Dear Peachtree Road Family,

Palm Sunday AltarI hope you are having a meaningful Holy Week. Certainly, we got off to a hope-filled start last Sunday. The sanctuary was beautifully decorated with palms (in fact, this picture of our altar was featured on the United Methodist Church’s website as the homepage inviting people to Palm Sunday worship). Our Flower Guild is creative and does a wonderful job of making our sanctuary both beautiful and reverent.

The music offered by the children’s choirs, Doxology youth choir, and the Parish choir stirred our hearts, and the grand procession was led once again (without incident, I might add) by our favorite donkey “Jerusalem.” On Sunday we welcomed 29 new members to Peachtree Road, and it was a holy moment to receive four of them on profession of faith (three of whom also were baptized). I believe these new members will make a significant impact on our ministry in the days to come and hope you will join me in welcoming them and helping them get connected with others.

Also, I am grateful to the members of the Altar Guild who distributed Palm Sunday crosses as we gathered for worship. I hope you have placed your cross in a conspicuous place as a reminder that one of the best ways to hear clearly the voice of the Lord is to have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus – that of a humble servant. Sunday really set the tone for this week.

Of course, this Sunday is Easter, and we are offering four services (6:30 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 9:45 a.m., and 11:15 a.m.). I encourage you to worship at least once at Peachtree Road, either in person or online.

One of my favorite services of the year is the Easter Sunrise service. It begins at 6:30 a.m. in the columbarium (that courtyard area between the sanctuary and the Rollins building where the niches are located) in front of a large bonfire and moves in procession to the chapel. I have had people ask me about this service, but for me it really captures the spirit of that first Easter long ago. While it was still dark, the women went to the cemetery and found the tomb empty. They were greeted by an angel who asked, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is risen!” We gather in what amounts to our cemetery here at Peachtree Road, hear the message of the angels, light candles in the darkness, and process to the chapel to celebrate the good news: Christ is risen! If you have not attended this service before, I invite you to give it a try this Sunday morning.

Please note the special times of the three sanctuary services (8:15 a.m., 9:45 a.m., and 11:15 a.m.). With the aroma of Easter lilies in the air, we will gather in unrestrained celebration. Our singing will be accompanied by the Atlanta Brassworks; we will hear the reading of the Easter account from John’s Gospel; and the message will remind us that “Jesus is on the loose!” Each service will begin with the congregation singing Charles Wesley’s majestic hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and close with our talented Chancel Choir offering the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. That is something you will not want to miss.

I remind you that we will receive a special offering this Sunday for Habitat for Humanity. For the last several weeks, we have been partnering with others to build a house for Wanda Boykin and her family. Now, this house, our 43rd Habitat build, is nearly complete. I encourage you to give generously to help the Boykins’ dream come true. You may make your check payable to Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, mark it for Lenten Offering/Habitat, and place it in the offering plate this Sunday, or you may give online through the church website. Thank you for your generous support. Together, we are changing lives!

Not only do I hope to see you on Sunday, I encourage you to invite others who may not have a church home to experience worship at Peachtree Road this Easter. 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.

Finally, let me offer two notes about Sunday’s logistics. First, I have been informed by our deputy sheriffs that parking will not be available on Peachtree Road frontage this Sunday. Because of the volume of cars traveling to and from church, cars parked on the street will lead to complete gridlock in front of the church. We have plenty of parking available at our off-site lots directly across Peachtree Road from the main Sanctuary entrance, and you are encouraged to park there for ease of entry and exit this week. We have secured prime spots between the two small complexes – look for the large post numbered 3167 (formerly Loco’s.)  We do not have access to spaces at Trader Joe’s, so please be sure not to park in their lots. In addition to securing additional parking, we have deputy sheriffs on duty who are able to control the street light at the cross walk.  They will stop traffic and escort you across Peachtree Road.  They are present before and after each Sunday service. By taking advantage of these prime spots, you will be able to arrive and leave the campus more quickly, without waiting for stoplights at Shadowlawn or Mathieson Drives. Second, breakfast will be served in Grace Hall all morning Sunday, beginning at 7:00 a.m. Joy Café is cooking up a delicious breakfast for you, and we would love to have you join us. You are invited to worship and fellowship with us throughout the morning.

Thank you for your participation in the ministry of Peachtree Road throughout the Lenten season. Our emphasis upon “Quiet” has helped us grow deeper in our faith. The spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, and solitude will continue to help us tune out the noise of the world and tune in to God’s frequency. And our emphasis on service makes a difference not only here in Atlanta but around the world.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we celebrate the presence of the Risen Christ!

Bill