I have the pleasure of serving Church of the Cross in Hopkins, MN as a deacon. The term deacon can mean different things in different denominations; for those unfamiliar with the Anglican tradition, it is an ordained office of ministry. Deacons, along with priests, are referred to as pastor.
My brother (or sister), every Christian is called to follow Jesus Christ, serving God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit. God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood directly under your bishop. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.
As a deacon in the Church, you are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them, and to model your life upon them. You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word and example, to those among whom you live, and work, and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. You are to assist the bishop and priests in public worship and in the ministration of God's Word and Sacraments, and you are to carry out other duties assigned to you from time to time. At all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ's people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself.
Deacons are a bridge between the community and the church. They ought to be good Samaritans who find those wounded in the ditch and bring them to the inn for restoration. Many are called to be permanent deacons, but it is also required for those seeking the priesthood to spend a season as a deacon. Furthermore, priests and bishops never cease being a deacon — it's an office they always hold.
Several months ago, if you had asked me how long I would be a deacon before ordination to the priesthood, I would have said, "The shorter, the better." To me, it was just a stepping stone to the next thing. But God has been using this season to teach me something. I've been growing more content in this office. Now don't hear me wrong, I still feel that God has called me to the priesthood someday, but I'm in absolutely no rush to get there. As you can tell from the charges quoted above, servanthood is at the heart of the deacon's role, and God knows it's something I need to learn more about.
The writers of the Book of Common Prayer realize that by recognizing the diaconate as a special office, many believers might be tempted to think that the duty of servanthood doesn't rest on their shoulders. Far be it. Christ calls all believers to pick up their cross daily. But just as there are vocational firefighters, every human being should be compelled to pull a trapped child from a burning building.