As you know, this year we have been focusing on one of The Salvation Army’s ten core values each month. TSA’s ethics center, based in Winnipeg, has led the way with these and I have been following their lead with ‘(the) Mission Matters’ newsletters. Since there are only ten core values, yet twelve months of the year, there aren’t any specific core values for us to focus on during the months of July and August. We’ll resume our focus on the remaining core values once September comes around.
For now, it’s summer holiday season. It’s a time when many of us seek rest and peace from the hustle of life and work. Some of us have the privilege to access a cottage on a lake. Some take time to enjoy back decks, BBQ’s and cool summer night breezes. Some enjoy lengthy bike rides along the lake, picnics with our families, flying a kite with our kids. And some of us take opportunities to roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty and tend to our flower and/or vegetable gardens. There are so many different things to do during the summer that help take our minds off our work and its stresses, recharge our batteries; giving us new life. These are all good, important, righteous and necessary things to take advantage of when we can.
But despite it being holiday season, the work continues on. Poverty is still rampant. People all around us are still under-housed, under-nourished, under-employed and under-loved. Every single night our shelters are full to the brim with people who have no home. We still need to keep our doors open every minute of every day; our work doesn’t end just because it’s summer!
Back to thoughts of taking a season to relax and have fun, last week The Salvation Army celebrated its 150th anniversary. They dubbed the gathering ‘Boundless’, named after the most famous Salvation Army song of all time called ‘Oh Boundless Salvation’, known as The Founders Song and written by William Booth himself. Thousands of Salvationists from all over the world gathered together in London, England and partied together by singing songs, performing music, dancing, preaching and sharing testimonies of lives changed through The Salvation Army’s work. My facebook feed was flooded with pictures and short videos of the events of the week; everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives.
As I watched this unfold, I was conscious that our work was continuing in Salvation Army missions worldwide, even while this massive party was happening in London. It’s this tension, this polarity, which we all live in as we do this work. There is a time to party and there is a time to get down and dirty and do the work. And sometimes that tension happens simultaneously. I was thinking that God’s love and reach is so very ‘Boundless’ that this tension is perfectly ok. In fact, this polarity of work and play, of joy and pain, of dancing and mourning, seems necessary for life to make sense.
So on this summer day, let us remember that God’s love for us is in fact BOUNDLESS. And in that knowledge we can rest in the certainty that there’s a time for everything.
“a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak”
Let’s keep on doing our best to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City’.
Dion Oxford, Director of Mission Integration