What I remember is the laughter.
Just after the Dean had somberly gathered the Senior class in the refectory, most of us knowing what was coming: there would be no trip to Canterbury this year. We knew it was the right decision, most of us. Still, we all had looked forward to this for years, just like we did our senior sermons, like Commencement Evensong, boisterous evenings on the porch at the Berkeley House.
But what I remember is the laughter. I don’t remember who made the joke, but I remember all of us laughing. But then, that’s Berkeley. My fellow Seniors have taught me as much about the faithfulness of God as any of my classes or even the most profound Monday morning homilies. In that moment, and throughout this whole season of loss and anxiety, someone gave us the gift of grace in its midst.
I think that’s a bit like ministry. I was ordained deacon on March 7th and it’s been a strange diaconate. Less church, more Zoom Bible study and pastoral triage. But in whispered conversations with parishioners and my far-flung friends; somehow, we’re slowly remembering the promise of God. In showing us what we miss about church, Jesus is pulling us closer to the essence of the Gospel, daring us to proclaim resurrection in a world overwhelmed with death.
That has been hard, hard work. But all the while, this class, so faithful to the Gospel that laughter could overpower despair, continues to make me a better deacon.
At some point, whenever God sees fit, this strange time will end. We’ll go on to our curacies or our doctoral programs or any number of expressions of ministry, and I’ll go on to my second diaconate, this time in a church. And yet…I wonder if the first will have been just as important.