Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit

April 22, 2022

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are well. If we have learned nothing else in the last two years, we have learned this lesson: do not take a single day of life for granted. Last Sunday, I began the Easter message at each service with the statement: “Never take this for granted!” Was I referring to the opportunity to worship together in our beautiful sanctuary? Was I thinking about the gift of being able to lift our voices with one another to triumphantly sing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!”? Was I reflecting upon the fellowship we enjoyed as some of us were seeing each other for the first time in three years? Well, as you can imagine, all of those things and more were on my mind. I hope we will not take the blessings we enjoy at Peachtree Road, in the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, and in this great nation for granted. In the days to come, we will need each other and our faith more than ever.

Let me begin this week’s note by thanking so many of you for joining us online for an incredible Easter service last Sunday. Nearly 4,000 worshipers filled our sanctuary, and thousands more watched our celebration online. An incredible amount of work took place behind the scenes to make Sunday’s services joyous celebrations:

  • Flower Guild members working most of Saturday to decorate the sanctuary and the cross
  • Altar Guild and Pew Duty volunteers preparing the sanctuary for worshipers
  • Musicians rehearsing their anthems and leading us in hymns of praise
  • Ushers, Greeters, and Ambassadors welcoming folks onto our campus
  • Childcare workers caring for our preschoolers while parents worshiped
  • Acolytes bringing the light of Christ into the sanctuary at the beginning of worship

I especially am grateful to our audio-visual team of Darrell Osborne, Deshon Reid, and John Thurman. Week-in and week-out they do a phenomenal job behind the scenes of helping folks who physically cannot be on our campus on Sunday morning find their place spiritually in our sanctuary for worship. I am grateful for all of our behind-the-scenes folks.

Thank you for your contributions to our Lenten Offering. This offering goes to support several of our partner agencies in the community as we work together to build a better Atlanta. We do not have a final number to share with you, but I understand you already have given over $95,000. Thank you for that. If you have not had an opportunity to give, it certainly is not too late! You may contribute by sending your check made payable to Peachtree Road UMC and marked for “Lenten Offering” or through the church app or website. Please help us give the new life we celebrate at Easter to others who need it so badly.
I really am looking forward to worship this Sunday as we continue our Easter celebration. The message is entitled “The Eighth Day.” We will read the account of Jesus’ Easter evening appearance to his disciples from John’s Gospel and reflect upon his gift of the Holy Spirit:

 

“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” – John 20:22-23

 

  • In addition, on Sunday we will receive members of the Confirmation Class into the full membership of the church at a special Confirmation Service in the sanctuary at 10:00 am. I am grateful to Chris Mucha and his team in student ministries for the leadership they have provided our youth over the course of the last year. The service is open to all and also will be live-streamed through the church’s website.
  • At 10:15 am in the Harp Center, we will have a chance to hear the joyful voices of our Children’s Choirs as they present their annual musical “Called.” Kathy Fletcher and her team do a beautiful job nurturing the love for music and praise in our young people and I hope you will take this opportunity to see this wonderful presentation. You may also attend a performance this Saturday at 6:00 pm.
  • At the 11:15 am service in the sanctuary, we also will celebrate Baby Recognition Day at Peachtree Road UMC. Parents whose children were born within the last year will be recognized, and we will offer a prayer of blessing upon these children. Please be sure to check our online list of babies here.
  • On Sunday we will have an opportunity to express our gratitude to Martha Christopher who has retired after 32 years of leadership in our children’s ministry. Just imagine the thousands of children’s lives she has impacted over the years! Words cannot adequately express my gratitude for Martha’s leadership, and I hope you will join us for one of the services on Sunday as we say “thank you” to Martha.

Finally, let me remind you that next Sunday, May 1, is Music and Arts Sunday here at Peachtree Road UMC. Our church is known for “heavenly music,” and musicians will be spread throughout the sanctuary as we highlight their talents and contributions to our worship. The Atlanta Brassworks, Celebration Singers Children’s Choir, Doxology Youth Choir, and Chancel Choir will be sharing music with us. We also will offer a luncheon immediately following worship in Grace Hall, and I hope you will make your plans to join us in person.

Thank you for your support in so many ways. Over the course of the last two years, many of us have wondered if folks would come back to worship in person when the pandemic recedes. Well, the last two Sundays you have answered that question with a resounding “Yes!” Thank you, and never take this blessing for granted!

Grace and peace,

Bill

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