June 22, 2018
Dear Peachtree Road Family,
I hope you are having a good summer. Many of you are enjoying time away from the city on the weekends, but I do want to keep you up with news from your church family.
This Sunday is our annual Celebration of Freedom Sunday. Once again we will be singing patriotic hymns, hearing inspirational music from our choir, and honoring our veterans. For many, that moment in the service when the veterans march down the aisle to the expressed appreciation of our congregation is one of the highlights of the year at Peachtree Road. I cannot help but notice that fewer and fewer of our veterans are from World War II, and that makes my heart heavy. We owe so much to them and all of our veterans who have willingly served our country in this way. If you know of a veteran who does not have a church home, please invite them to this service and encourage them to participate.
I will be preaching on the topic “One Nation, Under God,” and we will reflect upon the establishment of the nation of Israel as our founders’ inspiration for the creation of this great country. We will spend some time thinking about that which unites us in the midst of our diversity and the important role gratitude plays in our lives. I do encourage you to read II Samuel 7:1-9 in preparation for Sunday.
Of course, the service will conclude with a prayer for our nation as Timothy Miller leads us in singing “God Bless America.” I hope you are planning to be present and encourage you to invite someone to come with you! There is a place for everyone at Peachtree Road.
And, while we’re on the topic of patriotic celebrations, I want to invite you to join us in front of the church on Wednesday, July 4, for our “Party on Peachtree” from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. We will gather out front to enjoy a time of fellowship as we cheer on the tens of thousands of runners as they sprint/jog/walk past our church as a part of the Peachtree Road Race. If you are participating in the race, I’ll be standing at the curb in front of the church and looking for you. The church bells will be ringing, and your friends will be there. Come spend the early hours of the holiday with your church family.
Finally, let me share something from my devotional reading this past Tuesday. Some of you know that I read a daily meditation from Father Richard Rohr each morning. Earlier this year, he met with an ecumenical group of Christian leaders in the United States and they composed a statement to our churches entitled, “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis.” I believe it is timely and share their affirmation with you here as a reminder of who we are:
“The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.
- We believe each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel.
- We believe we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world — to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ.
- We believe how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:40). God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are ‘oppressed,’ ‘strangers,’ ‘outsiders,’ or otherwise considered ‘marginal’ is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not ‘good news to the poor, it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ’ (Luke 4:18).”
As I read these words, I could not help but think about the people of Peachtree Road and how you embody these words in both word and deed. Thank you for your faithful response to the grace of Jesus Christ. I hope to see you Sunday as we worship together and celebrate our freedom.