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Charge to Eric Johnson
2 Cor. 5:18

 

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 

Eric, we selected you to be a deacon because of your evident faith, your cooperative spirit, and well, because you've conducted yourself rather "deaconly"since the day you joined our church. You've served our church well in the time you've been a member here and I am confident that you will be a fine deacon in our church, for the brief time you have left on the Peninsula and that you'll make a difference in the churches you will join at future duty stations.

I wish I could tell you that being a deacon is a walk in the park, but I can't. It is more like a walk through an amusement park. Much of your time is spent in routine tasks, like waiting in line for a ride, but it will be interrupted by heart pumping, adrenaline drenched moments where you'll have to hold on for dear life.

Most of the times your duties will involve routine activities. Things like coming to the church early on Sunday Mornings to make sure the doors are open and the coffee is made. Or giving a baptismal candidate instructions, making sure there are clean towels in the cabinet and that the water is warm. Over the years you'll pour gallons and gallons of grape juice into the communion cups and break up thousands of pieces off the matzah bread for the Lord's Supper.

And did we mention the meetings? You'll attend hours and hours of meetings, many of them moving at a snail's pace.

You'll talk to people who need financial assistance and you'll have to determine if they are down on their luck or are trying to con the church out of something they really don't need. You'll listen to hours of complaints and try to fix hundreds of problems.

Routine. That's a good word to describe the work of the deacon. Most of the work is routine.

But then there will be those moments-moments that will make your stomach sink and your heart pound. Moments that will define your ministry. The phone will ring, and the person on the other end of the phone will be crying and will need you.

Their husband just died. Or their child was in an accident. Their wife just left them, or they fell away from ten years of sobriety. And they will need you.

And because you are the kind of person you are, you will drop whatever you are doing and go to their side. You'll hold their hand or place your hand on their shoulder. You will listen as they cry. You'll cry with them.

You'll make a few phone calls and organize some of the other ministers in the church to provide for meals, or watch the kids, or run the errands.

Eric, there will also be time when the voice on the other end of your phone will be your pastor. He'll need a listening ear because he is discouraged and he doesn't have a pastor to talk to. Or he will need you to share his load for a short time, because there are more visits to make than he can make, or he'll need you to preach a service for him. Or he'll need you to go on a visit with him to see a disgruntled church member or help settle a conflict in the body.

Routine? No, your ministry isn't routine. It is a ministry of reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5:18 says: "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" 

In the midst of all the routine activities you'll do, moments will come, when someone from your congregation or your pastor needs you, and because we know you are the kind of person that will be there for them with the ministry of reconciliation, we ordain you to the office of deacon.

And we have full confidence, that you'll conduct yourself in such a manner that for years to come, we'll be glad we did.

For more information on Deacon ministry, read the Heart of Deacon Ministry, by Tom Stringfellow and Jim Wilson. 

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