Kelly Cornett, beginning her second year as a Deacon, led the devotion at our September Deacons’ Meeting. It’s a great reminder to the Deacons, and to all of us, to practice love.
After completing my first year serving as a deacon and attending the recent ordination service of our newly called deacons, I’ve been doing a little reflecting on what it means to serve on the diaconate of FBC.
What exactly is a deacon? The word is a derivative of the Greek word diakonas meaning a servant or minister. In the early church the role of the deacon was to primarily minister to the physical needs of the members of the body of Christ. But what does it mean now, to the deacons of FBC?
In the ordination service the congregation gave us the following charge through a responsive reading:
“We want to say that we hold your office in the highest esteem. We did not take lightly our choice of you. We do not take lightly our desire to have you lead us with courage, conviction and compassion.
We charge you to give unselfishly to the well-being of our church. Be interpreters of our ministry to one another, to this community, and to the world. Be prophets, calling us back to the hard truth we would sometimes rather forget. Be pastors to us in our sickness and sorrow. Be friends to us in times of stress and indecision.”
As I have read over this charge multiple times, it has begun to weigh heavily on my heart.
As we learned over the weekend from Dr. Dant, there can be a lot to learn when we make ourselves vulnerable and lay out what is on our heart…..speaking honestly. So I’m going to to give it a try!
As a deacon on this diaconate, am I honoring and serving out our charge? I’m trying.
Could I be doing it better? Yes.
Could we as a group be doing it better? Absolutely!
As I prepared for this devotion, Kim Priddy shared some resources with me. I came across the following:
“Many Americans spend their lives working themselves into a place where they can be served more than serve. As the saying goes: “It’s good to be queen (or king)!” Our culture sees the blessed ones as those who get waited on and served. And few among us aspire to be the maid with the job of serving and blessing others.
In Genesis 18:18 the Lord says, “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” God’s trajectory is to bless the earth through his people. And to show them exactly what he has in mind, he comes to earth as one who serves (Luke 22:27). Jesus is God with us. And he calls us to serve (Matthew 22:37-39). This is not religious rhetoric that we simply endorse as a good rule of thumb. The Christian discipline of service is the way the world discovers the love of God. We are the way God blesses the earth.
Jesus’ attention to the blessing God intended to bring to the nations never wavered. When he finds the temple in Jerusalem clogged with buying and selling, he takes the whole religious establishment to task-running them out of the temple with a whip of cords. God’s people were to be a blessing; his temple was not supposed to be a place of business but “a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17). God intends to bless the nations through us and our lives of service. Christians are the very presence of God to others. We become God’s vehicle of blessing on planet earth.
We will never really serve others unless we see that the needs of our neighbors are as real and important as our own. This may seem obvious. But the truth of the matter is many of us look right through others and never see them, let alone care about what they need. When we are preoccupied with our own concerns, much of the world is simply invisible to us. Service is rooted in seeing-in seeing others as God does. God cares about productive and nonproductive people, poor people and rich people, educated and non-educated people. God cares about everybody. And if we harbor hatred that breeds neglect of any of God’s people, we are hindering the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus is a compassionate, serving Spirit that always works for the good of others. Jesus maintains that radical love for others demonstrated whether we know God or not.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” It is enough to make a truly great difference in someone’s life.
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us
Over the past year, I’ve been a part of many discussions in this room from issues ranging from lack of nursery volunteers to whether or not we wanted to jump on board with Silver Compassion. I’ve signed cards celebrating births, baptisms and new members along with cards sending get well wishes or expressing our sympathy. And I’ve raised my hand to approve matters that committees have presented to us…..committees I trust have made the best decisions for our church because they know far more about their proposals than I…..that’s why they were chosen and affirmed to serve on the committee. I’m just saying those 4 page finance reports are sometimes way over my head! Here again, giving it to you as honest as I can.
We are closing out on a productive year and are on the verge of another year of knowns and unknowns in the life of our church. I want to challenge not only myself, but this entire group to take the gift of service that has been given to us and find ways we can share it with others. We each do our serving as individuals in various areas of our church, carrying out our spiritual gifts. But could we find a way to do it also as a whole? Setting an example that even the most diversified group can serve alongside together….leading, supporting and challenging the church as we grow in sharing God’s love to those inside and outside of these very walls.
Now I’m not suggesting we all need to be here every time the church doors are open, but I believe we could be more visible as servants and less known as a voting body that comes together the first Monday of the month.
Let’s challenge ourselves to be more.
To be more visible to our home bound. Listening to those that have gone before us.
To be more visible in the celebrations of new birth and in the sorrow of loss.
To be more visible in serving in areas within these very walls…hint,hint, any nursery volunteers or I hear there’s a consignment sale benefiting our weekday school gearing up this week….and outside these walls both individually and collectively.
Let’s challenge ourselves to be visible as we lead our church through any periods of discernment we may encounter.
Let’s challenge ourselves to serve with open hands, open hearts and open minds.
On this crazy adventure called parenthood, my children are teaching me some really important life lessons. My son Drew is in an inclusion class at his school. There is a child in this class with autism, and as Drew says, he has had lots of bad days…they’ve only been in school 15 days! As a matter of fact as he could, Drew told me he feels so bad for this little boy because no one seems to understand that this is just the way he was made. He is seeing people for who they are, not what they do or how they behave….I too could benefit for seeing people with those same eyes!
On the heels of that conversation, Drew came home Wednesday night from missions with this picture I am sharing with you. I had been pondering over the message I wanted to leave with each of us this evening and through a child I was led to this verse.
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.
1 John 3:18
We spend a lot of time in this room talking, the time has come for us to begin practicing!