- The Program
Defined by early Christians much earlier than the better known sacred orders of priest or bishop, the sacred order of deacons is the oldest ordained ministry. The word "deacon" derives from the Greek word diakonia, which has a variety of meanings ranging from "service at tables" to that of an agent entrusted with authority to negotiate a contract or treaty. Regardless, the concept of diakonia defined the ministry of the early church- to be sent and to serve.
Baptism provided entry into the Christian community, whose members were called and sent to serve. During his visit to the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus expressed an awareness of his call to serve, as Luke 4:16-21 presents. Likewise, Jesus commissioned and sent The Twelve, as well as The Seventy to minister to all the world. Jesus' viewpoint was clear- a call to serve was essential for ministry. Jesus remarked, "I am among you as one who serves (Luke 22:27)" and "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve (Luke 12:37)." The diakonia of Jesus and the Apostles inaugurated the Holy Reign of God in which the hungry would eat, the blind would see, and the deaf would hear.