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

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Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of January 5, 2022

Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

Holy God, with the bells of New Year’s Eve still ringing in our ears, we come to you in all humility; for how can we celebrate the turning of the calendar without praising you for the divine grace that has come to us so tenderly throughout the year just passed?  Your steady hand carried us through difficulties we thought would break us.  You restored our hope when we were stranded in confusion.  You brought renewal when we were swallowed up in despondency.  Remembering how you shepherded us even in perilous times, we remain in awe.

God of Grace, receive our praise!

Speak, Lord, said the young prophet, for your servant is listening. Here, as the new year dawns for us, may we also listen attentively for your voice.  Some of us are full of expectation, ready to give shape to any new challenge you set forth.   Some of us are overwhelmed and anxious and must lean heavily upon your shoulders no matter your expectations.  Others of us are weary and worn, fearing we may not possess the energy to even answer when you call.  And yet, you are the God who opens doors, who fashions possibilities, who supplies what is needed, who carves roads where none exist. In whatever condition we find ourselves, we pray we would somehow discern your voice and allow you to work your will within us. 

God Who Calls, hear our prayer.

Your Son gave us a vision of the world as it could be, enlivened by people who model your intentions and desires.  Jesus dreamed of a world where abundance was shared, where peace reigned, where cooperation birthed prosperity for all, where love and justice were the rule of the day, where health and well-being were honored. We hunger for such a world, but we confess that we often lose heart when setbacks come.  We fall back into our old habit of grousing and complaining when obstacles so frequently appear.  Forgive us, we pray, and help us to be hope-filled kingdom people as we work in your service each day of this new year.

God Who Inspires, rekindle your dream in our hearts.

On the cusp of this new month and new year, we are deeply aware of the realities that face us at present.  And as always, we boldly ask for restoration for the ill, comfort for those who mourn, companionship for the lonely, reconciliation for the estranged, release for those held by the chains of poverty and addiction.  To these we add those closest to our hearts . . . . . . . . . ; as well as all these praises and petitions offered by our church community:

  • Three offer gratitude for safe journeys and family visits
  • Gratitude for successful cornea transplant on Tuesday 
  • One is thankful for reconnection with two former friends
  • Member thankful for healing following three family deaths 
  • Gratitude: Granddaughter uninjured in a dangerous fire
  • Member thankful for the help of his Stephen Minister
  • One celebrates the restoration of a relationship 
  • Prayers appreciated: Three member families recovering from Covid
  • Family blessed by an extended holiday gathering in North Carolina
  • Gratitude for dedicated church musicians and choirs
  • Thanksgiving: Mother is off ventilator & is much improved
  • Solace for family who lost a mother and a father to death in 2 weeks’ time
  • Premature nephew born at 25 weeks, in ICU, for his survival
  • Recovery for a cherished mother-in-law, hospitalized
  • All who are mourning recent deaths of loved ones
  • Healing of a grandson’s depression
  • Pray for peaceful death for a niece’s husband 
  • A peaceful death for a kind Christian husband, courage for family
  • Member with grave vision impairment & neuropathy
  • Courage, guidance for wife, caregiver of husband with Parkinson’s
  • Recovery for daughter (42), brain surgery today at MD Anderson
  • Healing of friend recovering from serious accident
  • Faithful husband dealing with memory loss, his caregiver wife
  • For intervention: Physician nephew who is an alcoholic
  • Mother in South Carolina seriously ill, courage for three anxious adult children
  • God’s presence with adult daughter, grave Covid complications
  • Courage, guidance for young mother deserted by her husband
  • Grace for member valiantly enduring cancer treatments
  • Reconciliation of differences within three families
  • Pray for young couple recovering at home from serious illnesses
  • God’s grace to surround a mother with cancer, for renewed hope
  • Two suffering from depression and Parkinson’s-related illness 
  • A father who entered hospice January 3; for his sons who struggle

God Who Heals, receive our prayers.

Even now, Dear God, uncertain of how the coming months will unfold, we are confident you will continue to speak to us and will walk with us every step of the way. And on our journey into the new year, by your grace, we will endeavor to love you with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strength.  All these prayers we offer in the name of our Most Faithful Companion, who taught us to pray in this way:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

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Weekly Events:
Tuesday – High School Prayer Breakfast at 7:15 AM (Chick-fil-A West Hills)
Wednesday – Youth Band at 7:00 PM (Youth Area)
Sunday – Sunday school at 9:45 AM (Youth Area), NightLife at 5:00 (Youth Area)
Parents: please consider helping us with our Sunday breakfasts and dinners. We have lots of open dates this semester! Thanks for helping us serve your students well!

Mini Retreat – This Saturday!

In case you missed it, we will no longer be traveling to Pigeon Forge for Resurrection this weekend due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.  While this is disappointing and was a difficult decision, we are going to make the best of it!  We are having an in-town mini “retreat” this weekend:  Saturday – 9:30 AM-9:30 PM and Sunday – 9:45 AM-1:00 PM (attending Sunday school & 11:00 worship followed by lunch).  This event is totally free!  Register at the link below – details to come later this week!

This Week…

We will not have NightLife this week due to our mini retreat.  We will have a regular schedule the following week, January 30.

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of December 29, 2021

Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

Holy Lord, we come to you at the midpoint of this week, still in awe of the beauty and sacredness of Christmas Eve.  What joy to raise our voices in prayer and praise of your coming among us in glory!  For all whose spirits were joined as one on that most holy night, we offer praises anew!  Even in Christmastide, however, we realize the rattle of the marketplace has heightened its whirring, and already the media is re-emphasizing gloom.  Calm both the restlessness of the world, we pray, and silence the noisy voices within us.  Grant that we might remain at the manger a little longer, spending quiet moments in your presence.  Only when we silently kneel at your modest crib will we hear what you have to say.

Emmanuel, God-With-Us, hear our prayer.  

Humble One, Yet Revealed in Glory, we thank you that Christmas isn’t one day only, nor twelve, but is a life-long season.  Your birth is the promise that brings us responsibilities, participation, and hope every day of the year. Your coming among us teaches that our lives matter to you and that our welfare is of tremendous importance. Ah, such undeserved gifts!  Just as the shepherds, we bask in your light that shines even in our darkest corners, attending us in our weakness, lifting us up when we are dismayed, ever giving us purpose and direction.  We walk in glory as we travel home to you.

Emmanuel, God-With-Us, hear our prayer.

Still, in the midst of our gratitude, Gracious Lord, we also experience dismay that we live within a conflicted realm.  We know full well the human sufferings in Afghanistan; threats of war in the Middle East and Eastern Europe; the rapid increase of a new strain of Covid throughout the world; rampant violence in our nation’s cities; starvation of precious souls amid storehouses of plenty; and the brokenness of victims of natural disasters.  Save us from despair and cynicism, we pray, as we yearn to be part of your restoration.  Refresh our spirits for service; and bless the feet and hands and hearts of those messengers you have already anointed to do your bidding across the globe.    

Emmanuel, God-With-Us, hear our prayer.

As Jesus came as one of us, he knew our infirmities and experienced our pain. Therefore, we share an intimate kinship with this Son of Grace who bids us boldly name our sorrows and lift our joys.  These we humbly offer from our hearts . . . . . . . . . . ; and we also share these prayers offered by the people of Church Street: 

  • Thankful for prayers: A door to reconciliation has been opened
  • Gratitude: deeply spiritual worship of Christmas Eve
  • Thankful for all who offered daily Advent Devotionals
  • Thanksgiving: Ill father was able to attend Christmas worship
  • Two families are grateful from ongoing support of SS classes
  • Thankful a mother survived surgery & is enduring chemo
  • Gratitude: two friends are home from the hospital
  • Thanksgiving: church couple healing steadily from Covid
  • Gratitude: Grandfather was able to visit grandsons for Christmas
  • Young friend with Covid is improving, prayers appreciated
  • Healing prayers for a son & daughter with Covid
  • Love & healing to surround family, wife/mother died December 22
  • Church family mourning the death of mother/grandmother December 23
  • Prayers for a grandson’s emotional healing, now is cloistered care
  • Friend at UT in neuro unit, restoration from a fall
  • Continued prayer for friend with cancer, recovers from oral surgery 
  • For a cherished nephew to seek help for his alcoholism
  • Prayers for recovery: Mother in ICU, broken ribs & trauma
  • Member family in NC all suffering from Covid
  • Guidance for young mother estranged from husband
  • A member seeks strength to fight cancer
  • Grace for member valiantly enduring cancer treatments
  • Reconciliation of differences within three families
  • Pray for young couple recovering at home from serious illnesses
  • God’s grace to surround a mother with cancer, for renewed hope
  • Two suffering from depression and Parkinsons-related illness
  • Faithful husband struggling with memory loss 
  • Grace to uphold dear friend soon entering hospice care
  • Strength for daughter, extreme complications from Covid
  • For doors of employment to open for gifted professional man
  • Beloved husband undergoing chemotherapy 

Faithful Emmanuel, baptize us anew as we enter this new year.  Wash us with that profound truth that we are ever dependent upon you in this life, and that, you will always be with us.  Provide us courage for every difficulty that will arise in the months to come and shower us with assurance amid all our uncertainties. Knowing our security lies in you, we offer all our prayers in the name of Christ, who taught us to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, December 25, Evening

By Sarah Elliott

The Star Was Bright

Read Matthew 2:10

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

Growing up, my mother taught me to appreciate the stars. Some of my favorite constellations are the big dipper, the little dipper, and Orion. Easily identifiable, Orion is most vibrantly seen in the winter months. A reminder that with winter we get to enjoy Christmas, and the celebration of the greatest gift given to us by God when he sent his son into the world. 

I remember in 1986, my mom woke me up to see Halley’s Comet. Seeing something in the sky and knowing it wasn’t going to be seen by anyone else for another 76 years seemed really special to me. How special would it have been for the Magi to see the Star of Bethlehem? I can only imagine it! They saw a star and they followed it. Knowing it was special, they followed it to find the king of the Jews. When they arrived, they bowed down and worshiped him. They followed a star and met a King! 

Weather lore says, “Cold is the night, when the stars shine bright.” On a crisp, clear night look at the stars and consider what it would have been like to see the Star of Bethlehem.  How exceedingly great would it feel to be one of the first to know the King of Kings had arrived?

Prayer

Dear God, Thank you for sending the star that led the Magi to you. Their presentation of fine gifts to your son is a reminder of just how powerful your gift to us truly is. Lead us to him this season, so we are reminded each day of how special your gift of Jesus’ birth is.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, December 25, Morning

By Dena Wise

Don’t Be Afraid

Read Luke 2:8-12 (God’s Word Translation)

“Shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem. They were taking turns watching their flock during the night. An angel from the Lord suddenly appeared to them. The glory of the Lord filled the area with light, and they were terrified. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy. Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city. This is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger…”

Jesus was born to a people who, over the years that the Old Testament spans, had associated Godly leadership with power rather than humility, authority rather than service, commanding presence rather than gentle guidance. They had lived under the rule of the often violent and idolatrous kings of Israel and Judah, under Nebuchchadnezzar of Babylon during the exile, and had been subject to the whims of the Persian, Greek, and Roman leaders whose rule often upended their lives. Even their God, they knew as stern, unapproachable, and often terrifying. They likely expected a deliverer with those same characteristics, but the angels brought an entirely different message:

“Not to the important people in the capitol, but to you — regular people working and sleeping in the fields with your flocks — we bring this news. Instead of being afraid of the light of the Lord that you see around you, as you might have been in the past, be joyful! This is how you will recognize the Savior of your people: God is coming to you now, not through a mighty and powerful ruler, but rather as a newborn baby. He will not be clothed in splendor or royal robes, but instead wrapped in torn strips of cloth. You will not find him inhabiting the unapproachable inner sanctions of a temple or even a palace. You will find him in an animal’s stall lying in the feed trough. Tonight you can visit him in person without fear, and see for yourselves”. 

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, that the joyful news of peace that came to the shepherds 2000 years ago is with us to this day. We are ashamed that we often still struggle to recognize our salvation in humility and love, rather than in control and fear. May the humble essence of the infant in the manger permeate our individual and collective being until the glorious light that illumined the shepherds on that hill in Galilee fills the earth, and no one is afraid.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, December 24

By Barry Christmas, Congregational Care Committee

Behold the Lamb of God

Read Luke: 2:6-20; Micah 4:8 (NIV)

Where exactly in Bethlehem was the Christ child born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger? There was no room in the inn, and it is thought that the innkeeper most likely directed them to a cave where the animals were being lodged for the night. Where else might you find a manger, which is a feeding trough for animals? Let’s explore an interesting possibility …

After an arduous journey of about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Mary would have been very tired and uncomfortable. She would most likely be having twinges of labor pain by the time they reached their destination. Surely Joseph would have been looking for a quiet, private location for Mary to rest for the night, and possibly give birth. If such a place could be found, why resort to lodging in a crowded stable?

At this time, there existed a watchtower just outside of Bethlehem called Migdal Eder, known as the “Tower of the Flock.” Animals subject to be chosen by the temple priests for sacrifice were kept and tended in the fields surrounding this location, and if found spotless and without blemish (a strict requirement), were eventually taken to the temple in Jerusalem. The tower was a stone structure where the Levitical shepherds brought the ewes to deliver their lambs, and was well known for housing newborn lambs and protecting them from predators. Each newborn lamb was placed in a stone manger, inspected for any blemishes, and if found to be spotless, was wrapped in strips of swaddling cloth to keep the lamb clean and protect it from harm. 

What could be a more fitting location for the birth and lodging of the “Lamb of God”?  He who would one day become God’s perfect, without blemish, Sacrificial Lamb and shed his blood for the redemption of our sins? Even the announcement of his birth by the angel is already foreshadowing his sacrifice: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And consider the words spoken by John the Baptist when he first beheld his cousin, Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

The shepherds in the fields, tending their flocks that night, would have been very familiar with Migdal Eder, and quite possibly were the special Levitical shepherds to the unblemished lambs of the temple. After being visited by the angel who announced Jesus’ birth, they would have known exactly where to find the Tower of the Flock to behold the newborn Lamb of God, wrapped in swaddling cloth and lying in a manger.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, This Christmas we pray that we might have eyes to see your perfect Lamb and ears to hear “Good Tidings of Great Joy” upon His arrival. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, December 23

By Nancy Christmas

Musical Traditions of Christmas

Read Psalm 150:1,3-4

“Praise the Lord! Praise Him with the trumpet and with lute and harp. Praise Him with the tambourines and processional. Praise Him with stringed instruments and horns. Hallelujah!”

One of the highlights of Christmas growing up was going with my family to visit relatives in middle TN. We had a favorite tradition of gathering around the piano after eating our meal and singing Christmas carols. I was really impressed with how well our voices blended so harmoniously. Having our family’s antique upright piano at home sparked my interest to take piano lessons at an early age and continue throughout high school. 

A few years ago, my piano became unplayable and could not be repaired. I located a skilled and creative woodworker who repurposed it for me by making multiple music boxes from the piano’s beautiful wood. In addition, he used the ivory and ebony keys from the keyboard to decorate the boxes. Six boxes were designed and five were given to my family members (nieces, nephews and my brother) for Christmas 2019. The legacy of our family piano lives on. 

And speaking of music, I always look forward to the many wonderful performances each Sunday, during the holidays and throughout the year. These musical moments provided by the choirs, our organist, UT music students, pianists, the handbells, our harpist, and other invited guests who possess unique musical talents, are truly a source of enjoyment and inspiration.

On Christmas Eve, as we gather together to anticipate the arrival of Baby Jesus, may our hearts be filled with joy, love and peace as we light a candle and listen to our beautiful music at Church Street. May these melodies remain in our hearts as we celebrate His birth on Christmas Day and the love He shares with us every day of the year.

Prayer

Dear Lord, Let us all be joyous as we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas with the warmth of a candle, the praises we sing and the many gifts of love. May we always hold near to our hearts the true meaning of this special day. For this Christmas, and each Christmas that follows, shall we be endowed with the divine spirit and love of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of December 22, 2021

Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;

ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in his hand

Christ our God, to earth descending, comes our homage to demand.

(from Liturgy of St. James)

O God of Wonder, we scurry about, scouring the aisles for gifts that please family and friends, too often overlooking the wondrous basket of blessings you have already set before us.  You have given us life itself, the opportunity to live, learn and share in the marvels of your creation.  You offer us our beloved church community which nourishes us with thoughtfulness and challenges us to become more faithful disciples.  When we draw back, fearing we aren’t good enough, you nudge us to use our talents for your worthy purposes.  When our pride swells, you turn our hearts again to the life of the One Most Humble.  When we grumble about our setbacks, you point us toward the healing way.  We make mistake after mistake, yet you hand us a cup overflowing with grace.  How dare we desire anything more this season, Beloved Benefactor, for you are the essence of all things holy and good!

Silent One, may our souls join with the shepherds who wait patiently in the fields as night closes in.  How deftly does the extraordinary cloak itself in typical garb; and if we do not quiet ourselves, we may miss both the messenger and the message. Perhaps we will be stunned by wonders spanning the sky.  Maybe we will hear angelic voices singing of newborn love.  Or maybe the sign will be only a whisper of assurance that penetrates the heart. In whatever manner it comes, may we be prepared to follow until we discover for ourselves the wonder we know to be true.  It is this Truth in which all our hopes and dreams are met.

As you were delivered on that sacred eve, so you came to deliver us from ourselves and from whatever threatens to separate us from your glory. We recognize the dark parts of our world engulfed in apathy, bitterness, pain, and loss. O Christ, open our souls to receive the good news of your very self, we pray, and bring us into the wonder of your living presence. And knowing the light of your mercy, we lift up those who are in need this night, particularly . . . . . . . . . . ; and we also pray you would touch each of these friends at Church Street who look to you as their Savior:

  • Thankful for husband’s improvement (Parkinson’s diagnosis)
  • Family offers thanks for a marriage blessing on Saturday
  • Family celebrates first family gathering in three years
  • Grateful: A father’s health is improving
  • Thanksgiving for freedom for kidnapped missionaries in Haiti
  • Member thankful for church support during his bereavement
  • Member appreciates friends who are helping her in days of need
  • Thanksgiving: mother in rehab, progressing steadily
  • Gratitude: Uplifting worship and music ministry
  • Praises that a brother’s prostate surgery was successful
  • One celebrates a good grade in a difficult graduate course
  • Pray for friend whose tongue was removed yesterday- cancer
  • Prayers for member recovering in ICU
  • Prayers for mother enduring chemo for lung cancer
  • Healing for daughter, ill with colitis
  • Support for a brother with Parkinson’s
  • Grace for member valiantly enduring cancer treatments
  • Upholding all church families in mourning during the holidays
  • Mother with lung cancer, that chemo may be tolerated
  • Young couple in Nashville hospitalized with serious illnesses
  • God’s grace to surround a mother with cancer, for renewed hope
  • Healing for cherished husband suffering from Parkinson’s and stress
  • Faithful husband struggling with memory loss
  • Member grieving the untimely death of her cousin
  • Longtime friend in Atlanta, ill with Covid and alone on Christmas
  • Grace to uphold dear friend soon to be placed in hospice care
  • Strength for daughter, extreme complications from Covid
  • For doors of employment to open for a talented professional man
  • Beloved husband undergoing chemotherapy
  • Wisdom and strength: Young mother enduring a painful separation
  • Healing two families: Parents estranged from children

You have come anew to every time and every age, Holy One, so we abide in confidence of your arrival to renew your covenant with us.  “Do not fear, only believe,” said the Teacher, reassuring a troubled father.  May those words echo within us this winter of uncertainty, as we plant our trust once again in the Son of the Most High, who taught us to pray in this way:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, December 22

By Jane Gulley

The Virgin Mary, First Disciple

Read Luke 1:26-2:56

Many of us spend a lot of time on screens, especially since the onset of the pandemic. In the internet’s “attention economy” we are exposed to thousands of advertisements. We interact online with caution, afraid of being scammed, verbally abused, or otherwise digitally harmed.

In this context, can you imagine seeing a pop-up ad and responding with this?  “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).

That’s what Mary did. The Angel Gabriel popped up in her life and said, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). The next verse says, “But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.” In other words, Mary was tempted to close the browser and report Gabriel as a phishing scam. Instead, the Galilean girl listened. She believed Gabriel’s message that she had “found favor with God” and would bear a son, Jesus. And she wholeheartedly committed to her task. She became a disciple.

We Protestants do not emphasize Mary’s story as much as our Catholic and Orthodox friends. But in her role as an exemplary mother, Mary has much to teach us. She was obedient to God’s will, and even happy about it. She trusted that God’s plan would come to fruition through her and other people. (Joseph receives his own angelic encouragement in Matthew, Chapter 1). She demonstrated remarkable grit, giving birth in a barn and traveling to Egypt shortly afterward. She was joyful about her role: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

And most of all, Mary stayed with her Son all the way to the end of his earthly life, when other friends ran away. What a mom. As we cope with lives of uncertainty, let us see Mary as a model for responding to the unexpected in tremendous ways.

Prayer

Lord, help me to recognize the “pop up messages” that are opportunities to answer your call upon my life. Help me to trust in others and to see God’s plan in the ordinary days. And give me strength to meet today’s challenges, today.  

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