Guest post by Casey O’Brien Machado
I belong to a Corps which has a rich heritage of vibrant Salvationism. A quick look through the history books of Sydney Congress Hall Corps shows long-term discipleship, enthusiastic evangelistic outreach, strong community, innovation in worship, musical excellence, and a strong engagement with social issues. Sydney Congress Hall has much to be proud of in its history. Yet the history means little if we do not draw on it to impact the present. As ‘Marching towards Justice’ tells us, “The stories of old have a power to impact the present. These stories remind us that we stand on the shoulders of giants. If they remain only as aspirational legends, however, they can rob us of what we can learn about the reality of justice-seeking today”.
There appears to be two extremes in The Salvation Army today – one either believes that the history of the organisation is irrelevant in today’s context and should therefore be abandoned; or they spend more time celebrating this history than being active in the present– being consistently disappointed that things today are not as they were in the past. We have a responsibility to find the middle of these two extremes. I believe that we have much to learn from those who have gone before us, and learn we must! The Salvation Army, through experience, has learned valuable lessons about community engagement, justice-seeking and Kingdom-bringing. As they responded to the needs of their own context, let us respond to the needs of ours. We truly have “a gospel that matches the hour” – let’s build upon the lessons that have been learned for us, to see that the Kingdom is brought to earth today!
In turn, the way we live lives of justice in the present will provide a springboard for those in the future to bring the Kingdom of God to their context. As a child, I heard these words sung from the platform of our Corps:
“We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us, let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful”
As The Salvation Army of today, may we learn from those who have gone before us to more effectively bring justice to the world of today. May those who come after us see that we responded to today’s world with a knowledge based on lessons hard-learned and a wisdom earned.
Casey O’Brien Machado is a soldier at Sydney Congress Hall Corps and is the Territorial Social Justice Coordinator for the Australia Eastern Territory. Twitter: @cobrienmachado