Deacons and the sacrament

Not having a teaching assignment myself during Sunday School, I tend to bounce between Gospel Essentials and Gospel Doctrine, while occasionally going to neither and instead hanging out in the chapel with my iPad. A few weeks back, I happened to attend Gospel Essentials, where Phil[*], a lifelong (and still staunch) Catholic who has been attending our ward since early this year with an LDS friend, asked a very good question. He noted that in the Catholic Mass, it is the priest, the father, a man dedicated to full-time church service and who has been through extensive training (his words, not mine), who prepares and administers the Blessed Host. He questioned, then, why it is that we let kids prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament in our own church.

I am (rightly or not) considered the “go-to” person for tough or obscure questions in that class, so the instructor turned and looked at me. I started to give a fairly standard answer about the Aaronic Priesthood being a preparatory priesthood, but stopped before I got very far into that, because something entirely different came to me, something I’m not sure I had ever considered before. What I ended up saying was something like this:

The Savior, through His ministry, emphasized time and again themes such as “except ye be as a little child”, “the last shall be first”, and “the least of these my brethren”. It is perhaps in that spirit that He selects the youngest and least “qualified” of His priesthood bearers to perform one of the most sacred duties, to carry and give His body and blood to the congregation.

I can’t remember if I said much more beyond that, but I have looked at the sacrament with fresh eyes since then. I know that having deacons pass the sacrament is a relatively recent innovation (end of 19th century/early 20th century); nevertheless, it can serve as a powerful reminder that the Lord calls upon “the weak and simple” (always a favorite missionary scripture) to do most of the work of proclaiming His gospel. It is also a reminder that, from where the Lord sits, there isn’t that much difference between the “highest” and “lowest” of us. As I said in the post I just linked to, “[God’s] grace is not only greater than we imagine, it is greater than we can imagine.” The Savior on the last night of His life stooped to wash the dirty and calloused feet of his disciples; we should not scorn to take His body and blood from a 12-year-old boy.  ..bruce..

[*] Name changed to protect privacy.

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