Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, April 14, Evening – Maundy Thursday

Rick Isbell

Towel and Basin People

Read: John 13:3-5, 12-17

On Maundy Thursday evening one year in the church I served before coming to Church Street, we had a foot washing as part of the service. The clergy conducting the service invited members of the congregation to come down to the front pews, take off their shoes and the clergy members would wash their feet in basins provided. It was a very anxious time for clergy and congregation. Would anyone come down? What reactions would the clergy receive? It was as awkward for the congregation as it was for the disciples around the table that first night. After some anxious moments, about a dozen or more members came down and got their feet washed by the clergy.

When I left that church to come to Church Street, the staff gave me a hand-crafted pitcher and basin which I placed on the window sill behind my desk for all 27 years at Church Street. It was a physical reminder of the Order of Deacon in which I was ordained and what all Christians are called to do.

You and I are called to be towel and basin people. We are called to serve and not to be served. It’s easy to do the things which are easy and for which we receive praise and publicity. It’s harder to discipline ourselves “to get on our knees” and do the unpleasant tasks of Christian discipleship and servanthood. Jesus set an example for us by washing tired and dirty feet. Jesus calls us to do the same in one way or another.


O God, help me to follow the example of Jesus to serve others. Show me where and whom you want me to serve. May your Holy Spirit guide and strengthen me as I go with my towel and basin.

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, April 14, Morning – Maundy Thursday

In Honor of Stephen Ministry

Behold the Light

Read from the Gospel of John

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

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

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

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

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


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

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, April 13, Evening – Holy Week Day 3

By Dona Bunch

The Scarcest Thing

Read: Matthew 6:6 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, April 13, Morning – Holy Week Day 3

By Rev. Tim Best, Senior Associate Pastor

The Pioneer of Our Faith

Read: Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

It is Wednesday. Holy Week builds throughout the week, with services on Thursday and Friday, and decorating and other preparations on Saturday. Come Sunday we will all be dressed in new clothes and filled with excitement and acclamations of resurrection. But today is Wednesday. We are between the palms and the passion. This is not the night of the last supper or even the day of Jesus resting in the tomb. Today is a day to prepare our hearts for what we are about to experience. We are about to remember the brutality of human hearts, the rejection of love incarnate, and the betrayal and suffering of our Lord.

That is the harsh way of looking at the next few days. Yet, Hebrews helps us see Christ’s passion in a different way. Human rejection is met with divine love. Where the powers and principalities reject and harm, God endures and loves. Where Jesus’ followers abandon him out of fear, Christ remains faithful and gathers a community to encourage us in the race set before us in life.

When my sister was a young child she had gone somewhere with my dad and fell asleep on the way home. Our father attempted to carry her inside the house but began to lose his balance on the icy path to the porch. The best thing (to keep him from falling at least) would have been to have dropped my sister on the hard snow and ice and recovered his own balance. That isn’t how love works though. He instinctively fell backwards, knocking the wind out of himself and gaining some bruises in the process. The sudden motions of course woke up my sister.

Jesus has endured suffering and death so that we might not be separated from God’s love. As we journey together in faith in the next few days ask yourself: “How am I seeing in this work of Christ, in his passion, that he is the pioneer of our faith?”


Let us prepare our hearts to witness and proclaim the mystery of our faith acted out: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Amen.

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of April 12, 2022

Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

Lord, we watched as you sat astride that lowly donkey, painting a scene that echoed your self-effacing mission on this earth. We may have strewn our jackets down to soften your stony ride; we may have waved our palm branches as enthusiastically as the others; we may even have shouted your name when you passed by. All well and good; yet we confess that our steps became slow as we approached the city gates, and the truth is, many of us still hover near those outer walls. We are fearful to follow too closely, for so much is asked of us. Parades are one thing, but what if there is death on the other side? You will just have to hold us up, Holy Jesus, for our spirits shrivel when we face the specter of pain and uncertainty.

Bless us, Lord, with your courage.

Your journey, Most Humble One, is surely meant to be our journey, despite our reticence. The Father doesn’t desire our company on Sundays only; he wants all that we are at all times. In coming days we will again be mystified by sacred scriptures – those passages that make us ask ourselves if we are true disciples, or if we are merely followers who hang out at a distance, waiting for another celebration. Our wills are weak and our knees wobbly; yet as you have never failed to accompany us in our trials, may we join that faithful band walking with you on your course most grievous.

Bless us, Lord, with your strength.

We admit our failings freely, Gracious One, especially . . . . . . . . . . Wash us clean, we pray, as you so tenderly washed the feet of your disciples that long ago night. And show us how to draw close and wash the feet of those who suffer everywhere – the confused and the grieving; the imprisoned and their captors; the infirm and their caregivers; all who are caught up in humanitarian crises in Yemen, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, S. Sudan and Somalia. You know too well that human pain can cut too deep for words, so pierce us with a burning warmth that we might reach out to all hurting souls and even to our enemies.

Bless us, Lord, with your love.

And receive, we pray, both the needs and the praises offered by your people in our own church community:

  • Gratitude: an infant granddaughter needs no surgery
  • Prayers appreciated: friend in hospice care died peacefully with no pain
  • Grateful for prayers: member’s foot surgery went smoothly
  • One offers praise for healing of family relationships
  • Thanksgiving for a mother’s 96th birthday
  • Prayers appreciated: pain from kidney stone has ceased
  • Family joyfully look forward to a son’s wedding
  • Thanksgiving for one recovered from Covid
  • Gratitude for our music leaders & all devoted choir members
  • Member recovering in NHC, for improvement in Parkinson’s
  • Solace for 3 nieces grieving their mother’s untimely death
  • Prayers please for a mother in rehab
  • Beloved mother with a heart condition, for correct diagnosis
  • Grandmother in comfort care and strength for caregiving daughter
  • Please pray for a home to sell in short order
  • For Russia to end violence and upholding the poor people of Ukraine
  • Continued strength for a mother in cancer treatment
  • Please pray for an employment interview on April 13
  • Improved health for a brother with congestive heart failure
  • Calming anxiety of a member overwhelmed with responsibilities
  • Direction for an aunt who lost her home & business in the recent fires
  • Prayers for anxious couple awaiting news of pregnancy
  • Comfort for cherished husband/father & his grieving family
  • Young wife with cancer, that recent treatment may help her recover
  • An uncle in hospice care – prayers for family
  • Husband’s continued healing from pneumonia
  • An ill mother-in-law and concerned family, for recovery
  • Safe travel to and from NYC
  • 5 friends who are dealing with grave challenges
  • Healing for a nephew in radiation treatment
  • For employment doors to open for a young professional
  • Relative in treatment for ovarian cancer
  • For our 6th graders – discerning & preparing for confirmation
  • Longtime friend with advanced cancer & wisdom for physicians

Yes, Good Lord, we are too much absorbed in the trivial, half-blind to the crucial callings of our neighbors and our world. Please don’t stop nudging us, don’t cease rousing us when we become too comfortable. And as we revisit the shock and sorrow of your own suffering on the cross, may we recommit ourselves to the solemn promises we have made in your name.

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.

Have a Prayer Request?

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, April 12, Evening – Holy Week Day 2

By John Eldridge

The Abundant Life

Read: John 10:10b

“…I have come that they might have life and that they might live it more abundantly.”

In 1971, when I was in my early 20’s, my older brother, Joe, was a Methodist Missionary serving a little Methodist Church in Santiago, Chile. It was during this time that the worst that could happen, did happen. My older brother’s wife died. When we met Joe at McGhee Tyson and he got off the plane clutching the urn with his wife’ ashes, I knew he was in trouble. I had been planning an adventure to Chile for a long visit, but now I knew I did not just want to go, I needed to go be with Joe when he returned to his little Methodist Church in Santiago.

Before we left for Chile, however, Joe had to consult with his bosses at the General Board of Global Ministries in New York. It was in that Global Ministries office that I learned a great lesson that continues to serve me well. One of Joe’s bosses wanted to talk to me, ostensibly to discern if I had the metal to assist my brother in Chile as he recovered from his wife’s death.

I started that conversation with something like this: “I thought I would take some time out of my life…” and this person at UMC Global Ministries quickly interrupted me, saying: “Instead of taking time out of your life by joining your brother in Chile, are you not putting something in your life?” And boy, was he correct! I had the adventure of a lifetime. Living in Santiago for more than six months, learning Spanish, helping with the kids at the little Methodist Church, traveling literally all over Latin America, and in the process, providing companionship to my hurting brother. Yes, I put all that in my life.

And so it can be with Lent. Instead of thinking what you can give up for Lent, think instead about what you can add during these weeks. What can you put into your life? Perhaps you can create a more active prayer life, visit the sick or lonely, do daily scripture readings, call friends that you have not had any contact with in a while, achieve greater patience? And the list goes on.

Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and that they might live it more abundantly. ”Putting meaningful experiences in your life is the way to living more abundantly. Yes, Lent is the opportunity to give up some things, but it is also an opportunity to put some good practices in your life as well.


Help us Lord, to engage with Lent in a way that brings us closer to you, whether that be by adding to or subtracting from life’s regular living.

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, April 12, Morning – Holy Week Day 2

By Rev. Palmer Cantler, Associate Pastor

Challenge for a Tuesday

Read: Luke 20:1-2 NRSV

“One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders and said to him, ‘Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?’”

During Lent 2021, a group of young adults in the church and I studied Amy-Jill Levine’s Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week. The book is an excellent exploration into Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion and resurrection. The book begins with Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem and closes with Jesus being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Each chapter focuses on the risks Jesus embodies throughout the week, from reputation to rejection, to the loss of friends.

It’s easy, when reading this book, to understand each day as corresponding to a day of Holy Week. But what happens on Tuesday? Exciting, interesting things never seem to happen on a Tuesday. In the chapter that could be the Tuesday of Holy Week, Levine focuses not on a singular event, but on Jesus’ teachings in the Temple. He risked challenge regularly by the priests, scribes, and pharisees by sharing the good news in the Temple.

And I think that’s important to remember on the Tuesday of Holy Week. Even on the seemingly uneventful days, Jesus shares the good news with all who would hear. Jesus chooses not to argue the source of his authority, but instead tells parables that, when examined, reveal God as the source of his authority. As you continue your journey through Lent and Holy Week, how are the stories you tell revealing Jesus as the authority on your life? How might your uneventful Tuesday become a reminder of the power of our Savior?


Sovereign God, as we journey through Holy Week, help us to remain grounded in your teachings. Give us opportunities to take risks that allow us to mature in our discipleship and see where you are calling us to grow. In the name of our great teacher, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, April 11, Evening – Holy Week Day 1

By Julia Kelley

The Imitation of Christ

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

In 1500, Albrecht Dürer, the German artist and devout Catholic (who later embraced the Reformation), painted a self-portrait which now hangs in a Munich art museum. Dan and I bought a print of this work after a trip to Germany and have it hanging over our fireplace.

When visitors first see the print, they often think it’s a depiction of Christ. This may be in part because the pose that Dürer used for his self-portrait is used in numerous paintings of Jesus. The face looks straight out at the viewer and one hand is centered near the bottom.

No one knows what Dürer’s intention was, so art historians have many different interpretations of the painting. Our favorite is that Dürer, having read the Thomas   Kempis popular devotional, The Imitation of Christ, was reflecting on the book and living out the writer’s call promoting solitude and self-reflection. Dürer completed his self-portrait after many hours alone in front of a mirror. Kempis describes love as “swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, gentle, strong, patient, faithful, prudent …” Art historians see Dürer’s original as so masterful it brings elements of Kempis’ abstract descriptions of love to something visible in oil paint on linden wood.

Thankfully, our own time of self-study doesn’t need to result in a masterpiece self-portrait. But this time of Lent is a time to think about how we imitate Jesus and how we show His love to others. Can we use this time of reflection to make our lives better emulate the image of Christ?


Dear Lord, help me to be more like you. Amen.

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.

Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, April 11, Morning – Holy Week Day 1

By Jenny Cross, Director of Youth and College Ministries

Restoring Joy

Read: Psalm 51:12

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

A popular trend during the month of January is to choose a word of the year. The idea is to pray for guidance and to land on a word that will help set your intention and focus for the year. I have tried this before, but it hasn’t quite worked for me. This year, as I prayed, reflected, and prepared for 2022, a verse came to mind instead. It comes from Psalm 51 — a psalm that often coincides with our Lenten season. It includes verses like “Create in me a new heart, O God” and “Have mercy on me.” We are familiar with the phrases, but it wasn’t until I was working through the Bible last year that I really understood the context of this psalm. David writes this song in the midst of one of the darkest seasons of his life. He has committed a horrible sin, hurting God and other people. And yet, in the midst of his grief and brokenness, he turns to God instead of away. David responds to his own sinfulness with repentance and worship. He asks God for mercy and forgiveness, to be cleansed and renewed. Isn’t that what we all need?

The focus verse I’m using this year is v. 12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” I want the source of my joy to come from Christ and His love for me. My hope for this Lenten season is to draw closer to the heart of the Father and to be transformed as I come to know Him more fully.


Holy God, You love us deeply, even as we sin and fall short of Your Glory. We repent and turn away from the things that separate us from you. Help us become more aware of your presence as we prepare for the joy of Easter. Amen.

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.

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)

Have a Prayer Request?

Submit your prayer request confidentially by clicking here.