Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 11: Philip the Deacon

I've always enjoyed Ormonde Plater's blog, Through the Dust, but it has taken on a new dimension for me since I became the theology instructor for the people in the vocational deacon formation program of my diocese this fall. I have, of course, recommended the blog to my deacon-candidate students.

Ormonde has a short post about Philip, about whom we don't know very much, but whose feast is a major one which we celebrate on the same day as the Orthodox Church. Padre Mickey wrote a fine post about Philip last year.

As I think about theology through the lens of diaconal ministry this year, the feast of Philip reminds me (and all who observe the feast) of the proclamation of the Gospel, which is part of the deacons' particular ministry. Of course, deacons, like priests and bishops, remind us through their ministries of all our ministries as baptized Christians. We are all called to proclaim the Gospel, just as we are called to lives of service. Deacons, in embodying these two ministries in a particularly visible way, call all of us to them.

Philip is also the one who catechized and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. In the person of the eunuch we see someone who, though a person of high position in Queen Candace's court, was sexually outside the societal norm, and who was also an African, active in his embrace of Christianity. We see this in the Ethiopian eunuch's request for baptism and in his initiative in reading the Scriptures. (I have a sermon about this somewhere - must go search for it and retrieve it somehow. There was a winter 2008 computer disaster with my old Berkeley computer about which I have not written here.) In remembering Philip, we remember not only his actions and his faith and his being among the first seven deacons. We also remember, once again, the church that Philip helped to build and its flowering among persons of all races, nations, and manners of life. May the witness of these early Christians be a blessing to us.

Holy One,
whose word is alive in our day
as it was in the days of the apostles,
we bless and praise you
for the life of your servant Philip,

friend of Christ,
bearer of your life,
builder of your community.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Word made flesh,
and in the power of your Holy Spirit,
we pray.


pj said...

Oo-main, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Much to ponder. I feel drawn to this myself, but at 58 feel it is perhaps too late to engage upon this journey.