The Greatest in God's Kingdom is the One who Serves the Most
This weekend is a momentous weekend for All Saints, as our Pastoral Fellow, Heather Sisk is scheduled to be ordained as a Deacon in our Church by our Bishop. This is the next and penultimate step in a long and arduous road to the priesthood. It is a requirement in our communion that people who are on track for the priesthood, must first be ordained a deacon for at least six months before their ordination to the priesthood. Those headed for the priesthood are usually referred to as Transitional Deacons and those who plan to remain Deacons are called Permanent Deacons.
Our church has three orders of ordained clergy, Bishop, Priest and Deacon. Bishop comes from the greek word for supervisor, i.e. episcopos (from which we derive our denominational name). The priest is an elder in the church who takes on the function of being the chief celebrant of the Eucharist for the gathering of God’s people. Deacons were originally designated in the Book of Acts, to be those who tended to the ordinary affairs of the gathered community. Gradually, the role of Deacon progressed from “tending tables” to being a ‘bridge person.’ That is the Deacon would bring the concerns of the greater community to the church and also, bring the ministry of the Church out to the greater community. In this way there would not be an isolated Holy Church, removed from the concerns of the world, a place to which one might escape. With the ministry of the Deacon the Church and Society would be in a constant dynamic dialogue with each other.
Jesus said to his disciples, that the greatest in God’s Kingdom would be the one who served the most. The Church in its acquired wisdom, came to understand that their clergy should begin their ordained ministry with a focus on service that would always undergird any additional ordinations and ministries that might follow. Both Priest and Bishop, always know at heart theirs is a servant ministry, serving God by serving people with the Good News of grace, mercy and justice.
On Saturday morning we will gather in a ritual of commitment and devotion to celebrate this rite of passage for Heather. She has studied for years to master the history, theology, the ministry, the customs and traditions of the church. Heather has submitted to all the demands of our Diocese which takes ordination very seriously. They know that once someone is ordained and wears the clerical collar, he or she represents Christ to the Church and to the world. Some might see ordination as a means to power or a mask behind which to hide. The goal of the ordination process is to choose people who have demonstrated a calling to Christ’s service and to help train them to best express Christ in all situations.
In many ways Heather has already been like a Deacon to us. She has brought the cares of the world to the Church with various studies, she has prepared much of our liturgy, she has preached God’s grace and justice to us and now she will be assuming other special and symbolic roles to demonstrate the ministry to which she has been called. In some ways she will be the same, but this rite of ordination will also ensure that she has become something special within herself and within the congregation. Let us support her in this new ministry with our prayers and encouragement!