Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ Is Risen! Easter Sunday at Church Street

Christ Is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed! Easter Sunday services at Church Street have come and gone. We are now Easter People, carrying the message of God's light and love into the world.

This morning began in the darkness just before dawn. More than 100 people gathered in the Narthex for the Sunrise Service at 7 a.m. We sang "Up From the Grave He Arose" and listened as to a reading from the gospel of Luke. After Pastor Darryll's meditation, each person shared the light of Christ by touching one candle to another. While singing "Alleluia, Christ is Risen," we processed into the darkened Nave, gradually filling it with light.

Once everyone had reached the Nave and the lights were brought up, we proclaimed, "Christ has conquered! Glory Fills Us! Darkness vanishes forever!" Following the service, we all joined in fellowship and shared an Easter breakfast in Parish Hall. 

The musical prelude for both the 8:30 a.m. service and the 11 a.m service began with the sounds of the UT Brasswind Quintet. We are grateful for their continued participation in our Easter Services. What a blessing!

After the opening hymn, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," our Easter Services continued with Pastor Leah and the children opening the "Hallelujah" box where they had place that special word back at the beginning of Lent. 

Let's listen as they open the box....


What a wonderful celebration of the Risen Lord! After Pastor Andy's sermon, our Parish Choir presented Hallelujah from Messiah. It was a breathtaking way to close both our services this morning. Thanks to all the pastors, ushers, greeters, choir members, teachers and volunteers who made today so meaningful for the congregation and all of our visitors. Thanks be to God!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Egg Hunt!

This morning dawned dreary and chilly, but that didn't dampen the annual Church Street Easter Egg Hunt! Mrs. Sue and Mr. Rick hid over 700 eggs for the children to find all over Whitlow Park. After the hunt, the kids (and grownups too!) participated in the egg toss. It was a wonderful morning!

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 46: March 30

Saturday, March 30, 2013: Life 

Romans 6:3-11 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 

We all want to live a long life. The conventional wisdom for doing so is our busy western culture is to carve out time for yourself…to prepare healthy meals, to exercise 30 minutes a day, to spend time calming our minds through prayer or meditation, and to cultivate meaningful relationships. And yet, in recent research, there is one other critical factor of those who lived a long life. Consistently, people had something or someone to live for. When they expended their life on behalf of someone else, it actually added to the quality and length of their own life. 

The United Methodist Church is engaged in a conversation, particularly in the United States, about our future as a denomination. We are spending much time trying to figure out how to save our life as a church and what we need to be doing to be vital congregations. A repeated refrain in many churches is, “how do we get more young families to participate in our churches?” Rarely is the primary starting point for these conversations, “What does the gospel have to offer to these young families.” Rather our focus seems to be we need these young families for the future of our church. What might Jesus have to say to that? 

At the same time, as the United Methodist Church, we have an audacious goal of Imagining No Malaria in Africa, and raising $75 million towards accomplishing it. This effort has energized the people and the churches of the Minnesota Annual Conference. We started out fairly skeptical that we could meet our goal of $1.8 million. Many churches were facing financial crisis. Our membership and attendance have been declining. How could we possibly imagine such a thing? Well, when you start giving away your life for the sake of the gospel, God shows up. To date, we have over $2.6 million in pledges and gifts. And we have wonderful stories of congregations finding new life as they rediscovered what it means to be in mission, and in fact, this is what we exist to do: to save lives. 
So, today, how are you giving your life away for the sake of the gospel? 

Prayer: God, teach us to trust your ways. We don’t have to try to save our lives because you have already done that for us in Jesus Christ. So help us live with joyful abandon, giving, sharing, loving others, and discovering as we do, that we have the privilege of participating in your great mission, and that is what brings life to us and to the world. Amen. 

Rev. Cindy Gregorson, Director of Ministries, Minnesota Conference 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 45: March 29

Friday, March 29, 2013: I Want to Be Like You 

Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.” 

We are influenced, negatively or positively, by different people over the course of life. As youngsters, our family shapes our character and personality, thoughts and behaviors, desires and dislikes, ambitions and aspirations. Then friends and peers start to sway us, as we search for identity while trying hard to fit in. 

Isn’t it surprising that, as adults, we suddenly realize that our parents are smarter and wiser than what we thought as teens? Our spouse, significant other, boss, co-workers, and church family become influential forces in our lives at different times, depending on circumstances and experiences. But, whom do you admire, want to know better, be most like, and follow? Everyone has someone. Perhaps, it is a parent, that special teacher, uniquely gifted youth pas-tor, caring camp counselor, or dynamic campus minister whom you strive to imitate. 

The apostle Paul admired, worshipped, and praised Jesus. Jesus was his role model, the one whom he most desired to be like and to follow. In Jesus, Paul saw as much of God as he (or we) can hope to see in life on this side of heaven. He realized that Jesus is the way to God, to abundant life, and true freedom. He lived to be the best he could be for God by imitating Christ. 

All Christians want to know and experience Christ more and to live, as Paul did. 

Yet, the reality is that living for Jesus isn’t easy. People cringe at the thought of suffering. However, Paul realized that he had to travel the road through valleys of suffering to get to resurrected new life and greater possibilities. Still, Paul never wavered, dismissing his sufferings in the present time as unworthy compared with the glory that would be revealed in him. In fact, he realized that he had to share in Christ’s sufferings for the sake of the kingdom of God in order to be found worthy of his calling. 
So, too, must Christians share in Christ’s suffering, not just physical suffering but also spiritual suffering relentless concern for the least, lost, and last. But, in our suffering, we also experience Christ’s peace and comfort. 

If you are living in that spiritual place where Paul resided, then you are the kind of role model God wants and can use. Continue as John Wesley, founder of Methodism, instructed: doing all the good you can, by all the means you can in all the ways you can, at all times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. 

Prayer: God remind us that you do not forget our good works or our suffering for Christ’s sake that helps others and makes a positive difference. 

Rev. Paul Taylor, Pennsylvania 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sermon: Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013

Whose Parade Is It Anyway?
Matthew 21:1-11

Often it’s best to begin at the end of the story.  So today we start by looking at the question that is on everyone’s mind as Jesus enters Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday.  "Who is this?" they asked, for “the whole city was in turmoil” as a man on the donkey came riding into Jerusalem.

Who is this? What an interesting question to ask?  But surely they were confused.  We know all the answers.  Perhaps we should offer the answer:  This is Jesus, Lord and Savior, God incarnate, Immanuel, Very God of Very God.  

But even these Jerusalem sophisticates can come up with an answer:  Jesus, a prophet from Nazareth.  But is that all he is?  Yet another prophet from some hillbilly town riding a donkey?  

Perhaps they had all read the prophet Zechariah who wrote, “Lo, your king comes, humble riding on a donkey.”  Biblical scholars are not of one mind as to whether Zechariah really reflected a practice of ancient times.  Some suggest that riding a donkey was a sign of peace, a way of stating intentions.  A king rides a horse, but Zechariah says that humility rides an ass.  Look, I’m not here to take over, I’m a man of the people.  

And if you’ve ever traveled to other parts of the world, it’s not that uncommon to see women and men riding a donkey as a very practical matter, like driving a Toyota.  Reliable transportation, nothing fancy, but it will get you there.  

But all I can think was that the scene was almost comic!  A grown man, full size, riding a little donkey.  I imagine that people were pointing and staring, their mouths hanging open at the sight of it.  His legs dragging the ground and the donkey straining under the load.  More than a few couldn’t even get their question out for laughing!

This was no conquering hero on a mighty steed, a great white horse, leading a Roman legion in a victory parade.  “Who is this?” they ask.  Whose parade is it anyway?  

If this is an army led by a warrior, it's a strange one indeed.  Children, women, men, tax collectors, prostitutes, and others that everyone knew were sinners.  Surely they would have been there, for the man on the donkey kept company with such people.  A wine bibber, whatever that is.  Whispered like a child in church at a not so much a whisper volume.  

Who is this? That was the question that day and it is still is today.

During Holy Week, we recount what happened to the man on the donkey.  We know his name.  Even if you’ve missed a few Sunday school lessons, you probably know something about him.  Good Friday, that’s his day, the day when we see how this spectacle all turns out.   But it all started with a parade, a man on a donkey.    

When Jesus planned the day, he told his disciples to go to Bethpage, to look for donkey tied up, ready for its ultimate purpose.  It was almost like a screenplay, written with him in mind: Send some disciples to Bethphage. Tell them to untie a donkey and a colt. Recite the ancient prophecy. Ride into Jerusalem...

Was it all so neatly scripted?  Some have dared to raise questions, to wonder aloud about such inevitability. Catholic scholar Elizabeth Johnson speaks for others when she questions the interpretation of Jesus' death as "required by God in repayment for sin."   She wonders if such a view is virtually inseparable from an underlying image of God as an angry, bloodthirsty, violent, sadistic father.  Is God really that way?  She understands the story in a different way:

Jesus' death was an act of violence brought about by threatened humans as a matter of our sin.  This death occurred historically because of Jesus' faithfulness to the deepest truth he knew, God’s love, expressed in his words and action, which showed all twisted relationships to be incompatible with God's peace.  In other words, whatever happened, it was God’s truth to God’s self that compelled Jesus to act.  To ride into Jerusalem, not as a conqueror of the city, but as a conqueror of the heart.  

“Who is this?” they asked.   

Some of the old answers may no longer hold for us.  That doesn't mean we've stopped believing; rather, it means that some of our certitudes, the things we know that we knew, our very doctrines, have pinned Jesus down too securely.  We need to look again and see what we didn't see before, daring to be surprised by the man on the donkey.

When Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for his faith in a Nazi camp, he met a God he had never known:  "God allows himself to be edged out of the world and onto the cross," Bonhoeffer said, "and that is the way, the only way, in which God can be with us and help us...Only a suffering God can help."

“Who is this?” they asked.   

So today we ask this question as though for the first time, and in many ways, it is the first time. For we are not the same as we were a year ago on Palm Sunday.  In so many ways Jesus enters a different city every year, when we again encounter this story.   

Jesus came riding into the heart of suffering, and he has not gone away. Only a this humble God can help.  Jesus comes riding into the brokenness of our world. Even now, his entry on this Palm Sunday is not what we expect, and we even know the story by heart.  His words and actions were threatening to those first Palm Sunday people.  The religious leaders would go away, grumbling, scheming, planning, to put an end to all of this.  We too often go away grumbling and scheming as we hear his words of a peaceful gentle, and yet overwhelming rule take hold on us.  

But Jesus words are also life-giving.  His offer, issued from the back of a donkey of all places, it to experience life in a new way.  

So it wasn't surprising that the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?" Some followed him into the city because he had brought them out of despair into hope. But others were scared to death at the rumors that preceded him into the city, because they knew what he had been teaching the people who joined this odd parade.

"Blessed are the meek," he said, "for they shall inherit the earth." No, this is crazy-we know the mighty will inherit the earth.

"You have heard it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'"  What sort of madness is this against the threats of our world?

"Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink." Who can live that way?
"For what will it profit you to gain the whole world but forfeit your life?" That is surely no way to get our economy moving again.

"Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant..." Servant, that’s not the job I applied for.  

Living this peculiar, God-shaped life Jesus knew he would not escape suffering.  He told them over and over about how it would all end.  Not in a glorious parade, not even this comic entrance on a donkey.   Instead he told his confused disciples not once but three times that he was headed for Jerusalem, where he would surely be arrested, condemned and crucified. Yet, still he rode into the city, drawn there by the very heart of God.

If Palm Sunday has one lesson for us it is that we need him in this broken place and in our broken lives.  Only a suffering God can help. Jesus came riding into the heart of suffering and was crucified on a garbage heap outside Jerusalem.

And on this Palm Sunday, he comes riding, still on that donkey.  Gently asking if we would be a part of his parade.  

Even in the midst of our questions about who Jesus is, we grow confused about the parade.  Who are we and what brings us here?  Everyone gathered around him, trying to figure out their part in the story.
The disciples...sent on a mission.
Judas…on his own mission.
Peter…denying him to the very end.  
What is our part in this strange parade?  Perhaps we are the adoring crowd, ready to shout Hosanna one day and Crucify on the next.  Wondering who he is but not willing to figure it out.  Or certain of who he is and unwilling to be made vulnerable in the presence of the Almighty.  

Or perhaps we are the donkey.  Destined, chosen, prepared for the day.  The center of attention on that day, or at least the donkey felt that way.  After all, the crowds cheered as he walked along carrying this unknown man.  Surely they loved him.  Certainly this was his parade.  I wonder if the donkey came back a few days later to find that the cheering crowds had left?  And I wonder if the donkey ever knew who he had carried on that day.   

Francis of Assisi was known for his humility, often calling himself  “Brother Ass,” a way of reminding himself that he would try to be more than he should.  Reminding himself that his part was to serve Christ.  Carrying Christ to the world.

In the end, I like to think that I’m the donkey. Ready and prepared to do my part.  

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 44: March 28

Thursday, March 28, 2013: Finding Our Place at the Table 

Psalm 116:12-15 “What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.” 

Our confession of faith is that God is good. In fact, in the formulaic language of the southern church in which I was raised, “God has been better to me than I have been to myself.” This is truly one of the mysteries of our faith. God has the amazing capacity and tendency to bless us even when we are not aware of God’s hand of blessing upon us. 

This provision of blessing is also part of the provision of Maundy Thursday. Jesus invited those closest to him, even his betrayer to the dinner table for a time of blessed and sweet communion. Our Lord turned an ordinary meal into an extraordinary time of remembrance. He invited those closest to him in the sharing of the now sacred meal to remember him and to remember the great cost of his love. 
I have eaten at many tables. Some lavish and full of abundance, and others so sparse that it seemed as though there would not be enough food to go around. I have eaten at tables in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, the Middle East, Australia and island places too numerous to count. In every place, I have discovered the amazing presence of Christ at table. I believe that God reminds us of our commonality at table. I believe God invites us to find our place at the table where difference is diminished, even extinguished, and we find oneness and unity in Christ. 

I believe Imagine No Malaria is one of those unifying places for our church. Imagine No Malaria is a place where we can also lay aside our differences and unite around the saving of lives. Please join us at this welcome table. 

Prayer: Good God, we are so blessed that Jesus made room for us at the table. We are so blessed that the love of Christ breaks down every wall and helps us to see the entire human family as brothers and sisters. Help us to see Imagine No Malaria as a way to “return to the Lord for all his bounty.” Let our support of Imagine No Malaria be just another expression of your invitation to be at table together, sharing of the abundance you have given so freely. Hallelujah! Amen! 

Rev. Gary Henderson, Nashville, Tennessee 
Executive Director, Global Health Initiative of The United Methodist Church 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Schedule of Events for the Remainder of Holy Week

Maundy Thursday–Thursday, March 28
Maundy Thursday Service in the Nave: 7:15 p.m. – After the meditation and the serving of Holy Communion we follow Christ into the Garden of Gethsemane through scripture and music. This dramatic service ends in darkness as the altar and chancel are stripped and the cross is draped in black. Childcare is provided for this service.

Good Friday–Friday, March 29
Downtown Cooperative Service: 5:30 p.m. This ecumenical observance, sponsored by seven downtown churches, begins at the center of Market Square and will move past the seven stations around the Mall and Krutch Park. Members from downtown congregations will take part in the drama by carrying the weighty cross as Jesus did.
Family Tenebrae Service: 6 p.m. – This service, held in the chapel, will tell the story of Jesus’ last few hours through skits performed by the Church Street Drama Troupe. Childcare is provided for this service.
Tenebrae Service: 7:30 p.m. – The Service of the Tenebrae is an extended meditation on the passion of the Christ. The gathering darkness as the candles are extinguished reminds us that the light of the world is rejected, mocked, scourged and crucified on this day. Childcare is provided for this service.

Easter Egg Hunt–Saturday, March 30
Whitlow Park in Sequoyah Hills: 10 a.m. Egg hunt begins promptly at 10. Do not be late or you will miss the event! From Kingston Pike, turn onto Scenic Drive. At the “Y” bear to the right, staying on Scenic. Take an immediate left onto Bluff View and a second right onto Whitlow. 

Easter Sunday–Sunday, March 31
Easter Sunrise Service: 7 a.m. We will gather in the courtyard for this service as we welcome Easter morning. A light breakfast will be served in Parish Hall following the service. Donations are appreciated to cover the cost of the meal. 
Easter Morning Services: 8:30 & 11 a.m. Join us in the Nave to celebrate the risen Christ. At 8:15 and 10:45 UT’s Brasswind Quintet will begin the Easter prelude.  They will accompany the Parish Adult Choir and congregational hymns at both services. 

Prayer Labyrinth Open on Maundy Thursday

Church Street's Prayer Labyrinth will be available in the chapel on Thursday, March 28 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Take time to reflect on Holy Week as we prepare for the resurrection.

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 43: March 27

Wednesday, March 27, 2013: Trust 

John 13:21 “After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’” 

I am leading you along a road with curves and bends. The road is covered with snow, ice and potholes, and it looks like the bridge along the highway has broken down. You yearn to get to where you want to go: you want to reach your desired final destination, a place you have dreamt of for a long time. Follow Me and allow Me to direct your path. 

The road ahead may be covered with snow and ice, and the bridge along the highway may have broken down, but stay close to Me and allow Me to guide you and direct you. Learn to trust in Me when things go wrong, or when things do not work out your way. Hold tightly to Me: together, we can make it. 
There are times in my life when I felt like the bridge along the highway had broken down, and everything I wanted was becoming nearly impossible to reach. Things weren’t happening the way I wanted them to, but at that time I heard the voice of God speak to me: “I am your father and you are my child. Trust me.

When I heard the voice of God, my Father in heaven, I got the assurance that the Father can never leave His child and I as the child have to trust in my Father who placed me here on earth. Trusting my father rebuilt the bridge that was broken on my life’s highway, and I was able to move forward as God’s love melted the snow and ice ahead. 

Prayer: Holy Father, help me today to learn to trust you. You know how I struggle. I do long for your quite voice of assurance reminding me that I do not travel life’s paths alone. Help me, O God, to hear anew your voice of assurance today. 

Juliet Mpanja, Uganda 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Need Team Members!

The Church Street team for The Heels and Wheels Duathlon still needs members! The event raises funds for 15 different community nonprofit organizations. Because of our relationship with the Knoxville Leadership Foundation, the Kay Senior Care Center is able to be a part of this exciting event.  Each organization is responsible for getting a team of at least 20 people.  Each person on the team is asked to raise at least $100 and be a part of the event on Saturday, April 13.  All money that is raised by team members will support the Kay Senior Care Center. 

So if you like to run, bike, walk, or volunteer; Heels and Wheels Duathlon  is for you! Are you interesting in joining the team?  Call Judith Winters at 521-0293.  Visit for more information.

Change for Change

The youth department has been collecting change to help raise money for the Imagine No Malaria campaign. It has been a competition between the middle school and high school. Collectively we have raised more than $1000. As of this past week, the middle school had collected a bit more, but after Sunday the gap may be much more narrow. It has been fun to watch our youth bring in jars and bags of change each week to support the effort. This is where we would like you, the larger congregation, to help out. If you have a jar of change sitting around gathering dust, would you consider donating it to the efforts in the youth department? We are excited about the difference we are making through the Imagine No Malaria campaign and want to include you! If you would like to bring your jar or bag by the youth area on Sunday, we would be very happy to receive it. Our collection will end on Easter and we hope to be able to add your change collection to ours. 

Church Street Easter Egg Hunt

The Church Street Easter Egg Hunt is coming up this Saturday, March 30. The egg hunt is held at Whitlow Park and begins promptly at 10 a.m. Do not be late or you will miss the event! 

Directions: From Kingston Pike, turn onto Scenic Drive. At the “Y” bear to the right, staying on Scenic. Take an immediate left onto Bluff View and a second right onto Whitlow. We hope to see you there!

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 42: March 26

Tuesday, March 26, 2013: Offering Love 

Psalm 71:9-14 “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. They say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.’ Do not be far from me, my God; come quickly, God, to help me. May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” 

The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio opened its doors on Feb. 26, 2010…sort of by accident. We weren’t planning to open that day, and in fact had very few medications on our shelves. But our director received a frantic phone call from a woman whose husband had already suffered three strokes, and she was terrified that he might not live through another one. Recently released from prison with a two-week supply of medication, he had no resources with which to purchase more. By God’s grace, the medication this man needed was one of the few we had in stock that day. 

Our director, Allan – compassionate man that he is – gave them directions to the pharmacy along with a warning that they would be our very first patients. Meeting us at the door, the woman gave both Allan and me a big hug, thanking us before we’d filled a single prescription. That day, and every day since, the Charitable Pharmacy’s staff and volunteers have provided our 2,000+ patients with much more than medications…we’ve also given them hope. 

Hope is precisely the commodity we as Christ-followers have to offer our fellow human beings. Jesus never promised wealth or health to his disciples; what he did guarantee was a hope-filled life in which God never leaves or forsakes us. 

God offers us hope…of forgiveness…of unconditional love…of healing…of eternal life. God’s hope never fails. 

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the hope you give us through Jesus Christ. Help us to find ways of offering your life-giving hope to the world around us. May we be a people of your grace and love. Amen. 

Mariellyn Dunlap, UMC Missionary – Church and Community Worker at the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Experience Stations of the Cross This Week

All this week at Church Street you can visit Stations of the Cross. Reproductions of great works of art are placed around the chapel, symbolizing the path Jesus walked during his final days on earth. Scripture and prayers for private meditation accompany each station.

Stations of the Cross will be open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. each day. Stop by and take a moment to experience Holy Week in a new way.

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 41: March 25

Monday, March 25, 2013: The Fountain of Life 

Psalm 36:5-11 “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.” 

As we journey through Holy Week we certainly are reminded of God’s great love for all people in that Jesus gave His life so that all who believe in Him will have new life. But sometimes we may wonder does God really love me? Does God really care about what is happening in my family or my community? I have seen the love and strength of God moving through people who have been asked to show Godly love to others by participating in the Imagine No Malaria project. 

When presented with the opportunity to help show God’s love by eliminating death by Malaria in Africa, the two small churches I serve decided to set goals at twice the asked for level of saving 10 lives per worshiping member. Both of my churches ended up with goals at saving 20 lives per worshiping member. These folks worship in small aging congregations served by a part time pastor. They could have said someone else can meet this great need, but they didn’t. They know God’s love and faithfulness has no limits. They know the one who is the fountain of life and allow the light of Jesus to shine through them. As they participated in this opportunity to share God’s love around the world they each have been reminded that God cares for others just as God cares for them. 

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for loving us so much you allowed your Only Son Jesus to die for our sins. Thank you for allowing us to know your love through Jesus’ Resurrection. Thank you for providing ways we can show our love to You and to Your people around the world by participating in such great ministries as Imagine No Malaria. Amen. 

Rev. Alan Bolte, District Superintendent North Star District, Minnesota Conference 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 40: March 24

Sunday, March 24, 2013: Spontaneous Joy 

Psalm 118:23-24 “This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” 

What a place of blessing to realize that you are an eyewitness to the amazing hand of God at work. I knew this for sure, as I stood in the town center of Kamina in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A small delegation of United Methodist both clergy and lay from the United States were gathered with what seemed like an endless throng of local Congolese people to celebrate life–saving work. Insecticide-treated bed nets were being distributed to help in the fight against malaria. The throng who gathered knew that this meant life and it was marvelous in their eyes. 

To add to the celebration, musical icon Yvonne Chaka Chaka, dubbed the princess of Africa, was there to encourage the people to use the nets as a way to literally save lives. I can still hear her as she called to the children, saying, “Come to Mama Africa!” It seemed as though thunder clapped as the children stormed the stage where we sat. A dust cloud rose as the children ran forward. There was celebration, dancing and spontaneous eruptions of joy. 

I wonder if this is what the crowd was like on the very first Palm Sunday. The words of the ancient text come to mind now. “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Surely, it was marvelous in their eyes! Today is a day for us to remember what God has done through Jesus Christ in our lives. We are privileged to participate in the life-saving ministry of Imagine No Malaria and it is marvelous in our eyes. 

Prayer: God we thank you! God we bless you! God we cry hallelujah! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! What joy you give us as eyewitnesses to your grace and mercy. May we forever be mindful of the gift of the savior Jesus and the ways that you empower us also for life-saving ministry. AMEN! 

Rev. Gary Henderson, Tennessee 
Executive Director, Global Health Initiative of The United Methodist Church 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 39: March 23

Saturday, March 23, 2013: Calling Out for the Kingdom of God 

Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they are?” 

We have three bird-feeders in our back yard. Most days, there will be anywhere from 20 to 30 finches and sparrows and half-a-dozen to a dozen dove feeding from these three bird-feeders. I try to wait until all three are empty before replenishing the supply of food in the bird-feeders. When I begin filling the feeders, if there is one finch or sparrow around watching, they begin singing. Within thirty-minutes after I finish this task of refilling the feeders, the flock returns to feed. One small bird singing, calling out to the other birds to come and feast for there is a fresh supply of food available. 

As I think about this one small bird calling out to the other birds, I think of the Great Commission given to the disciples and to us as we read it in Matthew 28:18-20. This one small bird in essence is sharing good news with the other birds. If we would take lesson from them, we too, could easily spread the Good News of Christ, in leading others to the spiritual food Christ offers us abundantly. Likewise, if we were to use this same approach to spread the word of Imagine No Malaria, we could also help in the fight to end malaria deaths in the world. 

What a challenge in a simple way - each one reach one for the Kingdom of God, to tell the Good News and to put our faith in action for our neighbors by helping to eradicate malaria deaths! 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to learn from the birds, so we become the disciples you call us to be. Help us to point others toward you in advancing the kingdom of God, and to serve our neighbors in as many ways as possible, including the inexpensive means that we can collectively help in eradicating malaria deaths from our world. In your holy name we pray, Amen. 

Rev. Tom Carter, Knox City United Methodist Church, Northwest Texas Conference 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 38: March 22

Friday, March 22, 2013: ACTION DAY 

Be the true life of the party! 

Host a house party to support Imagine No Malaria. It’s simple: just invite a few friends to a get-together, make sure that they know it is for a cause, and have fun! 

Blank party invitations, party ideas and more are available on the Imagine No Malaria website at

A gathering of friends can mean the world to people you’ve never even met. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 37: March 21

Thursday, March 21, 2013: Partnering for Mission 

Luke 10:1-2, 8-9 After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” 

Jesus sent 70 people in pairs on a mission trip that involved healing and proclaiming the kingdom of God. Most of us would not go on a mission trip alone, but when we are paired with others, we gain courage and are able to take advantage of opportunities to show the love of Jesus and bring about many kinds of healing. 

My opportunity came in 1991, when I learned of a group going to Haiti. Preparations included lots of shots to ward off diseases and a weekly pill before, during, and after the trip to prevent malaria. While in Haiti, we visited four mission projects and then decided where we wanted to work for the week. I selected a nutrition feeding station for children whose parents had tuberculosis or AIDS. Each day when I arrived, a three-year-old boy named Charles was waiting for me to pick him up. He wanted to be carried constantly. Since I couldn’t speak his language, I sang to him as I carried him around to see what was happening with the other children. The staff didn’t ask me to do anything else. They recognized that Charles needed full-time, tender, loving care. I had never before met a child so starved for attention. While he received physical food at the center, he had a greater need for the healing that comes from knowing that someone cares. 

Twenty years later, I still remember Charles and my week of singing to him. Also vivid in my memory is the allergic reaction I had to the anti-malarial medication. Fortunately, the head-to-toe hives and itching did not start until I was home and had immediate access to an emergency room. Unfortunately, the hives returned every six hours for ten days in spite of Benadryl and steroids. For years I have banished thoughts of going on another mission trip to a malaria-plagued country. 

Today “Imagine No Malaria” offers the hope of a pair of mission blessings: the gift of health for the millions of children and their families who can be saved from a prevent-able death from malaria, and the possibility of a mission trip without the threat of malaria or medication reactions for Christians who are called to take the love of Jesus around the world. 

Prayer: Loving God, we thank you for the partners you give us for the mission you have called us to. Help us to respond in faith to your call. We pray for healing for all who are sick, and we ask for your blessing on all who are working to combat malaria. Amen. 

Rev. Barbara Drake, Pennsylvania 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Holston Home Offering This Sunday

For 112 year, Methodists and Holston Home have been a team, working together to minister to the needs of children, youth and families in the Holston Conference and beyond. This Sunday, March 24, Church Street will collect a special offering for Holston Home. The money helps Holston Home give children and youth in need an opportunity for a better life, a good education, and for a chance to become responsible adults. We can help to reunite broken families. We can help children without families to find permanency through adoption or foster homes. Your generous gifts are needed and greatly appreciated.

On Sunday, you can place your special offering for Holston Home in the envelope provided in your bulletin. If you prefer to make an electronic payment, you can do so on the Church Street website by clicking here.

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 36: March 20

Wednesday, March 20, 2013: A Life of Faith 

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 “As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, "At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you." See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” 

Hearing Paul's word we can sense with increasing confidence that we don't have to wait until we get things in order, or for any other reason wait to accept that “now is the day of salvation!” It is wonderfully fresh, good news that Paul expresses that we work cooperatively “together with him” our creator. Our well intentioned reserve could cause us to miss the power of claiming today as the day of salvation. 

In our excitement, we might miss the warning. In the midst of this great word of inspiration there is a warning? “We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.” What could Paul be talking about in his concern that we accept the grace of God “in vain.” We'd think any way we can accept the grace of God would be a good thing. Right? Is it even possible to “accept the grace of God in vain.” 

That gives us reason to pause to let that question sink in? What might be the problem? The central struggle of the human condition could be our resistance to the idea that God has a claim on our lives. We prefer our will to God's will. We'd rather live for ourselves than live for God. 

The writer of Ephesians expresses the same concern in 4:1. “I... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” That our resistance to living for God can overwhelm our commitment is a common challenge to a life of faith. 

To contemplate leading “a life worthy” causes us to reflect on the Lord's life lived absolutely worthy. He brought wholeness to the lives he touched. These were people who would have gone untouched altogether, but for his ministry to them. As the church continues his ministry, there are some exciting opportunities to touch others. “Imagine, No Malaria” is one of those. Do you remember your church energized over “Nothing but Nets?” Lenten contemplation ought not be dismal. Finding our work together can be a deeply satisfying, energizing experience. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, as we celebrate the good news that today is the day of salvation, let us never forget that loving you and loving your people are inseparable realities. Our discipleship is validated in the way we love others. We thank you Lord, that continuing your ministry of touching others is work that we do together with you. And always let us remember, that it is not our power, but your power that brings wholeness from your touch. These things I pray, in the name of Christ. Amen. 

Rev. Douglas (Dee) Edwards, Arkansas Conference 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Get Ready for Summer Camp

It's only spring, but it's already time to start thinking ahead to summer camp. The Holston Conference offers a variety of summer camp options for students in grades K-12. Each camp is filled with fun outdoor activities and friendship, but also provides a place for campers to grow in their faith. From powerful high-energy worship to quiet reflective prayer, opportunities abound for campers to grow closer to God.

The closest camp to Church Street is Wesley Woods, located in Townsend. Early Bird discounts are available for campers who register by Monday, April 1. Click on the link above to learn more about Wesley Woods. For information on the other camps in the Holston Conference, click here.

Scholarships are available for Church Street campers. Please see Sue Isbell or Marc Gamble for more details.

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 35: March 19

Tuesday, March 19, 2013: Actions 

James 2:15-16 NIV “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily bread. If one of you says to them, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” 

As a child, I always was told we were poor. We lived on a farm and had no electricity or running water. However, I never thought I was poor as we always had enough food to eat, and plenty of clothing and shelter. My parents were loving and caring. I was able to go to school and even to college on a scholarship. 

A few years ago, my husband and I went to Jamaica on a mission trip. I saw firsthand what it meant to be poor, and yet being with the Jamaican people, I saw they were like me. They did not think they were poor either. Many children were unable to go to school, because they lacked uniforms and the money to get them. Many had no electricity or running water either. However, they were happy. 

I think of the people around the world, especially the children who go to bed hungry or who do not have nets to protect them from the malaria-bearing mosquito, and I wonder what I can do? 

I see people making pillowcase dresses for little girls in Africa. I see children collecting money for the mosquito nets for children who would otherwise be in danger of malaria. Others collect books, clothing and medical supplies to be sent where it is needed. Again, I wonder what can I do? 

The book of James reminds me that I need to do more than wonder or wish them well. I need to put my faith into action. I can share what I have whether it is time praying for my world, sending money to help, or actually going somewhere on a mission. Everyone can do something. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, Open my eyes to the world around me. Give me ears to hear your voice, eyes to see the need a heart to care and a faith that moves me to action. Amen. 

Reva Husby, Mission Chair, Detroit Lakes UMC, Minnesota Conference 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Make Plans for Jubilation 2013

Jubilation is the annual gathering of older adults (50+) in the Holston Conference. This event nurtures spiritual growth, provides educational opportunities, promotes involvement in missions and enhances Christian fellowship. Jubilation 2013 will be held April 21-23 at MeadowView Resort and Conference Center in Kingsport, Tennessee. Prices vary depending on the number of adults sharing a room. You can pick up a registration form/brochure from Rick Isbell, from the literature racks, or register online here. Registration deadline is Sunday, March 31. 

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 34: March 18

Monday, March 18, 2013: Unburdened 

Isaiah 43: 16-21 Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise. 

There’s a story about a pair of monks who were traveling together when they came upon a woman standing by a stream. The stream was swollen by spring rains, making the current too swift for the woman to cross. She asked if they would carry her across to the other side. 

The first monk scoffed at her saying, “Stupid woman, we are holy men. Don’t you know we have taken a vow to never touch a woman? We will not help you.” 

But the second monk knelt down, put woman on his back, and carried her across the stream. As he placed her safely on the other bank, she thanked him, and went on her way. 

As they continued walking, the monk who had refused to aid the woman was fuming, thinking to himself, “How could he do that? He touched a woman. He’s broken a sacred vow and carried that woman on his back.” He became more and more upset, outraged by his friend’s actions. 
The second monk, sensing his brother’s agitation, asked what was bothering him. 

“You broke a vow,” he shouted. “You touched a woman. How could you carry her across the river?” 
“Brother,” the monk gently said. “I put the woman down at the river’s edge. You have been carrying her ever since.” 

When we dwell too much on past hurts or affronts, we become blind, unable to see the new things God is doing. If we carry the baggage of self-righteousness and ego, our hands are closed and we are unable to be part of God’s healing of a hurting world. 

Prayer: Lord, help us to unburden ourselves, to put down what prevents us from participating fully in your new work. Free us so that we may take part in Your work with glad spirits, joyful hearts and open hands. 

Rev. Martha Taylor, Field Coordinator, Arkansas Conference 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 33: March 17

Sunday, March 17, 2013: Honoring Jesus 

John 12:1-8 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 

Jesus had been invited to dinner and while eating a woman – in this gospel, Mary - came up carrying a bottle of expensive perfume. She opened the bottle and poured this expensive perfume on Jesus. Some of those present became furious with her as they felt what she had done was a sheer waste; it could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and money given to the poor. They were irritated at her behavior, became absolutely angry and very critical of what she had done until Jesus stopped them. 

He told them to quit giving her a hard time as she had done something wonderfully significant for him. Though the poor they would always have and could do something for them, not so for him. This woman did what she could when she pre-anointed his body for burial. In the midst of all that was before her, before Jesus, before these “guests”, she had honored Jesus in such a way that he assured her people wouldn’t forget. 

Though this is a small glimpse into the unfolding of all the events of what was to come during the time we know as Holy Week, it raises a powerful question for us all: “how do we by our actions and our disposal/use of resources, show honor to Jesus?” 

I believe the invitation to be a part of Imagine No Malaria in our United Methodist Church has been one of the most powerful expressions of action and commitment to the use of our resources to show “honor to Jesus”. To be given the opportunity to literally “put over the heads of children and anoint them” with the life-saving mosquito net, to not only save their lives from this deadly disease, but to be the agents of change, education and hope in Africa is life-changing for me. That we, as a United Methodist Church, can do this is “to honor Jesus”! 

As we near the end of our journey in this Lenten season, may our participation in Imagine No Malaria remind us that we have the power to act and use our resources to significantly impact and transform our world to “honor” Jesus. 

Prayer: O God, as we begin this journey into Holy Week, may we stop and find those ways we can honor Jesus in who we are, what we do and how we give. Amen 

Rev. Liz Lopez, District Superintendent Twin Cities District, Minnesota Conference 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Amateur Radio Classes to Be Offered in April

Have you ever thought about Amateur Radio as a hobby? If so, now is your chance to learn more about this interesting hobby and to become an FCC licensed “Ham” Amateur Radio operator. Jay Hammett, Willard Sitton, and George Dominick plan to offer a class which will prepare you to pass an FCC issued Technician Class Amateur Radio license exam. The exam will be offered at the conclusion of the course.

Amateur Radio offers many different areas of interest. Homeland Security, emergency communications, talking over your radio transmitter with other Hams around the world, or using other available types of digital communications are only a few. This could be the beginning of a new interesting hobby for you!

If you have interest and or would like to sign-up for the proposed class, call George Dominick at 577-8137, Jay Hammett at 470-4956 or Willard Sitton at 588-1101.  The class is expected to start next month and will be held on Sunday afternoons for one hour. The class will run four to six weeks. All are welcome.

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 32: March 16

Saturday, March 16, 2013: Go Into the World 

A church member recently inspired a time of pondering for me: “You know,” he said, “I’m getting a little bit tired of hearing about this whole Imagine No Malaria thing.” “Why you think that is,“ I asked? “Well, “he said, “It seems like we’re being asked to give a whole lot of money to people who are a world away instead of using that money to help the people who are right outside our doors.” 
We often fall into the trap of believing that our mission is to reach THIS person or THAT person instead of embracing the biblical mandate to go into “all the world” with the Gospel-not to mention the Wesleyan idea that the entire world is our parish. The church mission field is always “both/ and”-it is both the house next door and the house on the other side of the world, and both houses are inseparably linked in the beautiful and mysterious unity of the Holy Spirit. The body of Christ, in other words, cannot afford to be territorial in its mission and outreach. 

A few years back, I had the opportunity to visit and pray with patients in a hospital in the village of Ankaase (Ghana, West Africa). I prayed with a mother and her small child, both of whom were seeking treatment for malaria. We did not speak the same language, of course. However, in those sacred moments, we found unity in the shared vocabulary and intonation of prayer. The mother wept during that time of prayer. She wept, I assume, for the sick child that she held in her arms. Her tears became something sacramental for me-baptismal water that flowed into the depths of my soul. When I think about the Imagine No Malaria ministry, I don’t think first of dollars and bed nets (as important as they are). Rather, I think of that mother and child in Ghana. I think of their faces and souls. I think of their tears. Most of all, I think of the truth that, if one person in the body of Christ suffers, then the entire body of Christ suffers. 

In recent days, my wife Tara and I have prayerfully discerned some ways in which we sense that God is calling us to expand our personal discipleship to Jesus Christ. Our heartfelt commitment to Imagine No Malaria is part of that extension. Even as I type these words, I find myself thanking God for Imagine No Malaria, not only because of its life saving efforts, but also because of its impact on my personal walk with Christ. Through the ministry of Imagine No Malaria, I’ve come to understand in a whole new way that, if I do not see the eyes of Jesus looking back at me when I gaze into the face of a hurting human being (no matter whether that human being is right next door or on the other side of the world), then something is seriously wrong with my soul. 

Prayer: Forgive me, o God, for the ways in which I’ve often hardened my heart to your people and your world. By the power of your holy spirit, transform my thoughts and impulses that I may resist the temptation to walk away from a hurting or needy soul who may very well be showing me the face of your Son. Bring me more deeply into the kind of discipleship that will inspire me to look upon every portion of my life as my mission field and every portion of the world as my parish, all for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whose name I humbly and gratefully pray. Amen. 

Rev. Eric Park, Washington District Superintendent, Western PA Conference 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 31: March 15

Friday, March 15, 2013: Action Day 

No single organization can beat malaria—we must all work together to do our part against this killer disease. One of the major contributors to global health funding is the United States government, which means part of our work to end malaria includes being a voice for those who have none. 

You can speak on behalf of the mothers and children and families of Africa to help protect funding for malaria programs in Africa. One place to start is by visiting our website - 

There you will find information about signing our petition, calling up your Senators and Representatives, and a sample letter. To beat malaria, it’s going to take a global village. So, get your family, church, college and entire community involved! Commit to being a voice for the voiceless today. Advocate on behalf of global health funding by making a phone call, sending an email, or writing a letter. 

It’s easier than you think.