Blog|The Rev. Joe C. Williams
Earlier this week, I took my usual walk down to the corner market to get my coffee after morning prayer. It’s a walk I take almost daily–this quick, five-minute journey gives me the opportunity to allow our prayers to wash over me, and I’m able to set intentions for the day ahead. It’s usually an uneventful stroll. I walk over, exchange pleasantries with the woman at the register and walk back.
This time, however, one of our unhoused neighbors was standing outside the door as I was leaving. As I walked out, he noticed my collar, crossed himself, and got down on his knees. He looked up at me and asked, “Will you pray with me?” I asked for his name and how best I could pray for him; he replied that he didn’t have a specific intention but wanted to thank God for all the blessings in his life. We prayed together, and he continued walking down the street.
I was struck by my reaction to the brief conversation–I had assumed he was going to ask for money. I assumed he had a litany of prayer requests to help him out of his situation; I assumed he was suffering. Instead, he was thankful–he was blessed.
This past Sunday, we celebrated the feast of Pentecost. We rejoiced at the descent of the Holy Spirit; the reversal of Babel, where God confused their tongues and scattered the people across the earth. On Pentecost, people from across the known world were gathered in Jerusalem, in one place, and experienced a new unity. This feast encourages us to recognize our humanity and lead us to understand–not just languages, but each other; to not make assumptions.
Understanding, recognition, unity. These themes are a perfect segue into Pride month, a month in which we honor a holy diversity. A month of celebration and revolution sparked by trans women of color who declared that they had had enough of the status quo. They deserved to be recognized, called by their name, and treated with dignity. This idea of radical welcome and inclusion, regardless of differences, is at the heart of Christ’s message. Here at Grace Cathedral, we intentionally and prayerfully attempt to embody that Great Commandment.
I pray you will walk alongside us through this journey through Pentecost. Join us for the Pride Mass 2023, which will be held Sunday, June 4, at 6 pm. Witness the dedication of the Pride Steps before that service – a visible sign to the community that, here, everyone is welcome at God’s table. Pray with us each weekday morning. Join us online. We want to know your name – we want to know how we can pray with you, and for you.
Just as the decent of the Holy Spirit provided understanding to those gathered so many centuries ago, she still swirls around us, encouraging us to embrace our differences, to learn and understand from each other, and to share our stories. Just as I was confronted with my own bias and assumption, I was also blessed and learned from a thankful stranger. May you be open to the possibility of love and unity that could be hiding in plain sight just around the corner.