Daly Office Readings for Wednesday, Proper 7 Year 1
“And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables.” Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” (Acts 6:2 – 4)
I have never agreed with or even cared for this kind of thinking. Every saint I have ever studied showed their faith by serving and taking care of the less fortunate. This passage brings about the birth of deacons. Fine. As an Episcopal priest I was ordained a deacon first. I was never “un-ordained” out of the deaconate. Therefore within my priesthood, I am still a deacon, one who serves tables.
The letter from James encourages us to show our faith in the works that we do. Further, he says that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27) In many ways I think that considering one’s self too important to serve at tables is the very Hellenistic attitude that criticized them in the first place.
Over and over we are told to bear fruit. Fruit does not come from just devoting ourselves to prayer and preaching. We must have some sweat equity in the game. Preach fine, but walk the talk, we must walk the preaching. I quote St Francis of Assisi as he said “go and preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words.” This implies that action, that is, works, that is, waiting tables if necessary, is the fruit of such “prayer and serving the word.”
Sharing responsibility is common in the Bible. Moses’ gifts were shared for the benefit of the Israelites. “The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.” (Numbers 11:16 – 17)
So this sharing of responsibility is an honored tradition. As I write these words I am well aware that I, and some of my parishioners, will meet a week from today to wait at tables at our local chapter of “Operation In As Much” to distribute breakfast to the hungry and homeless of our community. Yeah, I’m a priest, but I’m still a deacon and most important, I am still a servant of Christ Jesus, Baptized to serve.
Thank You Jesus. John+