Working for others trumps serving yourself

By Stephen Cauchi

March 9 2021

The new deacons pose with Archbishop Philip Freier and Dean of St Paul's Andreas Loewe

The kind of leadership expected from deacons was in total contrast to that shown by former US President Donald Trump, 16 new deacons were told at St Paul’s Cathedral last month.

Archdeacon Heather Patacca, the Cathedral Precentor who gave the sermon during the 6 February service, said that Mr Trump’s “My Way” style of leadership was “for me, by me, about me, to profit me, centred on me”.

Melbourne’s Archbishop Philip Freier ordained the 16 new deacons.

Archdeacon Patacca, who also led the ordinands’ retreat before the service, said that while all leaders – like all people – served, many served the wrong thing.

“Everyone is serving someone or something – money, their spouse, image, a political party, social justice ideals, a footy team, beauty or even sloth. We are all serving something,” she said.

“Some of us serve something we are crazy for, we just can’t get enough of it. Some serve because they can’t see a way out of living that way.”

Jesus, by contrast, “came not to be served but to serve – to serve in a very particular way”. 

Jesus’ service to his heavenly Father was one of utter selflessness, she said – giving his life as a ransom for many.

“In the same way, if the disciples were to be true followers of Jesus, they must follow suit and also serve others.”

Such service often required transformation, as in the way the brothers James and John went from wanting to reign with Jesus to fully serving him instead.

As with James and John, “Jesus … knows our intentions”, Archdeacon Patacca said.

“Jesus has each of us clocked, he has the measure of us. His invitation is for all people to know Him and to love Him, to serve Him and to show the transformation that renewed minds make for us.”

Total transformation of a person’s life is what the good news of Jesus Christ brings, she said.

“We display the reality of God by living in a different way, and that different way is who we serve. It’s no longer ourselves, it’s not our families, not a political party, or our bosses, or anything or anyone else.

“Jesus and serving Him is what begins to define our whole lives and so become those oaks of righteousness that show His glory.”

As Paul writes in Romans, that transformation is brought about by the renewing of one’s mind, she said.

Deacons model the life that transformation from a renewed mind makes, showing us reconciliation with God.

“All of us who follow Christ are in effect called to be those oaks that show his transforming power.”

All Christians are called by God to serve in the world, and that was especially true of deacons, Archdeacon Patacca said.

“Those who are called to be deacons are spiritually called to become ambassadors of Jesus … proclaiming the good news that reconciliation with God is for all.”

This will enable others to “turn from other masters to serving God”.

Deacons would continue the work of Jesus and model his kind of servant leadership, she said.

“You will proclaim the good news of reconciliation with God. You will bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim the liberty and release of serving God to those who are burdened and weighed down by other service.”

In doing so, they would allow others to experience God’s own comfort, encouragement, gladness and strength.

Deacons “invite people to come in, up close, and experience God’s love”. 

“They facilitate growth in the lives of others, both among the Christians they have pastoral responsibility for, and in the wider world, so that all people may know and love Jesus and serve him.”

Deacons should aim for people to know Jesus not from a distance but up close and in doing so reconcile with the God who loves them. 

“My friends, (this is) exactly what you are called to do,” Archdeacon Patacca said.

“Your call as deacons is to facilitate that work in the church and the world.”

Each deacon should imagine Jesus talking to them personally, saying: “I want you to do this particular ministry I ask you to do.”

 

The new deacons are:

Bentollhoda Ameri, Emmanuel Iranian Authorised Anglican Congregation

Rosalyn Armstrong, St Mary’s Sunbury

Kirsty Brown, St Columb’s Hawthorn

Dietrich Cheung, St Timothy’s Bulleen

Bruce Everett, St Agnes Black Rock & Brotherhood of St Laurence

Russell Goulbourne, Christ Church Brunswick

Patricia Hunt, Church of the Epiphany Hoppers Crossing & Australian Defence Force

Gordon Li, Glen Waverley Anglican Church

Ruth Li, Christ Church Melton

Angus Monro, St Mark’s Camberwell & Workplace chaplaincy

Debra Saffrey-Collins, Brotherhood of St Laurence & Parish of Gisborne

Peter Shih, St Hilary’s Kew with North Balwyn and Mont Albert North

Agatha Wakyereza, Brimbank Anglican Church

Luke Whiteside, Upper Yarra Anglican Parish

Breannon Wilkinson, Glen Waverley Anglican Church

James Young, St John’s Cranbourne with Christ Church Tooradin