Jan16TueRetrospective #59 January 16, 2018 Randy C. Hicks
The same thing happens every year; you finish taking down all of the decorations and pack Christmas away and then the countdown to next Christmas begins! If your house is anything like ours maybe a day or two later, it could be a week or a month, someone spots that ever elusive decoration that got missed during the cleanup! What is it this year? A banner, plaque, ornament, figurine, pillow, the possibilities seem endless…Oh, you’re the designated “left behind piece” this year – a “tea towel!” Everyone gets a chuckle and you poke it in the drawer or the bag you’re using to collect things for the thrift store while promising that next year will be the year nothing gets missed!
Have you noticed that some folk are mixing new items with their decoration plans - items not traditionally associated with the season? It seems to have started with the outdoor setups and now has moved inside as well. Many of the latest cartoon/Disney/Marvel action figures/characters suddenly appear as Christmas inflatables and/or ornaments; add to these flamingos from the south and penguins from the south-south, polar bears; even models of the Eiffel Tower! Symbols of Christmas…really?
Pictures, statues, icons, symbols have ever been incorporated in our attempts to communicate messages even, or especially, in religion. We Sally-Anns have our own collection. Here’s a “whatever-comes-to-mind-first-list” of a few: Flags, Crests, Shields, Uniforms, Caps, Hats, Bonnets, Badges, Drums, the colours Yellow, Red and Blue, Historic Figurines, Portraits, and numerous local or cultural interpretations of all of these and then some!
Iconoclasts among us must find it difficult to take all of this in on occasion, especially as much of the above can end up stamped on, attached to, woven into, painted on, printed (not always tactfully) on “stuff” intended to be “souvenirs” of some special occasion, theme, or event. One can become so acclimatized as to “not see” these things any longer, or, see but no longer reflect on what these items did or still do mean to the faithful.
In one of our corps appointments the quarters in which we lived was in the same yard as the citadel - maybe only thirty feet from the back door of the house to the back door of the barracks? Looking out my office window one evening I could see that the pulpit light was on. Why was the pulpit light on? I couldn’t remember having it on so obviously I hadn’t left it on. Someone’s out there.
I put on my coat, grabbed the keys, and went out to explore. Quietly, I opened the door of the hall, walked through the short connecting hallway to the platform in the sanctuary and peeked into the room. There was no one at the pulpit so my eyes moved to the spot beneath the pulpit, to the mercy seat. There, as though under a streetlight or spotlight, knelt one of my soldiers wrestling in prayer with the Lord. Next to him, clutched in his hands, was the corps flag; the Yellow, Red, and Blue; the Blood and Fire; also in front of him was his open Bible. I quickly realized I was intruding upon Holy ground.
Still in the shadows, I stealthily withdrew and prayed my way back to the house. I never doubted the love this man had for the Bible; nor did ever question his loyalty to the message of the Bible found in the Salvation Army Flag. Being the artist that he was, I also realized that his tactile use of the flag held greater meaning for him than I might perceive. His had been a glorious conversion and God had a special plan for him that was soon to unfold.
Are there Salvation Army symbols that hold a particular interest for you?
If yes, why so?
When you see it – what comes to mind?
Maybe you don’t “see” them anymore?
Consider pausing the next time one comes into view – think of what it means to you or to someone you know.
Is there any value in continuing to use these icons or should we toss them out?
Remember the old chorus:
“Yellow Star, and Red and Blue,
Blood and Fire, through and through;
That’s the flag for me and you,
The flag of the dear old Army!”