God’s Gift of Love to Us

December 16, 2022

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are well. Our journey through Advent is coming to a close, and I really am looking forward to Sunday. During this season our theme has been “Deck the Halls!” We are preparing for Christmas by decking the halls of our lives with some of God’s good gifts. We’ve been traveling a little off the beaten path as we have listened to the words of Zechariah, John the Baptist, and Elizabeth – not exactly main characters in the traditional Christmas story. I hope you have found these services to be helpful sources of hope, peace, and joy. We will bring this series to a close on Sunday as we experience the birth of Jesus through the eyes of Joseph and consider God’s gift of love to us. You certainly will not want to miss the music for this week:

  • The Doxology Youth Choir will offer a spiritual arrangement of We Three Kings
  • The Chancel Choir will present For Unto Us a Child Is Born from Handel’s Messiah
  • Soloist Catherine Sherling will sing This Christmastide

If you cannot make it in person (8:45 am, 10:00 am, 11:15 am), then join us online for the livestream of those services through our website.

Let me make you aware of two opportunities this weekend:

  • Christmas with the Georgia Boy Choir – Friday and Saturday, December 16 and 17, at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary. The Georgia Boy Choir is our ensemble in residence, and this concert is their biggest event of the year. You will be inspired as all five levels of the choir perform Christmas carols, sacred classics, and some of your holiday favorites, including Altanta’s largest presentation of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with audience participation in our magnificent sanctuary. You may purchase tickets through their website.
  • Longest Night Service – Sunday evening at 5:30 pm in the Moore Chapel. Our very own Rev. Darren Hensley will offer a message of hope in the midst of darkness. I invite you to join us for this service, light a candle, and remember that you are not alone – you are never alone!

Of course, Christmas Eve is just a little over a week away. What makes this day so special? Some may say it’s the children, dressed as angels, shepherds, sheep, and other stable animals, singing “Away in a Manger.” Others point to that moment when we light the Christ Candle, signifying the presence of our God with us. And still others assert that it is the passing of the light in a dark sanctuary during the singing of “Silent Night” and the sight of lifted candles as we affirm together “He rules the world!” And the reality is that it’s all of these. Christmas Eve is the best day of the year! 

I remind you that we will be offering five services in our sanctuary on Christmas Eve:

12:00 noon – Candlelight Service with Holy Communion

4:00 p.m. – Family Candlelight Service and Christmas Pageant

6:00 p.m. – Family Candlelight Service and Christmas Pageant

8:00 p.m. – Festival of Lessons and Carols with Candle lighting

10:30 p.m. – Festival Choral Eucharist with Candle lighting

I want to enlist your help in three ways:

  • First, you are invited to participate in the volunteer choir that will be leading the noon service. Do you like to sing Christmas music? Okay, you qualify! There is one rehearsal – Saturday morning, December 24, at 11:00 am in the Music Suite. Come sing with us this Christmas Eve!
  • Second, a word about the services. We will be lighting candles at all services this year (including the 12:00 noon service). The highest attended services (therefore, the most difficult to find a seat!) are the family services at 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. So, make your plans accordingly. I would like to put in a plug for the 10:30 pm service. The music and liturgy for this service are simply beautiful, and there is something special about walking out of the sanctuary at the close of the service at midnight, hearing the pealing of the church bells, and realizing it is Christmas! I invite you to consider worshiping with us at 10:30 pm and inviting others to join you.  
  • Third, a word about attendance. More guests attend Peachtree Road UMC on Christmas Eve than any other service in the year. They come in search of God’s precious gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love – blessings we experience here on a regular basis. I encourage you to seek out new faces at the service you attend, greet them, and encourage them to come back in the future. Remember that person who warmly welcomed you when you first came to Peachtree Road UMC and pass the blessing along to others. If you are not able to worship with us in person, our services will be available through the church app or online. Let others know of this opportunity to experience the pageantry of this our favorite festival as we celebrate God with us.

Once again, this year’s special Christmas Eve Offering will be used to buy water filters for families living in Kenya. We are continuing our partnership with “Start with One Kenya” to provide the gift of clean water for families living in Njoro, one of the regions most devastated by water-borne disease in the entire country. I hope you will give generously and help us provide the gift of good health to thousands of families in that region.

Speaking of giving, thank you for your faithfulness throughout the year. Your giving has made a difference in these uncertain days of economic inflation. I do encourage you to help us finish the year well. If everyone fulfills his or her commitment to the church by year-end, we will meet our budget. Some of you may be planning to make an extra contribution to the church this year, and I encourage you to mark it for the operating budget. For your convenience, you may make your gift online here. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Finally, I am grateful to all who have made a commitment to the church’s “Greater Than” financial campaign to support the operating budget for 2023. If you have not made your commitment yet, please take the time to do that this weekend. The most convenient way is to pledge or establish a recurring gift online through the church app or website. Persons from the Finance Committee will be reaching out and sending reminders to those from whom we have yet to hear in the coming days. Please know that every commitment is important and helps our ministries of worship, nurture, outreach, and witness go forward. Thank you for your faithfulness.

I know this turned out to be a long note, but this is a very full season. I look forward to seeing you in worship this week as we celebrate God’s presence in our midst.

Grace and peace,

Bill