Sat in my office I look at the thumbnail shots of people that have been part of my life. I first met them nearly two years ago. All different, unlike each other, dissimilar, variegated but with one purpose, to serve God through being Officers of The Salvation Army. From different parts of the UK and the Netherlands these individuals were convinced of one thing, God's directing hand calling them to complete service as spiritual leaders. Yesterday (as I wrote this), these cadets together but as individuals signed the Officers Covenant:
"Called by God to proclaim the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as an officer of The Salvation Army I bind myself to him in this solemn covenant:
to love and serve him supremely all my days, to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life,
to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends,
to maintain the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army, and, by God’s grace,
to prove myself a worthy officer.’"
Catherine Booth is often quoted as talking about the need for heart, head and hands in our officers; the signing of the covenant makes little sense where a framework for ministry doesn't encompass this integration of 'being', 'knowing' and 'doing'. Signing a card should be easy! Trying to live the officers covenant outside this framework makes what is taken into the world in mission woeful.
Tomorrow (as I finish this), 29 members of the Prayer Warriors session add a full stop to this part of their training. Tomorrow these people, all different, unlike each other, dissimilar, variegated will be commissioned publicly they will be sent out with one purpose, to serve God as the latest covenanted Officers of The Salvation Army. Frederich Buechner talks about the place God calls you being 'the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet'. They start a new sentence with a new capital letter, a new page as they continue to make sense of God's direction for them in the place where ministry is defined by their personal passion only making sense in an understanding of the compelling need around them. They go commissioned to model what it is to live out the Officers Covenant as they go may they inspire and lead!