by Courtney Rose
From a young age I’ve loved the church and its ancientness. I’m attracted to anything theological, biblical or ecclesiological. I’m interested in the authority of tradition and rituals, and I love the liturgical calendar and ornately decorated churches with hundreds or thousands of years of history attached to them.
So it may be somewhat of a surprise that God had called me to be a part of The Salvation Army. There was no room for art to adorn the walls, because we were busy helping people; there was not a lot of space for theological discussions because we were spreading across the countryside. We were constantly looking forward to the next place, next person and Kingdom coming.
I struggle sometimes to reconcile my comfort in the traditional with my Salvation Army life. I think this tension is the reason God calls me to it. I need to look outward to the needs of actual people; otherwise, I would sit comfortably with my eyes in books and liturgy.
Every day is a choice for me to be a part of The Salvation Army; every week I confirm that choice by putting on my uniform, and I have very clear reasons why. The first is the commitment I made to soldiership. I knowingly entered into a covenant with God when I was 16. The last time I checked, God doesn’t break his covenants, so I am not about to either! In fact, in the Old Testament, a broken covenant meant death to the one who didn’t fulfill their end of the deal. I want to be faithful and honor God with my commitment.
The second reason I am a part of The Salvation Army is its unique culture. We have our own language, clothes, rituals and stories. A part of this culture is our great sense of connectedness. A soldier knows they’re never really alone. They can be linked to others across the division, territory and worldwide. The Army gives us a good perspective on what it means to be part of the Church universal.
Third, The Salvation Army is a place of innovation. Creativity is an often-neglected aspect of holiness I hope the Army never starts to overlook. If you study Army history, you’ll find plenty of unconventionality. Some of it has worked, and some of it has failed. I love this room for creativity which has formed us as a denomination and encouraged its soldiers. Individuals make a difference in The Salvation Army, and your idea might be the one that changes people’s lives.
I am part of a church where I can actually do something that matters for the world and God’s Kingdom. I know there is room in the Army for my love of the ancient and traditional because I help make up the Army. I am its present and its future.