If you’re homeless and living in a vehicle, there is no safe and legal place to park in our county to rest for the night. That was until St. Barnabas Episcopal Church of Arroyo Grande characteristically opened their arms and parking lot to welcome them. (They’re known for their charitable outreach, including to the Food Bank.) St. Barnabas only has a permit for four vehicles, but if other churches around the county take this bold and controversial move to be advocates for those who live in poverty, the problem will be solved.
To be an advocate has deep roots in the human community as being for someone, or some cause, and is at the core of all religions, It is often used in Christianity, for example, as a translation from the Bible for the Holy Spirit – the Advocate – God’s presence in the here and now bringing Godly words and actions, or even attitudes, that make our lives and community life better. In the Hebrew Bible, the Spirit as advocate is also community oriented. God’s presence in Person is translated, among other things, as Wisdom.
We should take the word “advocate” more seriously. St. Barnabas did. Recently I was an advocate for the poor in Sacramento, visiting our legislative representitives, Assemblyman Katcho Acadjian and Senator Sam Blakeslee and their legislative aides. I found myself wondering how I could get them to “see” things my way concerning the people we serve, when I suddenly had an attitude adjustment. I remembered that advocacy is not simply for one way against another, but a deeper quest for a way that is good for all. That’s what helping the poor is really all about. If anyone in our midst has nothing to eat, or no place to sleep safely and legally, we are all the worse for it.