Friday, 21 June 2013

Chaplaincy and Church - Word, Prayer & People

One of the very interesting discussion to be had is that which relates to Chaplaincy and Church - a place where many similarities, differences, opportunities and restrictions converge.

For instance with Church the people (generally) want to be there and are not only happy to be engaged with but often demand or desire such engagement with a 'God-botherer'. The other side of the coin is that in a chaplaincy setting we find ourselves invited into a place or group of people but not all of those we encounter are perhaps so demanding. The key here is to remember that we are present and ready, willing and able to serve those around us regardless of their faith (or none faith) choices and that we are a presence of some form of what is best described as 'otherness' for those we seek to serve.

In a discussion recently the descriptor: 'Presence, Prayer and Proclamation' was used to describe the chaplaincy role and this is pretty close I guess for in the Christian world the word 'incarnational' (being physically 'in the flesh' present) is a most important one indeed for it speaks of Jesus, God made man. This is of course what we Christian Chaplains seek to live within and make real in our own ministry - working on the premise that 'the Kingdom of God' is where we are and that being filled with God's Holy Spirit we take Him into the settings we find ourselves like a lampstand that enables all to see by that light:
'No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.'
Lk 8:16

The prayer element within the Chaplain's ministry is something quite unusual in that whilst many are embarrassed at the offer of prayer, many seek it for themselves and (even more often) for those they love. Pray in the shape of petitioning for those we serve is a valid and oft rewarded element of the role and I personally have found myself praying for needs of a loved one and finding myself to be rewarded with the news that the crisis has passed and 'something amazing' (not my words) has happened.

We stand before God for those we serve and intercede for them asking for forgiveness, protection, healing and many other things and we also find ourselves standing before them speaking on God's behalf in the shape of:

Proclamation. That is 'preaching the Good News' (AKA Gospel) of Jesus, the Christ, and the power of the cross - his death, resurrection and enabling. Whether we do this by providing 'Padre's Hours' or perhaps engaging in lectures on 'Values and Standards' or leading discussions on aspects of attitudes and behaviour and the like, this is what we do. The key is to state the truth and point to that which is right without condemning or belittling - we do it as Jesus calls us in that we (who are hopefully spiritual) 'restore them gently' (taking care to check that we don't become hypocrites or promote double-standards).

The reality is the the Chaplain, regardless of setting must be someone who is:

A person of the Word,

A person of Prayer, and

A person of the people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like it an accurate assessment of the 'job description' I think