Artistic Expressions of Diakonia

Written by: Jesse Edgington (Board Member of Diaconal Ministries Canada and Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference Consultant)

Diakonia – The Greek word ‘diakonia’ means service among others. This is where the word Deacon comes from.

One aspect of my identity relates to being a deacon and doing diaconal ministry. It gives me life and is an expression of my faith and worship. For many deacons, that expression is the hands-on work of mercy and service with others in the church or community. It is the practical experience of caring for others, working with others and working towards transformation when tackling issues of injustice. 

Finding Ways to Connect and Express Christ

This expression has been muted or altered during this covid season and I have felt that loss of expression, loss of connection, in a way I have not felt in a long time. And I suspect others have too. When I lamented this loss with an Indigenous leader recently, he challenged me to see the bigger picture of connection to God the Creator and creation itself. That helped me find another form of expression in nature and particularly the beauty and creativity of the arts.  

When times are difficult, we need to find the ways and means that are life giving. 

So I found myself resting more, observing, listening to the environment around me and the soft whisper of the spirit. I was practising another way of engaging and I was exploring a way of expressing that thought, emotion and spirit nudging.

Bison bones found by Jesse while hiking in Elk Island National Park, Fort Saskatchewan, AB.

One day during this covid stretch, my family and I were hiking at Elk Island National Park and we came across these dry bones of a bison. When we read the well known Dry Bones passage of Ezekiel 37, we get a taste of the author’s prophecy and poetry as described in vivid imagery of a valley of skeletons stretched out before us; only to be revived by the Creator, Redeemer God as new life is breathed into them. “Thus says the Lord God to these dry bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” (Ezekiel 37:5, NRSV) I wondered about the implications of breathing new life for a threatened species, for an Indigenous Peoples connected to them and for the land that looks very different for all of us now.

This also reminded me that when times are difficult, we need to find the ways and means that are life giving. 

In the last year, I have done more silent reflection, journaling, writing and especially poetry writing. I would suspect that many of you have been doing things differently too, and finding ways to connect and express Christ in you. 

Sharing YOUR Artistic Expressions

As a board member of Diaconal Ministries Canada and the Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference (NADC) consultant, I would love to invite you to share some of that with us, each other, and possibly the wider community. If you have a form of expression that comes from the work and values of being a deacon, please consider sending it to us! Send us your poems, paintings, drawings, writing or photography that has been an expression of diakonia. At this point we are unsure how this will come together, but perhaps we can compile them into a collection to share more widely to bless others. 

And this isn’t just for ordained deacons! As we know, diaconal work is something we all do and are all a part of. So this call for submissions is open to anyone in the church or connected to the church and those connected to diaconal ministries. 

This is also for those in your communities and those connected to your neighbourhood ministries. If you have met an inspiring amateur poet in your other ministries – coffee, prison, seniors, climate, neighborhood, etc. – ask them if they would be willing to share their expression with others. 

Here is an example of one written recently, to get you thinking. But please don’t be constrained by size, form or format. We would love to see what diversity and creativity brings!

(This poem was written by Karla Winham, staff member of Diaconal Ministries Canada, after a session of the Hearts Exchanged study.)

Now It’s Your Turn!

We would love to hear and see your expressions in order to inspire, encourage and share with those in our communities. We will likely share them in blogs, newsletters and such, but are open to seeing where the submissions and people sharing it all would like to take it. Send me an email at with your submission and any backstory you want to add to it.