The Office of Deacon is one of three Orders that characterise not only the Church of England but also the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches too. St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was also one of the first Seven Deacons appointed by the primitive Church that we read about in the sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. The word deacon derives its meaning from the Greek word for Servant. On July 1st, that we refer to as the Feast of Petertide, our very own Richard Bruce Moffatt, will be made Deacon in Manchester Cathedral at 10.30 am by the Lord Bishop of Manchester, The Rt Reverend Dr David Walker. This is an extremely important day for Richard and I would ask you to pray for him and for his wife and children, Sarah, Robert and Sally.
Richard’s journey to the diaconate began after a conversation with me at the back of Church a few years ago. He is a man of considerable ability, kindness and sensitivity and I believe that his emerging role within this parish will be a great source of blessing.
In his diaconal year Richard will wear his stole across his surplice. It is important to remember that the three tiers of Holy Orders in no way, shape or form implies “promotion” in any sense. One must resist the unhelpful language current abroad in the Church that often creates the notion that clergy are “managers.” What lies at the root of both the Office of both priest and Bishop is the diaconate and those who occupy such places in the life of the Church never cease to be her servants. The basis of this is to be found in the words of Jesus Himself in the Gospel according to St, Mark where he says that, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all.”
Jesus made noble the concept of service when he washed the feet of his disciples that we recount in Holy Week each year. As Christians, it is a calling that we are all to exercise both within the Church most especially, but also in the communities where we live. I chose the prayer of St Richard of Chichester for June quite deliberately. In the first place our “deacon in waiting” shares his Christian name with this great Saint. But secondly, it is a clarion call to all Christian people to pursue a sincere and devout discipleship of Jesus that will lead them to an increasingly closer relationship with God, The Holy Trinity.
May I prayerfully offer to Richard on behalf of everyone connected with St Anne Tottington, the age old Christian greeting of Pax et Bonum, peace and blessings as he continues his Christian journey in Holy Orders.