Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, December 5

By David Lineberger

The Blessings of Peace

Read: Isaiah 32:17 ESV

“And the effort of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.”

What comes to your mind when you think of peace? Is it a world without war? Is it harmony at home where everyone gets along? How about being able to fall asleep at night without a single worry about what will happen tomorrow? Is peace really possible, or just an impossible dream?

Sometimes peace is a matter of perspective. Who among us hasn’t experienced something in our lives that has prevented us from enjoying a sense of peace, only to ignore so many of our other blessings? I once worked with a parish where God’s blessings were in great abundance. They had wonderful close multi-generational families, quality worship, abundance of support, and everything needed for physical comfort. But, you could never have a conversation with some without a litany of complaints. They had slipped into the habit of being negative. They seemed to never be at peace.

As Christians we share the most important peace one can have, which is the knowledge that our relationship with God is good. We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Peace came to us with the advent of the Christ Child which brought us into a right relationship with God. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which means completeness, soundness, and welfare. Saying shalom to others meant that you were wishing that “well-being be upon you.” True happiness is letting the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

When we become despondent over things which bring us down, let us remember to celebrate what is most important, the peace that Christ Jesus brings during this Advent season.


Heavenly Father, thank you for the love and peace we know because of the gift of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, December 4, Second Sunday of Advent

By Rev. Catherine Nance, Senior Pastor

Seeing God at Night

Read: Psalm 92:2 KJV

“To shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness  every night …”

It is good to give thanks to the Lord … to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night!

There are startling moments for us when we stretch, yawn, look out the window and say, “Whew! I’m ready for bed! What time is it?” The dark sky and the cooler temperature coax us into thinking it is time to get under the covers.

Yawn. Look at the clock. Oh my goodness! It’s just … too-early-for-bed o’clock!

We want to sleep; we thought we were tired. But we have two or three more hours until our regular bedtime! What to do with all this extra time?

Instead of cursing the darkness, we can see it as a gift. Instead of scrolling through social media or flipping through channels, put on a coat and go outside. Turn off the outside lights. Look up at the sky. Remember what you learned in school about the stars always being ‘out,’ just not always visible. Think about the phases of the moon, say the names of the planets aloud. Perhaps breathe in a little deeper and do your stretching outside. As you wait for bedtime, be thankful for the darkness. Creation began in darkness for the first words of Creation were, “Let there be light.” What was Mother God imagining and thinking before birthing creation? What was Father God hoping and dreaming before speaking light? Give thanks for the darkness and take the extra time to draw near to the One who is Drawing Near to us!

Come, Lord Jesus!


O God of the Darkness, may our imaginations and hearts think of your presence even when we cannot see. Thank you for nighttime rest and for nighttime meditations. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, December 3

By Fran Wheeler

Shadow and Starlight

Read: Isaiah 60:1-2 NIV

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

Christmas sometimes feels unreal. Around us we see people who are excited, laughing, and celebrating. Mall music proclaims, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” And we play along, often with tired smiles and over-crowded calendars. But sometimes we wonder how we can even survive a joyful holiday in all the darkness surrounding us.

But a close look at scripture reveals a story filled with light and glory, but also tempered by fear and loss. Amid miraculous moments lie circumstances as difficult and heartbreaking as we can imagine. What do we do with this paradox? 

To preserve the miraculous, we tend to ignore the shadows within the Christmas story. Bright angels mask the fears of a young girl and man whose dreams are shattered. The heavenly joy Mary shared with Elizabeth makes it easy to forget the new somber reality of her life. The great star, singing angels, adoring shepherds, and amazing Magi help us forget that the baby was born far from home and family. Even when he is presented to the Lord, the prophet speaks frightening words: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” As the story winds down, King Herod sends other baby boys to their deaths, so Mary and Joseph can’t even go back home, but must flee to Egypt. 

In spite of the exciting and beautiful moments, Mary indeed had much to ponder in her heart.

What is the lesson for us? Even as darkness overshadows the miraculous story with sadness, we can focus our gaze upon the light that shines through. Because Jesus arose, his words ring loud and clear, bringing the desperately needed message of hope. Because of his words, we know that even in our darkness, the light is coming.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46 NIV


Father, as we celebrate, help us to recognize and give thanks for the sacrifices made on our behalf and walk in the everlasting light brought to us by Christ.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, December 2

By Laura Still

Feeling Stumpy?

​​Read: Isaiah 11:1-2

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots a branch will bear fruit.”

The word stump can be jarring—it has a quality of sounding short and hard, something cut off and useless. Describing anything as stumpy is not usually meant to be flattering. But stumps are considered tough, and anyone who has ever had to dig up even a small one will agree. They might look dried out and dead, but the attached roots often go deep and spread out wider than the canopy of the tree before it was cut. Maybe those stumps aren’t quite extinct after all. 

As a kid I only thought of stumps as a handy place to sit and rest when playing outside, or use as a table for an imaginary meal. If you had asked me, I would have said they were dead, and couldn’t grow again. In the last four years I’ve learned a lot more about trees however, both from reading and working with plants. I’ve seen the stump of a pine tree cut to the ground send out a fountain of delicate green fronds trying to regrow. Trees don’t give up easily and stumps aren’t as dead as I thought. 

So this image of the stump of Jesse is clearer to me now. It reminds me there is always more to learn, more to be, more to hope. Maybe I feel small, old, and cut off some days—kind of stumpy. It’s easy to get lonely and feel unneeded as we get older. Isaiah’s words call out to me to remind me I have roots, reaching deep and wide to find nourishment and connection that lead us to the regenerative power of God. Jesus came to challenge us to see ourselves differently, not as cut down or used-up, but capable of new growth, even transformation. 

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him,

 the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

 the Spirit of counsel and of might,

 the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord.” 


Creator God, help us see ourselves as people of hope, capable of learning and growing closer to you at every age. In the season of hope, may we be open and ready to let your power change us and make us new. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, December 1

By Suzanne Matheny

Wake Up! Be Alert!

Read: Isaiah 2:4-5; Romans 13:11-14

“Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11b, NLT)

Advent is apocalyptic. When we hear the word “apocalyptic,” our 21st century ears often hear destruction and violence thanks to the popularity of sci-fi fictional media featuring the collapse of civilization and God’s punishment of the wicked. Instead, a truer understanding of the word “apocalypse” comes from its ancient Greek origination, meaning simply “revelation” or “disclosure.”

In the midst of this season’s festivities and celebrations, Christians are focused on the “revealing” of the coming of God into the world in the Christ child, named Jesus. We marvel at the story of Jesus’s birth as told in the New Testament gospels; but both the Old and New Testament scriptures also speak of the Advent of the Lord in myriad daily ways and ultimately when our eternal communion with God will be fulfilled. Jesus’s exhortation to his disciples to wake up and stay awake extends to us Christ-followers. Isaiah assures us that God will bring a welcomed peace among all nations and calls us to “walk in the light of the Lord” as we await God’s revelation and salvation. Paul echoes Jesus’s and Isaiah’s admonitions to wake up and to “put on the shining armor of right living,” or as one commentator* has said, “be alert to what God is doing in the world, and live in accordance with God’s coming salvation.” We do not know the hour or day of God’s revelation; but in the coming of God’s Son, we hear the call to wake up and be alert!


God, even as you reveal yourself daily and in so many varying ways, sometimes we become complacent and fall asleep. May this season of Advent be a wake up call. May we be ever alert and ready to rejoice in your salvation.

*Susan Grove Eastman, Associate Research Professor Emerita of New Testament Duke Divinity School

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, November 30

By David Lineberger

Hope in a World of Chaos

Read: Hebrews 10:23 NIV

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

What comes to your mind when you hear the word chaos? Lawlessness, confusion, disorder, and disarray are some words that might pop into your mind. We certainly live in times that could be defined using the word chaos. While many would agree that there has never been a time that was completely absent of chaos, our current political and environmental climates are acutely focused on events that could very well impact most of life today in a disastrous way. Even if we can solve our nation’s political divide, we are mindful that an even more ominous threat looms in our future with climate change. 

It is within this background that we Christians focus with renewed emphasis on the hope of the good that God brings to us all in the coming of Jesus into our hearts and minds, a hope that darkness will not prevail, but a light that will overcome it. We celebrate the arrival of God’s promise to us all, a promise of love, forgiveness, and hope for our relationship with Him, with each other, and for our joy throughout eternity. 

Some Christian traditions refer to the Advent candle of hope as the prophet’s candle. It symbolizes the joyous expectation felt in anticipation of the birth of the Messiah as foretold by many prophets, especially Isaiah. 

In these times of fear of the unknown, of a world in chaos, we cling to the one unfailing hope that is sure, that of the promise of God’s love revealed to us in the birth of our savior, the Messiah, who is God with us!


Lord of the universe, we lay down our fears and concerns of a chaotic world at your feet, knowing that your love for us can and will overcome anything that tries to overpower us. Give us the hope and peace we celebrate in your Son, the child born in Bethlehem. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, November 29

By Barry Christmas, Congregational Care

Christmas Pandemonium

Read Galatians 6:2 NIV

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

When planning Christmas gatherings around a loved one with memory issues, it is better to skip the “Twelve Days of Christmas” and focus on “Silent Night”.  

Holidays can be a stressful time for all of us, but most especially for our family members with dementia. A room filled with laughter and voices, children running and squealing with excitement, festive holiday music playing in the background and the family dogs underfoot can be overwhelming for those who are cognitively challenged. Such a chaotic atmosphere is more than they are able to process and quickly becomes intolerable for them. They are unable to recognize some people’s faces, and struggle to remember the names of those who look familiar. They may lovingly embrace one of their grandchildren, but fail to recall their name. All of this confusion makes them want to retreat to another room and be alone.

Keep celebrations simple and on a small scale. Consider having several intimate gatherings with close relatives instead of one big party with the whole family. The grandchildren can benefit too by having their own special one-on-one time with grandma and grandpa. And if your loved one is unable to recall names, consider having everyone wear a festive name tag at all of your holiday gatherings. This will help put your loved one at ease, instead of reminding them of their worrisome memory lapses.

Unfortunately, more and more families are seeing their aging relatives develop dementia. We pray every day that the Lord will help us find the cause and a cure. In the meantime, hold your loved ones close to you and remind them you will always be there for them (even when they no longer recognize who you are).


Dear Jesus, during this happy season of family gatherings to celebrate your birth, bless all who are caregivers and their loved ones with dementia. May they enjoy their time together, and make new and lasting memories. Amen.  

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Monday, November 28

By Ann Reego

Are You Prepared?

Read Matthew 3:3

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, and make straight paths for him.’”

It seems that once October appeared on our calendars, the holidays just blended together into one changing grocery aisle – from orange and black candy with lots of chocolate, to shelves filled with canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce, and now to red and green in every kind of candy imaginable. The elections are over and the commercials have abandoned politicians for ads for toys, colognes, bikes and sweaters; all proclaiming great prices and “once in a lifetime” sales.

The dictionary defines Advent as arrival, appearance, emergence, materialization, surfacing, occurrence, dawn, origin, birth, rise, development, approach, coming, looming, nearing, and advance. With the antonyms being departure or disappearance.  

With the emergence of the holidays in October, and the arrival of fall, the earth develops from green to vibrant colors of red and gold, an occurrence of nature because of cooler, longer nights.  Every dawn brings new and stunning views. We enjoy rides into the mountains, and the advancing cooler days and colder nights make us head to the fire pits for s’mores.  

And now most of the trees are bare and in the approaching days we see that winter is looming and the green on our lawns will not surface until Lent or Easter. We have developed a materialized culture that is easy to join as Christmas Day draws near and makes many forget the origin of the holiday. Let us look more to the coming appearance of the Christ Child, who gave rise to our faith. His birth changed the world and He will never depart us or disappear.  

During Advent, Church Street UMC gives us many opportunities to deepen our faith. I hope you will take advantage of these events and your hearts will fill with the true meaning of the season. 


Oh gracious Savior, we are prone to becoming caught up in the ways of man. Help us to savor and appreciate this Advent season. Bring us to Christmas Eve, eagerly awaiting your birth. In your name, Amen.  

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, November 27

By Rev. Andy Ferguson

When There are No Words

Read Luke 1:5-23

The Christmas story as told by Luke actually begins before the angel visited Mary to promise that she would bear a child. It began months earlier in the Temple. A country preacher, Zechariah, had been chosen to enter the Holy of Holies at the time of incense – a once in a lifetime moment for him.

Inside he met Gabriel, who came with a promise for Zechariah and all Israel. Zechariah’s response to this wonderful news was a clumsy, “Huh?” This did not sit well with the Angel, so he struck Zechariah unable to speak until his promised child should be born.

Imagine the scene: Zechariah comes out of the Holy of Holies. His eyes are wide but he is unable to speak. He gestures; he shrugs; he points. But no explanation comes out.

Years ago, I was the preacher at Camp Wesley Woods for a communion service. Unfortunately, laryngitis had taken over and my voice was fading fast. I was the only pastor around, and the plan called for Holy Communion. When it was time for the communion liturgy, my voice was gone. What could I do?

With no backup plan in sight, I stepped to the communion table and acted it out – no words. Like Zechariah, I gestured; I shrugged; I pointed. Then, I broke the bread, lifted the cup, and offered it to all who were present.

I have always connected my mime-communion with Zechariah’s silence and gesturing before his long-ago congregation. The Christmas Story began that day without words. The angel’s promise to Zechariah was shared without explanations or fancy prophecies. The best part is that people got it – at least part of it. They understood that God had visited during their hour of prayer. They understood that God was coming close and that great events were unfolding.

This is the message of Christmas in this troubled year 2022. We read plenty of words; the speeches never end. But long ago in events unspoken, the Good News unfolded. God has visited. God is coming close and in God’s coming great events are underway. This is the promise of Christmas. 


Hush my chattering, Lord. Teach me to watch for your Christmas coming with my kneeling knees, my outstretched hands, my believing eyes. Amen.

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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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