(image from ecosia)
(image from ecosia)
Here at the centre everything is still
Before the stir and movement of our grief
Which bears its pain with rhythm, ritual,
Beautiful useless gestures of relief.
So they anoint the skin that cannot feel
Soothing his ruined flesh with tender care,
Kissing the wounds they know they cannot heal,
With incense scenting only empty air.
He blesses every love that weeps and grieves
And makes our grief the pangs of a new birth.
The love that’s poured in silence at old graves
Renewing flowers, tending the bare earth,
Is never lost. In him all love is found
And sown with him, a seed in the rich ground.
Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.
Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man, so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments, bloody be.
Sin is that Press and Vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.
Who knows not Love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.
by George Herbert 1593-1633
Isn’t being a deacon just a stepping-stone to the priesthood?
No, a deacon doesn’t have to become a priest. In fact, deacons comprise a complete and distinct order of ordained ministry within the three expressions of ordained priesthood: the diaconate (i.e. deacons), the presbyterate (i.e. priests) and the episcopacy (i.e. bishops). While deacons may, and now often do, pass through to other orders (i.e. to the presbyterate and episcopacy), most deacons originally served Christ within the life of the Church as deacons the rest of their lives. Do not accept mistaken, common stereotypes of the deacon as “an apprentice priest,” a “liturgical decoration (or functionary)” or even worse yet, “a super-acolyte!” Over the years, misconceptions have developed regarding appreciation of the diaconate, partly because it has been used in the past as a “stepping-stone to the priesthood” in an imbalanced manner. It is hoped the resources made available through this Web site describe a more healthy and correct vision of the diaconate as a “full” or “complete and distinct order” within the ordained ministry of the Orthodox Church. This is the ministry through the activity of the Holy Spirit that brings forth in a special way, the ministry of “Christ, the one who serves.”
Why don’t we have many deacons serving in our parishes?
What do I call a deacon?
How are the deacon’s vestments different from a priest’s?
A homily by Deacon Greg Kandra
and some resources at the end for Palm Sunday services
When I was a kid, this was always a busy week. There was planning for the big meal next Sunday. Would it be ham or lamb? Some years, I’d have a new suit – usually a couple sizes too big, so I could grow into it. My mother would be cleaning the house for company. There were eggs to dye and chocolate to look forward to.
For a lot of us, it can still be a time for planning.
But before we get too caught up in next Sunday, we need this Sunday. We need to remember.
Remember that the crowd that cheered Jesus also condemned him.
Remember that the voices praising him also called for his death.
Remember that those who loved him and promised loyalty also abandoned him, denied him, and betrayed him.
And if you want to know who did that, just look at the palm branches in our hands.
We are guilty.
While we may not want to admit it, Christ’s Passion goes on today. Our betrayal of him continues, in ways large and small.
How often do we praise God on Sunday…and damn Him on Monday?
How often do we shrug Him off when things become too difficult or the rules too hard or the demands of the Christian life too taxing?
How often do we treat love as just a sentiment for greeting cards, and not a command for living?
How often do we see suffering in the faces of those in need, and simply turn away?
Christ continues to bleed and weep and cry out, “Why have you abandoned me?” He cries out today to us. Whatever you do to the least of these, he said, you do to me.
What do we do?
We encounter him on the subway, step over him on the sidewalk, and go out of our way to avoid him when we feel like he might make demands on our time.
At the office, we make jokes at his expense, or spread gossip about him at the water cooler. We suck up to people who are more popular, or attractive, or influential at work – and barely give the unimportant person who answers the phone the time of day.
Whether we realize it or not, we see Jesus every day, read about him in the papers, hear about him in the news. He is everywhere there is someone who is small, or neglected, or disrespected, or discarded.
He is with the unwanted and unloved, the bullied and abused.
“Why have you abandoned me?”
Do we hear him?
We find ways to justify our choices. But it can’t be denied. Whenever we choose death over life, sin over the gospel, popularity over integrity, indifference or disdain over love – in short, whenever we have turned away from Christ – we who claim to believe in him have, instead, betrayed him.
We have said, “Give us Barabbas.”
We have said, in effect, “Crucify him.”
And we have done it with palms in our hands and the echoes of “Hosanna” in the air.
We need this Sunday to remember that.
And we need these palms as a reminder – and a challenge.
They remind us that we are called to be heralds of Christ – to celebrate him the way they did that day in Jerusalem.
And these palms challenge us to keep crying “Hosanna,” to keep proclaiming the Good News – even when the world tempts us to do otherwise, even when it seems like it would be easier to go with the crowd and simply choose Barabbas.
These palms challenge us to not turn our back and walk away. They challenge us to not step over Christ, or ignore him. And they challenge us not only to remember what we have done to him, but what he has done for us.
That is what this week is about.
Before we look ahead to next Sunday, and the big plans and the big meal, look back. And look within.
And look to these palms.
Look at what we are called to do…and who we are called to be.
Impressive information about Deacon Greg! https://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/about/
Nooo – not this sort!
Priest candidates have a wealth of experience and reading to tap into before they go to a Bishops’ Advisory Panel. However, because we are still few in number, and many places don’t have much understanding of the diaconate, there are precious few resources to help diaconal candidates to prepare.
In line with this blog’s mission of finding or creating resources where there are none, a number of deacons who have recently been recommended for training or are recently ordained swap their experiences in a way they hope will be helpful and practical.
- WHAT I LEARNED AT BAP
- Be yourself! Always be natural. Let the advisers see the real person
- Remember that you are not in competition with others (its not like a job interview!) so support one another
- Listen to all instructions about worship, mealtimes etc given in the introductory session
- Candidates won’t get the same questions, as these will be tailor-made for individuals
- Don’t stereotype assessors: they are all different although all are working towards a common goal, which is to discover God’s calling to you
- When asked a question, don’t try and second-guess what the selector might want you to say. You’re not trying to get through an exam!
- Always have a bash at an answer: dig deep and be as honest as possible. Patch together what you know that seems relevant but if you don’t know, just say so
- 3 advisors asked me “why deacon and not priest?” and “why not lay ministry?” There wouldn’t have been much point in attending the panel if I hadn’t thought that through! **(see below)
- I wonder if many of us have a sense that a deacon is what we are and have always been? If you do feel like that, then that will give you plenty to talk about but be prepared to give concrete, practical examples of the ways in which you see this working itself out in your attitudes and activities
- Be prepared to pray for those you meet and don’t compare yourself with anyone else
- I found I needed to look interested by sitting forward in discussion. I sat back and listened to others to allow them opportunity to be heard too and the comment was that I looked disinterested when in fact I joined in and was very interested!
- Definitely be yourself. Enjoy it . . . lots of interesting people to meet. You will be tired afterwards so plan how you will get home
- Believe in yourself and trust in God – if you are being obedient to God’s call he will be with you. You’re unique and God calls you as you are
- My BAP group exercise featured a lot of current affairs questions so I was glad I had prepared by reading ‘The Week’ magazine. I found a good phrase to use in 1:1s is “let me give you an example of that” (provided you have them!) to stop yourself being too abstract!
- I needed to take my time over the pastoral care exercise, to read and think about it. I was advised to use the Action Reflection cycle for it and that really helped me think through what was happening, what scripture was relevant and how I could respond. For the discussion after your presentation be prepared to really lead this. Think of some extra prompts as well as your initial question which you can use if you need to, and of course ensure you bring in anyone quiet and kindly move on from anyone hogging it!
- Take an easy book to read or something else that will help you unwind. And it is ok to say ‘I don’t know ‘ in the interviews rather than flanneling, the selectors are looking for potential and what inspires you, not perfection
- Be friendly with other candidates and sociable but leave time for rest and reflection. One interview or part may not go well or as you would like but do not let it affect the rest
- Before you go to BAP, check out with your DDO what pastoral support there is in place, should you not be recommended
- First, last and all the way through: pray and make sure you have lots of people praying for you. Their prayers and support will give you strength
**If you’re stuck, take a look at these resources:
Read the Ordinal and the selection criteria, both available on the Ministry Division website, and prepare accordingly. In addition you can find the Exeter draft for deacons here: https://deaconstories.wordpress.com/diaconal-selection-criteria-and-learning-outcomes-dispositions/
In addition, these might be helpful: on diaconal distinctiveness: https://deaconstories.wordpress.com/what-is-the-distinctive-diaconate-answering-some-questions/
Sarah Gillard-Faulkner on why she is not a priest: https://deaconstories.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/not-called-to-priesthood-deacon-sarah-gillard-faulkner/
Corinne Smith’s reflection on 20 years as a deacon: https://deaconstories.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/20-years-a-deacon-2/
There’s a collection of relevant resources on the USEFUL BOOKS AND PAPERS tab (right hand side of screen): https://deaconstories.wordpress.com/some-useful-books-and-papers/
especially Paul Avis’s paper on the diaconate as a ‘flagship ministry‘ and Rosalind Brown on ‘theological underpinnings.’ All Rosalind’s stuff is really helpful and relevant – read Being a Deacon Today. Also read the Mission and Ministry of the Whole Church and For Such a Time as This. If you get through these then you’ll have an outline idea of diaconal theology.
And remember – God is always with you, loves and values you and will guide you in his way for you, whatever the outcome.
I’m so pleased that Deacon David Clark’s talks are now available through the Diocese of York website. (Thanks to Deacon Liz Carrington)
Please note that the talks are wrongly numbered: #3 is in fact the first talk, #1 is second and #2 is third.
Becoming a diaconal church: broadening the vision.
Deacons’ Conference 22-24th March 2019 Wydale Hall
Becoming a Diaconal Church – Broadening the Vision
Deacon David and Susan Clark
Distinctive deacons from York diocese and beyond were presented with an inspirational vision of an outward facing church by Methodist deacon David Clark. Formerly a presbyter, he is passionate about the renewal of the church as movement rather than institution. The way forward for the church is more than the cure of souls. In a world beset by social fragmentation, he believes solutions can only develop via strong communities. “It’s building community or bust” he said, but “community is a benign aerosol word we squirt on everything.” And so to unpack it…
He identified strong communities as those shaped by relationships, feelings, values and beliefs which is where theology comes in. Theology addresses the communal dilemma, moving its dark side away from insularity and sectarianism towards openness, inclusion, and acceptance of diversity. All people matter and each counts.
David pictures the diaconal church as a servant of the Kingdom community with deacons as mission enablers and the laity in pole position as messengers and community builders. Deacons have a key role to play in nurturing life, love, liberation and learning as the gifts of the Kingdom and noticing where these already exist outside church. The church exists to make these gifts real in people’s experience in everyday life and relationships.
Hear David’s talks: https://soundcloud.com/dioceseofyork
The weekend was an opportunity to be inspired by stories of deacons making connections with communities of interest beyond the church, for example with bikers, market stall holders place and older people. For enquirers, incumbents and anyone interested to know more about the diaconate, the date for Wydale Weekend 2020 is February 28th-March 1st
Don’t miss the next day meeting of the York deacons group on November 16th at St. Edwards’s Dringhouses, with Bishop Alison.
Deacon Liz Carrington
I love this poem by Malcolm Guite, which especially celebrates single mums and the amazing job so many of them do. As always, you can hear Malcolm reading his poem if you click on the title. I’ve also added some links to resources.
At last, in spite of all, a recognition,
For those who loved and laboured for so long,
Who brought us, through that labour, to fruition
To flourish in the place where we belong.
A thanks to those who stayed and did the raising,
Who buckled down and did the work of two,
Whom governments have mocked instead of praising,
Who hid their heart-break and still struggled through,
The single mothers forced onto the edge
Whose work the world has overlooked, neglected,
Invisible to wealth and privilege,
But in whose lives the kingdom is reflected.
Now into Christ our mother church we bring them,
Who shares with them the birth-pangs of His Kingdom.
RESOURCES FOR MOTHERING SUNDAY
And a Godly Play approach: https://deaconstories.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/the-prodigal-daughter.docx
A deacon is someone who has pledged themselves to the service of Jesus Christ and His Church, and has been selected, trained and ordained according to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of Scotland.
The office of deacon is recognised by the Church to be a distinctive, life-long office within the ministry of the Church, and to be agreeable to the Word of God.
What is the role of a Deacon?
Deacons have been ministering within the Church of Scotland for more than 120 years. At present there are 58 deacons in active service, the majority of whom work in parishes.
Deacons tend to serve in areas of great need and scarce resources. They discern the gifts and the needs of the community; work with individuals and groups at grassroots level, nurture relationships, offer pastoral support, training and education; build bridges between church and world; and contextualise the gospel in our daily lives.
In your ministry as a deacon … be ready to be a pioneer, revealing needs not fully acknowledged, bringing to light injustices easy to overlook, pointing to tasks most avoid. May your work encourage and enable the church to discover new patterns of service, and challenge it to raise a prophetic voice against those things that destroy community and deaden the spirit. Build bridges between church and world, that gifts may be shared to the benefit of each, and that people in all situations may know that the Gospel speaks to them.
Church of Scotland’s Ordinal and Service Book
Good to bone up before the DIAKONIA conference in June! If you fancy meeting up with deacons from all over the world, and listening to John Bell, then this is the conference for you: http://drae.diakonia-world.org/en/main/AssemblyPages/Assembly2019.shtml