Beyond the Uniform – Chaplain O’Brien

I was in eighth grade confirmation class when my pastor asked us if anyone had ever considered becoming a teacher or pastor. I remember thinking ‘yes’ to the question and […]

I was in eighth grade confirmation class when my pastor asked us if anyone had ever considered becoming a teacher or pastor. I remember thinking ‘yes’ to the question and the rest is history. Eventually I became a high school religion teacher, college instructor in philosophy, and then university lecturer in theology. I’ve also ministered as a healthcare chaplain, law enforcement chaplain, and now as an Air Force chaplain.

During my own college days, graduate school, and seminary; I was a professional driver for busing companies, construction companies, and trucking companies. I enjoy both the classroom and church sanctuary, but I also enjoy the freedom of the open road and the wonder of nature. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien – not all who wander are lost.

My wife and I have four children (and a four-legged kid named Max) who love to travel with our truck and camper across the great United States. Our most recent family adventure had us on the ‘Mother Road’ retracing Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles… and back. It was an exhausting and exhilarating journey of anticipation and arrival.

Advent is a four week journey toward Christmas. We are reminded of how Mary the mother of Jesus traveled on a road toward Bethlehem with her husband Joseph. We are reminded that upon their arrival, there was no room for them in the inn. We are reminded that she gave birth in a humble stable that first Christmas night.

I encourage all of us to partake in the Advent adventure. Route 66 begins in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles – the City of Angels. It was angels who sang with anticipation upon the arrival of the holy family in Bethlehem. Their voices remind us that we may wander in life, but we never need to feel lost or alone – because God is with us.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Chaplain John O’Brien