One Word 365: Advocate

I need a word that relates to my whole self. I don't want a word that resonates with my pastoral identity but leaves my family in the cold, or vice versa. Neither do I want a word so generic it doesn't resonate at all.

My word? Advocate.

It relates, and it resonates. Here's why.

Advocate is how the Greek "Paraclete" is often translated in the Gospel of John. Jesus says, "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you."

I'm awfully fond of the oft-neglected Holy Spirit, the Paraclete who "consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court."

I long for consolation and comfort, encouragement and lifting-up, refreshment and intercession. This and every year.

So first, my word of the year is a reminder to myself to entrust myself to the care of the Spirit, and to echo that care in my work as a pastor and wife and parent, offering consolation and comfort and so on to those who are in my flock and family.

That alone would be as sufficient as grace. But there's more.

I also feel called to become an an advocate, not as it is rooted in the Paraclete but as it relates to the practice of advocacy: working for justice and peace. Praying with lips and life the petition that God's will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.

When I say I feel called to become an advocate - well, anyone with a basic familiarity with Latin derivates knows that is a laughably redundant sentence. Advocate comes from the Latin ad vocare - to call. An advocate is one called (historically in a court of law) to aid another. To give voice to another.

This call to advocacy - this call to cry out for justice - has been deafening. Loud and insistent and unwavering. It started on December 14th.

My new calling as a gun control activist - a gun control advocate - is rooted in my faith. I am committed to the vision of Shalom in which swords are beaten into plowshares. I seek the Kingdom of God in which those who mourn are comforted. It is also rooted in my love for neighbor and family. I want my children - all children - to be safe.

It's a rich word, a holy word, a challenging word. And yet I hope that it will also be a word that engenders great joy: joy in the Spirit, joy in the gift of serving, joy in the beatitude of peacemaking.


Happy 2013.

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