April 19, 2019

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are having a meaningful Holy Week. We made a good beginning last Sunday with our Palm Sunday celebration. As usual, the grand music, the triumphant procession led by our favorite donkey “Jerusalem,” the joyous singing of our children’s choirs, and the Flower Guild’s arrangements of palms throughout the sanctuary made for a festive day in spite of the storms that moved through our area Sunday morning.

In the message, we remembered there were three crosses on Calvary and considered the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus. We observed that one of the criminals was bitter – his pain and fear in the face of death were on full display. The other criminal displayed a fear of God, was aware of his own sin, and appealed to Jesus to be remembered. Jesus did not condemn the first criminal and neither should we. To the second, he said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” We observed that the three crosses represent the church, for both the bitter and repentant are there. And between them, bridging the gap, hangs Jesus. That thought carries us through this Holy Week.

You are invited to join us today at 12:00 noon for the Buckhead Community Good Friday Service at Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church. We will gather with members from Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, Peachtree Presbyterian, and Wieuca Road Baptist as well as Second Ponce de Leon Baptist and Peachtree Road for a special time of worship. The preacher for the service will be Monsignor Frank McNamee, and I hope to see you there.

I want you to know about two opportunities on Holy Saturday:

  • Holy Saturday at Cascade UMC — the final session of our church’s “Lenten Journey to Racial Reconciliation” in cooperation with members of Cascade UMC is set for Saturday, April 20, at 10:00 am at Cascade UMC. The entire church family is invited for this time of fellowship and worship as Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson leads us and we celebrate together the Sacrament of Holy Communion. This initiative has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to build relationships that are enriching members of both churches. Come celebrate with us on Holy Saturday.
  • Easter Egg Hunt — For those who have children (or grandchildren!) aged 1 year old through 5th grade, you are invited to join us for an Egg Hunt from 10:00 am until 12 noon at Bob and Becky Hill’s house at 4950 Jett Road. In addition to the egg hunts scheduled for the various age groups, this event features pony rides, inflatable slides, bunnies, and fellowship for the whole family. Come join in the fun!

Of course, Sunday is Easter Day, and we will offer four opportunities to worship the Risen Christ at Peachtree Road:

  • Sunrise service — This special service begins at 6:30 am in the columbarium (the courtyard area between the sanctuary and the Rollins building where the niches are located). For me, this service really captures the spirit of that first Easter long ago. We gather in the darkness of the early morning, hear the message of the empty tomb, receive the light of Christ, and process to the chapel to celebrate the good news. If you have not attended this service before, I invite you to give it a try.
  • Sanctuary services — Please note the special times for our festival worship in the sanctuary: 8:15 am., 9:45 am., and 11:15 am. Each service will begin with the congregation singing Charles Wesley’s majestic hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and close with the Chancel Choir offering the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by the Atlanta Brassworks.

In the message this Sunday, I want us to consider the Gospel of Luke’s account of the Resurrection and take note of the words of the angels: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” As I have reflected upon those words, I wonder where we look for life and hope and meaning. Do we know where to find Jesus? I look forward to wrestling with that question with you on Sunday.

I do want to remind you that we will receive our Lenten Offering on Sunday. Please know that what we do really matters, and what we give makes a difference in the lives of others. Last year we created the Lenten Offering to help us make real, sustainable change in our community. We exceeded our expectations and impacted our outreach partner agencies in ways we wouldn’t have imagined. It’s time to do it again. Please join Wendie and me in giving generously. You may give through the offering envelope on Sunday or through the church app or online here.

Three more logistical notes about Sunday:

  • Parking — We will be running golf cart shuttles from our lots to the sanctuary throughout the morning, but parking may be difficult as we expect over 4,000 people for the morning services. In recent years, the largest attendance has been at the 9:45 am service, and we certainly are pinched for parking between that service and the 11:15 am service. In keeping with what we have been learning this season, I encourage you to be compassionate and empathetic toward others as you look for parking! Remember, as the lots turn over from one service to another, spaces do become available.
  • Breakfast — A continental breakfast will be served in Grace Hall from 7:00 am until 9:00 am, between the Sunrise service and the 8:15 am service in the sanctuary. We would love to have you come early and join in the food and fellowship.
  • Flowers — Remember to bring flowers to decorate the cross out in front of the church. This transformed symbol of our faith becomes a strong witness to the Resurrection to all who pass by in the days to come.

Finally, please invite others who may not have a church home to experience Easter at Peachtree Road. We are pretty good at recommending restaurants, movies, and books to others, but what about church? Think about someone who might need to hear the good news of Easter and encourage them to attend Peachtree Road.

I look forward to seeing you early and often this Sunday!