Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 6, Evening

By Laura Still

Becoming Green

Read Psalm 63:1-8

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

The psalmist sings about a dry and desert place, and the image we see depends on what our experience of the desert might be. Endless waves of sand under a hot white sky, or rock-littered ravines and canyons with mesquite trees and cacti, or even huge stone formations scoured by wind are physical descriptions of deserts, and all of them are lonely. That of course is why the desert image is common in songs, poetry, and Bible stories.

Separation and loneliness are parts of human existence, and everyone feels lost and cut off at some point. The physical separation we have endured since the pandemic began is difficult enough, but mental and emotional effects can be harder to overcome. The sensation of drifting in limbo, waiting for the next thing to happen, is called languishing. It’s not quite depression, but still a paralyzing feeling of being unable to go forward or change your condition.

Change doesn’t happen by itself—it has to be initiated. This is what the psalmist understands, and so declares he will seek after God, praise his name, and in God’s name lift up his hands. He states his intention of clinging to God and trusting God to uphold him. If we begin by seeking after God and praising him, then God will give us the strength to lift up our hands and uphold us as the work of change begins.

Yes, there is work involved, and we may feel too exhausted or numb inside to believe we can make the effort. The good news is that God sees potential where we see only problems. We may be “a dry and parched land” inside our soul, but God can make the desert bloom.


It springs from seeds sown when we are fallow, sleeping,

unable to understand the coming of green things,

or how sun reaches below ground to split the shell

& begin the growing.

We cannot know the mind of the sower, who feels

our inchoate fecundity, gives dreams of greenness

before we know we slumber, or that this limbo

is only waiting, a womb between dark & light

before our story starts,

anymore than we can stop a sprout from rising

out of its broken pod, struggling through soil

& stone towards air & light, breaking surface,

becoming green.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, March 6, Morning

By Nancy Carmon

Dangerous Journey

Read Isaiah 43:1-3

My home devotion study recently was entitled “Dangerous Journey”. I assumed the writers were going to reflect on Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness. That was a dangerous journey. The landscape east of Jerusalem down to Jericho is barren, wild, arid, and rocky. Jesus would have been hungry and thirsty, and it certainly would have been dangerous wrestling with the darkest forces of evil. Or even Jesus’s last journey to Jerusalem, where according to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus tells the disciples what awaits him there. That was a dangerous journey too! 

But the week’s readings were about the dangerous journey of faith. The “cost of seeking God and the danger of following Christ”. For Jesus, God’s call meant the ultimate sacrifice – the cross. For many missionaries serving in troubled areas, the call to service and faith may certainly be quite dangerous.

How can that be dangerous here in America where we have freedom of religion? Maybe the danger lies in what we choose. To say yes to God’s call requires saying no to our own voice, our self will, our own desires, and even sometimes to the voices of persons and things we love. Jesus tells the disciples that he has come not to bring peace, but a sword. A dangerous journey indeed.

A dangerous journey and a challenge for all of us this Lenten season is to step out in faith–out of our comfort zone: to be a greeter, to serve on a church committee, to write a Lenten or Advent devotion, to welcome a stranger sitting in our pew, to seek the consolation and power of prayer, to delve deeply into scripture, to join a Sunday School class, to fast and seek God’s call, to recognize our spiritual gifts and to use them for our church, our community, our world.

What can we expect when we say “YES” to God’s call? “I will be with you…for I am the Lord your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior.” Thanks be to God.


Dear Jesus, open us to the possibilities of saying “YES” to you this Lenten season. We know that you will walk in faith with us on our “dangerous journey” of faith! Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, March 2, Evening – Ash Wednesday

By Steve Richardson


Read Luke 15:20-24

“But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.”

Lent’s nature of repentance and renewal brings to mind the parable of the prodigal son. This is a story packed with many different layers of meaning. One that raises reassurance is the unconditional “welcome back” response of the father.

At Church Street, The Welcoming Christ statue adorns the space above the chancel altar. What a comforting and appropriate symbol for everyone’s contemplation, whether seated or when approaching the chancel altar for sacraments and sacred moments.

This lime-wood masterpiece was not always there. Prior to September 1974, a beautifully-crafted statue of the archangel Gabriel occupied that space. Gabriel is still present in the nave in the narthex balcony. Like parishioners, Gabriel now gazes forward to Christ. As noted in Dr. Dwight Wade’s book, Unfinished Journey, The Welcoming Christ was sculpted by acclaimed Boston artist, Arcangelo Cascieri. (It’s hard to overlook the coincidence of his first name, considering that the statue of the archangel played a role in this project!) In remarks about The Welcoming Christ, Mr. Cascieri stated, “I have tried to capture a spiritual pleasantness, kindness and welcome.”

In our day and age of seemingly widening divisions in our society, the notions of “spiritual pleasantness, kindness and welcome” stir senses of solace, calm and relief. The depiction of Jesus with raised hands and compassionate demeanor reminds us that all are invited, desired and accepted. Jesus longs us for his loving embrace.

Christ welcomes us all, just as we are. Therefore, as his followers, let us welcome one another, just as we are.


Triune God, we’re humbled and grateful to realize that we don’t need to wait for your welcome. Your loving arms are always open, always outstretched to accept and embrace us. May we be mindful to do likewise among others, as we strive to live in your image.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, March 2, Morning – Ash Wednesday

By Dwight Wade

The Gift of 40 Days

Read Matthew 4:1-11

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The Tempter came and said to him..” (please open your bible and read all 11 verses). 

How should I personally participate in a practice that Christians began over 1600 years before I was born? My Sevierville Methodist Church did not observe Lent when I was growing up. However, several decades ago, our denomination accepted this tradition, actually a rare gift, as we joined countless other Christians in this period of prayer, scriptural study, contemplation, confession, and the seeking of holiness. I was an adult before seriously asking myself how I might best honor this season set forth by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

When I read the familiar first eleven verses of chapter 4 of Matthew’s gospel (Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days of fasting, prayer, contemplation, and Satan’s testing), I think of his prolonged time alone. Ancient scripture often used the number 40 to mean a significant period (i.e., the deluge upon Noah’s ark for 40 days, Moses in Egypt 40 years, on Mount Sinai 40 days, and the 40 years wandering in the wilderness, etc.)

For a significant time, the past two years and counting, we all are being thoroughly tested by a dangerous, virulent virus. Unfortunately, we have witnessed anger, fear, ungraciousness, and even shocking behavior played out on many levels. Still, the Lord has seen us through. I feel led to make thanksgiving, contemplation, and kindness my ultimate practices this Lenten season, and perhaps others may feel the same. I hope to join you on Ash Wednesday to begin our 40 days.


God of Grace, we humbly come to you as children who would join others in this time of preparation for the coming Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We give everlasting thanks for this, your gift to all believers. We ask that you speak to us, that whatever we undertake these days of Lent will reflect our devotion to you and our love and concern for others. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 4, Evening

By Johnie Elliott, March 18, 1979

Doubt to Dedication

Read John 20:24-28

The world sometimes has a way of remembering the bad that we do and forgetting the good. Thomas is an example, as a usual thing, when people think of the doubting Thomas. Thomas was the real skeptic. When they received news that Lazarus was dead, it was Thomas that said, “We’d better not go. They will kill us.” When Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Thomas said “Lord, we don’t even know where you are going, how can we know the way?”

When Christ appeared to His disciples Thomas was not present. When he heard the news that Christ appeared earlier Thomas said, “I will not believe except I see.” How often we miss a wonderful experience when we neglect to be in the congregation of those who are worshipping.

Let’s not condemn Thomas too harshly. The world has moved forward because people have dared to doubt. The Wright brothers doubted the axiom that only something as light as a bird could fly. Many doubted that we would ever be able to place a man on the moon. Our age is an age of doubting. Some doubt that religion is the answer to Peace. Others doubt the ability and integrity of our leaders.

There is a difference in honest and dishonest doubt. Thomas wanted to believe but he still had his doubts. Jesus saw in Thomas a valuable quality needed in the Kingdom. He saw in Thomas that quality which was eternally grasping for new truths. Thomas was not gullible to every fad that came along. He could not believe that his Lord was alive when he had seen him crucified on Friday. Yet when Christ revealed himself to Thomas, Thomas cried “My Lord and my God.”

Doubt had given way to dedication. So should it be with our honest doubt. We must work through our honest doubts to dedication to Christ and his church.


Lord I Believe, but help me through my unbelief. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Sunday, April 4, Morning

By Rev. Dr. Tooms H. Kay, Jr., March 26, 1978

From Death to Life

Read John 19:41-42 (J.B. Phillips)

“In the place where he was crucified, there was a garden containing a new tomb in which nobody had yet been laid. Because it was the preparation day and because the tomb was conveniently near, they laid Jesus in this tomb.”

One of the most moving experiences of a visit to the Holy Land will be found at Gordon’s Calvary and the Garden Tomb. This is a traditional site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, and is about three blocks northeast of Herod’s Gate. This place of crucifixion is named for Charles George Gordon, a British general. As he walked atop the wall of Jerusalem, he pointed to a hill and said, “That looks just like Calvary.” What he saw resembled a skull, with two eyes, a crooked nose, and a distorted mouth.

Later excavations conducted at the base of the rocky cliff uncovered a garden in which there was an empty tomb. Could this have been the private garden of Joseph of Arimathea? The tomb was shaped like a bathtub and had been lengthened about a foot to accommodate a larger person. Was not Jesus buried in a tomb not his own? In January of 1977, as a group of us studied that rocky hill, pointing out to each other the form of the skull, we were caught up in the immensity of Christ’s sacrificial love. We sang one verse of “There Is A Green Hill Far Away.”

From that vision which recalled agony and death we walked down a lovely garden path to a limestone wall in which there was an opening. One by one we entered, “stooping down” as did that “other disciple” (John 20:5). Here was the place where Jesus might have been laid. We spoke in quiet whispers. Outside again we stood around our guide, a gentleman with a marked British accent. He reminded us that these were merely traditional sites, and the important thing was to remember that our Lord had risen.

As we departed, I thought, “The place of crucifixion and the place of resurrection are not very far apart. How quickly we may go from death to life!” May that message become real to each of us this Easter Day.


O God, we accept the promise of Jesus that “I am the resurrection and the life.” Let our experience confirm the truth of that proclamation, not only at Easter, but every day of our lives. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, April 3, Evening

By Dr. Don Rhodes, February 29, 1980

Our Church

Read James 2:26 (Living Bible)

“Just as the body is dead when there is no spirit in it, so faith is dead if it is not the kind that results in good deeds.”

Article X of John Wesley’s “Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church” reads as follows:

“Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by its fruit.”

We believe that our United Methodist Church is a part of the church universal and that the church itself is a community of true believers under the Lordship of Christ. Our church is the total body of faithful individuals who transcend more than buildings, properties, ministers, staff, commissions, councils, and boards. We are the church, you and I, mutually supporting each other both individually and collectively, and witnessing our faith in God through the works we do.

When we became members of the United Methodist Church we promised to be loyal to it and uphold it with our “ …  prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service.” This our final vow of membership into this community of the faithful was to work for and in our church toward the ultimate glory of God. Our work, however, is far more than regular attendance at worship, attending church school, Bible study, prayer, or passive participation. We must be an active, witnessing, serving community that typifies Jesus the Christ whose name we claim. We must be involved, serve on committees, teach, visit, telephone, cook, clean, decorate, usher … give of ourselves, of our love, our faith, and our material goods. We must feed the hungry, clothe the poor, comfort the infirm and support the afflicted. Ministers may come and ministers may go, programs may prosper and programs may perish but we the church, the community of faithful, must continue … continue evidencing our faith by doing our Father’s work.


Father, grant us strength and courage to face the challenge of doing your work. We live in a complex world where much suffering exists. Help us to express our love and faith through our work both in the church and out of it. Teach us to see the needs and give the best that we can.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Saturday, April 3, Morning

By Helen Smithson, April 14, 1979

Between Calvary and the Resurrection

Read Matthew 27:57-60

“And when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man came to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given over to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled in a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.”

Yesterday we thought of the darkness of Calvary – the jeering crowds, the taunts. Mary’s broken heart as she stood with John at the foot of the cross looking at the suffering of her Son, the desolate cry “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” The Lord’s triumphant “It is finished,” and then His last words, “Father, into Thy hands I commit my Spirit.” Now there is silence and a feeling of hopelessness. Yesterday was Calvary – tomorrow is glorious resurrection, but in between these two days there is gloom and despair. Many times this is where we find ourselves in life. We have experienced a great disappointment, a personal rejection, financial reverses, the sudden loss of a loved one, and we all become numb with unbelief at what has transpired. Here is where the Scriptures can hold us steady while our Lord puts together the broken pieces of our lives. He tells us that “… those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40: 31). As we wait on Him the glory of His resurrection breaks through, our hearts are comforted, and we move forward with greater strength than before. Truly, we serve a risen Saviour who comes into our lives when we allow Him to do so with the light we need for any darkness that comes to us.


Eternal God, our Heavenly Father, as we travel the road of life, many times we find ourselves numb with grief or disappointment. Although we know that in You there is grace sufficient for every circumstance in life, sometimes there is a period of darkness and near despair, as there must have been the day after Calvary and the day before Easter, when we need You in a special way to calm our troubled hearts and to assure us that You are the Lord of our circumstances. Thank You at these times You are near and faithful, and thank you for the blessed way You take the pieces of our broken hearts, as we give them to You, and put them back together in such a way that they are even stronger than before. Thank You that You are the Risen Lord and to those who receive You, a personal Saviour. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Friday, April 1, Evening

By Esther W. Bare, March 12, 1976

When We Don’t Understand

Read Hebrews 4:14-15; 1 Corinthians 13:8-9

We Americans are a people who want to know. Indeed, the genius of Western man, some say, has been that he was determined to push the limits of his knowledge as far as he could and then put that knowledge into action. As individuals, we follow a somewhat similar path as we grow up: we try to understand ourselves, our families, other people, and the world beyond, and as Christians we try to relate our knowledge and understanding to God and his plan for us and for the world. Surely it is good to attempt this, for we remember that Jesus expanded the Great Commandment of the Old Testament – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength” – to include loving God with all our minds.

But there is a point at which understanding ends. No matter how wonderfully satisfying our relationship with God may seem at times, sooner or later most of us are brought face to face with realities we cannot reconcile with our faith, situations that jar the foundations of our beliefs. And it is here that we may turn away and abandon our faith. Or we may look at Jesus on the cross.

Our hearts shrink from His suffering, yet we must hear the words: “My God, my God why has Thou forsaken me?” For his agony was not only of the body, it was the pain of despair, of non-understanding, of alienation from the Father to whom he had dedicated his life.

Christ on the cross gives us the answer, too; not so much an answer, though, as the way in which we may follow: “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”


Help us to place our spirits into Thy hands, in times of joy and in times of despair. Save us from relying too much on knowledge and from making progress our god. Help us to realize our weaknesses, that we may seek Thy guidance always, in the name of Jesus who showed us the Way. Amen.

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Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, April 1, Evening

By Dorothy & Asa Bishop, February 21, 1980

Lent is a Time for Preparing for Living

Read Mark 14:32-42

“And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I pray…Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’…”.

Lent is that period of time set aside on the Christian calendar when we direct our thoughts toward the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. This is the high point of the Christian year, and a special emphasis is required to make the proper preparation for this rapturous occasion. Although we should make an emphasis each day of the year to use our daily devotional period to help us in deepening our personal commitment to the living Lord, we may sometimes neglect to carry out this daily time of preparation throughout the year.

Through the use of the Lenten booklets prepared by fellow Church Streeters, we began a daily family devotional period which now prevails in our home throughout the year. The special emphasis on preparation during Lent stimulated us to continue our family devotionals. In this time of sharing, praying, and Bible reading, we are made more aware of how God lives and speaks through each person in our family circle. As we prepare for Easter this year, we will be looking for some additional emphasis to assist us in our daily celebration that Jesus Christ lives within us and in the world which surrounds us.


Heavenly Father, as we prepare our hearts and minds for the death and resurrection of Your son, Jesus Christ, help us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Forgive us for the many times we deny Thee daily and give us courage and strength to live in accordance with Thy will. Amen.

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