Advent Devotional: Dec. 17, 2020

By Sloan Dobrin

2020 is a weird year for hope. When I think back to January, we had so many dreams and plans for the year that vanished in a puff of smoke. My planner has a yearly “bucket list” in the front that now looks like a joke. I think the only thing I can actually cross off is we got our toddler potty trained.

November was when my hope hit the low point. Cases for the pandemic were going up. I was hoping for a landslide victory for my presidential candidate of choice and that didn’t happen. In fact, it took days before we knew the results. I felt so much relief when I found out that what felt like four years of outrage, fear, and sadness would be over. News of a vaccine began to become real. I began to feel hope again.

But then I started to wonder what would have happened if my candidate hadn’t won. What would have happened to my hope? And I began to think and realize that my hope had been misplaced. My hope is not in old white men, no matter how thoughtful and compassionate they are. My hope is not in a vaccine. My hope is in a “brown skinned homeless radical preaching love and justice 2000 years ago.” My hope is in a God whose kin-dom is the only thing that will matter in 10,000 years. My hope is in a Church that lives out our directive of loving our neighbor as ourselves.

I’m not there yet. I still place my hope in jobs and footballs and election results. But I’m also placing my Hope in Christmas cactuses that bloom and yeast that rises and the flicker of a candle. So here’s to a hope that will anchor our souls in the coming year. May it be a glimpse of our kin-dom that is coming.

May 24 Online Service

Oconee Street UMC Online Service
May 24, 2020


Performed by Carisa Elam, keyboard and guitar


Pastor Elaine Puckett

Special Recognition

Recognition of 2020 UGA graduate and OSUMC choir member Thomas Dobbins

Recognition of 2020 Graduates

A special tribute video recognizing all academic year high school and college and graduates of Oconee Street UMC and U-Lead Athens.


Carter Vest

Opening Hymn: “Rejoice, the Lord is King!”

“Rejoice, the Lord is King”
Performed by Grace Community Church congregation (Sun Valley, California)

Scripture Reading, Ephesians 1:15-23

Carter Vest

Gospel Reading, Luke 24:44-53

The Rev. Elaine Puckett

Anthem: Psalm 150

Psalm 150, arr. Nathan Carter
Performed by Oakwood University Aeolians & Orchestra
“Praise ye the Lord. 
Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”

Sermon: Darth Vader vs. Jesus

The Rev. Elaine Puckett

Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer

Carter Vest

Closing Hymn: Crown Him With Many Crowns

“Crown Him With Many Crowns”
Performed by Westminster Abbey congregation


Pastor Elaine Puckett


Performed by Molly Stanley, violin

Please consider making an online offering by clicking here.

Service: March 29, 2020

March 29, 2020 • Fifth Sunday of Lent

Godly Play

Alys Wilman


Pastor Elaine Puckett


The Calkin Family

The journey to Good Friday is fraught with danger; 
The road to Jerusalem is difficult indeed. 
Be among us, as we enter this story together 
Help us to faithfully follow the rugged path that takes us home.

Opening Hymn: “How Firm a Foundation”

Psalter: Psalm 130

The Calkin Family

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 43: 16-21

Pastor Elaine Puckett


Pastor Elaine Puckett

Anthem: “Come Away to the Skies”

Houston Chamber Choir

Come away to the skies, 
my beloved, arise
and rejoice in the day thou wast born.
On this festival day,
come exulting away,
and with singing to Zion return.
We have laid up our love and our treasure above,
Though our bodies continue below.
The redeemed of the Lord will remember His Word,
And with singing to paradise go.

Hallelujah we sing,
to the heaven’s high King,
and his rapturous praises repeat:
to the Lamb that was slain,
hallelujah again,
sing, all heaven, and fall at his feet. 


Pastor Elaine Puckett

Hymn: “Standing on the Promises”

Standing on the promises of Christ my king,
through eternal ages let his praises ring;
glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing, 
standing on the promises of God my Savior;
standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of God I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of God. [Refrain]

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
bound to him eternally by love’s strong cord,
overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
standing on the promises of God. [Refrain]

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,
resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of God. [Refrain]

Please consider making an online offering by clicking here.

Service: March 22, 2020

March 22, 2020 • Fourth Sunday of Lent

Godly Play:


Pastor Elaine Puckett


Read by Joe Dennis

The journey to Good Friday is fraught with danger;
The road to Jerusalem is difficult indeed. 
Be among us, as we enter this story together
Help us to faithfully follow the rugged path that takes us home.

Opening Hymn: “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart”

Psalter: Psalm 32

Read by Joe Dennis

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”– and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.
7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. 
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
Sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Presentation of the Gospel: Luke 15: 1-3; 11b-32

Sermon: “Dangerously Angry”

Pastor Elaine Puckett

Anthem: “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those
        who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
    and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.

Closing Hymn: “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

Performed by The Choral Arts Society of Washington Chamber Singers

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n to earth come down:
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown:
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter ev’ry trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest:
take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be:
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
’til in heav’n we take our place,
’til we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Benediction / Homework:

Pastor Elaine Puckett

Please consider making an online offering by clicking here.

Sermon: The Servant Church

“Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough.” On Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, we need to ask ourselves, “What kind of church are we going to be?”

“The Servant Church” • Sermon by Dr. Robert Foster
”Ain’t Got Time to Die” • Chancel Choir
Words and Music by Hall Johnson

“The Servant Church”
Sermon by Dr. Robert Foster
Isaiah 49:1-7
January 19, 2020

”Ain’t Got Time to Die”
Words and music by Hall Johnson
Performed by the Chancel Choir, directed by JD Burnett
Soloist: Amanda Martin

Sermon: Holding on and Letting Go

The parable of the rich man is perhaps the most difficult story in the Bible for Christians to accept. Jesus tells a rich man that in order to truly get into heaven, he should give all his possessions to the poor and follow Jesus.

Several interpretations of this verse try to avoid the fact that this is about money, or that it doesn’t apply to us. But if we are seeking to follow Jesus, we can be thrown off too easily by money and material things.

Our money should not get in between us and God, but should be used as a vehicle to do God’s work. The ultimate question for all God’s followers is “What are you willing to give in order to pass through to the kingdom of heaven?”

“Holding On and Letting Go • The Rev. Elaine Puckett”

“Holding On and Letting Go”
Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett
Mark 10: 17-27
Nov. 10, 2019

Sermon: Praying for God’s Future

When Jesus teaches us how to pray, he gives us what is now known as The Lord’s Prayer. The prayer emphasizes three things:

  1. God is a member of our family.
  2. There are three requests we are making — bread, forgiveness and deliverance.
  3. We should trust that God will provide.

Most Christians are comfortable with the idea of God as family and trusting that God will provide. And our for the most part, our requests for bread, forgiveness and deliverance are easy to comprehend. However, when it comes to forgiveness, The Lord’s Prayer commands us to forgive those who have sinned against us, just as God forgives us when we sin against God. Jesus tells us that forgiveness received is forever linked with forgiveness given.

Jesus is clear: prayer is effective and God responds. But it’s most effective when a prayer is paired with our willingness to act lovingly in relationship to others … all others.

Homework: Every single person here has someone they need to forgive … Forgive them, reach out and pray for them.

Praying for God’s Future • Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett • Luke 11: 1-13

“Praying for God’s Future”
Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett
Luke 11: 1-13
Aug. 4, 2019

Listen to The Word in Song, “To You I Call.

Sermon: Finding Balance

In Luke 10:38-42, Martha expresses frustration that while she is doing all the housework related to hosting a guest, Mary is talking to Jesus.

Martha asks Jesus if this bothers him? But rather than empathize with Martha, Jesus says Mary is doing exactly what she needs to be doing by listening.

This is pretty groundbreaking for Biblical times, because rabbis typically didn’t preach to women, but Jesus was talking directly to Mary. But he didn’t criticize Martha for what she was doing, either. Because in faith, we need both “being” and “doing.” Our challenge is to find the balance.

Homework: Make some notes to yourself about how much time you spend “being” and how much time you spend “doing.”

Finding Balance • The Rev. Elaine Puckett

“Finding Balance”
Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett
Luke 10: 38-42
July 28, 2019

Sermon: Dear Norah

Today’s sermon is an open letter to Pastor Joe Gunby’s goddaughter, Norah Valentine, who was baptized during the service …

I have a story to tell you. A story of great distance and starlight. A story of deep delight. It’s a story that begins in a place beyond time …

Sermon: “Dear Norah”

“Dear Norah”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
1 Corinthians 3: 1-9
February 17, 2019

Sermon: The Folly of the Cross

Church means many things to different people. But Paul keeps returning the focus of the church to the cross.

But the cross is often used by people use for their own personal gain. Paul warns about this. The cross is not something that can be humanized. It’s a gift from God that allows us to see the world beyond a human perspective.

In the midst of our path in the world, God has placed the stumbling block of the cross. When we encounter it, we might have to do something others deem foolish, but is right in the eyes of God.

Sermon: The Folly of the Cross

“The Folly of the Cross”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Feb. 3, 2019

Listen to The Word in Song: “What the Lord Has Done In Me