Saturday, January 2, 2016

There are certain distinct scents that move our senses to recollect experiences, sometimes many decade's old...
We are still unpacking our belongings into The SA quarters in Hamilton, and my office is about 85% organized, and that's about where it'll remain: works for me!  In the unpacking I've come across a few family heirlooms and things collected while stationed and working on four different continents. Among the items selected to gift to my children is a family insignia, a seal that was used many years ago. And with it was a wax stick that one lit to cause it to drip on a letter or envelope. Prior to the melted wax turning cold and brittle the seal's impression was pressed firmly in the wax to clearly identify the sender and to maintain the integrity of the message. 
I was in one of those quirky moods, alone enough to have a child  "fun" moment and I lit the wax, and as the smoke and aroma rose from it, my mind went back to my childhood in Sweden...
My father, prior to his answering the 'call' to Salvation Army officership, was an aeronautical engineer, employed by SAAB aircraft at their head office in Linkoping, Sweden. We had a large apartment and in it a spacious closet that dad designated as his "home office". Due the secrecy of SAAB's aircraft design work in post- WWII Sweden, he installed two padlocks to ensure that my brothers and I, curious as we were about the aircraft photos pinned to the closet walls, didn't find access to the blueprints and using our own creative flair add more engines, wings, and wheels.
Each evening following dinner my father would check the integrity of the locks, take the keys from a small chain fixed to his waist belt, open the closet door and enter, carrying a bulging brown weathered briefcase- I see it as clearly today as all those many years ago. He would remove large yellow packets from his briefcase, each of them sealed across the flap. In a dark maroon wax was the Royal Swedish military insignia, and to add to the royal orders under which he served were the large embossed letters in Swedish:  'The enclosed assignment cannot be delegated'!  In a rather lofty way one could translate the message, shared, as it was during the post WWII war era as; 'The Kingdom's future depends on you and how you handle this commission'. 
He worked each evening huddled over the blueprints; often well into the night before turning off the closet lights. On locking up for the evening the blueprints would be replaced in the envelopes, and then he would take out his small seal with his unique, assigned identity, light the red wax stick, drip wax on the envelope lip and then place his seal to the wax. The aroma permeated the apartment... 
The following morning the sealed envelopes would be returned to the appropriate responsible party in the engineering department. It was understood that, as the envelopes had been sealed in wax, with the Royal insignia. The commission had not been compromised through delegating responsibility to others.
As I reflected on that experience last week my thoughts went to another seal, one that you and I have experienced and shared.  We have no doubt all sung the chorus:  'He writes the pardon on my heart', a Royal pardon. And there are others...
'Sealed again is all the sealing 
Pledged again my willing heart
First to know Thee, then to serve Thee,
Then to see Thee as Thou art'  
(SA Song Book 591)  Albert Orsborn
'Sealed by Thy Spirit, sealed by Thy Spirit
Sealed by Thy Spirit eternally Thine;
Thus would I be to Thy service devoted;
Sealed by Thy Spirit, eternally Thine.
(SA chorus section 52)
I asked myself, am I fully sealed in His love, ever ready to serve…as fully alive, ready to serve as when first I promised to  "be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavouring to win others to Him, and in His name caring for the needy and the disadvantaged." Or have willingly, or perhaps unwittingly “delegated” my “sealed” orders to others?
Christ sealed our salvation and bought us by the blood of His Cross, a seal that signals to me my unique, personal responsibility.
I have an assortment of SA crests adorning my study, each somewhat unique due their several countries' of origin, with one exception, the central theme, the cross. Although the crosses differ somewhat depending on whether it uses the orthodox or more modern form, the seal of the Army remains the symbolic statement of our Christian heritage, identity, and mission. And the basic symbol in that seal (SA Crest) is the cross, the universal and most ecumenical symbol of the Christian church.
The cross represents the incarnate love of God in Jesus Christ and his passion and resurrection. 
We were sworn to duty under the cross, followed by our fixing our signature to that sealed document and promised to 'win others to Him. The promises made' were eternal and could not at any time, nor can they now be delegated to others.  We committed to be soldiers, strong and true, in a war, a war that rages no less today than when you or I signed on! Regardless of where we worship and serve today, we undertook a very special and unique responsibility on the day of our signing the Soldier's Covenant, sealed by God the Holy Spirit.

"I will be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavouring to win others to Him, and in His name caring for the needy and the disadvantaged... I will be true to the principles and practices of The Salvation Army, loyal to its leaders, and I will show the spirit of salvationism whether in times of popularity or persecution.
I now call upon all present to witness that I enter into this covenant and sign these articles of war of my own free will, convinced that the love of Christ, who died and now lives to save me, requires from me this devotion of my life to His service for the salvation of the whole world; and therefore do here declare my full determination, by God's help, to be a true soldier of The Salvation Army.”

The kingdom's future depends on you and me.

Sven Ljungholm

The Cantonments

Penny Lane, L'pool

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the warm memories of your father and using the illustration of his seal to explain our heavenly Father's seal on our lives. It's a good reminder--whether we still serve God in or out of The Salvation Army--that there is a great responsibility assigned to us, because we are all 'Saved to Serve'.

Your article reminds and reinforces the song I found myself singing a couple of days ago, "God's Soldier."

God's soldier marches as to war,
A soldier on an alien shore,
A soldier true, A soldier who
Will keep the highest aims in view.
God's soldier goes where sin is found;
Where evil reigns , his battle ground;
A cunning foe to overthrow.
And strike for truth a telling blow.

We're going to fill, fill, fill the world with glory;
We're going to smile, smile, smile and not frown!
We're going to sing, sing, sing the gospel story!
We're going to turn the world upside down!

--John Larsson and Harry Read

Great article that blesses me, indeed.

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former SA Officer