Monday, September 30, 2013

Sharing Shop In Need Of Items

The Sharing Shop was open on Monday, September 24, and we served over thirty customers. Many of the folks who came are regulars but last Monday, we saw several new faces and many needs. We cannot say "thank you" enough for your generous donations to the shop, and please know that we are reaching out to our friends to help meet their needs but also to get to know them and to let them know that God is always with them.

The following items are in high demand and ones that we are in need of immediately:
  • deodorant
  • nail clippers
  • laundry detergent 
  • dishwashing detergent
  • shampoo
  • body powder
  • men's socks
  • men's and women's underwear
  • men's tennis shoes and boots, sizes 9-12
  • blankets
You may bring the items to the Sharing Shop (we are open the second and fourth Mondays of each month from noon until 3 p.m. and are located in the bottom of the CLC) or to the church office.  Again, we thank you so very much for sharing with those whose needs are great.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blessing of the Animals: From Dogs to Frogs

This afternoon we gathered in the courtyard for the Blessing of the Animals as we celebrated God's love for all creatures. We had many different kinds of animals, even a horse! Thanks to everyone who brought their animals and shared in the blessing. 

Holy God, the earth and all that is in it is full of the glory of your love. May we your children, born of the spirit, bear witness to your Son Jesus Christ as we care for your creation and these animal companions with loving kindness. Amen.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Growing in God's Grace: Stewardship Campaign

This Sunday, we begin our stewardship campaign, Growing in God's Grace. It is a time when we turn our focus to the coming year as we work to support the ministries of our church. It is a time for celebrating God's grace and the many ways it allows us to grow both individually and as a congregation. The question we are asking each one of you to consider is "What is God calling me to give as I grow spiritually?" It is a personal question and one that requires much prayer and thoughtful consideration. 

Consecration Sunday, a holy time of commitment of our gifts and service in response to God's grace, will be held on October 13, as we respond to God's call and prepare our pledge cards. After we have made our commitments, we will gather in the gym for a Celebration Meal at 10:30 and 12:15 p.m. Whether you choose to make a financial pledge or not, all are invited to celebrate God's grace. You should have received a reservation card in the mail inviting you to join us for those Celebration Meals. The complimentary catered meal is a way for our congregation to celebrate God's abundant grace and the future of our ministries here in East Tennessee and around the world. Please bring your reservation card to church this Sunday, September 29. You may also return your card to the church office or e-mail It is important that you let us know you will be joining in the Celebration Meal.

In the weeks to come, take time to prayerfully consider the question, "What is God calling me to give as I grow spiritually?" Together we can answer this call and continue to grow in God's grace.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Holston Home Offering This Sunday

For 112 years, 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, September 29, 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.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sermon - September 22, 2013 - The Brokenhearted God

Jeremiah 8.18-9.1
Rev. Andy Ferguson 

            No one wants to hear from the Prophet Jeremiah these days. He spoke passionately of God’s investment in both national and international affairs. The result back in his time was Israel’s disastrous defeat at the hands of their enemies leading to 40 years of exile. No one is interested in a prophet who is right when being right only leads to defeat. In our recent experience, when religious figures speak out on national and international affairs, the results have been more divisive than helpful AND more judgmental than encouraging. As a result, Jeremiah has gone unread and unpreached – to the relief of congregations and preachers alike. Still, the prophet’s words are recorded in God’s Bible. We are still responsible to ask if there is any Word from God in the ancient words of a prophet who got his message correct -- yet could not help his people avoid disaster.

I. [HISTORY] We must locate Jeremiah in history if we are going to understand his message. We need to identify his time and place; the details are important.
            A. Israel was once 12 tribes who escaped from slavery in Egypt. After 40 years in the desert wilderness, Israel crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land. Years passed and this loose collection of people gradually developed into a nation under King David. With David’s leadership, they developed the cities and borders of a real nation. They also developed strains. King David was followed by his son, Solomon, who so oppressed the people, that the northern 10 tribes rebelled and established their own nation. With that, the Hebrews could be found in Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Anyone who reads the Bible can piece together this story as it weaves its way through the O.T.
            B. What is not as clear from the Biblical record is the impact of the nations located around the young nation of Israel. This impact cannot be ignored. Recall the map of the Holy Land. To the south of Israel, lies Egypt – the same Egypt the Israelites escaped with Moses’ help. To the west is the Mediterranean Sea. The eastern border is the Jordan River; beyond that is the modern nation of Jordan, which includes some harsh desert. In ancient times, Assyria lay to the north of Israel; today Syria lies to the north with tiny Lebanon standing in between. If you were to go north to Syria, then travel east, you would come to modern Iraq and Iran, the modern names for ancient Babylon. It is interesting that these same nations are still at the center of our concern today.
            C. The ancient world where Israel got its beginnings was very different from the world today. Most armies fought on foot -- soldiers armed with weapons they made from farm tools.
1.      When Israel escaped slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh could not chase them beyond the Red Sea. His reach did not go very far from the borders of Egypt itself. Once in the Sinai wilderness, the Israelites were free to make their own way.
2.      When David became king, his biggest problem was the Philistines only 50 miles away, along the Mediterranean coast. Things were still local.
3.      When King Solomon died and the nation divided into Israel/north and Judah/south, Assyria to the north was becoming a world power. Eventually, Assyria invaded Israel and annexed the north for itself, leaving tiny Judah as the only remaining land of the ancient Hebrews. That was in 721 BC.
4.      Around 125 years go by; it is now around 600 BC. Judah is still the land of the Hebrews, but Assyria is beginning to lose its influence. The Egyptians from the south and the Iranians (excuse me, the Babylonians) from the north are expanding their territories.
5.      Judah was caught at the center of this power struggle. Judah is too small to defend its borders from the stronger nations of Egypt and Babylon. Judah became the frontier between the two larger nations pushing in from the south and the north.
6.      The challenge faced by the various Kings of Judah was how to play these stronger neighbors against each other. Whenever one clearly became stronger, the king had to make sure the nation was standing on the correct side. If the balance of power changed, Judah’s king had to be ready to change with it.
This then is the situation to which Jeremiah was born and then called to prophesy.
            D. In the political arena which we have just been outlining, Jeremiah believed that Babylon was going to rise in power and that Egypt was going to decline. Plenty of others in Judah believed that Egypt was going to rise and that Babylon was going to decline. This was no small debate. These two great powers often battled each other in that region; the victor would occupy and rule Judah. If Judah was standing with the winning side, then this transition would be pretty smooth. If Judah was standing on the losing side, then this transition would be disastrous. Despite the impression we get from the O.T., nobody had the luxury of being an isolationist. These two great powers were nearby all the time. As a result, it was a time of upheaval; lawlessness was common. Life was hard.

III. The parallels between the ancient times and our own are pretty easy to draw. Egypt and Syria have been in turmoil from that time to the present – something like 3000 years. Increasingly, whatever happens in those nations will have an impact on us. The moat around the United States of America that protected us from problems in foreign lands has shrunk now to the size of a wide creek.
(a) When Saudi Arabia can turn off our oil and (b) Afghanistan can spawn a terrorist like Osama bin Laden, then we cannot ignore the larger world any more than ancient Israel could ignore the bigger world beyond its borders.
            A. Too often, we summarize Jeremiah’s message to say, “If you would just behave like good followers of God, then all our problems would go away. Be moral; worship the right way; do not talk with foreigners. We can isolate ourselves in this Land God Promised us, and everything will be fine. But, that was not the situation then; it is not the situation now. I think we have missed the message of Jeremiah.
            B. A second interpretation of Jeremiah calls for a nation run on religious doctrine. Generally, nations around the world which follow this approach replace the oppression of political doctrine with the oppression of religious doctrine. This, too, misses the message of Jeremiah the Prophet. The result is that we have quietly set Jeremiah aside as irrelevant to the job of running the country or our businesses or our lives.
            C. [THESIS] I hear instead a prophet who is calling his people to be true to themselves by being true to the God who called them out of slavery to become a distinct people. They could not be true to themselves and to God by presenting themselves to the Egyptians and then the Babylonians as whatever they thought the victor was looking for on any particular day. The god we worship shapes our character. If we worship any old god or all of them, then we lose sight of who we are and who our God calls us to be. WE lose our soul as a people and as a nation.
+       When we are playing power games with world powers, then the powerless do not matter. Exploitation becomes the norm and occasional acts of human kindness are reduced to feel-good stories on the evening news.
+       When our faith follows any god any time, then the various and conflicting community and family mores of each one will also be followed.
+       When we are resigned that a great injustice is about to be unleashed upon us, then daily injustice among ourselves gets little attention.
+       When you are about to lose your nation and maybe your life, then taking a little something extra from your neighbor is no big deal.
In contrast, Jeremiah would say: It is a big deal. When we are true to what God has called us to be:
+       We can be faithful to the God who has been faithful to us,
+       We can be just in all our dealings with our neighbors, whether at the corner market or on the world market,
+       We will cherish and honor the families we establish – the same families that sustain us daily,
+       We can live so confident in our beliefs that we are free to be tolerant of those whose beliefs are different from ours.
John Hay, one of President Abraham Lincoln's White House secretaries, reflected on the President that he served:

"In his writings Mr. Lincoln admits us into the most secret recesses of his soul .... Perplexed and afflicted beyond the power of human help, by the disasters of war, the wrangling of parties, and the inexorable and constraining logic of his own mind, he… tried to put into form his double sense of responsibility to human duty and Divine Power. It shows the awful sincerity of a perfectly honest soul, trying to bring itself into closer communion with his Maker." (3).

Lincoln went on to say in his Second Inaugural Address, speaking of the Civil War which was coming to a conclusion and of the slavery that was at the center of it:
Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the slave's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether" (4).

Being true to our God, and ourselves we are better able to address the great powers and the great situations that challenge us daily. President Lincoln was not the last leader in this nation to carry the weight of both faith and daily responsibility. We carry that burden daily; today’s leaders carry those burdens on behalf of the nation. Thus, we rpay for God’s presence and guidance.

IV. So far, we have talked about who-we-should-be as we deal with one another and our God. The passage we read this morning from Jeremiah now tells us something about who-God-is.
            For too long, we have read Jeremiah as delivering God’s disapproval and judgment on Israel; he does deliver a message of judgment. But, Jeremiah tells us more than God’s disapproval and judgment. We have imagined the God of Jeremiah as standing in disapproval over broken Israel, ready to unleash punishment without limit. But, Jeremiah reveals a picture of God that is far deeper and richer than that picture.
            What Jeremiah shows us is the heart of the God who seeks us with tears. Listen!
18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
    my heart is sick.
9 O that my head were a spring of water,
    and my eyes a fountain of tears,
so that I might weep day and night
    for the slain of my poor people!

God is the god of the tender heart, the God who weeps at the brokenness of God’s own people. It makes a difference that we understand God’s tenderness toward us and toward this nation.

A Hasidic story tells of a great celebration in heaven after the Israelites are delivered from the Egyptians at the Red Sea and the Egyptian armies were downed. The angels are cheering and dancing. Everyone in heaven is cheering and dancing.
            Then one of the angels asks the Archangel Michael, “Where I God? Why isn’t God here celebrating?”
            Michael answers, “God is not here because God is off, away from the rest, weeping. You see, many thousands of God’s children were drowned today.”

God calls us to live up to the greatness that God offers us. When we fail and when we fall short, it breaks God’s heart.

            We are people of faith each day in every place. The word of the Prophet calls God’s people to be true to ourselves by being true to the God who called us out of slavery to become a distinct people. We cannot be true to ourselves and to our God by presenting ourselves to the world as whatever our enemies are looking for on any particular day. The God we worship shapes our character. Standing in the shelter of God, we deal with the nations with integrity, strength and charity.
            You see, faith tells us that even on our darkest day, God is not finished with us and with this nation. God still holds the future, and it is good.
            As Jeremiah said in 46.27:
27 But as for you, have no fear, my servant Jacob,
    and do not be dismayed, O Israel;
for I am going to save you from far away,
    and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
    and no one shall make him afraid.

In 2 Cor 5.7, Paul said, “We walk by faith not by sight.” I disagree. We walk by faith AND by sight. Such is the responsibility of this age.

3. Hay, John, Secretary to Abraham Lincoln, writing in September 1862.

4. Lincoln, Abraham. “Second Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1865.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tai Chi Demonstration

The Adult Council has approved a beginning Tai Chi class at Church Street. There will be a demonstration and interest meeting on Thursday, September 26, at 1:30 p.m. in CLC 11. The demonstration will be presented by teachers from the Knoxville Taoist Tai Chi Society.  If there is enough interest, a weekly daytime class at the church will be scheduled. Tai Chi is the ancient Chinese low impact exercise that brings harmony, balance and health. It is excellent for all ages, especially seniors. For more information contact Gene Flinter at 865-579-3304.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Knoxville Zoo Visits CSUMC Preschool

The kids at the Church Street Preschool had a special treat today! The Knoxville Zoo stopped by for an educational program, including a visit from three zoo animals. The kids learned about different types of animals and were able to get hands on with turtle shells, condor feathers and animal skins. The kids were also introduced to a blue-tonuge skink, a toucan and a chinchilla. They had many questions for the Zoo and very much enjoyed learning about the animals.

The Church Street Preschool is a three-star facility that operates Monday - Friday. For more information about enrollment you can click here, or call 865-524-3511.

Blessing of the Animals

On Sunday, September 29, we will continue the Church Street tradition of Blessing of the Animals. Everyone is invited to bring their pets to this unique service of worship where we thank God for our furry, fuzzy, feathered and/or scaly friends. The service begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Courtyard and pets receive a blessing by the Church Street clergy. This service is open to the community. Pets should be on a leash or in a cage if appropriate, and should be well-mannered. You will be responsible for cleaning up after your pet should the need arise. We hope you will join us as we celebrate our faithful companions in the tradition of St. Francis of Assisi and his great love for all God’s creatures. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Maestro Lucas Richman to Conduct Next Master Arts Concert

Knoxville Symphony conductor, Maestro Lucas Richman, will conduct the Church Street Parish Adult Choir, the Knoxville Chamber Choir and the KSO Chamber Orchestra in Franz Joseph Haydn's Theresienmesse in B. Church Street's organist, Edie Johnson, will perform Joseph Rheinberger's Organ Concerto in G Minor. Soloists for the Mass will be Jami Anderson, soprano, Lauren Lyles, alto, Alex Ward, tenor, and Daniel Webb, bass. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. You may purchase tickets online, or in the church office, Monday-Friday.

Sermon - September 15, 2013 - Except for Christ

1 Timothy 1.12-17
Rev. Andy Ferguson

Who is the God we have come here to meet? Surely, you must have some idea what you came looking for. There are many examples – some in the Bible, some in our culture.
+       God As a friend: The disciples walked with Jesus for three years along the dusty roads of Galilee. I think Jesus could tell a joke. I think Jesus could take a joke. The disciples experienced Jesus as a real friend with whom they shared the most ordinary tasks of the day; they also stood in wonder at the miracles he could command.
+       God As a distant judge: When the prophets spoke in fiery language of judgment and criticism OR on the days of Israel’s defeat, God must have seemed very far away. When the angry, disappointed God stormed out of the room, they must have experienced themselves as alone upon the face of the earth.
+       God As customer support: In our day, I think many people experience God as that customer support voice that you hear when you call an 800 number. At least, God speaks the same English we do. The customer support God is a distant helper who can help us figure out today’s problems so we can get on with our lives. People who complain that their prayers are not answered are just dialing the wrong 800 number. The task of the church is to keep up with the right number so we can share it among ourselves and with others.
+       God As the God whose greatness exceeds our own so that anything we do looks small: Did you ever go to a water gun fight armed with a Super-soaker only to discover that the guys are the other side are real firemen armed with a fire hose and 5000 gallons of water? When God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, you and I do not come in here to brag on our accomplishments. When we take on the biggest job of our lives, it is comforting to enter the presence of the God who holds the stars in their places across the universe. When our soldier has died on the battlefield, it is comforting to know that our everywhere God held him as he breathed his last.
Paul in 1 Timothy knew this last sort of God. He was sinner; God through Christ saved him. He knew could not be trusted; Christ trusted him and appointed him to his service anyway. Paul would say, “I am nothing; Christ is everything. Every good thing I do is Christ working through me.” This is the voice of Paul in 1 Timothy.
12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence.

I. Paul thanked Christ because Christ chose him.
            Paul never had the feeling that he had chosen Christ but that Christ chose him.
            When Paul was driving up the road to Damascus, furious at the followers of Christ, filled with self-righteousness, Christ interrupted his headlong journey and prevented him from making the biggest mistake he might have made. “Saul, Saul, why persecutist thou me?” It was an encounter with the Holy that called him up short; because he understood immediately that it was Christ who spoke to him. Surely, he thought many times about the fact that he knew what he was doing as he set out for Damascus. He went with thought, with a plan, with authority – but it turned out that he was wrong. It was the encounter with Christ on that Road which changed his mind and his life.
            Have you ever learned from a mistake?
[ILLUS: A Book Tough to Swallow]
            A man walked into a bookstore to return a purchase. “It’s a Bible,” he said, handing a package to the clerk at the cash register.
            “Was it a gift?” asked the clerk.
            “No, I bought it for myself.”

            The clerk asked, “Why do you want to return it?”
            He said, “I made a mistake.”

            “Didn’t you like the translation? Or maybe the format?”
            “Oh no,” the man said, “the format was clear and the translation was fine. I made a mistake.”

            The clerk said, “Well, I need to write down a reason for the return.”
            “In that case,” said the man, “write down that there is a lot in that book which is tough to swallow” (1).

Paul’s mission to Damascus was the greatest mistake in his life, but Christ turned Paul’s mistake into a new direction and a new calling for his life.

II. Paul thanked Christ because Christ trusted him. As the scripture says: “He judged me faithful.” This was the most amazing gift that Christ could give to Paul. He was the head persecutor of the young Church. No one else could believe that Saul the persecutor could change and become Paul the evangelist. But, Christ did believe in him – and judged him faithful.
            You know how we choose the right people.
+       Looking for a new employee, you check their references. People who have done great work will probably do great work in the future. People who have problems on their record will probably have problems in the future.
+       Deciding on the one who will get your vote in the next election. You look to see their voting record. You look to see what they stand up for.
No one is a sure thing, but the past does suggest the likely future.
          [ILLUS: ERIC CHURCH]
            Eric Church has a song titled, “Loves me Like Jesus Does.” The lyrics include the refrain:
But she carries me when my sins make me heavy,
And loves me like Jesus does. 
If he was singing about my daughter, I would tell her to throw the bum out. He doesn’t deserve her trust.

Have you had the experience of being trusted by someone when your stock in this world was at rock bottom? Has someone trusted you when you could not even trust yourself? That is what Christ did for Paul, and it turned his life around.

III. Paul thanked Christ because Christ appointed him. And note carefully what Paul was appointed to. It was not an appointment to a life of ease or publicity or trophies. Paul was appointed to Christ’s service.           
[Ex:] This is the source of the language of United Methodism when pastors say that we have been appointed to serve this church. It is always appointment to service.

Ex: This church has a legacy of preparing young and old to take responsibilities in every area of this nation’s life: business, education, religion, government, and science. Often people will tell stories of young people who grew up and got their start right here in this sanctuary, and then went on to make a great mark on the world. That work is not finished! We have a new crop of 3rd graders to raise up. We have a new crop of 1st and 2nd graders and a new crop of teens and adults to raise, too.

The challenge for us is that anyone can make a mark on this world – if your only goal is 15 minutes of fame. Our task is to teach the young and old of this church to make a mark on this world which lasts – one which is shaped and empowered by the love of Jesus Christ.

IV. Paul thanked Christ because Christ empowered him (4).
            One of the vows we take as United Methodist Christians is familiar:
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

It is a question that we are called to answer. It is our conviction that God will give us the strength and the power to do whatever God calls us to do. We have not signed on to a faith that says, “Figure it out.” We have committed our lives to the Lord who says to us, “I will be with you to the end of the age.” As the writer of 1 Timothy says,
12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, *who has strengthened me*, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service (1 Tim 1.12).

            We have not come to church this morning to tell the world how much we have accomplished. So many religious claims sound like LOOK-AT-ME bragging. // So, is this thing we are doing in church today about us? Or is this about Christ and his grace working through us?
 [The New, Young Preacher]
A young seminary graduate came up to the pulpit, on his first Sunday in his first church very self‑confident and immaculately dressed. He opened his mouth to speak, but the words simply would not come out. Finally, he burst into tears and ended up leaving the pulpit, obviously humbled.

There were two older women sitting in the front row and one remarked to the other, "If he'd come in like he went out, he would have gone out like he came in."

Jesus calls us to a real trust in God and to humble service in his church and the world. The temptation is always to exalt ourselves ‑ to impress others, to make a name for ourselves (5).

Friends, it is Christ that we glorify - not ourselves. When our message is about us, we have the wrong message. All of our doing -- all of our accomplishing -- is Christ working through us. Let everything we do be done to honor and offer Christ.

1. William G. Carter, Praying for a Whole New World, CSS Publishing Company, 2000.
4. Barclay, William. The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, p. 48f.

5. Peter J. Blackburn, Sermon: "Humble Before God"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Make Reservations Now for WNAF

Please join us on Wednesday, September 25, at 12:30 p.m. in Parish Hall for the fall kickoff of Wednesday Noon Adult Fellowship. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Harold Black, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Finance at UT. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Tennessee, he served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and the University of Florida. Dr. Black will speak on “Life after Ben Bernanke.”

Reservations are required. Lunch is $7 per person and will include apple smoked pork loin, green beans, rosemary roasted potatoes, bread, cheesecake and a beverage. Reservations must be made no later than Monday, September 23. You may make reservations by calling the church office at 524-3048 or e-mailing 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Discover Church Street

If you are not a member, but have been attending Church Street and want to find out more about our congregation, then you are invited to the next Discover Church Street class on Sunday, September 22, from 4-7 p.m. in room CLC 120.  This time together with the clergy staff will include a complimentary dinner;  a building tour; and information about the beliefs and practices of United Methodism and the mission and ministry of Church Street.  It is a great time to meet fellow Church Streeters, as well as our clergy staff, and find out more about this congregation.  If you are interested or want to know more, contact Rick Isbell, Minister of Discipleship, at 521-0266 or 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Parenting Class Begins Tomorrow

Sooner or later every parent wishes they could totally reprogram their family in just a few days. While having a new family in a week may not be completely possible, Dr. Kevin Leman can provide workable, down-to-earth tips that can begin to transform every family in just a few days. “Have a New Family by Friday” is the title of Dr. Leman’s latest parenting series and will be offered at Church Street on Sunday evenings for six weeks, beginning September 15. Classes will meet each week from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in room 204 and will be facilitated by Sue Isbell. There is no charge for this class.

Through this series, parents will discover that having a healthy family does not just mean having children who obey, but rather parents, grandparents, and a spiritual foundation through which children learn the values and value of a Christian home. Each lesson offers participants five-day action plans each week based on input from Dr. Leman’s DVD presentations, group discussion, and Bible study.

We all need help being great parents. Regardless of the ages of your children, you will find something in this class you can build on. For more information contact Sue Isbell at

Friday, September 13, 2013

2013-2014 Master Arts Series Gets Underway

Last night, organist Isabelle Demers opened the 2013-2014 Master Arts Series at Church Street with an organ recital in the Nave. She performed pieces by Bach, Mendelssohn and several other composers. The recital included the new French horn pipes that were recently installed at Church Street. Thanks to everyone who attended the recital and for the congregation's continued support of the Master Arts Series.

The next Master Arts concert will be held on Thursday, October 10. Maestro Lucas Richman of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will conduct the Church Street Parish Adult Choir, the Knoxville Chamber Choir and the KSO Chamber Orchestra in Haydn's Theresienmesse in B. Tickets are available now by clicking here. $10 for adults & $5 for students.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Caregiver Support Group Meets Next Week

Taking care of an aging loved one can be an overwhelming experience. The Kay Senior Care Center sponsors a monthly Caregiver Support Group to help encourage and support caregivers. The next meeting is Monday, September 16, at 3 p.m. in room 201-A. If you need care for your loved one during the meeting, please call Judith Winters at 521-0293. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Master Arts Series Returns Tomorrow Night

Join Church Street tomorrow night for the start of the 2013-2014 Master Arts Series. Isabelle Demers will present an organ recital at 7:30 p.m. in the Nave. No ticket is required. Isabelle Demers is Organ Professor and Head of the Organ Program at Baylor University in Texas, where she teaches organ and courses in the organ curriculum. A native of Québec, she is rapidly becoming recognized as one of North America’s most virtuosic organists. She has been a prize-winner and finalist in several international performance competitions and performs widely in the United States, Canada, and Europe. This recital is presented in collaboration with the Knoxville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and will include works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Willan, Dupré, Tchaikovsky, and Rheinberger.

We hope to see you there!

WNAF Returns September 25

Wednesday Nood Adult Fellowship will kickoff for the fall on Wednesday, Septeber 25. Our guest speaker wil be Dr. Harold Black, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Finance at UT. He will explain how the current economy is affecting America’s senior population. 

Lunch is $6.50 per person and reservations need to be made no later than Monday, September 23. Call the church office at 524-3048 or e-mail to make a reservation. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sermon - September 8, 2013: In the Potter's House

Jeremiah 18:1-12
Rev. Andy Ferguson

            I have heard “Jeremiah in the Potter’s House” told for as long as I can remember – told it myself more than once. In the vast majority of those tellings, it was a warm, devotional message about letting God shape us and mold us into the vessels that God wants us to be. One devotional that I recall told us: “Keep your clay moist.”
+Keep your clay moist so that God can shape you according to God’s purposes for you.
+Keep your clay moist so that you will not be resistant to the new directions God is taking your life.
+Keep your clay moist so that you can feel the warm, strong hands of God shaping you into the beautiful vessel you are intended to be.
As the old hymn sings:
            **Melt me and mold me after thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still** (2).
But, we have been misled. Jeremiah’s words are a fiery roar designed to scare the fur off the cat – and wake us up to the Word of God spoken to us and about us. The verses following the story of the Potter’s House are a sharp condemnation of Israel and its lack of faithfulness:
[Jer 18:13‑15a, 17]
13 Therefore, thus says the LORD:
Ask among the nations:
Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel has done a most horrible thing.

14 Does the snow of Lebanon leave
the crags of the highest mountain?
Do the mountain streams decide to run dry?
15 But my people have forgotten me,
they burn offerings to a delusion…
17 Like the wind from the east,
I will scatter them before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
in the day of their calamity.**

If Israel is clay in the potter’s hands, it is not, as the song says,
**. . . waiting, yielded and still,
[Ready to be] Melt[ed] and mold[ed] after [God’s] will.**
It is rebellious and spoiling for a fight. And it is about to learn the awful truth that the God who blesses can also withhold the blessing. It is about to learn that the God who helps us when we are down also expects us to live up to the Scriptures’ call to righteousness and justice and concern for the poor.

[APPLIC:] So, what are we to make of this strong language from the Potter’s House?
A. First, God is deeply invested in our common life. The potter does not work aimlessly or occasionally, and neither does God. The evidence of the scripture is that God pursues us through all the twisted turns of our choices and lives, calling us back to righteousness and faithfulness. Common thinking today says that God waits on us to call, to ask, or to pray. The rule we have written says that God must wait until we are ready to talk. But, according to Jeremiah, NO. This God, who addressed Jeremiah in the Potter’s House, is working, speaking – God is moving already. That we are not paying attention cannot limit the initiative and the voice of God.

            1. I caught an insight into this several years ago in an exchange with a hardheaded youth director:
[YOUTH DIRECTOR] Years ago at a different church, we had a youth director who spent a lot of time in trouble for one reason or another. He stirred up as much mischief as all the teens combined. One day, I asked him if he was worried that he seemed to stay in trouble so much of the time. “Oh, no,” he said. “If you had given up on me, you’d stop trying to fix the problems. When you don’t have anything to say, then I’ll know that I’m really in trouble.”

God is the one who keeps after us until we return.

            2. Potters in ancient times moved the upper wheel by pushing it with their feet on a lower wheel. With their hands, they held and shaped the clay as it sat on the upper wheel. With their body leaning over the work, they put pressure on the clay to take the shape they wanted to see. Every turn of the wheel matters. It is hard work.
            God does not leave us a blob of clay on the wheel; God does shape us – as a community, as a church, and as a nation – to become what God hopes for us. Working through history and history’s events, God is constantly calling the peoples of the world toward the Kingdom. God is using events around us to call us to greater faithfulness. Examples:
+       The homeless are on the streets. The homeless are hungry. Many of them wonder where they can find welcome. *Others* who try to use the same streets are made uncomfortable by their presence and occasional panhandling. We learn quickly not to make eye contact, lest we be approached. What is God calling this church to do in response to that need?
+       Congress is considering the President’s call to intervene in Syria. What responsibility does this nation have for events on the other side of the earth? How can this nation use the tools of military might to bring about good for the world’s peoples and for the 2,000,000 people displaced by Syria’s civil war? What is God calling this church to do in response to that need?
Could we as a church and as a nation approach the difficult problems of our day - like these and more - conscious that we bring our Christian into the conversation? God is invested in our world; God is concerned with the daily decisions that we make.

B. Secondly, the potter is not indifferent to the condition of the clay, because the clay itself suggests the kind of vessel it might make. Like the potter, God knows what we are made of; God knows our limits and our possibilities. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians:
13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor 10.13)

Some clay will remain strong even when thinned out. Other clay must be kept thick to hold its shape. The potter must know the difference and work the vessel according to the character of the clay on the wheel. In the same way, God knows what we are able to endure. Examples:
+       Some of us are young and should not be tested beyond our years.
+       Some of us have seen quite a lot of the world and can stand to deal with situations that would leave others in shock.
+       Some of us are physically strong and are able to carry the heavy loads.
+       Others are thin, wiry, and able to slip through cracks that would stop others.
[ILLUS: TWO DANCERS] Some years ago, I went to a worship service in Ashville, NC. According to the order of service, there would be two interpretative dancers.
            The first one took the floor, and her limbs were long and willowy. Her dance was flowing and beautiful. When she finished, I thought to myself that the next dancer could not add much to that. It was beautiful!
            The second dancer took the floor, and she was shorter and even stocky. Then, when her dance began, it was as powerful as her build. The flowing moves of the first dancer were entirely missing, replaced by a power that spoke of struggle and overcoming.
            Each dancer was different from the other. Each dancer had a gift the other could not duplicate. Each dancer had learned to use her gifts in her dancing before the Lord.

Let us take our varied gifts and offer them, as those two dancers did, to the glory of God.

C. Thirdly, there is a point in the process of turning a pot on the wheel when its future shape is set. It becomes a pitcher, a plate or a butter churn. For communities of faith like this one, there are watershed moments when the community faces choices that will have a profound impact on its future:
+the choice to build on a new site or to stay at the old one;
+the strategic choices that are represented by the annual budget.
+Events become defining for a congregation’s self-identity.
+Ministries become the marque statements for which we or any congregation are known.
Then we can say, This is what we are – to the glory of God.

D. The engaging insight, according to Jeremiah, is that human activity and response become our conversation with God. Too often, we assume that there is nothing we can do to change the course of events. Others have all the cards. Others are closer to the situation. Others have the standing that we do not. We assume that we cannot or should not do anything. OR, we assume that the outcome is in the hands of forces – beyond our reach.
            Jeremiah heard it too. He quoted his critics at the close of the passage:
**12 But they say, "It is no use!**

There is nothing we can do about the problems we see! Our problems are too great or deep-seated to solve. Our enemies will be not be reasonable; there is no point in talking with people like them. We are already to give up on them and turn it over to people who are willing to take sterner measures.
            God’s tolerance for waiting exceeds ours. Is God going to see that the situation is resolved quickly while the rest of us still remember when it could have turned out differently?
[ILLUS:] In Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," Ivan endures all the horrors of a Soviet prison camp. One day he is praying with his eyes closed when a fellow prisoner notices him and says with ridicule, "Prayers won't help you get out of here any faster." Opening his eyes, Ivan answers, "I do not pray to get out of prison but to do the will of God" (3).

But, Jeremiah in the Potter’s House insists that ours is not a *faraway God*. The common thinking of our day is that God, if there is a god, is not going to determine the outcome of the crisis unfolding around us. It will be world leaders, military action, or even the weather that has the greatest impact. But, Jeremiah insists that our God is near and working through events and forces around us to work God’s will. Even in days of crisis, the God who spoke to Jeremiah in the Potter’s House brings a Word of reassurance and hope.

            In this time of world tension around Syria and war-weariness in this nation, let us approach the present moment with the assurance of the nearby God.
+       How does this nation or any nation act to bring about good at home and around the world?
+       How do we who pray then act to announce the presence of God to the weary nation?
+       How do we bear witness to hope that comes from the confidence that God is near?
Have you ever visited a potter’s workshop? As you watched, what did God say to you in that place?

2. “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” Adelaide A. Pollard, composer. 1907

3. Our Daily Bread, December 29, 1993

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writers Needed For Advent Devotion Book

The Congregational Care Committee is planning a book of Advent Devotions written by members of our congregation. If you would like to contribute a short devotion (250 words) to be considered for publication, please contact Caroline Lamar at 521-0299 or to receive the writing guidelines.

All submissions are due by Monday, October 7. Note: all entries will be considered; however, we cannot guarantee that all devotions will be published. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Night Live Kicks Off for Fall

Tonight kicked off the fall season of Sunday Night Live programming at Church Street. After dinner, our guest speakers, Mickey Dearstone & Heather Harrington from the Sports Animal, talked about the 2013 Vols Football season and answered questions. We thank them for sharing their Big Orange knowledge with us!

The next SNL program will be held on Sunday, October 6. Our guest speaker will be Lucas Richman, music director for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

Presentation of Bibles

Today at the 11 a.m. service, we continued an important Church Street tradition. We presented all of our third grade students with Bibles. It's our congregation's way of honoring our commitment to raise all of the children of the church. The stories of the Bible belong to us all. They tell us who we are. They tell us that we belong to one another, for we are the people of God.

Below is the prayer we prayed with the children and their families during the service.
We rejoice in this step in your journey with God. 
We pray God will guide you, your family, and us
As you use this Holy Bible in your home, 
In your church school classes, and in our worship.
We wil learn together and grow in our love for God's word. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hunger Helper Market Has Three Weeks Left

With just three weeks left in the Hunger Helper Market season, we need everyone to pitch in so we can meet our of goal of $5,000. Here's how you can help:

  • Contribute items to the market to be sold (baked goods, vegetables, fruits, etc.)
  • Shop at the market on Sundays, September 8, 15, and 21
  • Stop by the market and make a donation of any amount
Please help us reach our goal! Thank you for your continued support of the Hunger Helper Market.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Financial Peace University Begins Sunday

Could you be more at peace with your money ? Make plans to attend the next Financial Peace University (FPU) at Church Street that begins this month. FPU is a nine-week program on personal finance designed to empower people to manage their money better, eliminate debt and build wealth. The material is Biblically based and taught via video by Dave Ramsey.

FPU is designed for you if...
  • You struggle with gaps in your financial knowledge. 
  • You feel as if money has control over you.
  • You struggle in your marriage due to financial problems.
  • You live paycheck to paycheck.
  • You think or say to yourself, "I can't afford this program.
Choose one orientation sessions to attend: Sunday, September 8, or Sunday, September 15, at 2 p.m. The nine-week class begins Sunday, Sept. 22. Materials fee discount for Church Street Members Contact: Julia Kelley at or 228-0554 for more information.