The Prophetic Voice of the Chaplain

Recently there have been a few news outlets that have highlighted the prayers of the Senate Chaplain, Barry Black.

The first (above) is from “The Racheal Maddow Show” on MSNBC.

Here is another from CNN Newsroom (link here)

  • What do you think about the news highlighting the prophetic voice of the Senate prayers?
  • Do you think they are prophetic or inappropriate?

As a Chaplain in the Army, my job is to provide free exercise of religion, as well as to advise the command in various areas regarding religion, ethics, morals and morale.

  • In our ministry of presence there is a clear pastoral role, but where does the prophetic role fit?

Currently I am enrolled in a class at Boston University entitled “Prophetic Preaching“.  The syllabus explains, “This course is designed to help students wrestle with several central issues around prophetic preaching in contemporary Christian churches: the relationships of prophetic preaching to the gospel, to the Bible, to the social-political context, and to pastoral ministry generally.”  In the class we have discussed forming a theology of Prophetic Preaching, read and discussed various books and sermons dealing with the topics of prophetic, pastoral, and social change and the interconnectedness of these ideas.   We have even looked at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his role as a preacher and civil rights leader in Lischer’s book, Preacher King.

The class has given me a lot to think about and caused me to reflect on the role of the prophetic voice of the Chaplain.

As I write this post, the government is shut down due to Congress’s inability to agree on a spending bill.

  • But what is the role of the Chaplain?
  • Do we have a role to speak truth to power?  If so in what way and how?
  • Is there a way to speak truth that transcends partisan politics and look to the greater good?

I think the answer is contextual and each Chaplain must examine his or her own calling, role and sphere of influence.

However each Chaplain has a word to speak into their context.  We must find our voice!

Maybe you, like Esther, are in your unit and location in this moment in time for a reason.

“. . .And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

My prayer is that if a fire is burning in your bones and a word is on your heart you will speak!

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”  (Jeremiah 20:9)

Find Your Voice. . . Make Your Point!