JAC Online

From Here... Love and Home
by Colonel Ian Barr

It is sometimes the simplest vision of what the Church and Christianity are about that speaks to the hearts of those of us who love Jesus. The words of the Anglican priest and poet Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy to the eleven people who turned up to his induction at London’s famous St Martin’s in the Fields church on Trafalgar Square on a cold November night in 1914 resonated with me when I first read them, and more so in recent years.


“I stood on the west steps and saw what this church would be to the life of the people. They passed me, into its warm inside, hundreds and hundreds of all sorts of people, going up to the temple of their Lord, with all their difficulties, trials and sorrows. I saw it full of people, dropping in at all hours of the day and night. It was never dark, it was lighted all night and all day, and often tired bits of humanity swept in. And I said to them as they passed: 'Where are you going?' And they said only one thing, 'This is our home. This is where we are going to learn of the love of Jesus Christ. This is the altar of our Lord where all our peace lies. This is St Martin's.’”


“They spoke to me two words only, one was the word 'home' and the other was 'love'.”


We cannot simply assume that everyone knows what ‘home’ and ‘love’ means, even among our own people. My wife came home one night from a prison visit where she encountered a young woman who was ‘inside’ for some offence, but whose Salvationist parents had disowned her. The tragedy was compounded by the fact that her sister was well known to many of us in the Army as someone who was so starved of love at home that she hung about the reception area of Army buildings in the hope that someone might give her some attention and perhaps a cup of coffee.


The Church is not short of examples of people who have been made to feel unwelcome or unloved. Nevertheless, the Officers Covenant makes such people a specific priority: ‘To love the unloveable’ (an unfortunate choice of word, nobody is ‘unloveable’. Perhaps it should be ‘those who are not loved.’) The gates of Hell may never prevail against the power and people of God, but the gates of much of evangelical Christianity seem to be  impenetrable to a wide range of people, not least people from the various the LGBTQI+ communities. And there are others, many of them born into this movement, who might feel that all the church has to offer is judgement and condemnation, rather than the Good News about Jesus for all people.


Studdert-Kennedy once spoke of having the words ‘Love’ and ‘Home’ inscribed above every entrance to the church. In my final appointment I wondered why the word ‘love’ was so seldom seen on business plans, strategy documents, reports, and corps opening and closure proposals. I found it a very strange omission. The word ‘home’ tended to relate mainly to social services institutions.


Yet in the past decades I have witnessed again and again the loving presence of officers and others in communities across my home territory, building churches that are loving, welcoming, respectful, and accepting communities of faith, each one a spiritual home where God’s presence and purposes can be discerned in the lives of good, Godly and sometimes flawed humanity.


These two words ‘home’ and ‘love’ are so powerful. I am a member of just such a corps, where love, respect and mutual acceptance are central to who we are - as is discretion.











your shopping is guaranteed safe using SSL

eStore account - Sign Up Now! Contact Us - General. Technical Support. Sales Jesus is amazing!  If you see this image tag you should know that He is THE way... not a way!  Grace!
Home Terms of Use Privacy Policy Sitemap Contact Us
copyright ARMYBARMY