In honor of Easter, I'm rerunning a post — new here, a rerun from elsewhere — about the day I became a deacon.
Perhaps Easter pictures later today.
So I was ordained as a deacon yesterday.
When I agreed to be a deacon, I was a little taken aback to learn that in the Presbyterian church it actually involves ordination. I don't think of myself as, well, ordainable, for want of a better word. But that's apparently the tradition.
In our church, deacons perform helping-the-ill and hospitality-type services. We visit church members who are hospitalized or homebound (a lot of our older members don't get out any more), help out families that have suffered illnesses and deaths (deliver meals, take people to the doctor, etc.), and greet people and help them find stuff on the church campus on Sundays (during construction, it's awfully hard to find the Sunday school rooms, for example). We can give communion (as long as we are with a pastor or elder, or at least with another deacon, but not alone — I'm not entirely clear on the distinction).
We cannot excommunicate or exorcise. I know because, inspired by Sunday's scripture reading. I tried to drive the demons out of the kids this morning. Nothing. Maybe I need the herd of pigs.
Anyway, we had to go to the 8:00 service to get ordained. That led to a lot of generally un-ordainable grumbling by teh wife. They brought the dozen of us to the front to have us answer the appropriate questions. Afterwards, the tradition is to have us kneel and have one pastor pray for us while the other ordained members of the church — pastors and elders — lay hands on us. Nothing dirty, just a firm hand on the shoulder.
Anyway, I kind of got shoved between the nearest deacon and the altar, and when I tried to kneel I only managed to get down on one knee. I tried to shift to get the other knee down, but two pastors and an elder had closed in too close behind me and I didn't have room to move my leg. The way I was putting my weight on the one knee down and the one knee bent was very uncomfortable but I didn't have any room to shift weight or anything reliable to lean on (I sort of didn't want to lean on the altar cloth and pull it off and dump the Host on the rug). So I kept in that position. But the pastor was giving a rather long prayer. And my knee started trembling from the strain of the position.
Presbyterians in my particular community are decorous. They really aren't into the more exuberant displays of religious fervor; it makes them uncomfortable. But they are also fiercely pluralistic and proud of tolerance and so they grimly endure and encourage exuberant displays in others. So when I started to tremble violently from positional strain, the nearby pastors clearly took it for religious ecstasy and emotional tumult and more moved up to lay hands on me. This crowded me even more, making it even less possible for me to shift my weight, making me tremble even more, and making them crowd in even more, etc. It seemed fairly clear that they thought I might burst out into tongues or lift my arms above my head or something.
Eventually the prayer ended and everyone returned to their seats. The pastors and elders gave me some tolerant slaps on the back. The congregation regarded me with an air of loving suspicion.
My knee hurt.
It's a funny old world.
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