Thursday, June 14, 2007

Through a Deacon’s Eyes – The Eucharist

The Liturgy; it has captured my attention, mind and heart for as long as I can remember. Depending on the heart of the celebrant, it could be cold, mechanical and as soulless as a Briggs and Stratton engine. Or, it could be organic and whole, as if Christ himself were offering me the cup of His new covenant. Like many, I was a “spectator” of this divine celebration for far too long. Once my heart was apprehended by the Almighty, I began to sense that the liturgy wasn’t a solo performance, or a play of a small select cast. No, every follower of the way participates in this celebration of the Holy. Every heart captured by the Christ participates in an intimate fashion.

The preparations for my vocation have taken my participation in the Liturgy to a wholly new dimension. This has provided insights that have varied from the exhilarating to the terrifying. Imagine the following scene unfold.

He’s standing at the altar, assisted by a fresh-faced acolyte. She could easily be dismissed as just another church kid, but this nine year-old takes her calling as acolyte very seriously. This is evidenced by her reverent demeanor and skill in assisting at the table. She brings each item and element in its turn. He in-turn begins to lay out the table for the celebrant. The bread is uncovered, the wine and water are decanted into each chalice, and then the young acolyte offers him water and purificator in order to wash his hands. The celebrant approaches the altar and the Deacon takes his place at Priest’s side. This is what I would see at each celebration, which was until I became the one on the back side of the altar.

So, what is streaming through my mind at a moment like this?

This simple act is being duplicated all across the planet. Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of men and women are setting a table today. In ethereal cathedrals, in modest sanctuaries, in homes, huts and shuttered rooms; someone is preparing table to celebrate the vicarious death and glorious resurrection of our Christ!

This simple act been repeated since the birth of the Church. Someone had the honor of setting out the Seder elements as the day was drawing to a close during Passover, AD 37 in an upper room on a nameless street in Jerusalem. In the next weeks, months and beyond, the implements and elements would be set out as followers of the Way recalled the Body and Blood that purchased their redemption. Two millennia have passed and a hill of bread and a lake of wine have been placed on the altar. This will continue until the glorious appearing of the Lamb who is returning for His bride, the Church.

Who am I, What am I doing here? No, this isn’t intended to be a cheesy Admiral Stockdale impersonation. It’s a question that is asked with a mixed sense of awe and fear. Who am I? There are six billion (and growing) noses on this planet; how, or better, why did the Father call me to this vocation at this time. He knew and chose me from eternity past to stand here in this moment, to set a table for His saints. I’m gobsmacked, and filled with a sense of wonder. What am I doing here? Standing in the presence of God at His table has a way of giving you a sense of your own filthiness. I become keenly aware at this moment, just how utterly unworthy I am to stand in the presence of the Holy. Though my life is surrendered to the Father, I still manage to step in things, think things and trip in ways that are displeasing to my Him. Yet for Christ’s sake, I’m not incinerated. When the Father glances toward that table, He sees His Son and not this dumb ox.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Cool thoughts, I like it.