As of the middle of next week I will have been ordained to the diaconate for twelve years. In each of the last sixteen years (these 12 and the preceeding four for discernment and formation process)at least one person, during a conversation, will make some form of the following question/comment: "So, you're just/only a deacon?". Now, earlier on in ministry this question/comment would hit a very tender nerve. For any and all of you who might consider this humorous, my lips would be sealed, but I could distinctly hear Steve Martin between my ears saying in his trademark, distinctinve way " Well, heck-scyooooooooooooooooooooze meeeeeeee!" It sure sounded like a very dismissive remark.
In hindsight, practise and wisdom, I now understand that most folks just DON'T know what a deacon (as opposed to a transitional - just passing through to priesthood - deacon)is or does.
For the last bunch of centuries in the church the structure of orders of persons decidedly became a vertical one (rather than its original horizontal nature). You started as a lay person, made a brief stint as a deacon on the way to priesthood.. but the highest form of service was as bishop. Hmmmm..... that lop-sided structure certainly puts a damper on the idea of ministry of the entire body of Christ.
Ah well, I'm off on a tangent. What I wanted to do is share with you (with his permission) a sermon preached by the Rev. Deacon Robert Zito at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC on the occasion of the ordination of four more deacons in the Diocese of New York. His experience and words are profound. I hope his words are informative and inspirational for you. Pardon my fumbling.. it will be well worth your while. Just click the link below to view the document (Adobe Acrobat Reader required). Thanks so much, Bob, for sharing! (and Matt the webmaster whiz for helping me get it here).http://www.geraniumfarm.org/docs/prophetic.pdf