diakonia - commanded to love

The mark of Diakonia is the root word for our terms “deacon” and “deaconess”. In the world of the New Testament it refers to the role of a slave or a servant (in Latin the word slave is “minister” and slavery is “ministry”). Diakonia exhibits the ways in which the church, as a slave of Christ, is obedient to Jesus who, after washing his disciples’ feet, says: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also ought to love one another” (John 13:34). When the church wonders where the boundaries of such extravagant love might be found it is reminded of the parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46). These explosive parables announce that God’s love ignores the boundaries to care and concern that we have erected and accepted. They alert the church to the news that Jesus is unexpectedly present incognito in the hungry other, the imprisoned outcast, the forgotten invalid and the lonely stranger. Surprising hospitality to the other, the outcast, the forgotten and the stranger is a hallmark of God’s glory. Its emergence in community is a crucial sign that God is calling the church into being once more.

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