St. Paul often refers to himself a "deacon of the Gospel" (diakonos evangelion). While he was certainly not referring to himself as a "deacon" in our modern sense of that word, it does remind us of our own basic responsibility of service to to the Gospel. It also gives us, in St. Paul, an interesting and inspiring model of diakonia. So, in this point of reflection, we will follow St. Paul's example.
And what did he do on all of these trips? He would go into an area, preach the Good News, help the local community elect their own leadership, and then Paul was back on the road, heading into a new area to repeat the process all over again. His letters were part of his "follow through", giving encouragement to those fledgling Christian communities.
And if Paul the deacon of the Gospel was constantly on the move, we should be, too!
I'm not necessarily suggesting that we all run out and book passage on the next ship to Cyprus (although it's a lovely place and I'd love to go back!), or that we should host tour groups "in the footsteps of St. Paul." What I am suggesting is that deacons consider ourselves "mobile ministers" who take care of things in a certain area, train other people to take those responsibilities over, and then we let go and move to another area of unmet need. For example, let's say a deacon takes responsibility for visiting prisoners in the local jail on a regular basis. He runs bible study classes, takes communion to prisoners, and spends time talking with them during his visits. He does this for many years, and then retires. Who's going to continue that work?
But try this approach: the same deacon, doing all of those wonderful things, encourages others from his parish and the surrounding area to join him in this ministry. He coordinates their training and accompanies them as they get used to the ministry. Eventually he turns the ministry over to the group he's worked with, and then he moves on to some other area. Perhaps he dedicates the bulk of his efforts working for prison reform. Or, perhaps he moves into working at a local hospice. After a while, he encourages others to join with him, and, eventually, he turns the leadership of that ministry over. And off he goes to some other area of need.
The challenge of this point to ponder, then, is: How "mobile" am I willing to be? Can I go, preach the Good News, empower other leadership, let go (part of kenosis) and move on to the next area of need?