Mercury Viewpoint from Captian Nigel Byrne
By Captain Nygel Byrne
Salvation Army Captain in Great Yarmouth
and Free Church Chaplain at the James Paget University Hospital
Jesus met people where they were
. If you read the gospels you find Jesus going to people
– one wa
s up a tree, another by a well, and some were at a wedding having a party, and occasionally he even met people at a place of worship! Jesus knew how to connect with ordinary people in a way that many Churches today have forgotten
. He went to where they were living or doing business or socialising and engaged them on their own territory.
Hospital chaplaincy for me is about meeting people where they are in the same way Jesus did. In this case in hospital, where they are emotionally troubled, confused, alone, worried, in pain. The opportunities for ministry are tremendous, and not just amoung the patients but the staff too.
Being Free Church Chaplain is a privilege, and if you want an example of Christians of different denominations working well together then you need look no further than our team. Roman Catholics and Anglicans, Methodists and Baptist and Salvationists all work together to offer spiritual and practical support to people in need of comfort and reassurance due to their circumstances, sometimes to people of different faiths and sometimes to people of no faith at all.
Christmas is a time when we celebrate God entering our world as a tiny child Jesus Christ. It is the central event in human history, the most important thing of al time because it demonstrates that God loves us and did not want us to be alone.
He not only loves us but is willing to meet us where we are. It’s important that Christ was in every way human and yet still divine, God wrapped up in human flesh, because he experienced all the human emotions that we go through and all the difficulties that we all face day by day. He knew what it was to feel joy, sorrow, betrayal, victory, frustration and the list goes on.
We really do have a God who understands not only who we are but also what we go through. I guess it’s the thing about Chaplaincy that I’m most confident about; I can offer people a God who understands suffering and pain. A God who not just sympathises but empathises with them. It’s a great joy to see people recover from illness or surgery. It’s also a privilege to be able to assist relatives who have lost loved ones.
Sometimes medical science is not able to do anything for someone’s physical condition but the chaplains can help but enabling people to find a different perspective on what they are experiencing and maybe a change in attitude. Your attitude may not affect how much time you have left but it can determine the quality of that time.
As you enjoy Christmas spare a thought for those in hospital and for the dedicated staff who will care for them. God bless you.