From the editor. Deacons are a vital part of the leadership in Reformed churches. Theirs is an entirely spiritual ministry, as they free up the minister of the Word to pay attention to preaching and prayer, as they liberate the session to shepherd the flock, as they teach biblical stewardship, and as they administer care to the needy as a demonstration of the compassion of our resurrected Savior. “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2).
This month Nathan Trice “seeks to refresh the perspectives of deacons regarding the true significance of their office as the Lord of the church has designed it,” in his article, “If You Are a Deacon.”
An often forgotten element in the ordination of deacons, as well as ministers and elders, is the place of fasting in preparation for this solemn event. In describing the service of ordination, our Form of Government (23.7) says, “It is also recommended that a day of prayer and fasting be observed in the congregation previous to the day of ordination.” Our Directory for Worship devotes four paragraphs to “Prayer and Fasting” (5.A). The connection between fasting and ordination is exemplified in Scripture in the sending of Barnabas and Paul by the church in Pisidian Antioch:
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2–3)
Later on their first missionary journey, ordinary church officers are ordained in Asia Minor, “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).
Deacon Hugh Lynn reflects on the significance of fasting in connection with his own ordination to the diaconate in his article, “On Fasting, Death, and Joy: Reflections on My Upcoming Ordination.”
Dennis Johnson gives us the third of a four-part review of Hughes Oliphant Old’s The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. Volume six, the largest of the seven-volume set, covers “the period extending from the late eighteenth century through the mid-twentieth.”
Meredith M. Kline, who has recently been awarded the ThD from Reformed Seminary Aix-en-Provence by defending his dissertation on Ecclesiastes, reviews Peter Enns’s commentary on Ecclesiastes in a review article, “A Conflicted Qohelet.”
Bruce and Sue Hollister review Barbara Duguid’s Extravagant Grace.
Finally, George Herbert writes of the profundity of the office of minister in his poem “The Priesthood.” He is amazed that vessels of dust should bear God’s holy Word. Also of interest is the poem (not published here) of the prolific, New England Puritan minister Edward Taylor (1642–1729), “The Martyrdom of Deacon Laurence.”
Blessings in the Lamb,
FROM THE ARCHIVES “DEACONS”
Ordained Servant exists to help encourage, inform, and equip church officers for faithful, effective, and God-glorifying ministry in the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its primary audience is ministers, elders, and deacons of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as well as interested officers from other Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Through high-quality editorials, articles, and book reviews we endeavor to stimulate clear thinking and the consistent practice of historic, confessional Presbyterianism.