Some years back when I was still in Highschool and mulling over my future, I came across a pamphlet from the United States Army recruiters that pitched a career within the Infantry. Within, it asked the question, "What does an Infantryman do?" The answer was a bit tongue-in-cheek, "What's he's told". For context, up until relatively recently, the Army rate of Basic Infantryman (Eleven Bravo) was open only to male recruits. Remembering this brought to my mind, the diversity found in Diaconal ministry and where we may find ourselves.
Some years ago, my answer was quoted in a Doctoral dissertation as to the question of "What does a Deacon do?". At that time, I described the Deacon as being like the one at the tail end of the circus parade with the broom and pail who was cleaning up the mess (apologies to Jay Ward). As this description now seems outrageous and irreverent, it was highly influenced by the fact that I was serving under a highly disordered Priest who was leaving a trail of flotsam while he was destroying a parish in slow motion. A Decade out, I'll soundly repudiate that answer and say that what we do as Deacons is broad and worthy of a more serious answer. For this, and the next post, I'd like to focus on what's seen in any given Sunday Eucharistic worship service, describing this public ministry as Proclamation, Prayer, and Preparation.
Because the Anglican and Roman Liturgies practically overlay one another, what I do looks almost identical to my Catholic brother Deacons. Following the processional, opening acclamations and readings, the Deacon will proclaim the appointed portion of the Gospel. This portion is mapped out in our three-year Liturgical Calendar. Its important to note that the Deacon doesn't simply read the Gospel, he publicly proclaims it. Understanding the nature of the Gospel and its gravitas, it is proclaimed as the words and heart of the King.
Following our public affirmation of the Credo, the Deacon will lead the parish in intercessory prayer for the Church and our world. Where moments earlier, he proclaimed the council of God, he now leads the assembled into the presence of God. Our Prayers of the People, or Prayers of the Faithful while not exhaustive. do encompass a broad range of intentions.
In the next installment, I'll discuss thoughts on the preparation and dismissal.