Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” – John 14:15-16 (NRSV)
In seminary I received a new, very expensive vocabulary. Peculiar words like hermeneutics, eschatology, soteriology, and heuristic were common vernacular.
My favorite bit of seminary-speak is paraclete. It’s found in John’s Gospel as a term for the Holy Spirit. Paraclete means “advocate.” Jesus says after he is gone, he will send the Holy Advocate to guide the underdog disciples through dangerous times.
At Pentecost, it happened.
The Advocate sent them out of the house and into the streets, speaking new languages, boldly advocating for the vision of a man killed as an enemy of the state. That was risky enough. Then the growing number of Christ-followers advocated for each other by divesting themselves and holding property in common. The church, from the start, was designed to be a risk-taking, multi-lingual, advocacy organization.
I love advocacy and activism, but I’m not always motivated to do it, mostly because I’m doing just fine. Among those who do not enjoy as much privilege and comfort as I have, letting things stay the same is more risky than advocating for dramatic change.
Fortunately, the Holy Advocate has something much better in mind than comfort. It strives for equity, equality, justice and peace—in other words, for the kindom of God.
Come Holy Advocate! Sweep me out of the house and into the streets to speak a new language and tear down old walls.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series publishe by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now