As a part of Redeemer’s Diaconate* I’ve had the opportunity during the last year to come to a more complete understanding of the body of Christ at our church. Specifically this has occurred through participating in “Deacons/esses up Front” after Sunday services. DUF is the diaconate ministry available to all congregants following the service benediction. As deacons and deaconnesses we make ourselves available for a time of prayer—or just a period of answering questions about the church itself—for those in the congregation.
In reflecting on the church body and preparing for this responsibility each week, I have considered and prayed through 1 Corinthians 12. Verses 12-13 in particular have given me perspective as Paul writes, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
In praying up front after Sunday services I’ve experienced the tremendous diversity of our body: professionally, ethnically, socioeconomically, various spiritual backgrounds, etc. Before joining the diaconate I had a narrow understanding of Redeemer as a like-minded, vocationally-similar group, but it is much more than that. There is a diversity of blessings in the talents the Lord has equipped us with but all reflecting the image of God. As an example, I have taken great joy in hearing about the skills of an artist pursuing his passion and in coming alongside him for purposes of prayer and encouragement.
In addition to diversity there is also commonality in the body: none of us are immune from suffering and all of us face trials. The aforementioned scripture continues in chapter 12 with, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Prayer up front means coming alongside a congregation member for a period of time—occasionally just a minute or two—but the oneness we have in this body results in an interaction of extraordinary depth. It’s convicting to realize “I’ll keep you in my prayers” is not a generic pleasantry to someone struggling with loneliness or waiting on the result of a medical diagnosis. Prayer is tremendously powerful and DUF ministry invites members, many suffering and burdened, to taste that power communally.
Above all there’s Christ. My ultimate takeaway through DUF experiences is the realization that Redeemer is not just a building or event: it’s a diverse group of people going through life together with Jesus as their center.
*The Diaconate is Redeemer’s ministry of mercy addressing the needs of those in our church family experiencing hardship. The Diaconate is our response to God’s calling to be merciful, to love and care for one another in practical ways. If you need practical assistance, please call the Diaconate Helpline, (212) 726-1334.