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Hallo again to all.

In the last three weeks, we've attended three ordinations. The ordinands were all friends—young, gentle, wise churchfolk who in Advent's Embertide and the octave of Epiphany began their lives respectively as one priest and two deacons. The ordinations were cheerful, unfussy events: much longer than a regular Sunday service, of course, but redolent with joy and purpose. We have begun 2016 with an abundance of thankfulness for the vocations of Matthew, Mikayla, and Tuesday, who have many decades of ministry ahead of them, many souls to refresh and bless, and a multitude of encouragers around them wishing them weal and health in the newest seasons of their lives.

Ordinations—like baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials—are a regular and necessary part of the life of the church catholic. In a way unique among sacraments, though, ordinations now often come after a long process of discernment, wandering, study, committee and commission work, examinations and interviews, travel, debt acquisition, vestment catalogue perusal, and such like. No other rites are quite so contained by process as ordination, and no sacraments are celebrated quite so infrequently despite their indispensable character for the self-replicating activity of our apostolic communities.

In view of the difficulties so many friends in different provinces have experienced in the course of ordination processes, we marvel that there is no communion-wide ad hoc Commission for the Reform of Ordination Procedure. This being said, it's the services of the diaconal ordination we find most impressive and inspiring when they do get there. The new deacons promise

to look for Christ in all others, being ready to help and serve those in need

in all things to seek not their glory, but the glory of the Lord Christ

to be faithful in prayer, and in the reading and study of the Holy Scriptures

It is our fervent prayer that in the coming week the primates meeting at Lambeth remember that they are in their public roles something like sacramental matryoshka—Russian nesting dolls, having in their core identity a baptism, supplemented by diaconal, priestly, and episcopal ordinations. We hope especially that they will reflect back to their first ordained roles as deacons—looking for Christ, seeking not their own glory, striving to be faithful in prayer and study.

The matryoshka teach us that each person who serves in the church never sets aside a previous and precious identity when having taken on a new one. An archbishop remains a bishop. A bishop remains a priest. A priest remains a deacon. And a deacon remains a lay person whose dignity is sealed in the waters of baptism—waters so powerful that oceans can not wash them off.

Primatial deliberations and the possibility of a federation to replace a communion are far beyond our ken. It is well within our competency, however, to ask the primates to do foremost those things new deacons covenant to do: to bring the needs of the world to the Church, and to bring the balm, blessing, and gifts of the Church to the world; to look for Christ; to seek his glory; to be faithful; and in so doing, to be sincere followers of Stephen the protomartyr and protodeacon.

The minds of many focus on the banks of the Thames this week, and we shall choose to hold the primates in our prayers as 38 deacons promised to a very high charge of care for the most important parts of our common life and common prayer.

See you next week.


Richard Mammana


All of us at Anglicans Online

10 January 2016


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