Last week, I reflected upon the necessity of trusting in the slow work of God, and I still stand by every word I wrote. The divine timeline will not be hurried, no matter how much we might wish it were otherwise.
This week, however, I am marveling in just how quickly God sometimes acts. My head is still spinning with awe and delight.
It was just a little over two weeks ago that I learned Deacon Joe Mazza would not be able to continue in his parish ministry here at St. James. I greatly regret his departure, as Joe brought many gifts to us. And, given the scarcity of deacons in Colorado, I did not expect we would find another … not for a long time, anyway.
Yet within less than four days time, I got an unexpected email from my dear friend, the Rev. Anthony Christiansen, a newly ordained deacon. “Just a quick one,” he wrote. “Would you like me to deacon for you?”
Talk about gob-smacked! At one point back in the winter, Anthony and I had discussed just such a possibility. He and I have been friends for years – I am unofficially “godmother” to his dog, Boo. But his ordination was still months away, and life intervened to take us both down different roads. I hadn’t seen Anthony since his June 13 ordination – and even then it was only long enough to pass the peace at the service, certainly not long enough to get an update on his plans. But I figured he would be snapped up in a heartbeat the minute he went on the deacon market, so to speak.
As it turns out, however, Anthony’s permanent assignment to a parish needs to be delayed while he deals with the pressing matter of finding a full-time job. As you may know, deacons are not paid for their service to the church. That’s part of the reason there are so few of them! Anthony put his paid career on hold to go to seminary, but now he needs to begin recouping those lost wages. He may or may not find the full-time work he seeks in Colorado, so he’s looking everywhere. Until that is settled, he can’t make any long-term commitments to a parish.
But in the meantime … I asked the bishop – who has the ultimate say on where deacons are placed – if we could have Anthony here temporarily. He said we could.
I don’t know how long Deacon Anthony will be with us. It could be a few weeks or a few months. Should he get a job in Denver, I hope we’d be in the running to lay claim to him longer-term. But whether our journey together is long or short, I know that we will be blessed by his presence. He will begin functioning liturgically as our deacon on Sunday, and I hope to get him in the pulpit soon after that.
Anthony is still a brand new deacon, and has much to learn. But I seem to recall a nearly-new priest arriving here last October and being readily embraced by the people of St. James, who were – and still are – incredibly forgiving and willing to overlook rookie mistakes. This is a good place for novice clergy.
And so begins our season with Anthony. Thanks be to the god of endless love and endless surprises.