May Letter from Executive Director Kelsey Rice Bogdan

If you’re into the church liturgical calendar like me, you probably know that next Sunday is Pentecost. I grew up in a tradition that takes its name from the story in Acts 2, where the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples and gives them the ability to speak in other languages– the Pentecostal tradition. So you may be surprised to learn that I didn’t care much for this story for a long time. It held within it the whisperings of my ultimate failure to be a “good” Christian by my community’s standards– one who would successfully evangelize my friends and confront “sinners” with the Gospel, all epitomized by the gift of speaking in tongues. I was not speaking in tongues, didn’t want to speak in tongues despite the anxiety of numerous altar calls. I quietly assumed that I was a second class person of faith as a result.

Eventually, like many Life Together alumni, I found traditions that affirmed me on a different spiritual path. And as I’ve gone further down that path, I’ve come back more and more to this story of Pentecost. A bunch of average people, who have just experienced the resurrection of Jesus, are waiting in Jerusalem for instructions on how to share resurrection with others. It isn’t so far off from the experience of Life Together fellows at this point in the year. They have spent one or two years being transformed in ways alumna Hazel Johnson so beautifully describes in this month’s Alumni Spotlight. And with just a few weeks left in the program year, they are in a liminal space before carrying the prophetic fire lit here into the world. Likewise, those alumni graduating or being ordained this spring are also on the threshold of some powerful movement of transformation.

We know the world needs it. In his Fellow Spotlight, Esperanza fellow Douglas Kennedy laments that we prioritize “spaces and places” over “people and moments,” ossifying in tradition and missing the call to transformation. We need the wind and fire of Pentecost in this moment, helping us resist the urge to seek comfort over change. And from what I know of our fellows and alumni, they are definitely up for the challenge.  
So in this time of Pentecost, graduations, and Life Together’s own Disorientation, go into the world carrying the blessing with which we end every program year: “And may your heart be so opened, so set on fire, that your love, YOUR love, changes everything."

Blessings,

Kelsey