May 29, 2020
Dear Peachtree Road Family,
I hope this note finds you well. Earlier this week we welcomed some of the members of the church staff back onto campus after ten weeks of working remotely. New protocols have been instituted for the safety of all (hand sanitizing and temperature check upon entering the building and the wearing of a face mask is required), and folks are getting acclimated to these as well as “physical distancing” in meetings.
One of the lessons we have learned over the last two-and-a-half months is that we actually can include more persons when we offer the option of attending prayer groups, education classes, and church meetings by Zoom. While I guess some of the greater participation could be attributed to more flexible schedules during the pandemic, there is no question that offering the convenience of an online option has helped. Going forward, we will continue to offer an online option for all of our prayer groups, Bible studies, and church meetings. In fact, we are working now to place cameras in the Moore Chapel and Grace Hall to have the capability of livestreaming and recording services and events there as well as outfitting several classrooms as “Zoom Rooms.” In the midst of the pandemic, the Holy Spirit has led us to new and innovative ways to further the mission of Christ through Peachtree Road.
I do need your help in two ways in preparation for the days to come:
- First, many of you know we have a phenomenal team leading our church’s efforts in producing the livestream services. Darrell Osborne, Deshon Reid, and John Thurman are excellent in their coordination of the remote cameras, sound, and graphics. I don’t know what we would do without them! And that brings me to how I need your help. Are you willing to volunteer for our audio-visual team (or know someone who might be willing to volunteer)? We would provide the training and support and are in need of a team of folks who might be willing to help us serve our growing online congregation. If you are interested, please respond to us.
- Second, I would like for you to participate in a survey to help us prepare for the return of in-person worship in the future. Please click on this link and answer a brief, ten question survey to give us your input. I am grateful for your prayerful support of the ministry of Peachtree Road.
On Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the day on which we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. The New Testament book of Acts puts it this way:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1-4)
Our online service this week will begin with the first three stanzas of that great Charles Wesley hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” Then, we will pause to read from the book of Acts. Following the reading, we will sing the final three stanzas of Wesley’s hymn. I believe the music for the day will lead us into God’s presence and help us experience God’s power for living today. The liturgical color for Pentecost is red, and you will notice the cross in the sanctuary draped in red in celebration.
We also will continue our series of messages on the Ten Commandments entitled “Thunder on the Mountain.” This week we come to the seventh commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” In this message we will consider the faithfulness of God to us and how we are encouraged to reflect that faithfulness in our relationships with others. Join us online on Sunday at 11:15 am.
At the close of the service, we will recognize those who have participated in Disciple Bible Study this year. Along with Sunday School, Disciple is the primary place where many of our members experience spiritual transformation through Bible Study. I look forward to recognizing and honoring this year’s participants.
Finally, let me offer a thought about the racial incidents that have been captured on camera in recent days. In Brunswick, a man jogging through a neighborhood was confronted by three armed men and killed; in Central Park in New York City a man bird watching was accused of threatening the life of a woman who called the police on him when he asked her to leash her dog; in Minneapolis a man died when a police officer kept a knee to his throat, even though the man complained he could not breathe. The common denominator in each of these is the men confronted were Black. Earlier this week, I called Kevin Murriel, the senior minister of Cascade UMC and our partner in the work of racial reconciliation here in Atlanta, to express my concern. After we hung up, it occurred to me that in each of the incidents the persons later were mortified by their behavior. The three men in Brunswick, the woman in Central Park, the police officers in Minneapolis – they all claim they are not racists and have expressed deep regret for their actions. I wonder. Why can’t we check ourselves before we speak or act? Maybe that is a matter for our prayer and study in these days. If we can begin to see the world differently (to see those around us as our brothers and sisters in Christ), then maybe we will love what God loves and do what God would do. I leave you with the words of a little chorus penned by Edwin Hatch that we will sing on Sunday:
“Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew,
That I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.”
Let us breathe in God’s Holy Spirit this week and live out our mission to love God and love others in the name of Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace,