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Deacons urged to embrace the depth of Jesus’ servant ministry

Sixteen Anglican deacons were ordained at St Paul's Cathedral on 6 February.

Sixteen Anglican deacons were ordained at St Paul's Cathedral on 6 February.

PHOTO: Janine Eastgate

By Roland Ashby

February 8 2016“Before you start talking about the service you want to give to the church, we need to enter more deeply into the meaning of the service that Jesus renders to us,” Bishop Genieve Blackwell told 16 Anglican deacons at their ordination service in St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne on 6 February. 

Bishop Blackwell, who is Bishop of the Marmingatha Area of Episcopal care in the Diocese of Melbourne, preached on John 13:1-17, in which Jesus washes the feet of disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. “Foot washing was a task normally reserved for the lowliest of menial servants…The foot washing [of the disciples] is an acted parable of the humiliation of the Son of God,” she said. “The cleansing of the feet represents the cleansing by blood and water to come on Good Friday. Jesus’ glory is shown in his humiliation… Washing another’s feet was shameful. Being crucified was more shameful. It was dying the death of a criminal. In both, the revered and exalted Messiah takes on the role of the despised servant for the good of others”.

Her prayer for the new deacons, Bishop Blackwell said, was that “You will open your hearts to his love for you, his service to you, his purifying grace so feely offered and his transforming power. Jesus entered the darkness in our place,  and you will discover how that makes you more willing to enter other people’s darkness, to do the unthinkable if necessary, not the done thing, to serve them as Jesus has taken the form of a servant - the form of a slave - to free us and purify us to follow his example.

“For most of you this ordination will be closely followed by another – priesting. Louise [Lang] is being ordained to the distinctive diaconate. But none of you, none of us in ordained ministry, stop being a deacon: what it means to be an ambassador of Christ, serving God as you serve others in Jesus’ name”.

Read the sermon here.