Saturday, June 7, 2014

Towards a Ministry of Advocacy: A Pentecost Call

Pentecost is a very significant period of time in the liturgical calendar of the Church, a time to renew our faith in Holy Spirit, a time to be refreshed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and a time to rejuvenate our dedication in making the relevance of Church felt by communicating in the tongues of the localities of our times. The first Pentecost as recorded in New Testament happened at a time, when there was fear, peace-less-ness, timidity, and perplexity among the disciples of Jesus Christ. At that very stroke of the Pentecost, as the resurrected Christ ascended into heavens, the Holy Spirit poured down on the creation, the disciples of Jesus Christ came open and the Church went out. Some have noted the day of Pentecost as the birthday of the Church, for the genesis of Church as a communion of people in God, Church as a movement of people in God began from that very day of the Pentecost.

In the gospel of John, in 14th Chapter from 15th verse, we see Jesus promising to send Holy Spirit as an advocate to this world, which again Jesus communicates the arrival of comforter Holy Spirit in the context when the disciples were troubled in their hearts after the last supper episode in the previous chapter. Jesus in 16-17 verse says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” According to the Johannine Jesus, Holy Spirit is the successor of his ministry of advocacy, for that is the reason it is recorded as ‘another’ Advocate.

Holy Spirit for Succession of Advocacy: According to Jesus, the characteristic of Holy Spirit is to be a successor of the ministry of advocacy. It was only in the early Church the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit came into emphasis, otherwise for Jesus, Holy Spirit is the successor of advocacy. Jesus is him life and ministry has always been on the mission of advocacy, advocating for the rights of the outcastes, the rights of the children, the rights of women and the rights of those that have been on the margins of the society. Therefore, Holy Spirit succeeds Jesus Christ in carrying forward the mission engagements of advocacy, defending the rights of the vulnerable and those that been pushed to the margins. Therefore the promise of Holy Spirit is to see that mission is in progress, the reign of God is in progress, and that we as celebrants of Pentecost, are called to be part of joint heirs with Jesus Christ in the mission of advocacy, whom Jesus gave us to lead with.

Holy Spirit for Accession of Intimacy: According to Jesus, the advocate Holy Spirit, the comforter Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, whom the world unrecognized due to the filling of powers and principalities. The arrival and outpouring of Holy Spirit is to lead creation into an accession of intimacy with the Triune God, building intimacy among one another and also building intimacy among the Creator and the Creatures. Pentecost is a celebration of the intimacy that one enjoys with one another and with the Triune God. Therefore the down pouring of Holy Spirit needs to establish healing and intimacy among broken relationships between human beings and God, between human beings and creation and between human beings and human beings. Pentecost is a restoration of relationships, intimate relationships, which furthers the reign of God here on earth.
Pentecost is a time to implore on to the mission engagements of advocacy as part of our Christian calling, striving for justice and peace in our own localities and contexts.

It is noted that “we argue that involvement in advocacy is vital, both practically and theologically, to the Church’s calling to bring about justice, speak out truth, defend the poor and oppressed, and to work to redeem the whole of creation. Advocacy involved both tackling individual cases of injustice or poverty and tackling systems and structures that allow this injustice to happen. Advocacy is firmly rooted in the hope and promise we have for a better future and we do it in the confidence that God is working his purposes out. We look forward to justice, not backwards to revenge, and are involved as part of our calling to be salt and light of the world.” [1]

Why Advocacy? :Advocacy is a Biblical calling – God of the Bible is an advocating God, for he raises prophets on God’s behalf to advocate for the cause of justice and peace, for God the Holy Spirit continues to be the advocate and comforter in journeys of faith and struggles. For it is the advocate God Holy Spirit, who grants her humanity the gifts and fruits of Spirit (I Cor 12 & Gal 5 :22), for they are to be exercised for the good of creation and the sake of the rein of God principles. Holy Spirit as an advocate installs the interceding spirit among her people, for she teaches them how to pray and what to pray. Holy Spirit God challenges all her people to become advocates like her, for she advocates, therefore her people also should advocate for the cause of justice and peace. God the Holy Spirit, created human beings to be the responsible stewards of the creation. God, the Holy Spirit raised Abraham to advocate on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah, raised advocate Moses to advocate on behalf of the Israelites, raised Esther to advocate on behalf of her people to the King. Jesus advocated for the rights of the people and even sent an Advocate Holy Spirit to be with the creation. New earth and new heavens is required – so lets advocate for the cause of creation by addressing climate change, addressing oppression & discrimination, violence against women, rights of Dalit & Tribal communities etc. which are the signs of our times and in our localities.

Pentecost is a time to respond to the call for advocacy, and make Holy Spirit more relevant to our situations.  Wishing you all a very meaningful season of Pentecost.

“Speak open for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction, speak open, judge righteously and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9

[1] Graham Gordans & Bryan Adams, “The mission of the Church and the role of advocacy” discussion paper, July 2002, Pg. 9. also on www. tilz. info

1 comment:

chintu said...

well written and very useful for pastors like me who preach on it. thanks anna