Daily Lenten Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, February 18

By Rev. Tim Best

Confession

Read Daniel 9:1-14

Confession is good for the soul, but it is not easy. The human ability to resist confession is nearly instinctual. Confession is a vulnerable act wherein we name our shortcomings, our needs, and the temptations that endanger our wellbeing. We find ourselves in another season of lent, a season marked from beginning to end with confession and repentance. If we are not careful, Lent can often feel like a burden placed on our shoulders, a season heavy with guilt and finger-wagging shame. I remember the advice I was given when learning to preach: “No matter how difficult the passage, how somber the season, or tragic the event, what we are called to preach is Good News.” Lent is Good News. The passage from Daniel doesn’t place additional shame and suffering onto the people; it names the suffering and offers a way forward.

Lent is a pressure release valve for lives that get disconnected from God and one another. I think of dryer vents. Dryer vents can easily be clogged by lint buildup. Such buildup doesn’t happen at once, it takes time and builds little by little. The danger comes when so much buildup has occurred that the warm air doesn’t vent. Such blockage will easily lead to a fire. Confession is the practice of cleaning out the dirt and blockage in our lives. It is a gift that God empowers us through the Spirit to participate in the work of renewing and restoring our lives and the world. My daily prayer for our congregation this Lent will be that God will continue to guide us to see where we have erred and sinned, and to empower us to change.

Lent, and for that matter confession, are not ends in themselves. Easter, resurrection, and new life in Christ is the end. Easter is not a refusal to accept death, but rather a full acknowledgment of the power of death and a celebration that it is conquered in Christ. Daniel’s words speak to me of the powers at work, then and now, to overwhelm us with death. I confess my participation with those powers, the ways that they sometimes seem to benefit me, just as they do harm to myself and all around me. Daniel also contains good news. God’s ultimate desire is for us to live and flourish, not to suffer and die. Let us confess so that what hinders our joyful obedience to God might be removed and we might fully delight in renewing relationship with God and neighbor.

Prayer

Almighty God, you poured out your Spirit upon Daniel that he might proclaim hope to your people. Fill us with hope in this season of Lent that we might be renewed in our love and service to you. Let us confess our sins with hope that you hear us and with confidence that by your help we may overcome them. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

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BINDING SOUL AND SOURCE

Prayers for the Church Street Family

February 17, 2021

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade

In your darkness there is no darkness.

With you, O Lord, the deepest night is as clear as the day.

(Taize chant) 

Come, evening, come!  The sky turns to ash and we recall wisdom’s teaching that there is a time for everything, a season for every purpose under the heavens. Your grace has brought us through this long season of Covid travail.  When we were embittered, you taught us tolerance; when we felt isolated, you nudged a friend to call; when we were forlorn, you provided confidence; when our faith was shaken, you widened the hallway of trust; when we languished in illness, you created a powerful remedy.  We are humbled to the core by your faithfulness.  And though   we could never enumerate all your acts of benevolence, we remember these most recent ways you have brought redemption to our door . . . . . . . . .

Lord of the Deepest Night, this season of Lent calls us to admit the unrepented sins that live within us, the ego that is never satisfied, the corrosive trove of guilt stored in our souls, the rugged terrain of our own character.  We are called to grieve the reality of our world that doesn’t live up to your love.  Burn away the inconsistencies of our words, thoughts, and deeds; and empty the residue into your dust bin of nothingness.  May we be bold enough to take on the work of arduous introspection this holy season, that we will be freed from our blindness, and will come to see ourselves with the eyes of truth.

Employing all we have learned this past year, and remembering that you care so earnestly for us, Ever-merciful God, we lay before you our thanksgivings and our appeals:

  • Daughter thankful for church support throughout her mother’s illness and death
  • Member grateful for her Stephen Minister
  • Gratitude: Hospitalized member is improving
  • Appreciation for a new home
  • Grateful for church’s Ash Wednesday observance
  • Member seeking good housing arrangement
  • Guidance for mother concerning her son’s health
  • Prayers that a home may sell quickly
  • Continued prayers for aunt following surgery
  • For one’s white blood count to increase
  • Pray for upholding our Stephen Ministers
  • God’s help for a mother building a stable life for her children
  • Grandson in treatment for lymphoma
  • For strength to keep a holy Lent
  • Grace and guidance for recent widow whose house burned to the ground
  • God’s guidance for couple who may have to move
  • Tolerance for one in extensive radiation treatment
  • Two seeking help in managing depression
  • Healing mercies for mother with leukemia

Holy Hope, as we lay our heads upon your cushion of forgiveness, tuck us in with the promise of renewal. And hear our whispered prayers in the night, that we may become fully reconciled to our neighbors and to you, for you are our hope in this world and in the next.

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 Lenten Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, February 17, Morning

By Nancy Zirkle, March 6, 2019

Forgiveness

Read Psalm 31

As we begin the season of Lent, consider what comes between you and God. Confession causes us to face our actions and thoughts, thereby making it frightening. However, it can also be a bridge to God and bring us closer through forgiveness.

As the scriptures say: “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong” (I John 1:9). Now is the time to search our hearts and to be fully known by God.

For Christ is not dead now, and never will be again. He comes and goes as He pleases, forgiving and giving new life to everybody who believes in Him. If He wants you (and He does), your sin will not keep Him from loving you or from calling you to be His own. He has already paid the price for your forgiveness with His own life. Trust in Him.

Prayer

God help me to face my own heart; shine your light inside of me. I want to be known by you. Help me, this season of Lent, to let you in.

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Daily Lenten Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, February 17, Evening

By Rev. Pat Clendenen, Visitation Pastor, March 26, 2017

Transformation

Read Isaiah 58:1-12

The Israelites of Isaiah’s day had a handle on rituals. Sackcloth, ashes, and fasting were something they had mastered. Yet, it never changed their behavior. Amazingly, they wondered why things stayed the same, even pointing out to God their righteousness –“Why do we humble ourselves but you don’t even notice?”

While serving in the Alaska Missionary Conference, I had the opportunity to attend a Walk to Emmaus. We began this 4-day spiritual retreat by meeting with our assigned groups. It didn’t take long to realize that the weekend was going to be difficult. One person’s rigidity and intolerance had already closed the door to any meaningful interactions. As we headed to dinner, the tension was palpable. I found myself trying to find a reason to leave, not wanting to spend the weekend embroiled in these kinds of discussions.

Walking to dinner, our group was quiet. Then I began to pray, and even my prayer surprised me, for I prayed that God would change my attitude, “Open my heart to see that you are also working through this person, that he, too, is one of your children.” It seems we had all spent most of dinner in silence, praying for guidance. When we came back together, we just sat there — no one spoke. Then, the very person who had angered me and others, said: “I guess we’re all afraid to speak!” That broke the ice and set in motion four days of tearing down walls and opening ourselves to profound new understandings.

The transforming power of the Risen Christ had softened our hearts, giving us new eyes to see, new ears to hear.

Prayer

God help me to face my own heart; shine your light inside of me. I want to be known by you. Help me, this season of Lent, to let you in.

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BINDING SOUL AND SOURCE

Prayers for the Church Street Family

February 16, 2021

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade

Designer of the Filmy Moon, the Evening Wind, and the Quiet Stars, somewhere out there you are watching, you are listening.  And though some may think it foolish, we know you have dreams we may each fulfill in the span of years we are granted. Cloak us in your silent love as darkness descends, that we may again receive your assurance that we are treasured just as we are . . . . . . . . . . Breathe in us, Spirit Wind, as we tarry now in your calming silence . . . . . . . . . .

Upon your Word and promise we have built our faith, though our patterns of behavior reflect otherwise.  We confess that we are a fretful people and are not too good at waiting.  We think we need to do it all ourselves rather than trusting in you.  Unfortunately, our efforts too frequently are botched by our race for hasty solutions.  Why is it that we operate on the assumption that we know best?  Forgive us, Faithful One, and share that patience embedded in your heart with us, your frail flock.  Without it we will doom ourselves to living in that somber room painted in shades of false pride.

As Jesus sought your counsel in aloneness, he also knew you as the God of Community.  He therefore sought the company of the unwashed, the sinner, the frightened, the proud, the weak, the undeserving, and invited all to dine with him.  And as he looked around the table, he found faces just like ours.  To them and to us he offered his comfort and hope.  How blessed we are to have been called into this blessed communal life where you are ever the Accepting Host, where our togetherness discounts none, but uplifts all.

As part of your Church Street community, we bring you our joys this day . . . . . . . . . . and we covet your forgiveness for our missteps . . . . .  . . . . Renew us for your service and hear the prayers of all who rely upon your goodness and mercy:

  • Member thankful depression has improved
  • Prayers appreciated- aunt’s breast surgery successful
  • Member grateful- financial burden being lifted
  • Thanksgiving for volunteers assisting with vaccinations
  • Appreciation to the Parish Health Team for assistance in securing medical help
  • Comfort for member struggling with grave illness
  • Prayers for a good housing arrangement
  • Courage for one diagnosed with ALS
  • For one’s white blood count to increase
  • Grandson in treatment for lymphoma
  • Prayers for healing ill loved one
  • God’s guidance for couple who may have to move
  • Upholding one in radiation treatment
  • Two seeking help in managing depression
  • Cherished mother recovering at home
  • Parent seeks God’s help in creating a stable life for her children

Quiet the bumps in the night, Gentle Keeper, that we, and all whom we love, may rest in peace. And when morning comes, we will remember that yours is the lasting peace that will carry us through every test tomorrow may present.  Receive these, our earnest prayers offered in the name of your Son 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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BINDING SOUL AND SOURCE

Prayers for the Church Street Family

February 15, 2021

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade

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 compassion never fails.

(Lamentations 3:19-21)

 

Why is it, Lord, that you sometimes seem so distant?  We know in our hearts that you want the best for us, and there are many days when your love comes cascading down in torrents.  But then, there are times of prayer when you are nowhere to be found and we encounter only emptiness.  Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to thinking Jesus is our very own. Perhaps we forget that we don’t have you in our hip pockets, and when our fears come calling you may just be attending to another in more desperate straits than ours. Help us hold on even when the wells of our souls threaten to run dry.  You will not leave us comfortless for long.  There is that undercurrent of holy grace moving beneath the foundation of the universe that carries us home, even when we scarcely feel its progression.

Breath of Mystery, what do we do when we feel our pleas have not been heard, when our expectations are not met, when aloneness seems our fate?  We may remember that Jesus also experienced hollow interludes – times he was misunderstood, when others deserted him, when he fell on his knees in the agony in the garden.  He managed his fears by never giving up, by continuing to pray and by moving ahead.  Maybe we can just enter the emptiness and learn from it. Then through our service to others, we will release our assumptions concerning the availability of the Holy, and will even discover a new depth of trust.  We pray, Lord, it may be so.

Spirit of Gentleness, with all our flaws and failings, even in our doubts, you cherish us and count upon us to act as your very own disciples.  Only One is perfect, else we would have no need of a Loving Savior.  Therefore, let us recommit ourselves to the work as we have promised, through our prayers, presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness in Christ’s name.

You come to us on your own terms, O Lord, so in your own way and in your own time, we ask you to attend to these thanksgivings and petitions offered by your disciples at Church Street:

  • Thanksgiving: A mother recovering from stroke
  • Gratitude to God: A relationship is being renewed
  • Six thankful for church assistance in obtaining virus vaccinations
  • Gratitude: Daughter recovering well from surgery
  • Thankful that a family member now has health insurance
  • Gratitude for a wonderful gift from a friend
  • Prayers for three families dealing with addictions
  • Courage for one diagnosed with ALS
  • Grandson healing from lymphoma
  • God’s guidance for couple who may have to move
  • Courage for one enduring radiation treatments
  • Three seeking help in managing depression
  • Frail friend with pneumonia
  • Healing mercies: Aunt recovering from mastectomy
  • For one’s white blood count to increase
  • Cherished mother recovering at home
  • Parent asks for prayers for her two young sons, and for God’s help in stabilizing and managing the family
  • Continued prayers for healing of heart ailment

Move among us and through us this night, Unwavering One, as we take our rest in you. Gather the longings and prayers of our hearts, and those in the hearts of all your people, that our dreams will be of you and your compassion that never fails.

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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BINDING SOUL AND SOURCE

Prayers for the Church Street Family

February 11, 2021

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade

As the sun disappears behind the heavy clouds, our prayers of thanksgiving rise to you, Loving God. Looking heavenward, our hearts teem with abundant gratitude for even the smallest things which, in our haste, we may have taken for granted:  the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, sufficient food in the pantry, the meal lovingly prepared, the word of honest appreciation directed our way, camaraderie of co-workers, the pet who adores our companionship, friends who know our flaws but love us still, the face of a smiling child, a shimmering earth washed by cleansing showers. Your ever-flowing grace revives our trust in you.

O Faithful One, some far-off wind seems to call us home to you at eventide. Even in our extended virus struggles, we have found that you are breathing in us and for us.

And in your wisdom and mercy you have brought about the medications that are addressing the deadly virus that has stalked the earth these many months.  Always a step ahead, you are planning even better days for your people. Grant that the lessons we have learned this past year will stir us to work within your plan, ever in the pattern of Jesus.

Forgive us through your mercy for whatever wrongs we have done this day, particularly these that still sting in our memories  . . . . . . . . Strengthen our souls and our will through the night hours, we pray, that tomorrow we will be more intentional in our service to you. O Wounded One, heal us. O Enlightened One, transfigure us. O Refining One, sweep through us — for Christ’s sake.

We place our current gratitudes and struggles into your outstretched hand, particularly . . . . . . . . . . .  and also these offered by our brothers and sisters at Church Street:

  • Thanksgiving: A beautiful new baby
  • Couple eagerly await a new birth
  • Ten thankful for church assistance in obtaining virus vaccinations
  • Grateful for a more favorable oncology report than expected
  • Member burying her cherished father tomorrow
  • Couple grappling with sad news
  • God’s help for one in need of solid job
  • Courage for one facing cancer regimen
  • For medications to improve a friend’s depression
  • Frail friend with pneumonia
  • Prayers for friend, weak and confused
  • Healing for two in cancer treatment
  • Beloved mother recovering at home
  • Continued prayers for healing of heart ailment
  • Close friend given six months to live
  • Healing grandson with lymphoma
  • For a friendship to blossom
  • All who mourn recent deaths of loved ones
  • Family struggling with son’s addition and PTSD

O Watch in the Night, as your eye is on even the sparrow, we know you will keep us and all whom we love in your gaze through the dark hours. Accept all these, our earnest pleas, for we lay them at your throne of grace in the name of your Risen Son, whose resurrection song still plays in our hearts:

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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Confirmation Class

During this time of the COVID pandemic and in-person classes being suspended, Church Street’s Confirmation class has continued without any interruption. This year’s class of fifteen 6th and 7th graders began last September and will continue through April 2021. They meet every Sunday at 11 am via Zoom. The parents join the students on screen the first Sundays in the month.

The class is taught by Rev. Rick Isbell with on-screen help from Russell & Melanie McNutt and Jeri Strong. Behind the scenes Jenny Cross’ support has been tremendous in setting up electronic student folders, and Paula Buckner’s filing system of past Confirmation materials has been invaluable in helping us continue to get important Confirmation materials to students.

We have been delighted for our clergy staff to join the class periodically along with Confirmation mentors. In addition to weekly class sessions, class members have also been collecting food items for BOH Food Co-op as well as money to contribute to Heifer Project International.

In spite of all the challenges and hurdles of doing class via Zoom, the students have been great in their attendance and participation. We’ve even had some class members to join us while traveling in the car on trips (there are some advantages to Zoom!). What the future holds, we don’t know; but the Confirmation class will keep zooming along.

BINDING SOUL AND SOURCE

Prayers for the Church Street Family

February 10, 2021

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade

As you have etched your signature in holy shades of light and dark across the sky above us, you have engraved your name upon every living part of your creation. Even as you answer to many names, we know you as the One Who Is, the One who will stand with us till time is no more. We praise you that your autograph glows in the stately stretch of the heavens this eventide — a silent signal that you linger close. If we failed to acknowledge you or caused you pain in these hours past, please forgive us. We pray you would never erase that treasured mark of ownership we are honored to wear.

Heart of Truth, the newscasters twist their sirens to their most alarming levels, keeping us anxiously poised for the next catastrophe.  It is all we can do to keep from being swept up in despair. Help us instead to tune in to those voices that share stories of your goodness: the sick are being healed, the wounded are being delivered, medications are being distributed, the hungry are being fed, neighbors are helping neighbors, isolated ones are not forgotten, your work is being done.

How comforting to know that your humble disciples still walk the earth, bearing the truth of your benevolence.  Thanks be to God!

O Bringer of New Life, even in the bleakness of winter, you invite us to believe in what can still be. Give us courage to move forward, even when we are tired and stressed, when we are restless and confused, even when our challenges seem insurmountable. Receive our private concerns, we pray, that we may know your wisdom, especially in . . . . . . . . . . And as it is your good pleasure to receive our prayers, we offer these on behalf of our Church Street family:

  • Seven offer gratitude for virus vaccinations
  • Thankful for prayers: A mother’s health is improving
  • Gratitude: One’s depression is lifting
  • Couple grateful for a vacation
  • Member thankful to be released from hospital
  • Prayers for a good job opening in the area
  • Upholding a family saddened by recent news
  • Courage for one with newly diagnosed cancer
  • Frail friend with pneumonia
  • Close friend given six months to live
  • One desires guidance in beginning a friendship
  • Upholding two members in cancer treatment
  • Comfort for family: Death of father
  • Healing: Husband in deep depression
  • Strength for family coping with son’s grave emotional problems
  • Member recovering from major illness
  • Friend suffering physically and emotionally
  • Continued healing for heart patient
  • Grandson with lymphoma

As we rest tonight, Lord, enlarge our hearts that we might love more deeply and serve with greater intensity in the new day to come. And as we sleep, we place ourselves, all whom we love, and all who bear your love to others into your keeping, for you Lord, only make us dwell in safety.

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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BINDING SOUL AND SOURCE

Prayers for the Church Street Family

February 9, 2021

Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade

Your evening sky, Creator of Rest, becomes the color of silt and we anticipate the silent grandeur with which you close each of our days. As we gaze at your soft glory, let us enter the closet of prayer and commune with you in that place of quiet where words are unnecessary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There is the beautiful aspect of widening darkness makes all things appear equal: There is no one more lofty or wise than the other, both mansion and hut are sheathed in raven, overgrown fields appear as lovely as manicured lawns, all skin tones blend into the color of earth. Only in the shadowed hours do we let down our guard long enough to see with the leveling eyes of God.

With morning’s light, however, inequities again will starkly reveal themselves; so give us new energy to take up the cause of the disordered, the poor, the hungry and misunderstood, the ill and the disenfranchised. Give us the will to respect all of your blessed creation, tending it with the love of the Father.

O One Who Beckons, thank you for calling us to be part of your labor for justice and mercy. We join our hands with all believers everywhere who know you as the Source of all Goodness and who pray without ceasing for your will to be made manifest in all our lives. Receive now both the praises and the struggles lifted from the Church Street family:

  • Homebound members thankful for church contacts
  • Young couple celebrate the birth of a new daughter
  • Praises for all who are helping with virus vaccinations
  • Gratitude: Souper Bowl donations for the hungry exceeded expectations
  • Thanksgiving for end of lengthy recovery from back surgery
  • Prayers for a good job opening in the city
  • Upholding a family saddened by new challenges
  • Courage for one with newly diagnosed cancer
  • Close friend given only six months of life
  • Upholding member in cancer treatment
  • Comfort for daughter and family in the death of father
  • Healing: Husband in deep depression
  • Strength for family coping with son’s grave emotional problems
  • Pray for mother recovering from brain bleed
  • Friend suffering physically and emotionally
  • All who are grappling with grief
  • Continued healing for heart patient

O One Who Dreams With Us, may we take in your bracing night air as we rest upon your cool sheets of peace. Refresh us with sleep tonight for the work that tomorrow holds. Shelter all whom we cherish, we pray, and all your beloved who long for the nearness of Christ:

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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