Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:3-6 The Message translation
Mary Oliver writes in her poem “Six Recognitions of the Lord,”
Every summer the lilies rise
And open their white hands until they almost
Cover the black waters of the pond. And I give
Thanks but it does not seem like adequate thanks,
It doesn’t seem
Festive enough or constant enough, nor does the
Name of the Lord or the words of thanksgiving come
Into it often enough.
My heart sings but the apparatus of singing doesn’t convey
Half of what it feels and means. In spring there’s hope,
In fall the exquisite, necessary diminishing, in
Winter I am as sleepy as any beast in its leafy cave, but in summer there
is everywhere the luminous sprawl of gifts – the hospitality of the Lord and my inadequate answers as I row my beautiful, temporary body through this water lily world.” - Mary Oliver
Looking back on the last 12 weeks there have been a luminous sprawl of gifts of which I give thanks for you all, for the ways we’ve journeyed together with George and John, to Montreat and back and much more. So let me share some of these luminous gifts with you:
Three weeks spent with our youth: one at Massanetta, one right here in Roanoke, and one in Montreat. These youth were excellent travel companions (especially when things went wrong and oh, they did). These youth were open to the Spirit – open the Lord’s hospitality to come and sit, laugh, and grow together and we did just that through spikeball, keynotes, mission projects, and energizers. I’m excited for all that we’ll get into together this fall as new sixth graders enter the mix and I’m in denial that our seniors are leaving for college in these next few weeks (wish Alex, Henry, Sarah Grace, Lauren, Emma Kate and Chase lots of love and keep them in your prayers as they go).
I got to work for the Church at large as a Workshop Director at Massanetta Springs Middle School Conference. Sharing with 100 youth and adults Praying in Color which if you were in my Seekers Sunday School Class last Fall you know I love!
The long-awaited construction of our capital campaign began. I’m grateful for the collective knowledge found within this church when it comes to history, buildings, construction, and finance. Progress photos will now be shared in the Gathering Area and in the power-point before worship begins.
I’ve witnessed the disciples of RCPC live out their faith in big and small ways in the ordinariness of the everyday repeatedly. Gathered in the sanctuary with a couple for a vow renewal on their 30th anniversary. Children and Adults filling the building and reaching to the ends of the earth with VBS. Small groups filled with disciples willing to try something new even when it was uncomfortable. Our Youth, recently confirmed, asking questions about our mission practices inspired by a sermon at Montreat. New elders and deacons stepping into their roles. Welcome baskets created for visiting theologians. Disciples recognizing when it’s time to let something go and to faithfully reimagine an event into something new. Solos each Sunday performed by Church members of all ages. Mission Groups recognizing their financial stability and offering their opportunity of generosity to another mission of the church. Congregants visiting people in hospitals, rehab centers, and in their homes and being the first to tell me if someone has moved care facilities. As Paul writes to the community in Philippi – there has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it.
I have often had inadequate answers (or felt that way or a time or two!) this summer as Mary Oliver puts it but that’s where the hospitality of the Lord has felt the closest. That’s where you all stepped in with your generous knowledge and guidance. At Montreat, Pastor Clare Parry Lozano spoke of the audacious hope she holds for her church and the way the Spirit is at work there. As we reach the end of these twelve weeks, I am all the more filled with audacious hope that Jesus will continue calling us to follow him in familiar and in unexpected ways and that when we hear this call – we will follow, inadequate answers and all, and delight in the hospitality of the Lord that’s always been waiting for us.
God of renewal,
We give thanks for this summer,
A summer in which we’ve had a chance to dip our toes
Into your living waters, and be reminded of the abundant life
You want for all of us.
As we turn our attention to backpacks, and settling in,
Keep us present to your living water,
Keep us present to your luminous gifts,
Keep us present to each other.
-The Rev. Isabella Fagiani, Associate Pastor
P.S. Thank you all for all the well wishes leading up to Jonathan and I’s wedding. Especially thank you to the Presbyterian Women and the Youth Group and all who came out to shower us. It is a gift to be loved so much by you all. It’s an honor to get to love you all right back! I promise we’ll share pictures once we have them. Say a prayer for us this Friday afternoon at 4:30! Love, Isabella