“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”
Matthew 20: 25-28
1 Timothy 3: 8-13
Today’s passage turns the focus from Bishops to Deacons. The word deacon and its variations appear over one hundred times in the New Testament from when the first appointments took place (Acts 6: 1-7). There was and is a clear role for this form of Christian Leadership. The Anglican Church holds to the three distinct orders of ordained ministry that are found in Scripture: Bishops; Priests; and Deacons. I reproduce an excerpt from the Book of Alternative Services (BAS) to clarify this point:
‘First, there is the order of bishops who carry on the apostolic work of leading, supervising, and uniting the Church. Secondly, associated with them are the presbyters, or ordained elders, in subsequent times generally known as priests. Together with the bishops, they take part in the governance of the Church, in the carrying out of its missionary and pastoral work, and in the preaching of the word of God and the administration of his holy sacraments. Thirdly, there are deacons who, in addition to assisting bishops and priests in all this work, have a special responsibility to minister in Christ’s name to the poor, the sick, the suffering, and the helpless.’
In the passage before us today, the one in Acts and the above explanation from the BAS we see that Deacons are to lead the Church in service. Deacons: will work to meet the needs of the Church; they will serve the Priests to enable them to lead; and they will serve and lead others so they can serve. Their ministry is based around the Word (living and written) and has a Gospel focus which takes the Church to the world; again their character is a key focus.
When we look at Christ’s example of servant Leadership we see that Christian Leaders are: to imitate Jesus Himself; to build up the Church; to further the Gospel; and to work to enable members of the body to become who they are meant to be as Christ’s disciples blessing God and others. No small task!!
N.B. Vs. 11 raises the issue of women as Deacons. Scholars disagree on interpretation as to whether this verse refers to the wives of Deacons or women as Deacons themselves. Certainly, we see in Romans 16 Phoebe as a Deacon. In the Anglican Church women hold positions in all three orders.
To Ponder: How do you feel about service being a core aspect of God’s calling upon us? How might you use the gifts God has given you in His service; how could this fit into your Church life?
N.B. I repeat the prayer and song from Wednesday’s blog due to their relevance
Pray: Through your Spirit, heavenly Father, give these your servants
grace and power to fulfil their ministry. Make them faithful to serve
and constant in advancing your gospel in the world. May they follow the
example of Jesus Christ your Son, who washed the feet of his disciples,
and set the needs of others before his own. May their life be disciplined
and holy, their words declare your love and their actions reveal your glory,
that your people may walk with them in the way of truth and be made
ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom, with you and your
Holy Spirit, belong glory and honour, worship and praise, now and for
A prayer from my ordination service – please pray for all Church Leaders.
Praise: The Servant King
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCAdWs-ZyEk
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.