Vessels of MercyNovember 2008
by Tony Vavroch
I consume, therefore I am. For years I attended Redeemer on a regular basis and became part of an exclusive and yet popular community in Manhattan known as the Christian Consumer Com-munity. I would drink down the worship, breathe in the sermons and literally eat up the cookies & muffins during the fellowship time after the service on Sundays. Even my Christian relationships were based on the strength of my appetite for fellowship.
There was nothing inherently wrong with what I was doing. By design, Redeemer and other NYC Churches offer great worship and teaching on Sundays as well as opportunities to connect during the week. This is what fuels community. But as time passed, I began to look around at all the volunteers who were assisting in feeding me and all the other consumers in the congregation. My heart began to desire something more. Soon after this desire came, I was nominated to join the Diaconate.
One of the most unique Christian ministries in NYC is the Diaconate at Redeemer. Over the past few years as a deacon (deek), I have witnessed and experienced a community of men & women who are united in helping people who have needs that go beyond what the average Christian consumer has. There are people sitting among us in church every Sunday who are in financial, emotional and spiritual crisis. As deeks, we pray with these people and meet on a regular basis to provide financial assistance and other resources such as grocery cards and metro cards. The Diaconate is a mercy ministry where people come not as consumers of Redeemer, but who are often detached from community and whose hearts and minds are broken.
What is my motivation to serve as a deacon? It has to do with realizing what God has done and is doing in me. I have experienced God’s mercy in my own personal life and as a deacon; I have come to a deeper appreciation for the Gospel. It has been humbling for me to experience and share in the brokenness of others. It is the opposite of being a consumer. Extending mercy requires me to look somewhere other than my own appetite.
After being fed, Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” This is how we serve in community with others on the Diaconate and I praise God for opening my eyes to the call. If you or someone you know in the congregation is in need of prayer or other practical assistance, I encourage you to reach out to a deacon or deaconess after the services on Sunday or call the Diaconate helpline. If you are a Redeemer member and have the desire to serve as a deacon or deaconess, or if you know a fellow member who you feel is gifted to serve, please consider being nominated or nominating someone this month.
Jesus did not consume anything on the cross but was rather consumed for us so that we might become vessels of mercy for others.
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