• on Friday, February 22, 2019

To Be with the People

    February 22, 2019

    Dear Peachtree Road Family,

    I hope you are doing well.  At the close of this week’s note, I will offer you a prayer to pray in the coming for days, but first let me begin by sharing three new ministry initiatives we are undertaking for this year.  In last week’s sermon, I mentioned that one of the most important words in the English language is “with.”  In last week’s Gospel lesson we read these words:

    “He came down with them and stood on a level place with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.” – Luke 6:17

    Consider for a moment the word “with.”  It connects.  It joins.  It adds.  And, by connecting, joining, and adding, it creates something new.  Moreover, it is incredibly relational.  Think back to a time when someone you really didn’t know reached out to you and said, “Would you like to have lunch with us?”  You may see that as the beginning of a new friendship.  With.  It’s such an important word.

    Well, according to Luke, Jesus came down off the mountain to be with the people – especially the poor, the hungry, the mournful, and the outcasts.  Interestingly, Luke notes this happened at a “level place.”  In other words, Jesus was not above them and did not talk down to them.  Rather, he was with them.  And he invites others to join him in that level place – with others.  What he’s saying is you can’t be a Christian, store up wealth for the future, and ignore those people who have very little.  You can’t enjoy a feast every day and not be concerned about those who are hungry.  You can’t laugh and have a good time and not care that there are people in this world, especially children, who have nothing to smile about.  You can’t be that insensitive.  That’s what this passage means.  As I said Sunday, it is with this understanding in mind that we begin three new initiatives this year.

    • Hospitality — Our church is known for warm Southern hospitality.  It’s one of our core values.  This year we want to take this core value to an even deeper level.  I am talking about sensing a calling and responsibility to pray, plan, and work to invite others, reach out to them, to help them feel welcome with us, and to support them in their faith journeys.  This is the kind of hospitality we can strengthen.
    • Midtown — There is a significant unchurched population in the western part of the city, just five miles south of us.  Our leadership senses a calling to consider developing a vital ministry presence there that can attract new persons and help them come to know Christ and grow in their faith as they participate in outreach with others.  Surveys show that they may not be willing to come to us, but we are sensing a call to go to them and to be with them.  A task force has been appointed and is vetting the viability of such a ministry that includes a partnership with the Wesley Foundation of Georgia Tech.
    • Cascade – We have an opportunity to partner with Cascade United Methodist Church in the coming months to build relational bridges that overcome racial divides in our community.  Our plan is to bring together at least 50 people from Peachtree Road and at least 50 people from Cascade.  We will spend 90 minutes together on Saturday mornings during Lent in worship, study, prayer, and conversation with each other.  Then, following Lent, we will establish a dozen or more supper clubs where people will host one another in their homes for a meal, fellowship, study, prayer, and conversation about race.  I believe through fellowship and the breaking of bread, we can be transformed into a more perfect image of Christ, build relationships that bridge the racial divides, and transform our city.  Going forward, I believe we will have developed a strategic partner with whom we can reach out into the community to address poverty and hunger and homelessness in transformational ways.  And we do this with each other.

    I wanted you to know about these initiatives.  They may be the most ambitious we have undertaken in my time at Peachtree Road, and I commend them to you for prayer and support.

    Let me remind you of two opportunities coming up this weekend:

    • The Tale of Three Trees Children’s Musical – I encourage you to attend our children’s musical this weekend as they take us on a journey through an enchanted forest where the dreams of three ambitious trees will lead to God in unexpected ways.  There will be two performances of the musical (Saturday, February 23, at 6:00 pm and Sunday, February 24, at 10:00 am – both will take place in the Student Center).  Attendance is free.
    • Georgia Boy Choir Sunday — under the direction of David White, the Georgia Boy Choir will fill our choir loft this Sunday and lead us in music at both the 8:45 am and 11:15 am services in the sanctuary.  We are blessed to have this talented choir as our ensemble-in-residence here at Peachtree Road, and I invite you to get to the sanctuary early as they will be offering pre-service music.

    Finally, I want to invite you to pray for the delegates of this year’s General Conference.  These 864 delegates from around the world (40% of whom come from the continent of Africa) have the awesome responsibility of making decisions concerning the policies of our global United Methodist Church.  I have talked with a few delegates who have been fasting and praying and listening for the still, small voice of God to speak to them in these days concerning how they should vote.  They want to do God’s will.  They want to get it right.  And I want us to pray for them.  Click here to find a guide to prayer and consider setting aside four minutes each of the next four days to pray for the delegates and our United Methodist connection.  In the sermon Sunday, I will be offering a pastoral word to our church.  Thank you for your prayerful support.

    I am grateful for all that you do and look forward to seeing you Sunday!


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