By Rev. David A. Hyatt
I was offered an opportunity to submit a reflection on my ordination to the diaconate on December 6, something less than two months ago as I write. What could I possibly say, especially with such a short time of ordained under my belt?
To be sure, I spent a lot of time over the days and weeks leading up to the big event praying and meditating on what was being offered to me, what was being asked of me, of the incredible honour and the awesome responsibility I was preparing to commit to. In truth, much of that prayer and meditation happened, and continues, in a place too deep for words.
Honestly, I am not trying to sound all mysterious and mystic-like! But as with any sacrament, there is mystery in ordination and I am still trying to understand it myself.
Indeed, I am still adjusting to being “Reverend” Dave; I catch myself wondering from time-to-time, “Who is that guy in the mirror with the funny collar? Ohhhh! It’s me….”
And it is an adjustment: for me, for my family, for my parish… Just this past Sunday, I walked into my church, Grace Church, Brantford, greeted some folks in the pews and was asked, “So, can we call you Father?”
It was the first time someone had asked me that, and the implication of that appellation – ‘Father’ – struck me.
As I replied, “No, I’m not Father Dave, at least not yet,” I was thinking to myself just how much of an adjustment my ordination was for these lovely folks who have known me for years as plain old ‘Dave’. How should they relate to me? How in the world could I ever be ‘Father’ to them, these folks who could be my mother or father, who had watched me grow up and who had done so much to support me in this journey towards ordination? I’m still working on that, but with time and God’s grace, we’ll figure it out.
While the entire process of ordination seems a touch surreal in some ways, the concrete reality of being a deacon is a life of service:
“David, every Christian is called to follow Jesus Christ, serving God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit. God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood… In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people… At all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself.” (The Examination, Ordination Service, December 6, 2018)
I am still working out with our Rector, Fr. Paul Silcox, just what that service will look like at Grace Church and beyond. The real challenge I face is to balance my commitment to part-time ministry with full-time secular employment, family responsibilities and personal time – no easy feat, to be sure!
My brother-in-law, Canon Mark Kinghan of Toronto, preached at my ordination and he reminded me that ordination vows are rooted in our baptismal covenant. On a day-to-day basis I prayerfully try to take my diaconal calling out into the world among the people I meet and deal with in my job.
As a prosecutor in traffic court, the call to balance the competing interests of society, victims and defendants is paramount. To that role I now bring the lens of diaconal service which adds a fresh layer of challenge and opportunity to my work.
I pray daily for the grace of the Holy Spirit to guide and help me in getting that balance right. My work is, literally, a justice issue, and I am mindful of God’s call for integrity and fairness in the administration of justice, coupled with the Gospel call to balance justice with mercy.
I think God is doing great things at Grace Church and throughout Huron. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for us, and through us, for our communities and the world we serve. I pray God’s blessings upon all of you, and I beg your prayers for me, His unworthy servant.
As the old collect says:
“Remember, O Lord, what thou hast wrought in us and not what we deserve; and as thou hast called us to thy service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Rev. David A. Hyatt is the transitional deacon at Grace Church, Brantford.