• alisonwale

Who needs an Advocate?

On May 17th one of our members, Kait Henslee shared her thoughts about how the Holy Spirit is our Advocate, helping us to do things we never thought possible.

In today’s Gospel Jesus introduces his disciples to the Holy Spirit although he says, he will give the disciples another advocate or counselor depending on your version of the Bible. When I think of the word advocate, I immediately go back to my days as a teacher.

When I was a brand new teacher, fresh out of college, I worked at a very poor high school in Greenville, less than 5 km from the Michelin plant and research center, in which 80% of the school’s population was considered impoverished. 80% of nearly 2,000 students that attended. Many were homeless, in the foster system, and most did not have someone like a parent or grandparent at home to help or support them. As you can imagine this was very difficult, our test scores were low, and our dropout rate was high.

Being that Michelin was just down the street my principal went to Michelin and asked them for help. Most of these kids just needed an advocate- someone to check in on them once a week, make sure they’re okay, and help them with their school work. Michelin then offered employees as tutors or advocates for some of the students.

I remember having a meeting in the library where the students were paired with their tutor, and the library was filled with more than 100 engineers who were willing to give their gifts whether it was a mind for math, study skills they were willing to teach, or just being there for them.

Thanks to the volunteers, immediately we saw our scores shoot up, our dropout rate lower, and students have better study skills all because these Michelin engineers were willing to give an hour of service each week.

The holy spirit is a gift that Jesus gives us everyday. The seven gifts of the holy spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Bishop Mariann Budd, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington D.C. describes the gift of the holy spirit best in an interview,

She said “The Spirit’s presence is always a gift. Sometimes it comes from beyond us, giving us strength and power in a particular moment or circumstance that enables us to do what we alone could not do. Sometimes it comes from within, as a kind of peace and consolation. Some of the Spirit’s gifts are synonymous to what we would consider talent or aptitude.

It takes courage to acknowledge oneself as gifted in particular ways, for with the gifts, come the responsibility to exercise them. It takes courage to receive a gift that propels us forth to accomplish things we know we otherwise could not do. And it takes humility to acknowledge that we’re sometimes given strength and power beyond ourselves what we need precisely when we need it. The strength comes through us but it is not from us but rather the holy spirit.”

What an amazing gift! Like those Michelin tutors that led those students and like Bishop Budd mentioned. It takes us having humility to recognize when the holy spirit is filling us with its gifts. It takes us being willing to listen to the holy spirit and go in its direction not our own.

The preacher and author Barbara Brown Taylor says,

Whenever two plus two does not equal four but five—whenever you find yourself speaking with eloquence you know you do not have, or offering forgiveness you had not meant to offer, whenever you find yourself taking risk you thought you did not have the courage to take or reaching out to someone you had intended to move away from, you can be pretty sure that you are being gifted by the Holy Spirit.”

What an amazing gift Jesus gave the disciples and us when you think about it. He is with us and in us always. How many of us can think of a time where we know the holy spirit filled us and helped us to do something we didn’t think we had in us nor was possible.

Going back to our gospel Jesus also says in the gospel, “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my father, and I will love them.” Jesus is reassuring his disciples that he is not orphaning them, but leaving them with the holy spirit, but he’s also telling them that they must still follow God’s law with this gift of the holy spirit. With that said we are told in the Bible, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Love can be so many things. It can be a feeling like the one you feel for your spouse, or children, or parents, or sibling but love can also be an action. Love can be how you treat someone like showing them respect or empathy. You can also show your love through service and using your gifts.

As many of you know, today was supposed to be our parish clean up day in which we would show our love for our parish and community through cleaning the chapel and its grounds. However, I urge to still show your love for our parish and our community in other ways. As Debi sent out in an email this week, you can give of your financial gifts, whether through tithing or giving to the discretionary fund to help those in a pinch during this trying economic time. You could also give of your gifts and show your love for your neighbor by maybe calling a friend that lives alone to check in on them or making dinner for a family that has both and trying to juggle homeschooling. But I hope that all of you listen to the holy spirit that fills you and follow the commandment to love.

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