Ministry is about a way of seeing and a way of serving.
That is to say, it is a way of giving attention to God and his creation, to yourself and to others, in order to learn to love them; and it is a lifelong commitment to that kind of service of others who formal name is ‘pastoral care’ but which is more simply defined as affirming love. And those of you who are launched today as deacons will go into situations where people are deeply hungry for God yet may be almost totally unaware of the Christian story or else may reject what seems to them outdated metaphysical nonsense.
So what have we to offer? You have what you share with every other living soul: our humanity.
And to be human is to be aware of what Shakespeare calls the ‘mystery of things’.
When the writer Philip Toynbee was dying of cancer he asked the priest on whose ministry he came to depend why he became a priest. ‘He told me he had tried several things first – engineering and psychiatric nursing – but this was the first pool he had stepped into in which he couldn’t feel the bottom.’ ‘That’, he writes, ‘was a wonderful answer.’