Role of a Chaplain

I had lunch at the police department yesterday. No, I wasn’t wearing a jumpsuit or cuffs. I was instead meeting the TPD chaplains. 10 area pastors serve 3 days a month volunteering at the police department. They get to ride with the officers, help them with calls and families in crisis.

I asked how they were accepted by the officers.

One of the chaplains told the story of how the first year of the program, he seemed to always get assigned with this particular crusty old policemen. The first time this guy saw the chaplain he asked to no one in particular in a loud voice…”Why the $%&! do we need a #$%! chaplain?”

And so it went for the next year and half. Until on one particular call when this policeman had to inform a family of a death and the chaplain couldn’t make. He reportedly got on the radio to ask dispatch “Where the $%&! is the $%&! chaplain? We can’t make this call without him.”

After the laughter of the room died down, the captain that was in the room made the point even clearer. “After having a chaplain available to help us, I can’t imagine them NOT being around.”

It doesn’t surprise me. The healing ministry of presence. Being Jesus in that moment. It’s not about fixing anything. And people – no matter what their faith background is – appreciate that. They don’t realize how important it is until they need it and experience it.

It was a great lunch and reminder to me that this is a role many of us play inside our own families during Christmas. So embrace it – if that is your story. Don’t try to sell Jesus to your family or guilt them into church. Just bring the church to them! Be Jesus to them with the loving ministry of presence.

And I think it’s telling that as anti-religion our culture is – people still need and want this presence around them in times of need. I think it’s part of how God has wired us as humans and I’m thankful that our police department is providing this opportunity to our community.

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