Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of February 1, 2023

Rev. Catherine Nance

There are only twenty-eight days this month! The cold air gives us a tiny bit of panic as we draw our arms in and shield ourselves against any wind. As we come to the end of this first day of the second month, may we put our anxiety in your hands. Instead of drawing in, may we open up. Would having a February 30th or 31st really make a difference in our lives? As we come to the close of the day, O Lord, forgive us for feeling harried or spent or depleted. You have given us the time of this day. You have called each day, “good.” Lord who loves us as much mid-week as you did on Sunday, make us to feel your grace this evening. 

You are our Keeper, not our scorekeeper. Help us to look back over our day and see it through your eyes. May we see the gifts of food, of work, or interactions with others. We thank you for the gift of our ability to do the things we wanted to do or the gift of someone to help us get those things done. Lord, forgive us when we come to the end of the day and evaluate its worth by what we have ‘gotten done.’  

We have been in your presence. You have been with us this day. Knowing your presence brings us meaning and now we can rest as the world grows dark. Forgive us for thinking that today’s worth was dependent on us. This is the day, you made, O Lord. Let us look back on it and give thanks.  

Now that we have taken a deep breath and renewed our spirits in your presence, we are able to think of others. Even when thinking about illness, despair, economic strain, addiction, and other situations that weigh us down, taking time to pray brings us a strength. As we let your Holy Spirit wander around in our hearts and minds, we know that same spirit is moving in the folks for whom we are praying. Your same spirit is touching those who are praying and those who have shared concerns.  

And so we join as a community of faith and pray for others …. 

We pray for …

  • A member’s son in the death of his wife; prayers for him and two young children.
  • A member waiting on scans and other tests
  • A member’s husband who is dealing with multiple health issues
  • A college student who is leaving this week to study abroad in Spain for a few months! Safe travels and wonderful experiences!
  • A young father whose cancer has returned; prayers for his family and all of the network of caring people as treatments begin
  • Friends who are struggling
  • Adult children grieving the death of a beloved father
  • Memphis
  • Family grieving after death of elderly mother
  • A woman struggling with mental illness and seeking spiritual counseling
  • A sister-in-law who is caring for her 92 year old mother who is now under hospice care. 
  • The family, friends, and colleagues of a woman who committed suicide; 
  • The family of an eighteen-year old who died in his sleep last week

We give thanks for …

  • The miracle of organ donation; seeing God’s grace work through a time of grief
  • A wonderful first week of school at UT

We continue to pray for …

  • A friend who is battling stage 4 cancer and is battling a brain bleed from a fall; prayers for her husband is who caregiver
  • Caregivers who are struggling with exhaustion; may they know they are doing the best they can

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 25, 2023

Rev. Catherine Nance

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing and acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

We thank you, O Lord, for the redeeming work you do in our lives. Forgive us when we think of redemption as a one-time event in the future! You bring meaning, restoration, and grace to our lives each day – redeeming our attempts at making each day ‘count.’

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing and acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

We thank you, O Lord, for the redeeming work you do in the world. Open our eyes that we may see it instead of focusing on negativity. May we praise your name with the words of our mouth! When we see goodness, reconciliation, and hopefulness around us, may our speech pour forth your praise!

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing and acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

We thank you for encouraging words we have heard from family, friends, and colleagues. Open our hearts and our minds before we open our mouths, O God who is The Word! May our words not only be pleasing to you but helpful and edifying to others.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing and acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

O God who knows our hearts, you know that some of us have mastered ‘kind language’ but what is dwelling in our heart and mind is not kind. Forgive us when we think politeness can cover up disdain and judgment. Clean out our hearts, Lord! There is much in there. Thank you for accepting all of who we are, but thank you for your willingness to work through and transform the darkness, the guilt, the shame, and the confusion. Redeem what is in our hearts, O lover of our souls!

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing and acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Help us imagine ourselves abiding in your holy tent and lingering on your holy mountain! Even when we are alone with our thoughts and words – well, we are not alone. Redeem us!

O God, we thank you so much for always hearing our prayers.

We pray for …

  • a church member dealing with heart issues; praying to get meds regulated and get strength back
  • a church member waiting on a heart procedure; give her strength and hope for each day
  • a young mother who has been on life support and whose organs were harvested this morning. Praying for all of the family members; her husband and two children (ages 4 and 7). Thankful for supportive in-laws, extended family, and friends who are there for this family even in their own grief.
  • a young woman who had sinus surgery this morning; prayers that pain and headaches will be relieved
  • a woman who seeks God’s intervention to restore a broken relationship
  • a husband’s CT scan to be clear; prayers for God’s healing presence
  • a church member who came home from hospital today will be recuperating for six weeks; prayers for parents who care for her
  • a mother driving to middle Tennessee this week to see an incarcerated son
  • a member in the hospital discerning care he needs at home
  • a friend diagnosed with leukemia
  • friends and family members going through difficult times and need to feel God’s presence
  • a church member dealing with cancer diagnosis
  • a family who is keeping vigil at the bedside of a dear father and uncle; prayers of thanksgiving for a long life well lived and loved!

We give thanks for …

  • a spiritually uplifting weekend for our youth and counselors at Resurrection 2023
  • birth of a great-granddaughter
  • a successful surgery
  • Stephen Ministers and those who are interested in learning more

We continue to pray for …

  • the devastation in Ukraine to end
  • those who are plagued with addiction disease and pray for more options for treatment
  • church members and friends who are home after hospital and/or rehab stays; prayers that they will continue to heal and grow stronger

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 18, 2023

Rev. Catherine Nance*

Today is January 18, 2023 and marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This past Monday, I was honored to participate at Overcoming Believers Church in the Martin Luther King Commemorative Service. There were people from many different churches in the congregation and on the stage. I began today by having coffee with two colleagues – each from a different denomination. Then, I went to the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and joined with clergy from Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches as we shared in leading the Service for Christian Unity with their students. It reminded me of our deep heritage and that we are all, indeed, one in Christ Jesus. 

I invite you to share the prayer that is in our hymnal for Christian Unity this evening …. 

 Let us ask the Lord to strengthen in all Christians fiath in Christ, the Savior of the world. 

Listen ro us, O Lord. 

Let us ask the Lord to sustain and guide Christians with his gifts along the way to full unity. 

Listen to us, O Lord. 

Let us ask the Lord for the gift ofv unity and peace for the world. 

Listen to us, O lord. 

We ask you, O lord, for the gifts of your Spirit. 

Enable us to penetrate the depth of the whole truth, and grant that we may share with others the goods you have put at our disposal. Teach us to overcome division. Send us your Spirit to lead to full unity your sons and daughters in full charity, in obedience to your will; through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

We pray for …

  • A granddaughter who had extensive surgery yesterday for spina bifida and scoliosis. Prayers for patience, endurance, and strength in the long recovery.
  • A church member in hospital whose doctor is hoping to get medicines regulated
  • A church member in the hospital with pneumonia
  • Church members who are in rehab
  • Our youth as they prepare to go to Resurrection in Pigeon Forge this weekend (and the adults!)
  • A friend who is having a difficult time after death of father
  • All who are grieving and planning funerals
  • A niece who is looking for a job
  • Church member having procedure this week
  • Colleague having surgery this week

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • A church member who has gone home from rehab
  • The birth of a granddaughter
  • For good friends who help
  • New members who joined Sunday

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.

*Prayer was written by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), Poland, 20th century. 

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of January 11, 2023

Rev. Catherine Nance

Away in a manger no crib for a bed … 

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie … 

Silent night, holy night …. 

O God of mid-January, we are longing for the peace and calm of a few days off around Christmas. The quiet worship service and beautiful music soothed our souls and now we are frantic with planning for spring and summer! Why do we do this to ourselves, Lord? Do we not trust that your Christmas light will sustain us in a new year? 

As we accept the reality that it is not Christmas any longer, open our hearts to your Epiphany Light. We truly want to be wise men and women who follow your bright and sustaining light and not the flashes of notifications and advertisements.  

It is Wednesday, O God. No mention of Wednesday in our scriptures, but we have made it a priority in our evolution to mark time and name time. As we spend some ‘time’ in prayer this evening, remind us to close our eyes, take a deep breath, and focus on your presence. Let us ponder in our hearts the relationships and events that are truly important and Life-Giving.  

We take a moment to give thanks for the epiphanies we have experienced. The glimpses and surprises and unexpected sightings of your grace bring us joy. Kindness, hospitality, forgiveness, and graciousness have crossed our paths already this week. Thank you, God of all days and ordinary days. 

We take a moment now to pray for those we love, for our world, and we offer the requests shared by our church family … 

We pray for …

  • Families and friends who are grieving the death of a loved one by suicide. May God’s spirit help them sort out all of the feelings of anger, grief, confusion, guilt, shock …
  • For members who have had surgery and are recovering at home.
  • A mother receiving therapy at a health care facility after a fall.
  • A friend anxious to be home after surgery.
  • Successful hand surgery
  • For those considering becoming Stephen Ministers
  • Safe travels as family gathers for the weekend.
  • A United Methodist congregation who is struggling with disaffiliation.
  • A young family caught between grief and hope as they grieve the death of a child and celebrate the birth of another.
  • A family preparing to leave Knoxville to help with parents and begin new work.
  • A family in transition as older members’ health declines.
  • A family as they deal with a new diagnosis of a loved one.
  • Our wisdom to be increased; may we trust that God is watching over us and may we feel God’s peace, hope, love, and joy!
  • Those who are feeling the impact of hard financial times.

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • For Stephen Ministers and for those who are leading next training
  • The miracle of organ donation offering life and hope in the midst of grief
  • Support group started by Parish Health Ministry Team for those serving as caregivers
  • Miraculous procedures that happen every day at hospitals and clinics
  • A young couple expecting their first child.

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.

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of January 4, 2023

Rev. Catherine Nance

This prayer is adapted from Sunday morning’s pastoral prayer, January 1, 2023. On this fourth day of the new year, and also the eleventh day of Christmas, we invite you to join in prayer …

How good it is to be here in a new year, O God, to worship you. We have been saying all through Advent, the people who have walked in great darkness on them light has shined; we have heard the words, Arise shine for your light has come. At the beginning of a new year, may we hold on to the Light of Christmas.

Let us pray to the lord: Let the light of Christ shine on all people.

“All people” … those who come from far away places bearing gifts, those who shop at the Food Co-op and Sharing Shop at Beacon of Hope, all people.

“All people.” We confess that we have problems with that phrase. You know that about us. When we say, “all people,” we cannot help but categorize, Lord. There are those special ones close to us; the ones we dearly love. There are those who live in our community – and we do care about their well-being. Then there are those who disagree with us; those who are so different …those who live in places we do not know about. We are grateful, God of All People, that it is not up to us to decide where your light shines. Forgive us when our actions or words or indifference would cast a shadow. Thank you for including us in all people – may we reflect your light and not hide it.

Let us pray to the Lord: Let the light of Christ shine on all people.

This is a day of reflection, O God of all days. We look back over the past year mostly with thanksgiving as we remember how you have revealed your love and presence to us. You are indeed steadfast.

Blessed Lord, into our darkness you have brought the Light of your love. You have given to us a reminder of the many ways in which you care for us and guide us. This has been a hectic time for so many of us. We have invested ourselves, our energies, and our resources in a flurry of activities; and now we are coming to the end of this calendar year, with a new year in view, and we wonder how we are going to have the energy that the new year will demand. Help us place our trust and our lives in your care. Give us strength and courage for the times ahead. Let love be the foundation from which all our actions spring.

Let us pray to the Lord: Let the light of Christ shine on all people.

Because you love us, we are called to love others. We pray for so many this morning. There are those who are sick; may your healing light shine on them. There are those who are worried, anxious, or depressed. May your comforting light shine on them. We pray for world leaders and city managers, who have responsibilities and decisions to make that we cannot imagine, may your light of clarity and goodwill shine on them. For those who are fighting a war, O God, we are bold to pray that the light of your peace would bring them hope.

Let us pray to the Lord: Let the light of Christ shine on all people.

Oh God, we pray that the more we recount your steadfast love toward us, that you would increase our affection and love for you. As we begin this year with worship, magnifying your name and acknowledging you are the source of all that is life, love, and light, we join with all people to offer the prayer your son, our savior, Jesus Christ taught us to pray:

We pray for …

  • Teachers who are beginning a new year, a new semester, a new class; give them strength and guidance to manage their classes.
  • Those who experienced death of a loved one over Christmas
  • A church member in hospital waiting on test results to determine treatment to fight infection
  • A mother who has fallen and broken her pelvis; prayers for her and her family
  • A daughter having surgery on hand
  • A niece waiting on news about a job
  • A college student who is struggling with decisions about next steps
  • A family member beginning addiction rehab program
  • A wife dealing with depression
  • A brother who had pacemaker put in; thankful surgery went well
  • Blessings and prayers of mercy and protection for the year; good health to all! Love and Joy for all! May we all grow in wisdom of the Lord!

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for …

  • A mother who is regaining her strength after a long rehab
  • Couples announcing their engagements
  • Successful back surgery
  • Healing
  • Colleagues at work who make me feel special!
  • Adult children finding their way
  • Wonderful visits with family and safe flights over Christmas!
  • Positive outcome in court

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.

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of December 28, 2022

Rev. Catherine Nance

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow …

Your love of beauty and your love for your earth was vividly stark and bright to us this last week.

Most of us stayed in and admired the glory of the snow; thankful it was on a day when most of our loved ones did not have to go to school or work. There was no rush. In the freezing temps, we were adamant about staying in and keeping warm. In these moments, O God, when we are forced to be still, we confess that we are uncomfortable with stillness. We measure our days with accomplishments and tasks done; to be still seems a waste. But it is in those moments, O God, if we allow you to help us quiet our inner voices and our anxiety, that we can feel a peacefulness and assurance.

We are reminded that we are not alone … we are loved ….you are Lord of heaven and earth which includes our quiet place ….there are others who are sitting quietly enjoying the warmth of a mug and the familiar smell of the crocheted blanket.

On this Fourth Day of Christmas – four calling birds — what are you calling us to, O lover of our souls? Calling us to worship, calling us to give thanks, calling us to be still, calling us to pay attention …what other calling is on our lives from you? Calling to forgive ourselves, to forgive others, to move on, to tarry?

We thank you, gracious God for the experience of worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. How glorious to go from the quiet of Silent Night, Holy Night, to the joyful singing of Good Christian Friends, Rejoice! May these Days of Christmas linger a bit for us – even if we are back at work or heading back to routines – may the glow and warmth of all that was holy remain with us, abide in us.

We know that the cold and snow was not a time of quiet reflection for everyone. It did inspire us to ask about others, to wonder how those who live outside most of the time manage these days. We thought of folks who have to choose between running the heat or buying extra food. We are grateful for bursts of giving and spontaneous shelters. Thank you for volunteers who helped at Magnolia Avenue UMC and for the staff at KARM. Thank you for those who freely gave of their abundance so that others would have warmth. When the weather turns more pleasant and it is warm, may we not forget. Help us to work with the agencies and systems ahead of time, O Lord. We thank you for the day-to-day work of Beacon of Hope and Compassion Coalition and Volunteer Ministry Center and so many others. Thank you for our volunteers at Soup Kitchen who give of time and heart.

This first half of the twelve days tends to be a time of both-and. Both quiet reflection and a call to service; both quiet gratitude for what is past and planning ahead for ways to show more gratitude.

As we prepare for tomorrow and the long vowels of ‘Fi—–ive go—–olden riiiiiiings,’ may we appreciate lingering a bit more, feeling your presence and knowing that it is enough for the day.

We offer these prayers on behalf of our church members and friends …..

We pray for….

  • A mother who has fallen and broken a rib; prayers that pain will be relieved
  • A wife and mother who is under hospice care; prayers for family as they deal with the ups and downs of Lewy Body Dementia…
  • A family who has kept vigil by their grandmother’s side; prayers for comfort now in her death on the day after Christmas
  • Two different families who  had a mother die on Christmas Eve; prayers for them as they gather this week for burials.
  • A neighbor whose house was destroyed by fire
  • Those who have had heart caths and other procedures during the holidays; prayers that these will lead to a healthy new year!
  • Friends who are dealing with new diagnoses, maneuvering through unfamiliar language and territory; thankful for volunteers on Parish Health Ministry Team.
  • A couple who has suffered another devastating loss in attempts for pregnancy; prayers for all who love them.

We continue to pray for….

  • Members and friends who are beginning treatments for health concerns
  • Those who are hoping for pregnancy
  • Those who are healing – slowly! – after surgeries; prayers for patience!
  • Young adults struggling with the economy and job search

Prayers of thanksgiving for….

  • All of the wonderful music over the Advent and Christmas season
  • A good semester
  • Family being able to travel for Christmas

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

Sunday, December 25

By Tim Best, Senior Associate Pastor

Comfort and Joy

Read: Titus 2:11-14

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

When I wake up this morning I anticipate I will make my morning coffee, get ready for worship, and at some point listen to multiple versions of the Christmas classic “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Most years I do all I can to avoid proper Christmas music until the Christmas Eve services. It has never truly worked, but I do what I can. There are so many good carols that I can’t explain why it is that I have settled on this particular one to help me usher in Christmas day each year. Perhaps it was listening to the version by The Barenaked Ladies (yes, it is a band, for those who don’t remember the 90’s, and I promise theirs is a particularly wonderful performance) or was it the recording from Pentatonix? Whichever it was, the song sums up the Good News of this day. 

The day’s reading from Titus could be the direct inspiration for this favored carol of mine. God’s grace has appeared today, bringing salvation to all. If you have the time today, take the ten minutes and listen to this and other Christmas hymns and offer them as prayers. Receive the gift of God’s comforting grace and rejoice in the love that you have not earned but have been given. Remember, Christ our savior was born on Christmas Day!

Prayer

Gracious Lord, Fill our hearts with joy as we celebrate that you have drawn close to us in Christ Jesus. Grant that, even as we receive the joy of your presence with us, we would proclaim with our lives the joy you offer to all the world this and every day. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, December 24, Evening

By Jenny Cross, Director of Youth Ministry

Good News and Great Joy

Read: Luke 2:8-11 ESV

“And in the same region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Each year, our youth attend a retreat called SLA (Spiritual Life Advance).  Typically, it takes place in the fall and is full of flannels, changing leaves, and campfires. Last year, it had to be scheduled a little later than usual, so we traveled to the Smoky Mountains the first weekend of December. It was quickly dubbed “Christmas SLA,” and our students embraced it, trading flannels for Christmas pajamas and decorating a tree in our worship space.

SLA is always one of my favorite weekends of the year. It’s a time for spiritual renewal and abundant joy — a time where the space between heaven and earth thins for a bit, and we glimpse the promise of glory to come. Last year, as we meditated on Advent and spent time preparing the way for Jesus, I was overcome with the goodness of God over and over again.

We have a tradition at SLA on Saturday night. After our session and small group time, students bundle up in their warmest clothes and spread out around the camp for a time of silent prayer and reflection. When they feel ready, they walk quietly to a campfire where we pray and worship together, with music lead by our youth band. It is one of the sweetest moments of my year. Last year, we gathered under the stars on a clear winter night and read Luke 2 in a field, like shepherds. We looked out at creation and around at each other and felt the weight of what that passage meant in a new and different way. The angels came to share the good news on a night a lot like that, halfway around the world and a couple of millennia ago. But because of Jesus, the words still matter. They are worth remembering. I’m not sure I’ll ever read that familiar Luke passage the same way. Like the shepherds, I was changed in a field in the bleak midwinter.

Glory to God in the highest.

Prayer

Holy God, In this time of Advent, make us aware of your Presence. Help us to see your goodness and mercy in our ordinary days. Make us like shepherds, who go to look for the Christ-child. Help us to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts and our lives. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, December 24, Morning

By Fran Wheeler

The Blessing of Christmas

Read: Psalm 23:1-3a ESV

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”

It’s no accident that shepherds and sheep were included in the glorious birth of Jesus. In scripture, God’s people are often compared to wandering sheep, needing shepherds. And Jesus often referred to himself as our shepherd. But before that, Jesus was born the Lamb of God. 

Imagine the night on the hills around Bethlehem. 

In the sky was an unfamiliar star, casting bright light over the countryside. No one, especially not shepherds who spent their nights outside, could have missed that phenomenal star. Its light filled the whole sky! As the shepherds gazed upward, an Angel suddenly appeared, terrifying them! The Angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I bring you joyful news. A savior has been born to you in Bethlehem. Go, find the baby who is lying in a manger.”

Dumbfounded, they were mesmerized as a great company of the Heavenly Host appeared, praising God: “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

They ran down the hill to Bethlehem and found the baby, the newborn Lamb of God, lying in a manger just as they had been told. This baby would grow up to become the Good Shepherd, watching over his sheep. And that’s us. We are his sheep.

Jesus our Shepherd, leads us into green pastures and beside still waters. He protects us from the evil one. When we find ourselves in dark places, he restores our souls. And when we go astray, he searches for us and brings us back home. Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

That’s the blessing of Christmas.

Prayer

Oh Lord, we need your tender care, and knowing you watch over us comforts us. Thank you for never leaving us alone and unguarded. Amen.

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Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, December 23

By Barry Christmas

In Anticipation of Our Blessed Hope

Read: Titus 2:13 NKJV

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

I liken the season of Advent to waiting with childlike anticipation for the arrival of Christmas morning. We can hardly wait to see what gifts have been left under the tree! Prior to this day, there is excitement in the air and everyone is busy making preparations. It’s a time to tidy up the house and spend all day preparing a delicious feast for our guests.

But Advent is the season of preparing for the coming of Christ, not for that fictional jolly character from the North Pole. We need to be busy preparing ourselves for His arrival and for the unique spiritual gifts He has for each of us. It’s a time to “tidy up” by seeking forgiveness and preparing our hearts to be receptive to Jesus’ visit and to His message. He spreads out the feast before us and invites us to partake of His goodness and mercy. May we feast daily with the Savior and anticipate His presence during our time of studying His Word and praying for His guidance.

During the season of Advent, we not only look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus, we also look forward in anticipation of the second coming of Christ to establish His kingdom on Earth. Oh what a time of peace, love and joy that will be for all of His children! He truly is our Blessed Hope.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, please come to us this Advent season and fill our hearts to overflowing with hope, peace, joy, and love. Amen.

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