Thank you for this great overview of military chaplaincy. I do not know any military chaplains personally but I can only imagine the types of challenges that must accompany being sheppard to a flock that is engaged in warfare. There were a couple things in the lesson that I found thought provoking and had not previously considered.
If you are a representative of a particular religious group you are not expected to perform ceremonies in a way that is not consistent with your religious beliefs. I found this to be a comforting thought, not only because it takes a burden off the chaplain in regards to maintaining his own integrity, but it would also ensure that the nuances of each ceremonial act are done properly by someone who understands the spiritual significance of each action. By way of example: I was raised as a Lutheran and taught that communion was given by the pastor to you as an adult after you had gone through instruction regarding the meaning and significance of this very important act. I would never go to a Catholic priest and expect that I be allowed to participate in the act of communion because I have not fulfilled Catholic requirements regarding the Eucharist. I am glad that a Catholic Chaplain would not be forced to give in to such a request and has the power make decisions based on the governance of their individual faith.
The enlightening moment this lesson brought out for me was the role of the chaplain in the command structure. The chaplain not only has the responsibility of seeing to the spiritual needs of his flock under stressful and even life threatening situations, but he provides counsel to those in the command structure as well and brings a moral compass to decisions which I am sure are sometimes difficult to make without that additional support. I never considered a chaplain to be an advisor in major decision making, but this lesson covered that nicely.
The thing that I found most appealing about this overview was the concept of a chaplain as a teacher. Some of the best pastors I know have had the hearts of teachers and it was one of the many things that designated Jesus in his ministry. It is my hope that I will come away from this overall experience a more gifted teacher and someone who can connect and bring others with me so we can learn together.