“Waiting at tables and the rest…”
This morning we have the privilege of installing a new deacon to serve the Lord on our behalf in this congregation, community and even beyond. The basic meaning behind the English translation “deacon” suggests the notion of service and servanthood (John 2:5; Romans 15:8; Matthew 20:26; Luke 10:40; Acts 11:29; 12:25), especially in regard to providing practical help with respect to the basic necessities of life (Matthew 4:11; 8:15; 27:55; Luke 10:40; Romans 15;25). So, what is the biblical mandate for a deacon?
The first deacons we read about in Scripture are recorded in Acts 6:1-7. In the early church, the twelve Apostles (including Matthias), were concerned they were neglecting the ministry of the Word because much of their work was being taken up by serving at tables. And so, they met with the disciples and decided to search out seven men who were known to them to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom and to turn the work of caring for the widows (and others) over to them.
Some people would like to suggest that the work of the deacons as it was done in the early church is no longer necessary today for, we now have a welfare system which enables widows and others in need to care for themselves. Without doubt, we are thankful to the Lord for a good welfare system, but that does not diminish the work of the deacons.
Today, the work of the deacons, along with the Care-Team, is not just to care for the widows, but also those who are experiencing sickness, the homeless, the unemployed, the mums who just had babies and need a helping hand, the abused which includes children, husbands or wives and others, some who have fallen between the cracks of our welfare system.
But the work of the deacons isn’t just deeds, they are also involved in the ministry of the word. Stephen, one the first deacons spoke the word so well concerning the things of God and the work of salvation, he was brought before the Sanhedrin. They became so angry with his testimony, they had him stoned to death (Acts 7). Philip, another deacon, preached Christ in Samaria and many evil spirits came out of many people and others were healed. On another occasion, the Holy Spirit told him to see an Ethiopian eunuch and explain to him the good news of Jesus Christ as it appeared in Isaiah. It is obvious that the work of the deacons along with the Care-Team hasn’t decreased but increased. As a congregation, we continue to prayerfully support our deacons and Care-Team and assist where we can and ensure they have the resources so they can be a blessing to many, not just in deed, but also in Word. May the work they are involved in be a blessing to them and be used to extend the Lord’s kingdom. JZ