Disciples are to call down from the Jesus in their midst what they have the courage to open themselves to in his self-giving. For deacons this message may well be especially meaningful, but deacons do not take their name from here. They take that from another kind of diakonia. We see this clearly in what the later writer, Ignatius of Antioch, had to comment about the deacons among the Trallians: ‘they are not deacons (diakonoi) of food and drink but are officers (hypēretai) of the Church of God.’
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They straddle the boundary between church and public square, discerning Christ at work in both locations and helping others make the crossing. As such they require the skill of bilingualism: the ability to understand the cultures of church and community, speak both languages and facilitate dialogue between the two.
It must be clearly stated that Deacons, while being communicant members of congregations, having a liturgical ministry and dovetailing with the work of presbyters, are primarily a task force at the disposal of the Bishop, for work, most of which is out in the world. They have their proper place in a diocesan rather than a congregational strategy of mission. They are a pioneer corps rather than auxiliaries to share the load of existing intra-congregational ministries.21
The mark of true diaconal ministry is to foster the initiation of lay ministries galore —to pioneer and then hand over, in order to be free again to pioneer
My ministry is incredibly varied; no two visits are the same. When asked, I can’t really describe what it is I do as a deacon, other than that it means meeting people where they are on their journeys, listening to them, encouraging them in their questioning about life and death, and enabling, supporting and being alongside them as their journeys come to an end.