In the Gospel according to John, Jesus spends a great deal of time teaching his disciples and preparing them for his departure. In the foot-washing scene, Jesus reminds his disciples that they are to be about service, that the essence of the Kingdom and God’s reign is bound up in service. Jesus invites his disciples to go deeper in their understanding of service by highlighting the transformational quality of service. In John 15:15 Jesus says, “I do not call you servants any longer, because the master does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” The point is that by embracing the servant ministry of Jesus, the disciples are changed.
As followers of Jesus, we are all called to service in various and sundry ways according to the gifts we have been given. The Apostle Paul points to the varied gifts of the faithful: prophets, priests and teachers, arms, legs, hands and feet. The orders of ministry within the Church reflect service and different gifts. Bishops, priests and deacons have different ministries based on different gifts and callings. The orders of ministry reflect unique types of service.
Most of us are probably familiar with the roles of bishops and priests. Deacons might be another story. In the Acts of the Apostles, the first deacon is ordained by the Apostles, because they are focused on preaching and teaching, and the literal care and feeding of some is suffering. The Apostles ordain Stephen to the vocation of literal feeding. Throughout the development of the Church, the role of the deacon has been one of prayer, reading the Gospel in the liturgy and preparing the altar for communion. These liturgical expressions of the ministry of the deacon point to the vocation of the deacon outside of the walls of our churches.
We are gifted to have deacons in the diocese of Southern Virginia. They are prepared for this ministry by a program of the Diocese; they receive no compensation and are assigned by the Bishop to parishes. It is my great pleasure to announce that Bruton has been assigned The Rev’d Bob Gay, deacon in the Diocese. Bob will engage in the liturgy and work in various areas of parish life. He is an able preacher, teacher and leader. We welcome him with open arms (click here to read more about Exploring the Diaconate with The Rev'd Bob Gay).
In discussions with Bob, he was very clear about his vocation. Bob pointed to the unique way deacons help others discover their own particular gifts and ministries. There it is again. We are called to serve one another in Jesus’ name. It is in that serving that the discovery is made, the transformation occurs and we begin to experience the depth of God’s love. We only get it, when we give it away.
The Rev'd Christopher L. Epperson, rector