Pride and Pentecost

All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”  Acts 2:12-13.

Dear Siblings in Christ,

As we enter the season of Pentecost together, which responds to the encounter of the twelve disciples with the Holy Spirit, we enter another period of response and celebration: Pride month.

Pride and Pentecost may not appear to have much in common, and perhaps they don’t. I can’t help, however, but to pay attention to the timing of this coming-together in a way that may mean a thing or two for me and you.

It’s been a gift serving at UBC, which has long protected and cherished its LGBTQ members and other leaders. I grew up in a medium-to-large congregation that, although neither officially affirming nor unaffirming of LGBTQ folks, lacked visible representation in membership and pastoral leadership. So when I was learning as a teenager that I was LGBTQ, I no longer knew where I would fit into ministry. Although Baptist churches like UBC and its neighbors had been welcoming LGBTQ folks for years as they used their passions and talents to serve the church, I didn’t know. All I could see was a future in ministry like the one I was raised in: safe, but not ready for me.

Which is why, when I attended the camp Anna and I took our youth to last week as a nineteen year old with my college church, UBC changed everything for me. For the first time in my life, as I was figuring out who I was in the church and in the world, I saw a church who wanted folks like me to be a part of it, just as I was, where I could respond to God’s waiting invitation to serve in the church and world.

This is why I think UBC’s courage is unusual, because it reaches out to our neighbors in the same way that it reaches across us to pull us together. In other words, had it not been for UBC’s longtime choice to draw God’s circle wider and wider, and not narrower, a nineteen year old may have given up on ministry, which, by perhaps little coincidence, circles my train-of-thought back to Pentecost. It is a season that I will never fully understand, except that it calls us to live out our truths in ways that, even when folks on the outside say we are only “filled with new wine,” helps our neighbors see the pride God has in me and you.

We can be courageous right now. It’s who we are.

Christ’s peace,

Benjamin Smith
Pastoral Resident

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