August 9, 2019

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you have had a restful week. Over the last few days, I have found my mind preoccupied by the news of the senseless shootings in El Paso and Dayton. I have heard many wonder aloud, “What is our world coming to?” and observe that these tragedies are occurring with greater frequency than ever before. Once again we have seen the face of evil and observed the brokenness of our world. It is hard to fathom the brokenness of the lives of individuals that allows them to channel their rage and hatred upon people they do not even know. What should we do? What can we do? Let me offer four suggestions:

  • First, we need to remember who we are. We are the Church – the Body of Christ empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to confront the evil in the world with the goodness of God. This is not a time to passively withdraw. This is a time to boldly step forward – claim who we are and own it!
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  • Second, we pray. We pray for family members who are grieving the loss of loved ones. We pray (as Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica) that they will grieve not as those who have no hope, but as those whose hope is in the Lord. We pray for those who were injured in the attacks, for their healing, and for those caring for them. We pray for those traumatized by the attacks. While we know the names of those who died or were injured, there are countless others who experienced the horror of these attacks first-hand and are suffering out of our sight. And we pray for those whose brokenness of mind or spirit has led them to do violence against others. If we believe in the power of prayer (and I do!), then we must pray for our Lord to intercede in our world, to heal the brokenness, and transform hearts of violence into hearts of peace. I am asking our Intercessory Prayer Ministry teams to place these concerns at the top of their list and ask you to pray along with them.
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  • Next, we take action. While I am not a hunter and do not have a collection of guns, I do have family members who are avid hunters and do have gun collections. I value the Second Amendment and the protection it seeks to provide to our citizens. However, it is time for our politicians to set aside partisan politics and work together to craft sensible legislation that makes it more difficult for weapons like the ones we have seen in these mass shootings to end up in the hands of unbalanced persons. I am confident that when our elected representatives come together with the common purpose of protecting the citizens of our nation, they will discover ways we can make our streets safer in the days to come. As the Church, let us speak as the moral conscience of our nation and support our politicians, encouraging them in this effort.
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  • And, finally, we invite the Holy Spirit to send spiritual renewal upon us and those around us. In the 18th century, Anglican priest John Wesley took stock of the brokenness of the English society with its extremes of poverty, addiction, and violence and began to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He organized folks into the Methodist societies he founded so they could teach the masses to read, to engage them in the study of the scriptures, and live out a life of holiness of heart and life. That is the most important work that we are about here at Peachtree Road.

As you consider these four suggestions and how you personally might engage in one or more of them, I remind you of the timely series of messages we are considering during the month of August — “The DNA of a Methodist.” Last week we considered the longing for holiness that exists in each of us. We often try to satisfy this longing in materialistic ways but soon discover their inadequacy. Only a relationship with God can fill us and make us whole. This week we consider something else that is in our DNA as Methodists: The Warm Heart. John Wesley felt his heart “strangely warmed” as he participated in a Bible study with a group of friends in London. He came to understand it as the Holy Spirit granting him the gift of assurance, and this assurance led to his boldness for Christ. This is what we will talk about on Sunday, and I hope to see you in worship.

I do want to make you aware of two opportunities for the coming days:

  • Peachtree Road Orientation Luncheon – If you are interesting in learning more about the ministry of Peachtree Road and looking to become better connected, we invite you to be our guest for lunch this Sunday, August 11, 12:30 pm, A101 (2nd Floor Rollins). Whether you have just discovered this church or have been worshiping here for some time, this is a great opportunity to meet people, connect with staff, and find your place here. Contact Daniel Ogle for more information or go to the church website to rsvp.
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  • Fall Bible Study Registration Is Now Open – Joining together with others in Bible Study is one of the best ways we transform and strengthen our lives of faith. We grow in Christ as we increase our Biblical knowledge and connect with God and one another. This year, there is something for everyone! Click here for more class information.

What we do here matters. It makes a difference. Thank you for your prayers on behalf of the church, your presence in worship and Sunday School, your gifts in support of the ministries of this church, and your faithful, encouraging service in the name of Christ to those who are in need. I am grateful for you.

See you Sunday!

Bill