Its funny now for me to think that once upon a time, I was a slim eighteen year-old Airman sweating my appendages off in the blistering San Antonio sun. Ensconced in cotton, OD fatigues and marching everywhere with the exception of the latrine, my life and immediate future were in the hands of a granite-chinned Training Instructor (DI for you Leathernecks and Army types) who regulated every waking moment of my life. My dad described to the searing power of the Training Instructor (edited) as one who would bark "Defecate!" To wit, you'd respond "Where, and how much Sergeant?" His word was final and his terror seemingly omnipresent yet unlike my Flight-mates, I would only have to endure 21 days of Basic Training bliss instead of the requisite 42. Blackmail? Graft? No, something better.
Along with another Flight-mate, I was a "Bypass Candidate", or one who qualified for an accelerated Basic Training Regimen. This sound like quite the deal; bailing out of Lackland as an E-3/Airman First Class early to get on with your training. While your bunkie and fellow recruits were pounding the pavement, you were off to briefings and other appointments. While they were saddled with the mundane, you pursued the meaningful. You see though, as Mr. Crane reminds us, there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Being, and maintaining Bypass status hung on some significant presuppositions. First, you were expected to already possess and continually demonstrate the competencies of gained through Air Force Basic Training. Posers and pretenders would quickly be seen for who they were. In order to thin the Bypass herd, one faced stringent testing within their first full week. There was the red line inspection and the written examination. A close order drill test was conducted with wiggle room meaning, your heels had best be together along with your uniform. Completing this program was a zero-sum prospect; failure in any aspect would cause the suspension of training and reassignment to day one of Air Force basic. This might well seem brutal by today's slacker standards, but it reflected a solidly Biblical construct: TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, MUCH IS REQUIRED.
Participating within the bypass program could well have been, and likely was viewed a a seat of privilege. Not so much, it was a seat of responsibility.
For some, this essay may be an exercise in WTH, yet I can look at this moment in history and compare it to a coming paradigm shift in the very near future. I'm alluding to life after November 7th.
The imposition of the Deacon's stole is in a real sense, the imposition of a servant's yoke. It represents a moment when not only has the anointing of 2,000 years been bestowed, it represents the moment when our LORD places one's counsel and words under a higher power lens. All of our words matter and Scripture reminds us that no idle word will escape examination on that Day of the Lord. All, from the poet laureate to the village idiot will give an account. Yet those who would be teachers will have their words evaluated with a brighter light and a finer comb.
Welcome to St James, Chapter 3.