Last month I was able to be in New Orleans for the Christian Community Development Association National Conference.  Gail and a few other Salvation Army people from our St Louis area enjoyed visiting the Big Easy.  Eating po-boys, luxuriating in the Big Easy’s languid warmth.

Captain Ronnie musing and Lieutenant AJ scrutinizes as Lieutenant Bryan makes a point.

Captain Ronnie muses and Lieutenant AJ scrutinizes as Lieutenant Bryan makes a point.

Most of all we were challenged by what we heard and learned.  About the way God’s people from a wide range of persuasions (Jesuit priest and Southern Baptist) are being used to bring about wholeness in some of the most challenging urban places in America.

I am of a theological bent.  So one of my personal highlights was the conference opening night address from Noel Castellanos, CEO of CCDA.  Noel got theological.  His recent blog post ‘Cultivating Unlikely Leaders’ incorporates some of the theological observations from that address.

Noel refers to ‘a new reality’.  It is a reality of merging the margins and mainstream of society.  That the most unlikely of people would come together in healing and helping ways.  Led by women and men from the most unlikely of places, working together in the most unlikely configurations.

Unlikely.  I like that.

Those of us from Salvation Army have our roots in the unlikely.  19th century Britain did not expect people of its urban slums to become agents of the gospel in their communities, and eventually around the world.  But that’s what happened.

... closer and closer

the most unlikely of places and people

Question:  is it still happening?

Yes.  In all our Army places?  no.

We confess that often we are tempted to be too much so mainstream.  Dallas Cowboys and much of corporate America love us.  Our temptation is to love the ways and means of our land, to adopt an American overlay of consumerism (what exactly do we accomplish at Christmas?), to allow a respectable religion to direct our paths.

Forgive us our trepasses.  Lead us not into temptation.

At our very best, Salvation Army merges margin and mainstream.  In the morning we are in the Governor’s office.  Later that same day we are praying with a family in the projects.  We are this way to bring people closer and closer together, to God.  The big theological idea is reconciliation, of all things.  That was a key theological claim made by George Scott Railton in 1878, the year we became The Salvation Army.

to be seen in all the most unlikely places

to be seen in all the most unlikely places

May God lead us into the most unlikely places to surprise this world that He so loves.  Amen.