See the Glory of the Lord

December 17, 2021

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are well. I don’t know about you, but I am becoming very hopeful about the future. Maybe it’s the season; maybe it’s the crowds I am beginning to see at our worship services (I have seen some folks this month that I haven’t seen in two years!); or maybe it’s the message of Advent – “Light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.” These days have been just what my soul has needed.

On Sunday mornings we have focused upon the theme “Hope Is on the Way!” The words of Jesus and John the Baptizer have helped us reset our lives, recognize the presence of God in our world, and see the glory of the Lord in one another. The services on Sunday evenings have been filled with beautiful music, and they have served to heighten our anticipation for the Christmas celebration. These worship experiences have inspired us to go out into the community and serve. Worship and service – that’s the heartbeat of Peachtree Road UMC! I hope to see you Sunday morning as we bring our Advent series to a close by looking at Christmas through the eyes of Joseph. 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 17 and 18, 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 they perform sacred classics, Christmas carols, and all your holiday favorites in our magnificent sanctuary. You may purchase tickets through their website:www.georgiaboychoir.org/events.
  • Longest Night Service – Sunday evening at 5:30 pm in the Moore Chapel. Our associate minister Rev. Carolyn Stephens 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 one 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 might point to that moment when we light the Christ Candle, signifying the presence of our Lord with us. And still others would 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 are returning to our schedule of five services in our sanctuary:
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 Candlelighting
10:30 p.m. – Festival Choral Eucharist with Candlelighting

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 – Friday 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 on Christmas Eve than any other service in the year. They come in search of God’s precious gifts of hope, peace, love, and joy – 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 welcomed you to Peachtree Road and pass the blessing along to others. If you are not able to worship at Peachtree Road 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 partnering with Start with One Kenya with a goal of providing the gift of clean water for every family 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 clean water.

Speaking of giving, thank you for your faithfulness throughout the year. Your giving has made a difference in these uncertain days of the pandemic, and now we are seeing people return to worship and Sunday School in person. I do encourage you to help us finish the year well. If everyone fulfills his or her pledge 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 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 “Blessed” financial campaign to support the operating budget for 2022. 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 make a recurring gift may be online through the church app or website. Persons from the Finance Committee will be making phone calls 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 “Hope Is on the Way!”

Grace and peace,

Bill

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