Stephen Court mentions on his blog today that in some parts of the world, today is Mother’s Day as well as Pentecost. He reckons that Mother’s Day would win 2:1 in most preaches in Salvation Army corps today.
Here in the UK, we don’t have Mother’s day today. Our mothers day is a tiny bit more historically based in tradition surrounding the releasing of servants back to worship at their mother church in the lead up to Easter so we don’t have it today.
However, today has also been designated as Candidates Sunday in the UK. In tonnes of ways, today is a strategic day for candidates Sunday being the week after Roots. I know I had the privilege to pray for several people at Roots who were entering training or commiting themsevles to officership as they responded to God at the appeals. Lets pray that there has been a tide of response to be leaders in the Army, its highly important. Sure, any response to the call to officership will no doubt be Holy Spirit led so there is a link.
I am wondering though, like Stephen, how much of the Holy Spirit got in today. If ever there was a key celebration to recognise, it is the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church. Its as significant as Christmas and Easter but we wouldn’t think of holding candidates Sunday then. At Wick, we focussed our attention on Candidates Sunday a couple of weeks ago to free up today for Holy Spirit preaching.
As someone who places a significant emphasis on spiritual renewal and the work of the Spirit as a nutty primitive-salvo, I am disturbed sometimes by the lack of freedom Holy Spirit has amongst us. Salvation Army prayer meetings after the sermon (or the response time, if you like) have all but disappeared from some corps. I’ve been in several meetings over the last few years where the officer or whoever gives a good preach but then dives straight for the benediction.
It can be a job too to see spiritual gifts actively in operation in Salvation Army corps too. Sometimes even in spite of much teaching on the issue, where it exists, there can still be a lack of co-operation with the Spirit in these areas. I encounter now and again a cessationist view in the Army that says the gifts of the Spirit are not for today…anyone holding that position in the Army will indeed be one who as a serious problem not only with scripture, but with the pentecostal wackiness of the early Salvation Army and the rich heritage of teaching, exhortation and prophecy in the tome’s of our history.
There are glorious exceptions to all these things, but we need to be fire people again. I quoted Booth twice this morning in my message:
“Let others whose blood is fired and whose hearts are melted after the same fashion join hands with you. Make a Mount Carmel of some ante-room, or barracks, or kitchen and offer yourself up as a sacrifice, body, soul and spirit, and believe and wait until you receive the Holy Fire”
“And, first and foremost, I commend one qualification which seems to involve all others. That is, the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Ghost. I would have you settle it in your souls forever this one great immutable principle in the economy of grace, that spiritual work can only be done by those who possess spiritual power. No matter what else you may lack, or what may be against you, with the Holy Ghost you will succeed; but without the Holy Spirit, no matter what else you may possess, you will utterly and eternally fail.”
God, may it sink in more and more.