Apr9MonRetrospective #67 April 9, 2018 Randy C. Hicks
In The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory our present “World Missions” or “Partners in Mission” appeal happens early in a new year and often falls somewhere in or overlaps the Church calendar’s Lenten period. In the Army’s early days this appeal wasn’t assigned to a particular time of the year but often occurred as needed to replenish funds for the extension of the Salvation Army’s reach around the world (See previous post). Self-Denial and Lent go hand in hand as during this period of reflection and soul searching folk often make personal sacrifices relative to time and substance.
The idea of “giving up something for Lent” is a common practice in the Church at large.
Today’s “give ups” or “instead ofs” include such things as favourite foods – especially desserts, pop, chocolate, ice cream and all kinds of sweets. Other “give ups” might be screen time on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV; then there’s leisure time, certain regular entertainment habits – you get the idea. Of course the “give up” was to be followed by the “instead ofs” – “instead of” spending your money on treats - donate the money saved from the denial to the fund and “instead of” using time for your favourite activities - spend it in prayer, in study of the scriptures, or in some other spiritual practice perhaps especially related to world missions.
In THE HISTORY OF THE SALVATION ARMY Volume Four 1886-1904 Arch Wiggens provides us with the following short list of “give ups” and “instead ofs”:
The General…started…by giving up meat.
A very prominent officer CUTS THE HAIR of a still more prominent officer (not before it was wanted) and this saves sixpence.
A gentleman gives up going to Scotland to see a great friend married.
A Captain gives “what salary comes to me for that week.”
Another officer sends the money he has been saving up for a new tunic and will patch up the old one. His wife will send 5s out of her market money and three of his children will send 6d each from their money boxes.
An old friend knocks off his pipe and promises L1 as the result.
A gentleman and lady drank hot and cold water instead of tea, cocoa, coffee and milk.
“Ok, but where’s the pudding?” you ask, “There’s nothing said about the pudding!”
In his book WORDS OF WILLIAM BOOTH Lieut.-Colonel Cyril Barnes gives his spin on the beginnings of the Self Denial Appeal as follows:
“Look, Bramwell” exclaimed William Booth to his son one morning in 1886, “this officer’s offer of his pudding money has given me a good idea – it has occurred to me that all our people would be willing to deny themselves for one week of something in the way of food – let’s try a SELF DENIAL week.”
The day before, The Exeter Hall in London had been packed with people keen to hear the General’s plan for further extension. Army work had not yet commenced in Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, Jamaica, and Norway. Social work in Britain was in its infancy. Preparations were in hand for a forward movement, but money was short. In that meeting, William Booth’s helpers moved along the congregation with small slips of yellow paper. “Canaries” they were called, and Salvationists and friends alike were asked to write on them a promise stating the amount they were willing to give to help finance the new schemes. One officer, Major John Carlton, who had already disposed of a business in Northern Ireland and had given his gold, had nothing more to donate. But he passed in a “canary”. “By going without my pudding every day for a year, I calculate I will save 50 shillings.”
A friend immediately posted 2 pounds 10 shillings to headquarters to save the Major the sacrifice. The opening of that letter the next morning inspired Self Denial Week, about which the General wrote later: “No more Christ-like method of helping the salvation of our poor world was ever invented than Self Denial Week. This year’s effort must go beyond all that have gone before it. You will do your part won’t you?”
People of all walks of life helped. Business men travelled in third instead of first class coaches for a week; many smokers gave up tobacco, children ran errands; William Booth himself took an even more frugal diet. The profits went into the Self Denial fund…
Again from Wiggens:
According to Bramwell Booth the Self-Denial Appeal come out of a remark by Major Carleton on the platform of the old Exeter hall, to the effect that he proposed to “give up his pudding” for a certain period in aid of the Funds. “Why not have an annual effort,” said the Founder, “in which everyone shall be invited to perform some act of self-denial?” (p. 217)
“Perform some act of self-denial” – that’s the challenge, sacrifice something for the cause! Pudding!
I always think of King David’s response to Araunah regarding the gift of his threshing floor to the king: “…Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing…” (2 Samuel 24:24 KJV)
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message, reads: “No. I’ve got to buy it from you for a good price; I’m not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice.”
And there it is – “I’m not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice.”
What about Major John Carlton? Many years later, he admitted that despite the Army friend’s gift to release him from his promise, he went without his pudding for a whole year. (Barnes)