The reason I have been reflecting on this is because I have found it such a profound experience to take on this liturgical role in the Eucharist. For anyone who is not clear what the diaconal role is, Common Worship explains it thus:
“In some traditions the ministry of the deacon at Holy Communion has included some of the following elements: the bringing in of the Book of the Gospels, the invitation to confession, the reading of the Gospel, the preaching of the sermon when licensed to do so, a part in the prayers of intercession, the preparation of the table and the gifts, a part in the distribution, the ablutions, and the dismissal.” (p158)
I have come to the conclusion that the liturgical role of the deacon is not only foundational for myself as I prepare to be ordained priest in September, and not only an expression of the servant ministry which the whole church is called to, but it also embodies in the liturgical role the whole of the deacon's ministry. Let me explain with a few examples:
- In the Eucharist, the Deacon reads the Gospel. This is a liturgical expression of the words spoken to us in the ordination: to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed, and so I am reflecting on what it means to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed in 'everyday' ministry.
- In the Eucharist, the Deacon prepares the altar for Holy Communion. This is a liturgical expression of the servanthood which the Deacon is called to; and so I ask myself the question: how am I 'preparing the table' for people to meet with God in other contexts?
- In the Eucharist, the Deacon invites the congregation to confession, to share the peace, to proclaim the mystery of faith, and, finally, to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. This is a liturgical expression of the Deacon's call to encourage and enable the ministry of others, and therefore, again, my reflection is of how I invite, encourage, and enable others to live out their calling in the life of the Church.
There is much more I can (and have) said in my reflection for the Bishop, but this gives the basics of where I am at, and how important this diaconal year has been, particularly as I will remain a deacon after my priesting. I am well aware that the diaconal year is not as important for some as it is for others; this will be the topic of my next blog tomorrow!