Dear Salvation Army, Rituals And Sacramental Living

Our founders, William and Catherine Booth got away from the observances of Communion and Baptism…did they go too far?

I know that this blog has covered the sacraments in the past…I’m will not shy away from such conversations.
The question still remains, did our founders go too far in regards to the sacraments?  I am not disagreeing with our doctrinal stances, I wish to ask the question.   I also understand that they weren’t condemning anyone who participates in communion or baptism, but has it become something of an elephant in the room?

One could argue that anything could become ritualistic and routine within worship practice.  Thus, if our only argument against communion or baptism to be “ritualistic” in practice then perhaps we could look at certain practices we in the Army already participate in.

Can sacred moments in worship become routine and ritualistic?  Yes.  Have they become so in our services?  Yes, at times.

If anything that we do within the practice of worship becomes something that it was never intended to be, should we cast it out?  Or, should we bring it back into alignment?  Whatever “it” may be?

When we have our altar calls and the Mercy Seat is open, do we make it less significant if it is over emphasized…every.single.Sunday?  I do not wish to diminish its importance in worship, but has it, at times, become our surrogate “go to” for the sacramental life?  Is the Mercy Seat and the “sacramental life” one in the same, or mutually exclusive?  Are there other representations or manifestations of the sacred that we over look and/or ignore in the process?

Please do not misunderstand me, I do not wish to downgrade the importance of the Mercy Seat, but is there a danger of IT becoming ritualistic and thereby causing its loss of significance?  Isn’t that partially why our founders moved away from the Sacraments in the first place?

“Outward Expressions of the Inward Change”
I believe that all of the external representations of holy or sacramental living are NOT as important as the inward relationship.  This should not, however, eliminate the outward practices.   It’s like a love relationship with a would be spouse or soul mate.  You want the world to know that you are in love with that person and you want that person to know it too.  So we express our love in many ways.  We put our love on display for all the world to see.  This is what the sacred should look like!  It isn’t about appearances, or a statistic for Holiness meeting.  It isn’t about anyone else but our relationship with the Lord in a corporate setting.

How are our outward expressions today, dear Soldier?  Are they bound up in appearances and/or ritual practice?  Have they lost some of its true meaning?  Are we running the risk of having these become more about practice than about significance within our hearts?

Anything can become rituals devoid of meaning and significance if we allow them to develop as such.  What kind of fruit are we producing from our spiritual walk with God?  Can we be honest with ourselves as we reevaluate our priorities, our practices, the outward expressions of our inward change?

If we are called to be set apart and to live out holiness in our lives, how can we avoid the ritual, the mundane, the loss of spiritual emphasis?

These questions are worth pondering today in our Army world.
More to come…
To God Be The Glory!

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