The 5th Sunday after Pentecost

MAJAX can either mean Major Accident Response Procedure or Major Incident Plan (and I don’t know how the letters became MAJAX) and it is used in the local hospitals to test how hospital per-sonnel respond to emergencies. This version I think was developed at West Suffolk Hospital and is basically a rehearsal for something you don’t want to have happen. Drills are part of military life so many of you are used to them. They are less so my life – but are becoming increasingly so when I think of the more regular fire and first aid courses and drills I’m now doing. As an on-call hospital chaplain, I can be called in if such a major incident happened and this week the Chaplaincy Dept had their MAJAX experience.

I’m part of a team that works approximately the second week of the month and have jokingly said that if a MA-JAX happened and they called me (considering where I live) then things are grim. Yes, you guessed it, haven’t you? Out of all the people who turned up for the re-hearsal (about 12 of us) I was selected at random (because the emergency ‘occurred at night’) to be first called and thus wear the jacket as ‘Area Controller’. Oh and one other thing. I took my MAJAX book with me as previously rehearsed a few years ago only to be told on arrival ‘oh you won’t need that, we’ve changed things’.


I got through it ok … not brilliant … but I’m a quick learner and I’ve got no problems telling people what to do! My problem was that as soon as I worked out what was specifically wanted – the Chapel is designated to care for all relatives, friends or others associated with the incident – then I knew I wouldn’t have done things the way the ‘system expected’. Isn’t that the way?! I knew best.

In the debrief, a lot of comments came forward. It seemed we all knew best! The role play helped us get a very small sense of what the experience might be and the training in this system with its spe-cific task (care related but not specifically religious which is our forte) was good for all of us. We agreed to refine the paperwork (such a lot of it!) and then meet again to have another trial run. (I’ll be glad not to be Area Controller but won’t panic if I am.)

Do you follow the system or go with your gut / insight? Leadership can be defined in both ways but largely by what is successful. If you do your own thing and it doesn’t work then you’ll be told you should have followed the system. Conversely if it does work then you’re probably going to be more praised than chastised.

Being a Christian can be seen both ways too. One can follow ‘the system’ or one can follow one’s sense of what is the ‘Jesus thing’ to do. The problem is that both can lead you to ‘crashes’. Luther-ans talk about the formal principle (the Bible and what it contains – sola Scriptura) and the material principle (the key message or teaching – so the Gospel – the good news of justification of sinners because of Jesus). The point of course is that we need both to faithfully follow Jesus and not our own versions of Christianity or Jesus. We live our faith out in the world. Our training for that living is each Sunday when Jesus calls us into his workshop to refresh and repair and guide us through Word and Sacraments to review the past week and prepare for the one to come. And we learn that the major incident in our life has already happened – Jesus died for us and has brought us into a relationship with him – and now no matter what happens with him with us, we’re ready to face any-thing.  — GS