I was being an exhibitionist this week. Well, in a way. I was at the Church Without Walls conference in lovely Aviemore (actually I don't think Aviemore's totally lovely but the surrounding countryside and Cairngorm mountains are totally awesome) with Him Indoors and two of my favourite friends from our church too. Grandma and Grandpa manned the fort at home. FAB.
On behalf of chaplains in prison, the workplace, healthcare, universities and the armed forces, I put up a display stand. The purpose of it wasn't to recruit but to remind the Church that there are other types of clergy than those in parish churches, and to remind everyone to pray for prisoners, for the sick, for those in the armed forces, for those who're worrying about work and for those at university.
Chaplaincy is ministry at the coal face. But so too is being a Christian generally. ANYONE reading this post who's a Christian is also a chaplain, although unlike me you may not get paid for it (lol). You are the representative of your faith, like a foreign ambassador only the kingdom in question is the kingdom of God. It's a challenge. You (like me) will find yourself misunderstood, questioned and even ridiculed. So be it. Jesus took the same treatment, and warned us it would come our way. But when we get the chance to be the living representative of God's love in someone's darkness it's all more than worthwhile.
Once a wee boy woke up afraid, because a big thunderstorm was raging. He went through to his dad. "Dad, can I come in with you? I'm scared."
"Son", his dad said, "you know you always have God's love, and you can always pray about your fears".
"Yes dad", came the reply. "I know that. But right now I need God's love with skin on".
As paid chaplains like me, or as unpaid chaplains like us all, in our different contexts, we get the chance to be God's love with skin on. And there's no better feeling in the world.