From Salvationist 22 June 2019
Who are we?
COMMISSIONER Harry Read’s skydive into Normandy as part of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings was something of a media sensation. Newspapers, TV and social media in the UK, France and beyond were fascinated by the story of the 95-year-old veteran who was marking the events of 6 June 1944 and raising funds for The Salvation Army’s work with victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.
Within the Army, Commissioner Harry is known, among other things, for writing poetry. In an interview on pages 8 and 9 he recalls how this talent first developed and gives insights into the prayerful process that is involved. His poems are a hit online, with his weekly Facebook posts being read and appreciated by people around the world.
One of the things that impressed me about Harry’s recent involvement with the media was that he spoke about his faith. In an interview with Jon Snow on Channel 4 News he said that when he was considering doing the skydive he prayed about it. He also wore his Salvation Army uniform for the interview, as well as when he met the Red Devils team that jumped with him.
As I watched I wondered how many viewers realised what the uniform was. Some may have done, but I guess a large proportion would not.
That thought raises the question of how visible and identifiable Salvationists are these days. Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant addresses the issue in his article on pages 16 to 18. This is his response to the letters that Salvationist has published recently about the red shield, the crest and the logo on uniform blouses and shirts. He covers various aspects of the debate, including why we use the red shield, whether we are a church or a charity, secularisation and the centrality of the cross of Jesus.
Identity is also the focus of Major Cliff Allchin’s Bible study on pages 20 and 21, where he asks how people can tell the difference between a follower of Christ and anybody else.
What we wear can be an expression of our identity – an outward, visible symbol of our inward experience and of our allegiance to a particular group or organisation. But identity itself is a far more complex thing. What makes us who we are can be difficult to pin down. Is it nature, nurture or a combination of both? How much influence do the bodies we were born with, the cultures we were born into, our upbringing, our faith and our life experiences have? And how much does our understanding of who we are change over the years as we relate to various people and gain a wider experience of life?
We may not know the answers to these questions, but as Christians one thing is sure: our profoundest identity derives from our relationship with God. We are his children. That is the identity we need to express to others – perhaps by what we wear but, more importantly, by how we live.
From the Editor,
LIEUT-COLONEL JONATHAN ROBERTS
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