Palm Sunday + Easter

This coming Sunday marks Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week.  As you probably know, we will not be meeting together for worship at Church Street on these holy days.  But, that doesn’t mean we won’t celebrate the glory of this season.

For Palm Sunday, there are two churchwide opportunities for worship:

  1. 10:00 Digital Worship (via YouTube)
  2. 4:00 Palm Sunday “Parade” (hosted by Children’s Ministry)

The links to each of these events will be come to you via email.

On Palm Sunday, we usually have our annual Lenten Worship Night.  And while we can’t participate together in the Nave, we have a special guided prayer and meditation opportunity for NightLife.  On Sunday afternoon, you’ll receive an email with instructions and the link to an audio guided prayer.  We would love for everyone to pray around the same time (in a window from 5:15-6:00) followed by our NightLife call at 6:00 for fellowship together.

During Holy Week, you’ll receive emails along with the whole congregation for prayers & a virtual Stations of the Cross experience.  On Good Friday, we will have another virtual worship experience as a congregation.  And Easter morning will have a digital worship experience similar to Palm Sunday’s set up.

One phrase I found myself saying is, “Easter is not cancelled. Jesus is already risen. It is finished.”  And while we know this logically, it is easy for the disappointment of broken traditions to override the Truth.  Jesus is risen, indeed.  As we move through the final days of Lent, let us say “Hosanna in the highest,” recognize the darkness of the cross, and celebrate the glory of the resurrection.

You are deeply loved, don’t forget that.

Quiet Time Resources

We’ve discussed that this quarantine is a BRILLIANT time to start or reset a quiet time practice. While we don’t have our normal daily routines, we do have some extra time on our hands, and this would be a great way to utilize the gift of time.  Marcy and I have compiled some of our favorite resources in this post!

When looking at a quiet time routine, these are some basic tools that you can mix and match to build something that fits you well. (This is not an exclusive list, but a good starting place.)

  • prayer
  • silence/meditation
  • scripture reading
  • journaling
  • devotion/book reading
  • worship songs
  • reflection/gratitude

When starting a quiet time routine, choose 2-3 of these and give them a try.  If you don’t know what to pray, choose a Psalm.  And if you don’t know what scripture to read, start with a Gospel and read through it a chapter or so at a time.

There are lots of different resources available to help you with quiet time.  Here are some helpful reminders.

  • Daily resources – devotions or reading plans that are matched with a day of the calendar year (correspond with a specific date)
  • Topical resources – devotions or reading plans that are grouped by themes or ideas (joy, anxiety, forgiveness, grace, etc)
  • Print media – physical resources such as Bibles, books, or journals
  • Digital media – apps, podcasts, records, websites, playlists, audiobooks, etc

Below, you’ll find descriptions and examples for some popular resources that could be helpful for you!

Devotions

Jesus Calling:  This devotion by Sarah Young is a daily reading that offers a meditation, scripture reading, and a prayer.  This is a great introductory resource and can provide you with structure and content while you develop a routine that works for you!

The Blue Book: The Blue Book by Jim Branch is a weekly devotional on different topics such as “Fear” “The Dance” “Waiting” and about 49 other topics.  His devotions include an opening and closing prayer, a psalm for the week, a daily passage, and different quotes, poems, and stories from people who have learned about the lord in this certain topic.  Then, there is a song to listen to for the week, prayer, and journaling listed.  I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to further their intimacy and awareness of the Lord.

Every Moment Holy:  This is a modern liturgy for everyday life. There are blessings and prayers for almost anything you can think of: dating, medical procedures, morning coffee, social media, and feeling awkward in social groups.  This is yet another resource to show God is with you in your everyday life, even in modern context.

The Book of Common Prayer: This is a similar, lofty, perhaps, resource to give liturgy to everyday life.  There is liturgy for the season of Lent, the Daily Office (prayers for different times of ordinary days), and many common places and occasions.  This book is a great day to show that even long ago, feelings and prayers relate to our feelings and prayers today for the Lord.

Apps

YouVersion Bible App: YouVersion is a super common bible app including the whole Bible, a daily verse, and many plans to give you a devotional daily as well as a daily Bible Reading.  This offers tons of topical and daily plans that you can subscribe to.  It also has a feature where you can link up with friends and go through plans together!

Through the Word: Through the word is Ramsey’s favorite online resource to learn about the historical context, themes, and general explanation of books of the bible.  There are about six minute segments on passages of the bible, taking you through whole books of the bible.  There are additionally plans on wisdom, leadership, beginning, and other themes of that sort. 

Podcasts

The Bible Recap – A daily podcast that corresponds with a chronicle reading of the Bible on the YouVersion app.  About 6-9 minutes per day that helps you understand the scripture you just read!

The Next Right Thing – A weekly podcast about decision making from a Biblical perspective.  Did you know the average person makes over 35,000 decisions a day?  BONKERS.  This podcast helps us see the small things of life as holy.

BibleProject – A weekly podcast that dives deep into scripture and provides in-depth conversations about the Bible and theology.  There are also videos available at bible project.com

Books

The Liturgy of the Ordinary:  This is a book all about taking regular things like brushing your teeth or eating leftovers and changing your perspective to see them as sacred.  A completely transformative and very practical look at our everyday lives!

The Ministry of Ordinary Places:  This book by Shannon Martin gives an account of everyday finding the Lord in small, ordinary places like cracked gravel or the moon in the morning.  It is transformative in the way that God can lead you in daily life through paying attention.

The Chronicles of Narnia:  An incredible, fantastical book series about the magical land of Narnia.  It’s an extended metaphor/allegory about Jesus’ love for us.  The characters are interesting and the stories are compelling.  And C.S. Lewis is Jenny’s favorite theologian, you’ll see why when you read this series.

Mere Christianity: This C.S. Lewis classic is a compilation of essays that were pulled from his incredible WWII radio broadcasts and turned into one of the world’s most influential books on becoming a Christian.  It is a bit dense and will require you to chew on the text – so it might take you a long time to get through it.  But it is so worth it!

The Jesus Storybook Bible:  This is actually a children’s Bible, but is designed to tell the stories of scripture like, well, stories.  It almost reads the way fairy tales do.  It might seem strange to have a kids book on the list, but reading familiar stories in this way will change the way you look at scripture!

Authors to Consider

  • C.S. Lewis
  • Henri Nouwen
  • Frederick Buechner
  • Emily P. Freeman
  • Annie F. Downs
  • A.W. Tozer

Do you have questions or other resources you’d like to add to the list?  Email Jenny at jcross@churchstreetumc.org!

NightLife Functional Faith | Answering Hard Questions

This video is a conversation between Ramsey and Jenny about some of the content we’ll work through tonight.  Back in February, you asked some GREAT questions about faith.  Tonight, we’re talking about a variety of categories: who God is, what grace is, a timeline/brief history of the Bible and the Church, and more!  At the end of the post, there is a link to the Zoom call we will use tonight to have our group discussion as well as some instructions for using Zoom!

Discussion Questions

  • When you think about Jesus in John’s Gospel (the Gospel of Light & Life), what comes to mind for you?
  • How do you describe darkness? Where do you see darkness in our community and the world right now?
  • How does Jesus bring light into our lives?
  • How can we share that light with others – especially in a time when we have to

Scripture Reading

We are using the Gospel of John to pair with our Functional Faith study.  Today, we are going to consider some of the passages in the early parts of the chapter.  Take some time to read these verses before we get together tonight.

  • John 1:1-34
  • John 3:16-17
  • John 5: 24

Accessing Digital NightLife Meeting

You can use a computer, tablet, or phone to access our NightLife Zoom call.  It will work best on a computer! If you use a computer, just click the link to the call below. If you are using a tablet or phone, download the Zoom app before logging in.  Head to this link to learn how to access with a mobile device: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO206_NezaY

NightLife Zoom call link: https://zoom.us/j/838264123

 

Missions Opportunities | Serving During the Quarantine

Hey there to all you wonderful people!  I miss seeing your faces in real life.  I hope that you are well and that you are home!

As we move through our quarantine, we still want to make an effort to serve our community and our congregation.  We are continuing to partner with Wesley House and can support them with donations of food, money, and supplies.  And we are also starting a letter writing campaign to write notes of encouragement with our members who are isolated or are working in healthcare.

I also want to help people who are in need of service hours as we approach the end of a school year.  We can use these opportunities to acquire virtual service hours so that you can meet your necessary requirements.

In order for us to answer any questions and make a plan as a team, we’re going to have a missions zoom call on Monday to discuss more fully.  Tune in to get all the information you need!

Missions Zoom Call: Monday, March 30 at 10:30 AM https://us04web.zoom.us/j/187980412

NightLife Functional Faith | Quiet Time & Using the Bible

This video is a conversation between Marcy and Jenny about using the Bible as a tool and how to set up a daily quiet time practice.  It will give you some ideas as well as introduce what we will be talking more about tonight.  At the end of the post, there is a link to the Zoom call we will use tonight to have our group discussion as well as some instructions for using Zoom!

Discussion Questions

  • What is your relationship with the Bible?
  • Do you feel comfortable using it as a tool?
  • Do you have a quiet time routine?  If so, what does it look like? If not, what is one step you would like to take to start one?

Scripture Lab

We are using the Gospel of John to pair with our Functional Faith study.  Today, we are going to consider the “I Am” sayings of Jesus.  In John’s Gospel, Jesus uses the phrase “I Am” seven times – each time to proclaim that He is God (like when God says “I Am who I Am” to Moses from the burning bush) and to reveal part of His character.

There are two specific “I Am” phrases we are going to look at tonight as we think about what it means to be in daily communion with Christ.  We will talk about them more tonight, but here are some questions to get us started.

“I am the bread of life.” – John 6:35

  • Let’s take a moment to consider the role of bread in God’s relationship with the Israelites.  In the Passover, God gave specific instructions about making bread. Do you remember what it was?
  • Once the Israelites left Egypt and were in the wilderness, God gave them bread called manna.  What do you think this has to do with Jesus?
  • Now, let’s tie this idea of Jesus being the bread of life back to our daily faith practices like quiet time and prayer.  Is there a line in the Lord’s Prayer that has to do with bread?
  • Why do you think it is significant that this model prayer teaches us to ask for daily bread?
  • How can we use bread as a reminder or touchstone for us in our lives and faith?

“I am the the light of the world.” – John 8:12

  • What do you think light symbolizes in Christian faith?
  • Can you think of any other pieces of scripture that talk about light?
  • Have you ever experienced spiritual light?  What about spiritual darkness?
  • How is your faith community a light to you? To your community? To the world?
  • We are in a challenging time, there is no doubt about that.  But we have an opportunity to trust that Jesus is light in a new and fresh way.  What might this perspective shift mean for you?

Accessing Digital NightLife Meeting

You can use a computer, tablet, or phone to access our NightLife Zoom call.  It will work best on a computer! If you use a computer, just click the link to the call below. If you are using a tablet or phone, download the Zoom app before logging in.  Head to this link to learn how to access with a mobile device: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO206_NezaY

NightLife Zoom call link: https://zoom.us/j/838264123

 

Digital NightLife Plan

Hey friends!

I want to share with you our game plan for how digital NightLife is going to work out.  Sunday content will look like this:

1:00 PM – NightLife Content Post + Email

  • This will be an email and blog post (with identical content) to get us ready for our NightLife time together.  This will be a video lesson on our Functional Faith topic followed by discussion questions for you to brainstorm about.

5:45 PM – Zoom call begins

  • The Zoom call will open up before our actually NightLife begins. This will give us an opportunity to fix any connection issues and be sure everyone’s video and audio are working.
  • These calls will work best on a computer or tablet, but phones will work as well. On a phone or tablet, download the Zoom app in advance.  On a computer, you can click the link directly.  If you are using an app, we’ve learned it works best to type in the code rather than to use the link.

6:00 PM – NightLife Discussion

  • This will be our “Large Group” discussion.  We’ll talk through the content, answer questions, and check in with one another.  We will utilize both the chat and the video features.  You’ll see when we’re all together!

6:45 PM – Potential Small Group “Break Outs”

  • We’re going to try to add some “small group” activities to our Zoom calls. At the end of our group discussions, we’ll break into our regular small groups and work through a couple of questions together before coming back together as a group.

Remember, this is all flexible.  It’s going to take a little bit of time to get things sorted out together. But having time as a group is so important, and I believe it will be good for all of us!

Let me know if you have any questions, and be on the lookout for our first Digital NightLife on March 22!

Digital Hangout | March 21, 11:00 AM

Hello friends! As I’ve shared in our past emails and posts this week, we are going to move to a digital NightLife format for the time being. Of course, this is not what we all would prefer — it’s way better to all be together. But I am so thankful for the gift of technology during this season and am actually excited about trying this with all of you.

More information on this NightLife will be heading your way tomorrow afternoon. But I would like to invite you to a digital hangout tomorrow, Saturday, March 21 at 11:00 AM. We will be using Zoom for this call, and it does work on phones, but is easier to use on a computer. If you use a phone or tablet, download the Zoom app before logging in to the call.  There is no agenda for this call, just to be together and have some connection.

I don’t have answers for much of what is happening, but I firmly believe that God is still with us and is still good. And now, more than ever, we need to show the love of Christ to each other even if it means being a little unconventional.  You are so loved. And I can’t wait to see you tomorrow on our call!

To access this call, use this link! https://us04web.zoom.us/j/845547705

Serving Safely | Social Distancing Missions Opportunities

Although many of our activities have to be shifted in this time, there are still people in great need. I want to highlight three ways you can serve during this season while still honoring the CDC’s recommendations to social distance.
Help Soup Kitchen serve carry out meals.
On Thursdays, our Soup Kitchen will prepare bagged meals to distribute to our guests. At 10:00 AM, volunteers can meet in Parish Hall to be part of an assembly line to put together the bags. Everything will be sanitized before and after. Beginning at 11:00 AM, we will open one door to the Welcome Center and invite small groups in to grab a bag and use the restroom. We need helpers who are considered less “at-risk” to be on this front line. Please contact Palmer Cantler for more information at pcantler@churchstreetumc.org. They also have an Amazon wishlist if you want to provide materials. Just click here.
Provide Wesley House with goods & donations.
Wesley House is doing its best to continue to serve those in Mechanicsville. But they are in desperate need of food and monetary donations. The Wesley House team is working to deliver food to the senior women (the “Grannies”) they serve during the week, and provide grocery bags for families to pick up at Wesley House. Their immediate needs are listed below. They are also in need of funds for support their effort, You can deliver donations of food or finances to their address: 1719 Reynolds Street, Knoxville, TN 37921 Monday-Friday, 8:00-5:00.
  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond milk or soy milk
  • Jelly
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Canned veggies (any variety)
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Rice
  • Canned meats (tuna, Vienna, potted meat)
Write letters to Church Street members in isolation.
Church Street has a number of members who are living in isolation at this time. Most nursing homes have limited visitors, and other members are at risk and choosing to self quarantine. What an amazing opportunity for us to take some time from our days and write to them. If you would be interested in this activity, let Jenny know (her contact information is below) and she will get you the information you need.
Have you missed of our COVID-19 updates? Check below to go directly to our past posts.

Youth Ministry from Home | Student & Parent Surveys

Like we said in yesterday’s post, we are making an effort provide our youth and families with plenty of regular content while we are all practicing social distancing.  I like the term antisocial ministry myself, but we’ll have to wait and see if it catches on.  To help us know if we’re on the right track when it comes to content creation, we’d love for you to fill out the surveys below to give us information about how we can serve you best during this time.  We have a student survey and a parent survey.

Some of youth band had a brief Zoom call this morning to talk together, and they are creating a playlist for At Home Worship.  You can use the link below to listen! And we learned that Zoom is going to be a great option for our Digital NightLife times!

Student Survey

Parent Survey

At Home Worship Playlist

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