On Saturday, June 2nd, I was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons. Throughout the service there was a phrase that stuck in my mind. It came from the bishop’s examination: “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.”
When a person is made a deacon they are, in a particularly intense way, conformed to the servant nature of Jesus. In the waters of baptism every Christian is shaped into the form of Christ, and this includes his form as a servant. But servanthood is the distinguishing characteristic of deacons – they are given away, to serve all those who are in need.
I remember sitting in the on-call room during my summer as a hospital chaplain and realizing how radically available I was to the people of the hospital. I might read, or watch TV, or lie down and go to sleep, but if my pager went off, even at 3 o’clock in the morning, I could not even stop to consider going back to sleep. I would get up and go to wherever I was called. I was entirely at the service of others.
Deacons live as a sign of the servanthood, the radical availability of Jesus. And thus they are a sign of what every Christian is called to. The vows the person preparing to be ordained is asked to make mirror the vows of every Christian at baptism: “Will you look for Christ in all others, being ready to help and serve those in need?” “Will you in all things seek not your glory but the glory of the Lord Christ?” I pray that we all find in Christ and his Church the model of how to live in such a way.
Pictures from the Ordination
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Burke VA:
Saturday, June 2 2012, 10 a.m.
Elizabeth expects to be ordained as a priest next December or January in Tanzania.