Today by the will of the people of God, by the election of his brother clergy and by his total surrender, by the gift of his own frailty to be the place where the power of God can deploy itself freely, one of us has crossed the threshold into the Sanctuary.
The event is awesome, because these gates represent the gates that lead to the place where God dwells and they can be crossed by right only by our Lord Jesus Christ, who has chosen to come and die for us, and has risen and entered into the glory of His Kingdom.
To-day, our new Deacon Stephen has entered through these doors. He has entered into them because he had died with Christ in Baptism and risen with Him. But this dying and this rising must be repeated day in and day out throughout one’s life. Because to die with Christ means to renounce by an act of determination all that was the cause of Christ’s rejection and crucifixion. And against the background of Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, it becomes particularly tragic, because Christ came into Jerusalem in order to give His life and to die that we may live.
And so, crossing this threshold to-day, in Christ, together with Him, our new Deacon has undertaken with as much understanding as one can have before one has reached the power of communion with Christ, to be with Him and follow Him whithersoever He will go. Christ has said of Himself that He has chosen to be a servant, a servant who is prepared not only to smooth the path of his masters but also to defend them with his life and protect them if necessary with his death.
A Deacon is a member of the laity. Of the laity that is the total Body of Christ sent into the Sanctuary as an act of trust on our part, and it is an act of trust on his part. We must pray for him and pray for him all the days of our life, because it is we who have chosen him, it is we who have sent him to follow Christ, a servant, a witness and the lamb of God slain for the salvation of the world. To-day’s Epistle (Philippians IV: 4-9) is a great encouragement to him, because it says to him: Rejoice! The Lord is near!: and then advises him on how he should live in order to fulfil his vocation.
Let us therefore pray with him, pray for him and surround him with care, with compassion, because we have sent him like a lamb among wolves. The wolves are all the temptations that may come with new force to everyone who devotes his life to the service of God. It is also those people to whom he will be sent, of whom some will receive his words with gratitude and some will reject them with anger, because the message he is to bring is a message of total transparency, total surrender to God, and also of a heroic following of Him who has said to us: I have given you an example for you to follow.
He will need all the help of God, all his ability to open himself to His help, so that the power of God may deploy itself in his frailty. He will also need all the support, all the respect, all the love which we can offer him and which indeed we offer him now.
May God’s blessing be upon him, upon his wife, Anna, and upon their child, Theodore, upon all those who are of their flesh and blood because coming to the Sanctuary now he brings with him as an offering to God all his ancestry; in him, all those who have lived before him have entered through these Holy Doors into salvation. Amen.
Published: Newsletter № 284, 1995 May