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On the Lost

I’ve had a major ‘memory-lane’ week this week. Been hearing from a lot of friends from school…some very good friends and feeling a bit sad that we haven’t kept in touch. People all married and getting married and stuff and I haven’t been around. This is part of being an officer – you move, you lose touch, things change, things happen. This week, as well as weddings and babies, I’ve heard about deaths and cancers and worries. I’ve heard doubts and fears, discerned insecurities, people who have become trapped in lives they are not sure of…but I’ve heard of great hope, perseverance, and a lot of happiness.

This week, I also was talking to another Christian worker in this community. I was explaining to her how alien the ‘church’ culture in England is to me. I also explained to her that I don’t really want to understand and appreciate where these people are coming from, because the more I do, the more I get detached from what life is like for those outside the church. I am a firm believer in the idea that The Salvation Army was designed to be a permanent mission to the lost.

I love The Salvation Army…uniform, music, flags, bands, covenants, soldiership, officership, citadels, corps, ranks, invasions, raids, brigades, salvation wars and all that…it really inspires me to break out of the inadequate, insecure, petrified person that is really me and to stand firm on Jesus Christ as a soldier of his. I put on my uniform and I’m part of something special God dreamed up to confound the wise.

I can’t stand, however, soldiers who live only to create civil war, to worry about the themselves more than others, to preserve their precious corps at the expense of the lost, and to live as if there was no war to fight at all. There is a little bit of this in everywhere perhaps, its not just to be found in the Bristol area. I just don’t get these things. They are lost on me. All I want to be is to be a part of the Army that ‘does what it says on the tin.’

We’ve had a gentleman move into our community recently, who is quite possibly the poorest person this community has seen for years. Thankfully, he has come to us. I look at him, his home, his ‘lot’, his lifestyle and I see a man who needs rescuing from himself, his habits, his sin, his consequences and his future! I remind myself that Jesus dreamed us up for men such as him. Serving him today has been sacramental.

We have to re-assess our priorities folks…the world still needs us!

Suis leis Arm an t-Saoraidh!

Bha mi araichadh ann an Irbhinn ach tha mi a’ fuireach ann an Bristol an-drasta. Bidh mi a’ fuireach ann an Inbher Uige, ann an Gallibh, an deidh Iuchar. Tha mi ag obair anns na Arm an t-Saoraidh. Bidh mi ag obair ann an Inbher Uige. Tha mi deanamh sin airson An t-Ulle-chumhachdach!

I’ve been learning gaelic for a while and whilst I’m no expert I can kinda put a sentence or two together. Its funny how being away from Scotland makes you a tad more patriotic, but there you go.

Anyway, whilst I was preparing the above paragraph as my gaelic homework….I decided I’d discover what the most common translation of ‘The Salvation Army’ was. There are several works for salvation which have connotations as wide as ‘health’, ‘salvage’, ‘rescue’ and all the usual kinda things, with no clear word used for salvation as understood in the Christian sense.

The gaelic, ‘Arm an t-Saoraidh’ (pronounced arram an toor-aye), literally means ‘The Army that Saves Men’ … that is the kind of Army I signed up for! Suis leis Arm and t-Saoraidh! (Up with The Salvation Army!)

The Singing Company

I wonder if you have come across ‘The Singing Company’ yet – a group of primitive Salvationist youth over the pond who have a CD called ‘The Red Book Sessions.’ Basically, they give old Army songs a bit of a beat and a re-airing. A really simple and enjoyable sound. I dare you to listen and not smile and tap your foot in praise! :o) Che’ck them out. You can hear their tracks online.

My favourites are ‘Marching On!’ and, on their Christmas CD, ‘Joy: to the world and in The Salvation Army’ !

‘Salvationists’ on BBC ‘Casualty’ Drama

So, as I write, there is a Salvation Army sub-story running through the hospital drama ‘Causalty’ on the BBC. This programme is filmed in our city. We got a ‘tip off’ from DHQ that this may happen because the suggestion is that there is some sort of relationship going on between the two male soldiers.

Leaving aside the homosexual issue, there are a few interesting things about public perception of the Army.

– the injured soldier fell down some stairs when he is carrying some War Crys
– these soldiers and one officer are in their uniform. There seems to be an assumption that this is what they would normally be wearing…cap and all!
– there was an interesting formality between some of the members, especially between the officer, who is the mother of the injured Sally, and the ‘friend’ of the injured Sally.
– the injured Salvo gives some ad-hoc counselling to one of the nurses, but also ends up spilling his own problems and getting the advice
– the officer is an elderly black lady (an interesting addition in itself), a bit of a battle-axe (I wonder if she is based on any elderly officer I know of in this city?…one of the script advisors on Casualty is married to my Assistant Sergeant Major and was singing as part of a folk group at our Home League Festival this evening!…oh the irony hehe)
– there was a ‘lets have a nice cup of tea’ included….classic!
– injured Salvo is scared of upsetting his officer mother….he is about 30 and this mother seems to run his life.
– Injured Salvo chooses to marry his bride in the end, inspite of the innuendo of attraction…his background and sense of ‘what should be done’ seems to tip the scale. I think this is sometimes what works with a lot of Salvos, epecially if they aren’t deeply grounded in faith.

Fairly harmless story inspite of the homosexual thing.

This is how some see us. Lessons to be learned, there are some interesting Salvation Army culture issues highlighted. Interesting. :o)

Its started already!

….saying goodbye! I’ve started to attend the last of several things I attend: meetings, groups, people etc.

Last night I said bye to some friends from my ceilidh friends. Ceilidh is the gaelic word for ‘gathering’ (a ceilidh isn’t just a dance…in fact, its not really got anything to do with dancing… ceilidh is a noun AND a verb), and there are a few of us who meet and speak Gaelic together every three months and have a good time!

I was really touched with a parting gift, a very thoughtful gift from people of little faith….they had managed to track down a copy of the Jesus video in…wait for it…Scottish Gaelic! A very valid reminder that every tongue and nation will be represented round the throne of God in Glory! Hallelujah! Suas leis a’ Ghaidhlig! (Up with Gaelic!)

As well as saying goodbye, I’m sorta starting to say ‘hello’ to Scotland and I have to say that I am returning to a very different Scotland! I didn’t believe the day would come when Alex Salmond would be First Minister of Scotland. I believe Scotland should be an independant nation again…not for nationalistic reasons (contrary to what some people may believe in Pill!), but because I believe the devolution has shown that independence can greatly increase the standard of life for the average Scot. If the average Scots life is being improved in so many ways, then it means that some of the poverty I have witnessed in a wealthy land like Scotland should becoming more rare. Please Lord.

If there is another way to do that than independance, I’d like to see it, but if that’s what it takes…

New Blog!

I’ve kinda got a new blog ,developing, carrying the title of my current book, ‘Salvationism Out Loud’. I’ve decided to try and offer small, bitesize suggestions for simple action each day, to live out our faith in Jesus. Pop over for a visit…the link is to the right, under ‘my blogs’ (or something like that!)