Autumn in New York, Why does it seem so inviting?
Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel,
They’re making me feel I’m home – “Autumn in New York”
My family and I spent last week in Michigan with our extended families, and getting up early as I usually do, I found that the early morning mist had begun to take on a little bit of that chilly aspect it does once the autumn arrives. It wasn’t full-on fall, mind you, but just enough that, like the leaves at the tops of the trees at the end of summer, my mind and my heart started to turn just a little golden. But even as I stood there in front of a red barn in the rural wild of the Midwest, I was thinking of New York City and Resurrection Williamsburg and each of you.
As is often the case, September energizes me. I am sure it has to do with internal clock that’s been ingrained into most of us by the school schedules we observed as kids, when autumn meant new classes, new clothes, new opportunities, and apple cider to boot. But it isn’t just the weather that has me excited. There are a number of things I see God doing within the life of our church that have given me great hope. Let me tell you about a few of them:
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away -“September”
We Have Some Terrific Elders
Last spring, our congregation voted in two new elders, Christopher Nicolson and Evan Gregory, joining David Dishman and I on our session (our board of pastors and elders, made up of representatives from all of the congregations in our church network, Resurrection Brooklyn.) These three elders will not only work in a network-wide capacity, but they will continue to serve us as a local congregation through their care and wisdom and love. I admire and like all of these guys so much, and I am honored to serve alongside them. I am also happy for our congregation to know that we are being served by them. Please pray for them, and know that they are praying for you.
Our Staff Rocks
A few weeks ago, on a Saturday, we held a Resurrection Williamsburg staff retreat. David Stancil (Assistant Pastor), Jeremy McDonald (Music Director), Kate Mangold (Children’s Ministry Director), Grace Ladd (Communications Assistant), David Chatburn (Sunday Operations Coordinator) and I got together to pray and think together about our call to serve and love our congregation for the sake of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. I know most of you know this already, but that is an amazing and wonderful group of people. I feel really grateful that I got to spend that time together with them praying for our church, and I am even more grateful that I get to work with them.
The Gospel of Luke!
We are about to begin a new series of sermons that will take us through the entire Gospel of Luke. I’ve spent a bit of time this summer preparing for these sermons, and I have found myself so inspired by the way Luke tells the story of Jesus. The title of the series is, “The Head + The Heart = Love”, and I’ll have more to say about that later, but this theme has emerged because Luke is equally concerned with reaching both our rational minds and our emotions and feelings with the truth of who Christ is. And that is my hope, that all of us (and I need this more than anyone who is reading this) will grow in our love of Christ in both our heads and our hearts.
When the autumn weather turns leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game – “September Song”
I want to end with a prayer for you that is based on the last three verses of the Gospel of Luke:
 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.  And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,  and were continually in the temple blessing God. (Luke 24:51-53 ESV)
I am struck by the fact that these followers of Jesus were filled with “great joy.” You would think they’d be sad, or at least melancholy, at the fact that Jesus had left them. And as we learn from the book of Acts, their lives got progressively harder from this point forward, and many of them had to know that would be the case. But instead of fretting or despairing or making plans or anything else, they just get together. They gather to worship, and they pray, and they break bread, and they are filled with great joy.
And that is my prayer for you, the “great joy” that comes when we are gathered together and blessed by the Risen Christ.
Your servant in Christ. Vito.