Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

In the Epistle reading that we’ll hear from the Acts of the Apostles tomorrow morning, we’ll hear about the institution of the role of the deacon in the Christian Church. Initially there were the presbyters (priest/bishop) – the Apostles and those they ordained to watch over the local Churches in various areas. But as we hear in the Acts, as the number of Christians increased, there were many things to do, specifically mentioned is the distribution of food and necessities to the widows. So St. Paul had seven men chosen to see to this service, and the Apostles laid hands on them and prayed (ordained them), and then they were given their duty. The word diakonos means “the servant” – they were ordained to serve.

Two interesting points – a specific ministry was created in order to fulfill a certain need. We see this still today – the deacon is ordained to serve, to assist the priest primarily in the ministration of the services, but also in all of the work of the Church. We have readers and subdeacons, and in the past there were blessed positions of singers and taper bearers and even teachers and exorcist. The Church recognizes the gifts of the people, and they are set aside (ordained) to do their ministry in the Church. This is charism in the life of the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit. In today’s environment, Fr Hopko says that one of the primary ministries of the priest is to help the people see the gifts they have, and figure out how to use them for the glory of God.

Which ties in to the second point – the deacons were chosen for their ministry in order that the Apostles would be able to give themselves over to continual prayer and to the ministry of the word. The priests were to pray and intercede for the people, and also to teach and preach and educate and instruct. The Father’s say that the primary way that the Apostles were ministering to the people was by instructing them practically – in other words, by guiding their spiritual lives so that the people would draw closer to Christ. We see beautifully in this passage how everything works together , in support of each other, in the Church. The gifts of the people were identified, the people were shown how to use those gifts in support of the Church and for the sharing of the Gospel, and the Apostles also guided the people in their spiritual maturation in Christ. And this is the same way, guided by the Holy Spirit, that we continue to operate today.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Matthew Jackson

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