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Jun18ThuMessengers of the Kingdom to step out in ministry across the territory. June 18, 2020 by Commissioner Floyd Tidd
Every June, Salvationists from across the Canada and Bermuda Territory anticipate the commissioning and ordination of a session of new lieutenants. Having successfully completed their training program through the College for Officer Training, the Messengers of the Kingdom are prepared to step into appointments across the territory. But this year, things are shaping up differently. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are restrictions on large gatherings. Travel is discouraged. In our ever-changing reality, it seems the only certainty we have is physical distancing.
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It is for such a time as this that messengers of the kingdom are needed. During his years of ministry, Jesus gathered a following, including the Twelve Apostles who intimately shared his journey of teaching and touching lives. Luke’s Gospel records Jesus sending out his disciples on many occasions to minister in his name. “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2). Messengers of the kingdom were needed then, and they are needed now.
The venue and the medium by which family, friends, colleague officers and soldiers share in this year’s solemn, yet joy-filled commissioning, ordination and sending out of the Messengers of the Kingdom Session may be different, but the key elements remain unchanged. There are three steps that are taken by the cadets before they become officers. Each cadet steps forward to sign their Officer’s Covenant in a sacred covenant service shared with their session-mates and witnessed by college staff officers and territorial leadership. Next, they are ordained as ministers of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and commissioned as officers in The Salvation Army with the rank of lieutenant. In the final step, each new officer is publicly presented with their first appointment as a Salvation Army officer.
Messengers of the Kingdom will take up their appointments across the territory to live out their calling and covenant. They will join the ranks of hundreds of officers, active and retired, who have bound themselves to God in a solemn covenant. They promise to love and serve him supremely all their days, to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of their lives, to care for the poor, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unloved and befriend those who have no friends, and to maintain the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army. And they will do so as Messengers of the Kingdom—the kingdom of God that will never end. God needs people to declare through their words and lives that his is a living, unshakeable kingdom, as described so beautifully in Matthew 5:3-12:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The message of this kingdom is as true today as it was when professed and demonstrated to the Twelve. Having sent them out to preach the kingdom, Jesus continued to teach them. The message of this kingdom is entrusted not only to this session of cadets, but to all followers of Jesus.
The learning for the Messengers of the Kingdom does not end as they leave the College for Officer Training. Jesus continues to teach his messengers, instructing us in the ways of living in the world where God is sovereign. He continues to train our hearts and minds to live according to the realities of his kingdom.
As we witness the commissioning and ordination of this year’s session of new lieutenants and watch them as they share the message of the kingdom across this territory, the challenge is before us. Will we go? The One who was sent by God, now sends you and me to go and make disciples of all nations, as we share the message of the kingdom.
Commissioner Floyd Tidd is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.