Resolutions are not often a good idea.  Easily made, and easily broken.  Even so, the new year is a helpful time to take stock of our lives and ministries.

As deacons, it is all too easy to get sucked in to other people’s ideas of what we should be  doing.  Now is a good moment to check that out, to see if we’ve lost a little bit of our diaconal focus.  Are we still able to spend most of our time outside the church, or on its fringes, meeting the needs of others?  If not, what needs to change?

Here, in no particular order, are some other starter ideas:

  • How does the servant leadership of Christ inspire and enable me?
  • How am I spiritually?  Am I giving enough time and attention to my relationship with God, so that, as I feed on him, I am in turn able to feed others with his love?  Do I need to make any changes?
  • Do I make time to be with other deacons, to learn and grow together in mutual support and prayer?
  • How am I dealing with the constraints on my time? Do I need to revisit any decisions?
  • Are there projects and ideas that are on the back burner?  Is 2018 the time when they need my attention and energy?
  • How relational am I in my thinking and practice?
  • What fresh ways are there to encourage my church to become more missional and outward-reaching?
  • Can I free up other clergy by shouldering some of their diaconal responsibilities?
  • What else can I do to encourage and support those who are on the fringes of the church?
  • How can I ‘deacon’ colleagues in the workplace?

A happy and blessed new year be yours!

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Image by Linda Richardson


We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,

Or cosy in a crib beside the font,

But he is with a million displaced people

On the long road of weariness and want.

For even as we sing our final carol

His family is up and on that road,

Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,

Glancing behind and shouldering their load.

Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower

Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,

The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,

And death squads spread their curse across the world.

But every Herod dies, and comes alone

To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.

Malcolm Guite


Image result for stephen deacon and martyr

And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven… Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his [Christ’s] name… Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven… Now, at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exults, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered a multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven. (St Fulgentius)

Gracious Father,

who gave the first martyr Stephen

grace to pray for those who took up stones against him:

grant that in all our sufferings for the truth

we may learn to love even our enemies

and to seek forgiveness for those who desire our hurt,

looking up to heaven to him who was crucified for us,

Jesus Christ, our mediator and advocate,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

(Common Worship, Collect for Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr)


A blessed and joyful Christmas to you all!  May the peace and grace of this season accompany you into the new year.

A reminder that deacons all over the world will be celebrating the birth of our Lord.  We are part of a goodly company!

Related image


Related imageEgyptian Coptic deacons


Image result for Romanian Orthodox deacons celebrate ChristmasRomanian Orthodox deacons

Image result for deacons CatholicAmerican Roman Catholic deacons


Image result for African deaconsDeacons in South Africa


Image result for Indian deaconsDeacons of the province of South India


Related imageDeacons of the diocese of Hong Kong


Image result for women deaconsThe first women deacons of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria

Andy Farmerimage6-1photo2IMG_6338

Andy, Corinne, Jess, Rita, Chris and Gerrie:  English deacons

image: Indian batik of the nativity Per Natale







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I am delighted to announce that the new Church of England vocations webpage now offers a brief description of the Distinctive Diaconate that does reasonable justice to our unique vocation and ministry.  It is the fruit of much inter-diocesan discussion amongst deacons and the short text reflects the remarkable unity of vocational understanding in deacons around the country and in Europe, and from all shades of churchmanship.

Distinctive deacons

Building bridges between church and society     

What do deacons do?



Bishop Sarah Mullally in sleeping bag on stairs with others

Yesterday it was announced that the Rt Rev Dame Sarah Mullally would be the next Bishop of London.  Bishop Sarah released a statement, which included this very diaconal section:

Before becoming a priest, I was a nurse and then the Government’s Chief Nursing Officer for England. People ask what it is like to have had two careers. I reply that I have always had one vocation – to follow Jesus Christ, to know him and to make him known.

For me that means living in the service of others.

Washing feet is a powerful image which has shaped my life.

As a nurse, the way we wash feet affords dignity, respect and value. As a priest I am called to model Jesus Christ, who took off his outer garments and washed his disciples’ feet, even the one who would betray him.

I keep that model of service before me, seeking to serve others and value them.

Bishop Sarah is in our prayers.



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Peter Brueghel the Younger, Census at Bethlehem

Christmas (I)
 George Herbert

After all pleasures as I rid one day,
My horse and I, both tir’d, bodie and minde,
With full crie of affections, quite astray,
I took up in the next inne I could finde,
There when I came, whom found I but my deare,
My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief
Of pleasures brought me to him, readie there
To be all passengers’ most sweet relief?
O Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light,
Wrapt in night’s mantle, stole into a manger;
Since my dark soul and brutish is thy right,
To Man of all beasts be not thou a stranger:
Furnish & deck my soul, that thou mayst have
A better lodging than a rack or grave.