Of Acts, Pride, and Josephine
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses.”
Those words of Jesus come to us from the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which a group of us from St. George’s are reading together this summer. The book of Acts tells the story of how the early community of Jesus followers became the church, as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to share the good news of Jesus’ life and teachings, his death and his resurrection, and his life-changing love.
In these words Jesus gives us both a job and a promise. “Go and be my witnesses,” he says. Go and share the good news of God’s love and grace. Go and share my story. I know you can do this, because I am giving you the Holy Spirit to help you, inspire you, equip you. The Spirit will take you places you never imagined you could go.
These words particularly struck me because of an experience some of us St. Georgians had at the Capital Pride Parade this June. We usually have a good sized contingent of marchers, witnessing to God’s inclusive love that specifically includes LGBT people. This year our group was towards the end of the parade, which meant a lot of waiting around at our staging area. Sometimes that can feel tedious, but this year it was pretty remarkable. We were lined up next to the DC Gay Flag Football League group, which was a lot of fun. And so we struck up conversations with them as we waited.
I saw we, but the person who initiated all of these conversations was Josephine. Josephine is a long time parishioner at St. George’s and at 83 is the oldest marcher in the St. George’s group. And Josephine is remarkable. Many people who are new to St. George’s share stories of how Josephine was among the first to welcome them, and that this is one reason they decided to come back . She looks like your grandma, if your grandma marched in Pride. And she is filled with Holy Spirit; you can feel it in her. She is a genuine, warm, faithful person and people are always drawn to her. Especially at Pride, people flock to her.
This year was no different. As we were waiting for our turn in the parade, three different young gay men came over to talk to me, all of them starting conversations with “I was just talking to Josephine – she is wonderful.” And all three followed shortly thereafter with “Josephine was telling me about your church; it sounds like a great place and I’d like to come and visit.”
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses,” Jesus says. God has blessed Josephine with the power of the Holy Spirit and she is busy living out the call to be a witness to God’s love, sharing it with whomever she meets. God has blessed and called all of us as well. May we too go and be witnesses to Jesus’s life-changing love. And DCFFL guys – it was great talking to you at the parade. I hope to see you at St. George’s sometime.