Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Life and Vocation of a Deacon III -- The Visible (Part 2)

In my last installment discussing the Life and Vocation of the Deacon, the focus was on the Deacon's role in what would be considered the Liturgy of the Word.  But the celebration of the Eucharist or Mass moves into its second movement with the Liturgy of the Table, as the Celebration transitions from the readings, proclamation, and prayer to the Eucharistic feast.

Typically, at this moment, the Peace has been passed between communicants (this will occur later in the Roman Catholic Liturgy), recognizing that in the Absolution, we've been given peace with God and in turn we give our peace to our neighbor.  Following any announcements and pre-eucharistic instructions, the tithes and offerings will be received.  Its here that the third "P" in the Deacon's ministry is manifested, this being Preparation,

One of my earlier daily chores as a child was setting the table at dinnertime and clearing it afterward.  It wasn't labor intensive as there were originally only five of us.  It did mean learning, then ensuring that each eating utensil was at its proper place in the place setting.  This was predominantly an exercise in attention to detail and would soon muscle memory as I set the table for dinner.  I carry these memories to this day.

As the Ushers come forward to receive the morning Tithes and Offerings, I will approach the Altar to prepare the table.  For some, the busboys and wait staff are looked down upon as mere hired help and held in contempt.  Were anyone feel this way, I'd pray they get passed it.

As the Deacon, I've been given the Holy privilege of setting the King's Table recalling the Seder meal two thousand years ago when he took bread and wine, declaring it His body and blood. For many years, I wrestled with this truth.  While with a church of the radical Reformation, I was exposed to a plethora of bad teaching which included the caustic, toxic screeds of Jack Chick (But I'll save that for a later essay).  I struggled to reconcile the nature or the Eucharist for many years until the weeks leading up to the COVID-19 Pandemic when the words of the Master suddenly exploded within my heart.  These earthly elements of Bread, Wine, and Water were the BODY and BLOOD of the Savior because He declared it so!  As a Deacon, I've the privilege of setting the table for this Holy feast.  It's in this holy meal that the children of The Almighty are nourished and fortified. It's my greatest blessing to have a hand in this.

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