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Saturday, 11 February 2017

These Boots are made for walking: A Boundless Legacy

I took the picture above in July 2015 which for Salvationists should hopefully ring some bells as the date of the Salvation Army's most recent international Congress (big gathering of Salvation Army folk from around the world for anyone not familiar with Salvation Army terminology) held at the O2 Arena in London. The gathering, as I'm sure most of us know was 'Boundless 2015' I think really the Congress probably needs it's own post so I won't go into too much detail for now. But watch this space...

I had intended this post just to be a one off, but as I'm writing I'm wondering if I should do a semi regular series...let's give it a working title of 'A Boundless legacy' so in the same way as the most recent Star Wars film had the more open ended secondary title of 'A Star Wars story' so 'A Boundless Legacy' will be attached to posts about the 2015 Congress. (Unless I get a better idea or I get a deluge of comments begging me to stop) let me know what you think about this in the comments.

I suppose lots of people reading this who attended the gathering will have seen these boots displayed in the far end of the O2 arena's main concourse as part of an exhibition about the Army's history... (Hopefully you also located the free Crispy Creme doughnut was a particular personal favourite of mine)

I will start with a bit of a disclaimer... I make no promises that the following story is true, although I have no reason to doubt it, I couldn't find additional information on this, so feel free to take the story with a pinch of salt... Or better yet if you can provide more information, or context that would be appreciated... Either way the point I'm making still stands.

So the story of these boots according to tradition and the note with them is that back in early days of the Salvation Army an Officer called Alfred Wolfe who was Corps Officers (Church leader) at Barnet Corps was visiting the General, William Booth, during this visit Booth noticed that Wolfe's shoes had holes in them so Booth gave him a spare pair of his own boots. These have been treasured, preserved and passed on through the Wolfe family. And here we see them lovingly displayed.

This gift represents far more than a generous act, it's symbolic of an Army that must remember it's purpose and the reason it has been raised up by God...that reason is to go wherever it's needed to 'Serve Suffering Humanity' a phrase which I seem to be using a lot, but I make no apologies for that, it's something that we need to keep focusing on, there are so many people that are suffering and in need l, and it's our job, not just for Salvationists but for all Christians to meet this need as best we can and in the loving spirit of God. All this goes right back to the great commission from Matthew's Gospel:

'Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”' Matthew 28:18-20

These boots that Booth passed on were designed for walking, marching and serving. Let's remember that when we wear our uniforms or Church clothes that we are not stepping out in a fashion show but we are stepping out to serve others. We have work to do.

In my secular job I am required to wear steel toe-capped boots, they are not particularly nice to look at, they are certainly not what I would describe as comfortable. But they are functional and are there to protect my feet, I am not suggesting that we should deliberately make ourselves uncomfortable, but functionality must certainly come first in our Churches, and in our missions. After all Christ did not come to earth in comfort and peace but into poverty and violence...somewhere between the two lies that wonderful word 'balance'.

So today's challenge... Remember why we have the gifts we have and what we can do with them...while I think about it. Here's a link to an online Spiritual gifts questionnaire, while not necessarily binding and exhaustive it may help you discover what it is that God has equipped you and commissioned you to do

If you've never taken this test or one like it I would really recommend it. If you have it's always worth taking again... Spiritual gifts can be fluid and changeable as God equips us in different areas for different purposes.

But as I was saying. Always remember that you are built for a purpose not just to look pretty, you are a functional member of the body of Christ. This was I think, the legacy of 'Boundless' an Army and a Church marching and serving together.

And finally: You are Boots, and you are made for walking!

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