Our big day

from theDesk of…

by William Harfoot, Colonel –

June 13 is a big day. It’s such a big day that it needs a name, so The Salvation Army world recognizes it as “Commissioning Sunday.” Some years ago, the word “ordination” was added to the day so we now speak of “Commissioning and Ordination Sunday.” The name is not clever, nor catchy. It simply describes the important events that occur. The General of The Salvation Army has authorized the territorial commander to commission and ordain officers to lead the soldiers in the mission of the Army.

The day is about mission and orders. The mission of the Army is straightforward, biblical and important. The mission of the Army is clear and direct: preach the gospel of Jesus and meet human needs in his name. At first, preaching the gospel may bring to mind a sermon delivered in a pulpit. However, St. Francis got it right when he said, “Preach the gospel at all times; use words when necessary.” There is a lot more to preaching than what is said from a pulpit. We are all to be communicators of God’s good news. This is our mission.

Meeting human needs is a simple and clear statement of mission, but I am repeatedly amazed at the varied ways this mission phrase is implemented. The Salvation Army is active in meeting scores of different needs in communities across the territory. William Booth clarified this part of the mission for us when he simply said, “Do something!” Every corps and every soldier must do something to meet the needs of others. This is our mission.

This Sunday morning, our Ambassadors of Holiness will pledge themselves to the mission. They will be commissioned as officers. They will also be ordained.

God’s creation underscores the presence of order; science is built upon such order. The highest achievements are the result of order and they add to our experience of an ordered or ordained world. We need and we thrive with ordered lives and an ordered community. An effective, missional Army needs the ordered structure of soldiers and officers.

On Sunday, we will add to our order newly commissioned lieutenants. They will then be given orders. Ordination is not simply about organization; it is also about action. The first thing to be done with new lieutenants is to launch them into the world and into our shared work. They will receive orders and they will go.

Do you realize that this spring 25 percent of the nearly 5,000 officers across this country received orders to change appointments? And, at least in the U.S. West, all officers receiving orders have said, “Yes, we will go as ordered.” This illustrates a significant and deep commitment to the mission of Christ and the Army. I will guarantee that every lieutenant will accept his or her orders this Sunday. Why? Because ordination, as the acceptance of orders, is a natural result of Christ’s call.

June 13 is a big day for us all.

“Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the father has sent me, I am sending you’” (John 20:21).

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