“Keeping Watch” Is Ministry in Action

Our Work of the Chaplain passage for this episode is 1 Thessalonians 5:11 which says, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

Our Work of the Chaplain quote for this episode is from Henry Drummond. He said, “Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things?”

In this podcast, we are going through the fine book: “The Work of the Chaplain” by Naomi K. Paget and Janet R. McCormack.

Our topic today is: “Keeping Watch” Is Ministry in Action

Another chaplaincy concept modeled for us in Scripture is what Jesus asked for and needed from others during his darkest moments in the Garden of Gethsemane. Twice, what Jesus needed and what he asked — practically begged — his disciples for was that they “stay” and “keep watch.” No “doing for” would help him in that hour. Not even his closest friends, Peter, James, and John could do anything for him — except to stay and keep watch. Keeping watch involves active emotional and spiritual presence in addition to physical presence. There is a tendency to discount the ministry of being with someone as not constituting “real” ministry. If it is considered ministry, then it is often seen as less important than “doing for” them or “witnessing to” them. This appears to be especially true in the Western culture that values doing over being. In ministering to others who are in crisis, the one ministering will often lament, “I didn’t know what to say or do. All I could do was sit there and pray (silently).”

The chaplain had sat with many parents during the dark hours following the death of a child. On this day, the chaplain herself was the mother whose son had died. People filled the house with love and compassion. They fixed meals, answered phones, prepared lists, and ran last-minute errands. The exception was a solitary young woman simply sat with the grieving mother. It was then that the chaplain understood firsthand that “staying” and “keeping watch” were valuable ministry — because those acts of presence had ministered powerfully to her.

Matthew 26 demonstrates that Jesus was asking for his disciple’s presence. He needed his disciples to just stay and be with him! The chaplain, as a representative or stand-in for God, is privileged to stay with someone who is in emotional, physical, or spiritual pain, without trying to fix the person’s problems, offer unsolicited advice, or recite religious platitudes. When people realize they are not alone in their time of suffering, the fact that the chaplain has not abandoned them may enable them to believe that God has not abandoned them either. It is amazing how often a counselee will remark to the chaplain, “I don’t remember what you said . . . I know it made sense at the time . . . All I really remember was that you stayed with me.”

The events of September 11, 2001 were witnessed with shock, fear, sadness, and pain. Even two thousand miles away in Colorado, people were riveted to their televisions. The human resources department of High Tech Access requested that the chaplain “just hang out with our folks. Most of them are glued to the TV monitors but could you just watch with them?” Nothing could fix or explain the events of the day, but no one wanted to be alone.

The ministry of presence is often undervalued. The sick wait for visitors, the lonely delight in company, and the fearful take comfort in companionship. The chaplain who is present — keeping watch — communicates God’s assurance, “Fear not, for I am with you.”

If the Lord tarries his coming and we live, we will continue learning about the Work of the Chaplain in our next podcast.

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— PRAYER —

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

God bless.

Questions